27 April 2012

The Male Perspective

While infertility most commonly affects women, there is (almost) always another person involved. I can't begin to express how I really, REALLY don't understand the things my wife deals with. The only thing I feel confident I can say about struggling with infertility is I've come to love and appreciate my wife so much more through this. So instead of trying to say "I understand" my goal in this post is to provide a little insight on the "male perspective" when it comes to infertility.

First off, I'm not usually very excited when my wife says she's reading a blog or a book or this and that and there is a section directed to guys, husbands, or fathers and that "she would appreciate it if I read it." Its not that I'm against reading them, and that I don't want to help. Its more that the thought process I have is "I know myself. I know you. I know how to be a supportive spouse and partner, so I don't think I need help in this department. Also, I'm awesome...but I'll read it anyway." So for those of you in that boat (and those of you reading this out of your own accord) I hope this is not only helpful, but enjoyable to read.

With that preface I'll say that struggling with fertility has brought a whole new aspect to our relationship. Through our courtship and marriage Jessica and I have had our fair share of ups and downs. Infertility, and the struggles that come with it, seem to have brought on lower lows and higher highs than anything else. I was always there to help out and offer any assistance, but I wasn't the one that had to wake up every morning and chart my temperature, inject myself with needles, use progesterone bullets, take pee test after pee test (after pee test), or get the phone call that says "sorry you're still broken and not pregnant." The most difficult aspect for me is that as a male (and this may be stereotyping) I just don't get the emotional turmoil Jessica goes through every 4 weeks. I offer support and encouragement as often as I can but I even find myself saying the things found on the Things Not to Say post Jessica made. Through all of this I've learned a lot of lessons on how to be a better husband (both while dealing with infertility, and while not), and I'll pass on a few general ones:

· Money is cool, but babies are cooler. Infertility treatment is not inexpensive, and most people label me as the biggest tightwad they've ever met. It took a long time but one of the most important things I've learned is to stop stressing about the bill. Obviously everyone's financial situations are different, but go in knowing the costs, and don't freak out each time you have to pay $192 for an ultrasound. One compromise I'm very appreciative of Jessica for making is she gets pregnancy tests from the dollar store....$1 is much better than $10, and she can go through 5 of those each cycle without me cringing. :)

· Support by action is often more helpful than support by words. Plan on helping - no matter how little energy you have. On blood test days, plan on taking the second half of the day off work (even if she says she'll be okay if its negative). At night when you're almost completely asleep and your wife needs water (but can't get out of bed because of certain medications) - get the dang water.

· Support by words is still necessary :) Constantly saying you'll get through this, no matter the outcome. During the hard times Jessica would wake up in the middle of the night after having a dream that I left her because we couldn't have children easily. Obviously this isn't even a remote possibility in any reality, your partner needs to know this- by you telling them, all the time. Expressing that I am here to do anything needed, and that I married Jessica because I loved her, not our unborn children, was a constant need for a while. Again, in my mind it didn't make sense - but it was a real concern in her mind. Dealing with infertility is enough - having a concern of a lack of commitment and support from your spouse is more than any person could deal with.

· Lastly, be flexible. Fertility trials and the treatments that come with them bring lots of emotional ups and downs. I imagine everyone is a little different, but in the end, no matter how irrational a concern or thought process - relax and be supportive. Women are told from childhood that one of their gifts is childbirth. I can't imagine what its like to be told, after 20 years, "Oh...we didn't mean you, just all the other women around you." Don't add to the trial by being argumentative and difficult to be around.

Overall the message I want to portray with this post is that I love my wife and appreciate everything she does. I'm constantly amazed at how she puts up with me, Aurelia, and her body all at the same time. She's a great example to me on how to come to accept the trials you’re given while still fighting to overcome them. This blog (although my name is on it quite frequently) was entirely her idea because of the love and compassion she has for everyone around her. Possibly someday I'll really understand what she goes through everyday, but until then I'm not going anywhere :)

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