My husband (let’s call him J) and I have been taking walks together in the evenings lately.  A few days ago, on one of our walks, we saw a pair of cardinals – a male and female together.  The boy cardinal was singing its heart out and we wondered if they had a nest nearby.  I asked J why male birds keep singing after they already have babies.  Without a pause he said, “Because they’re proud.” That moment has really stuck with me.  I’m pretty sure if I weren’t bolstered by my friend Zoloft I would have burst into tears right then.  It was just such an immediate response.  I’ve seen that J notices and comments on little kids and babies more often than he used to.  Clearly, he wants to be a father so badly, and he’ll be an amazing one.

Not surprisingly, this trying to get pregnant process has been unspeakably difficult for me, and J has had to be incredibly strong and supportive.  We’ve had some very tough times together – times when I hated him so violently that I thought we maybe couldn’t stay together. Times when I felt incredibly alone in my pain.  We had some huge fights when we first started IVF, because he dealt with the stress and worry SO differently from me.  By nature, he’s very careful not to give full rein to emotions that aren’t useful in the moment and that don’t serve a practical purpose.  He (through immense self will, I guess) usually doesn’t worry about something unless it’s timely or useful to worry about it.  I’m the opposite.  He’d get angry at me when I got too upset, partly because the intensity of my emotion stressed him out.  You can imagine how that’d spiral into a pretty ugly situation…now imagine it with extra progesterone thrown in the mix.  It wasn’t pretty.  He’s come a LONG way.  Instead of telling me to not feel a certain way, J’s become very adept at just comforting me when I need comfort.  He’s learned to say, “I can understand that ___ must have been stressful/upsetting/made you sad” whereas before he used to try to argue me out of my feelings.  J’s ability to adapt and give me the support that I need – in ways that aren’t intuitively natural for him – is a testament to what an amazing man and husband he is.  I’m sure the Zoloft has been very helpful with this, too.  Before, I was consumed by immense amounts of anger at my situation.   J was the only person around to be caught in the crossfires of my rage at the ridiculously unjust universe.  My emotions were huge, powerful, and overwhelming, and no doubt my poor husband was exhausted by them.

There hasn’t been a lot of room to discuss how all the IF struggles have been affecting him.  I’m the one going through the procedures.  There’s something wrong with MY body, not his (he’s got A+ bionic sperm, apparently, while my eggs are seriously suspect).  He’s had to be strong, supportive, pragmatic, and accepting of whatever outcome is thrown our way, partly because he needs to provide some balance to my grief.  No doubt, partly because it IS my body that’s not cooperating, he’s reluctant to talk about how hard it is on him; he doesn’t want to make me feel bad.

Lately, he’s been telling me he’s feeling anxious.  I know he’s unhappy and struggling.  I know the IF has affected our lives in huge ways for a very long time now.  He doesn’t love his job, but can’t really look for another one, because if we move out of the state we’d lose the rare gift of IVF insurance coverage.  After 3 years, we still really haven’t made any lasting friends in our new town.  It’s really hard to connect with other people when your life is consumed by IVF treatments – and who exactly do you fit with?  It seems pretty apparent that you can’t make friends here if you don’t have either a dog or a kid.  It doesn’t help to lower the emotional stakes of fertility treatments that having a baby seems like the key – not only to our happiness as a couple and a family – but to our being able to have a social life.  Somehow, infertile couples don’t seem to band together the same way couples-with-babies do.  We can’t plan trips to visit our friends or to get away, because it’s hard to predict when I’m going to be cycling.  We’re just waiting for it to be over.  We’re trying to take pleasure in whatever we can in the meantime, but it ain’t always easy.

It just occurred to me that he might partly be getting more anxious now because we have IVF4 starting soon. There may be other factors, but the impending cycle might be contributing to it.  He doesn’t say that, and he always seems very nonchalant about the IVF, but I wonder…Emotionally, the last cycle was particularly bad for me. With that cycle, I had to come to terms with the fact that we had persistent fertilization problems even when we tweaked our protocol.  I realized I was in a new, less promising category of IF women.   We weren’t just your average case; my eggs really might not work.  I was in a VERY dark place when we got our fertilization report up until the Beta. I can imagine that he might be afraid that this cycle will end the same way, and that he’ll have to find the strength to deal with a despairing and inconsolable wife again – and as time goes on, that might be harder for him to do.  Anticipating having to cope with and comfort your hysterically crying wife might make a guy a little anxious.  Ya think?

I’ve been worried about J, and wishing I could do something to make him feel better.  I suggest therapy, exercise, meditation, etc.  Ultimately, all that’s up to him.  It just hit me, though, that the best thing I can do is to try my damnedest to be as strong and happy and hopeful as I possibly can be.  I need to take care of myself emotionally and use all the means of self-support I know, not only for me, but for him.  Gradually, maybe I can show him that it CAN be different this time, even if this cycle doesn’t work.  I’m not going to pretend I’m fine when I’m not, but maybe my emotions don’t have to consume our lives this time.  If we don’t get our baby this time, maybe we can be sad and disappointed together…and then get ready to try again.

– Patience