In my last blog, I shared about my experience with infertility and some of the things that helped me along the journey. I wanted to write a second blog for men. Much attention is directed towards women and infertility, but men have their own set of unique challenges when infertility gets in the way of a desire for children.
My husband was kind enough to let me interview him for this blog, and to share his experience and encouragement to other men who find themselves on this unexpected road. Here are three thoughts from my husband that you might wrestle with before or during fertility treatment.
What if Something Goes Wrong?
The phantom of disability, illness or sudden complication haunts every pregnancy; for me, the fear sharpened when we discussed fertility treatment. Even though I believe all life is a miracle, the deliberate selection of fertility treatment and the execution of routine clinical steps felt like my responsibility in a way natural birth had not. A natural birth which became complex might be blamed on God; a fertility treatment-induced birth left only myself to blame.
Fear ebbs and flows, but the surest stability I discovered was in remembering that all life, even life that comes from a lab, is a gift from God AND that I remain 100% responsible for my actions. When stuck in only one of these truths I was paralyzed – together I had courage. I rarely remembered both on my own, but friends and especially my wife helped me remember when anxiety was crushing me.
Are We Strong Enough to Do This?
Prior to the first round of fertility treatment, I didn’t doubt my wife and I could weather it, come what may. When the first round failed to produce a single pregnancy opportunity and our doctor suggested a second round, I began to question what irreparable damage might result to our marriage.
We had endured the first round in one another’s arms, but what emotional scars might form between us if a second, or a third, round was equally unsuccessful? Some scars leave us with an emotional limp, and I feared the repeated abuse of our hope might leave disfiguring scars on our hearts.
Though my wife and I had endured hardship before, I had no certainty we’d endure unscathed before plunging into another round of fertility treatment. I only knew that I would never know until we attempted, and that regret would hound me all my life if I faltered now. I did limit our attempt to a single round of fertility treatment immediately following the first, with the promise to try a third only after a year’s pause to rebuild.
Is it Worth It?
Children are priceless gifts, but I questioned what cost we ought to pay. A single round of fertility treatment? A dozen? Or is there no limit, only a ceaseless pursuit of children at any cost? No one answered this question for me or my wife but, like my fear that we might be scarred in the process, I would not know the true cost or the longed-for reward unless I tried. Anonymous parents promised, “it’s all worth it,” but I neither knew nor trusted their words. I clung to Jesus’ delight in children and promise that he’d be with me whatever came.
Our son is fifteen months old now, and there’s a reward of joy and laughter in his life, but I do not offer that tentative hope as consolation to those who live today in the fears I’ve described. Draw what hope you may from our story, and find others who will walk with you on your own path, come what may.
Counseling is a good source of support along this journey. Give Amie a call today to schedule a counseling appointment to help as you navigate the questions and emotions that come for you in the journey of infertility.
Written by therapist Amie Bilson
More Optimum Joy Articles
Sometimes Disney movies are spot on with the emotions, questions or thoughts that you or I have felt. This can be said about the story of Mulan, Simba in the Lion King, and of Elsa from the movie Frozen. Each character is on a journey of transformation, one that has...
We avoid the most important conversations in our lives for fear we’ll make distressing situations worse, yet our silence causes chronic stress from sustained, unresolved conflict. Several years ago I read a business book called Crucial Conversations, which I continue...
It’s a busy season as fall comes around; when kids are going back to school, sports are starting up again, and couples start to get wrapped up not only in their jobs, but their kids schedule as well. Alan Fruzzetti talks about how to optimize your time together in his...