Friday, May 2, 2008

Alone...Yet Not Alone

One of the reasons I turned to the blogosphere was for support through this journey which seemed so painfully lonely at first. For a long time, I was a lurker, reading others' stories and sympathizing, learning, and gaining hope. When the only IRL friend I shared our infertility struggles with announced her pregnancy a couple of weeks ago, I knew it was time for me to step out of the shadows of lurking and jump in full force.

So here I am. Seeking support and hopefully offering support.

But today a thought struck me that the majority of us struggling with infertility aren't actually struggling on our own. We aren't suffering in isolation. Trying to conceive a child inherently involves...two people (for most of us at least). Then why is it that we crave support, we crave someone to share with, we crave an outlet, a release - someone who understands us? Shouldn't the one with whom we share the journey be that person who understand us?

On the way home from my in-laws this evening, the back seat of the car was crammed with suitcases, and my seat was pushed forward really far, so I had to sit at a strange angle, sideways almost. I turned around to take a look at the back, and a strange...deja-vu came over me. But it wasn't deja-vu at all, because it had never happened. It was like a futurized version of deja-vu...because though it had never happened, it felt so very familiar.

All of a sudden I felt a wave of sadness. There shouldn't have been enough space for two suitcases to be shoved into the backseat, because there should have been a car seat back there. And when I turned to see what was behind me, I wasn't supposed to see two large suitcases. I was supposed to be turning around to look at my baby, to smile and coo and reassure her/him that we were almost home.

I gulped back the lump that was forming in my throat. I didn't want to start crying right there in front of DH. Then I thought, why not? Why do I feel like I have to hold back in front of him? Why couldn't I cry and explain what made me sad?

I could...but then I realized, I couldn't, because he wouldn't understand.

Don't get me wrong...he wants to have a baby just as much (well, maybe almost as much) as I do. He loves children and always has. But infertility doesn't consume his life the way it does mine. He doesn't feel the waves of pain and sadness that can overcome me almost at random. He doesn't cry for unfulfilled dreams the way I do.

I feel like I'm the one who feels the pain of not having a child, and I feel it deeply, but he just...doesn't. He wants a baby, he wants to do what it takes to try to have one, but...he doesn't think about it other than on the days on which we're "trying." So it feels like he just doesn't understand the depth of pain that I feel, and therefore, I can't share that depth with him. Or I could, but who wants to share their innermost feelings and not have them understood? I am, turning to the world of blogging for release and support and understanding.

Am I the only one who feels like DH doesn't fully understand and feel what I am going through? Is it because we're still relatively "new" (we just started at the fertility clinic, no diagnoses or treatments yet)? I want so much to be able to cry and sob and talk about the dreams that haven't come true yet, but it just feels like it would be wasted tears.


Anonymous said...

Oh, I'm so sorry about the reminder. Sometimes it's the simple things that hit the hardest.

In answer to your other question, no, you're not the only one. I think that there is often a difference in how men and women respond. I don't like dwelling on gender differences, and I know that it's hard for both people involved, but I think the differences are often there. Plus, sometimes you need support from someone outside of your significant other. You're in this together, and you both want to be strong for each other, so it makes sense that sometimes you're looking for a release and understanding elsewhere.

Emily said...

I can't speak for any of the IF'ers out there. However I can tell you that with my (looooong) experience with IF, it took quite a while for Hubby to understand how IF affected me emotionally.

Oh, don't get me wrong. He knew exactly how hard it hit me. BUT ... to actually feel the same things I was? It wasn't until the news of his sister's third pregnancy (which just happened to be around the time that his grandmother passed away) that it finally hit him emotionally as hard as it had been for me this past decade.

So ... there's hope that one day your DH will understand. And trust me ... in this journey, there are those days that you NEED your DH to NOT feel as much pain as you are. Because if he's truly your best friend, he will be the one to pick you up when you're down.

Big HUGS to you

VA Blondie said...

I found that men deal with things differently. Women look for suppoer by talking with others. Men retreat to their caves. At least that is what Hubby does.

It took discovering how much his male factor IF affected our fertility for him to really understand how I feel. I knew exactly what he was going through, because I had been there. I think until then, he did not realize how important he was. All he had to do was go into a room and jerk off. I was the one being poked and prodded. He did not feel like part of the process. The male factor hit him hard and he is still trying to deal with it.

SAHW said...

Thank you ladies!! I think I was in one of those down-swings of the emotional roller-coaster when I wrote this, but you all definitely helped me put things into perspective. I am indeed grateful that DH is so supportive, and that he is there for me to lean on when I'm falling apart...and I imagine as the journey becomes more concrete, he may understand a little more...thanks again for your support! :)

Kristin said...

I'm here from Mel's extravaganza...

Our husband/partner's feel the pain of infertility but in a very, very different way than we do. Sometimes it is really hard to see that.

Shinejil said...

Here from Mel's.

My guy is the one who really, really NEEDS a bio child, so we've had to wrestle with his feelings (and of course mine) as we dealt with our inability to conceive and my reluctance to enter the ART arena. I think the balance for couples is always a bit different, and you're rarely on exactly the same page. Talking has helped us a lot, but it's never an easy conversation (at least not until recently).

Anonymous said...

This struck a chord with me. That feeling, that someone should be in the back seat, was the reason we decided we wanted to start a family in the first place.

Now, struggling to get pregnant and dealing with appointments, procedures and drugs, I understand how you can feel that your DH just doesn't understand. Mine doesn't either. The day I made the appointment with the RE, I felt that it was such a huge step into admitting that we could be infertile, and DH just didn't "get" my emotions about it.

For my DH, at least, his perspective is that it is up to the doctors to tell us what the problem is and to try to fix it. He basically feels that it's out of his control, he can't fix it, so he'll just do what they tell him. There isn't the same emotional component for him. I think his main sadness is at seeing me sad.

Sometimes it's hard to even understand why I feel the way I do, so while I can share that with my husband, I don't expect to get the same level of understanding that comes from other sources. At least he's more supportive than my mother!! (But that's another story...)

niobe said...

Very insightful post. I think you've captured what's true for so many of us.

midlife mommy said...

It was the same for me and my relationship. Even though my husband gave me the shots, showed up to give a sample, sat with me and read me news stories while I rested after each insemination, etc. etc. etc., it wasn't the same. He didn't care how we got there either -- but I wanted a pregnancy. And, when I had two miscarriages, I think he felt sad, but he wasn't devastated -- I was.

I think that I was so emotionally invested because I was the one who was supposed to be able to get pregnant whenever I wanted. When my body failed me, I felt as though I were the failure. Not true, but it sure felt that way.