I feel like we’ll always look back on 2018 as the year of appointments, needles, and cancelled plans.
It’s definitely been a sacrifice, but I’m hopeful as we head into this next chapter. We are a little off schedule as we took the month of April off because I was in NYC, and January was really just used for all the fun diagnostic stuff anyway. Month number four has officially begun, and I’m in the middle of my fourth round of medication. We go in for our first IUI later this month, and I’m doing my best to prepare my mind and body for the timeframe surrounding this procedure. Leading up to it, I’m anxious and excited. Afterwards, I know I’ll feel helpless and impatient. So much of this a waiting game.
Now that we’ve finished what I would call phase 1 of this journey, I can reflect on the previous months and know with certainty our marriage is stronger because of it. This whole process has caused more stress and grief than I think either John or I have ever experienced, and we’ve definitely taken out our frustration on each other at certain points. I felt resentful at times when I was constantly sitting in the doctor’s office, and he’s often felt powerless and guilty as he’s watching me throughout the past six months. Although I am the one most often poked and prodded, I know that mentally this has taken a huge toll on him too.
Here’s our advice for couple’s starting this journey.
(I often say this, but I really need you to hear it. I’m offering advice based on OUR story. Maybe this will help someone like me who was desperately searching for people on the journey too. Maybe it will simply serve as a journal to me. Either way, I hope you take the time to research, reflect, and make decisions that are best for YOU.)
Okay, on to the advice:
- Talk. This was a hurdle for us at first. I wanted to talk about it too much, and John didn’t have much to say. We’ve since found a balance of healthy conversation. He understands now that I process through conversation, and I acknowledge that he doesn’t like to beat a dead horse.
- Remove stressors. Remember that move earlier this year when I closed my business? Perfect example. We’ve just decided people and things aren’t worth it when they are negatively affecting our headspace. We need to reduce our stress level throughout this time, so we’ve been proactive in removing it all.
- Stay on the team. I’m not going to lie. I’ll call a girlfriend (Hi Ashley) and totally gripe about what women have to go through while the guy meets them afterward to grab dinner. A good friend hears you out (because that’s all you really need anyway), but follows it up with, “well have you considered…?” Although John is facing different emotions and reactions to all of this, he is also affected. And he’s in my corner, and I need to work harder to stay there with him.
- Learn to say NO. To dinners. To drinks. To trips. No one will understand why your calendar is so full, but you owe no explanation. John and I have to constantly remind ourselves why we are sacrificing so much, but isn’t that what parenting is anyway? This is a head start.
- Set your limits early. This is something I wish we had firmly decided on before this all started. The journey is intoxicating, and things I never thought of pursuing are in my realm of possibility now. I spent my morning researching the best fertility clinics all over the country. Would we even go there? Who knows. I’ve gone rogue.
- Expect people to care too much or not at all. I’ve chosen to be open with all this, and I’ve had overwhelming positive responses so far. There are people I consider myself close to who haven’t said a word though. I think some of it amounts to their awkwardness to the topic or a lack of knowing what to say. I’ve been there, and I get it. Don’t let someone’s response or lack of a response get into your head. And if it’s really affecting or hurting you, maybe just gravitate away from that person for awhile. People are seasonal.
Whether we end up with a biological child or not, I think we’ll look back on this time with a deeper understanding of each other and our marriage. I’m not going to say I’m glad we’re experiencing infertility (duh), but I can appreciate going through all of this together. And I can appreciate the man I have by my side.