Understanding Infertility - Do They Get It?
There's been a lot of conversation lately about how our male partners/husbands just don't get it when it comes to understanding infertility. They don't get the intensity that we feel about fertility treatment and more specifically, they don't get how we feel about not having those babies yet.
There's been a lot of anger as well towards the men about not getting it. The word insensitive has been used a lot to describe them. They want sex at what seems like inappropriate times (in the middle of a cycle or two days after a miscarriage). They don't listen or respond when we talk about the despair we feel when a fertility cycle doesn't work.
That old joke about the duck comes to mind. If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, swims like a duck, well then, most likely, it's a duck!
Except when these wonderful women, who are feeling angry, sad, lonely and somewhat (or very) abandoned by their men are asked about whether these men love them, the answer is a resounding yes. Unequivocally yes.
They talk about their marriages being stronger than they were before infertility walked in and took a seat.
I’m wondering if the duck is perhaps not a duck.
Perhaps it’s a tern. Or a loon (kinda like that one). Or a swan. Or a goose.
Infertility Problems: Dealing with the Pain
Maybe insensitivity is a great mask for denial (if I ignore the infertility problems, one day they will be solved and all will be great, etc.). Maybe it is that their beloved’s pain is so deep that they do not know how to touch it gently enough without causing more pain. Perhaps they are worried about drowning in the pain themselves and not being able to be the anchor that they are expected to be. Perhaps their own pain is so bewildering to them that without our help, they are lost and they cannot ask for help while we are in such pain.
It is possible that the only thing they know how to do is to do more of what they know how to do. Work. Fix things. Shelter us the best they know how.
While there were a few names flying around describing these men that were not duck or goose or loon, there was also general consensus that these men love us. And that their best wasn’t good enough. That’s a hard concept to face, that our best isn’t good enough. We know about that one, don’t we? Because that’s the one we face when it comes to failed fertility cycles.
Infertility Support - Is Something Getting In The Way?
Perhaps they need more help and direction than we can give them about how to support us.
Or, maybe they are the ones who need the support and help themselves and have no idea how to dig deeply enough to ask for it.
I don’t know. I just suspect that if there is love there and it’s not being expressed then something is getting in the way. Going a step further, I would suspect that the culprit getting in the way is our pain.
Not making excuses or apologies for them or us. Just trying to figure out the odd phenomena of our men not showing up in ways that are helpful or supportive even when we all agree that they love us.
Maybe it’s time for us to look past the obvious. Maybe it’s not a duck at all.
Maybe it’s the swan we see struggling under the weight of not knowing the right thing to do or say. Or being too afraid to say it.
Lisa Rosenthal's Google+
Here I am, wondering about balance, again. Too much medical information for one week in the blog, not enough personal/spiritual/emotional writing? Lots and lots on egg donation
and infertility and more to come tomorrow from very well respected experts in the field. So, yes, today, a little less medical, a little more personal.
Last night I attended "Ladies Night In" at our Danbury office. Jane Elisofon, MSW, led the group of men and women who were courageous enough to take a look at the communication between them. Jane was wonderful, set a relaxing, non threatening atmosphere and even made it fun.
It touched so many memories about how my husband and I coped and didn't cope through the process of trying to conceive. I remember the frustrations that we had with each other; about coming to decisions about treatment, choosing who to share information with, how much time we should spend talking about infertility and finally expressing our feelings. Where was Jane when I was going through this?!!? I listened to her normalize how people were feeling last night and I watched relief wash over their faces. Giving permission to share or not share information, Jane allowed everyone there to fully live in making decisions that they were personally comfortable with. It was outstanding and so helpful, to me even though I was attending as a support person! I also got the full benefit of a professionally led support group. There was tremendous power, validation and empowerment that fueled the evening. I felt very honored to be a part of it.
I have often said that infertility is not for the faint hearted. That this is a challenging path that you are on, one that demands courage, insight and ability to rebound from disappointments. There's a reason that a roller coaster is a fitting image. Watching Jane support these lovely couples, seeing how she knew just when to step back, when to offer a suggestion, when to ask a question, reconfirmed my belief that facing infertility can make your marriage or relationship stronger, more steady, more loving.
And how better than to find a wonderful mental health professional like Jane for some guidance. If you have never gone to a group with your partner, if you're not a group person, if you feel that you're "fine" on your own, there's a whole other world out there. Without revealing what went on last night, I will just say that there was healing, listening, understanding, forgiving and communicating on a level that was, to use one of Dr. Leondires' favorite words, magical.