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.
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What to blog about first. Some weeks, some days, I can’t think of a single thing to write about. That’s a little scary. Other days, I have 49 million ideas floating around in my head and it’s all I can do to stay focused on one idea about infertility and life.
Here’s a head’s up for this week, as long as we’re on the subject of topics. Sex. Sexuality. Dualism. Birth control. Spring (you know how much I love the weather), events coming up at Reproductive Medicine Associates of CT, pre-natal vitamins. Those days with 49 million ideas can be a little scary too.
Today, I’m going with sex. And it wasn’t really my idea. Not exactly, anyway. I did bring it up in the blog last week and then the conversation continued this week end in the peer support group. Interesting twist, perhaps predictable for infertility challenges, sex on demand.
There are times, while in fertility treatment, that you are asked to abstain from sex. Seems a little ironic. Want a baby? Don’t have sex. Ok, but it you’re in treatment, you know that things are timed very carefully, very methodically. Now, if you are laughing, don’t worry, I am too.
Yes, everything’s timed very carefully. And then your blood levels go up, go down, follicles appear, get larger, more of them, some blood levels go down, test results come back differently then expected and so on and so forth. The best laid plans of mice and men. Everything’s timed perfectly, except that each of us unique beings react differently to medication and stimulation, as well as having our own private rhythm. It is amazing how the body, mind and heart can override even the most powerful medications. So just when you think you have it all figured out, what to tell your co-workers about absences, planning your time off, it all changes.
How does this relate to sex? Don’t have sex. Do have sex. Don’t have sex now. Do have sex now. Plan having sex around work, travel, meals, etc. Turns out that this is not the most sexy, romantic, heart throbbing way to have sex.
I don’t say enough about men in this blog. One, I’m not a man. Two, I’m married to a man who doesn’t say a lot, doesn’t complain a lot and is very cooperative. (Most of the time.) But how about if your partner or husband isn’t like that? What if he would prefer that his sexual relationship with his partner not be dictated by someone else?
What about the pressure to have sex when the last thing that you’re in the mood for is sex? Again, not a man, but this pressure makes me, a woman, wince. How about a note of sympathy for the guys who manage the erection under pressure? How about a round of applause for all of us who manage to have sex and even enjoy it, even when spontaneity and desire are not even remotely involved?
It didn’t occur to me just how much men might not only resent being told when, but also might not be able to. Is there anyone out there, man or woman, who can’t get what a blow to the ego that might be? Even more than a blog to the ego, the sense of self and manhood that already probably feels under attack, has got to take a huge hit if, when under pressure, getting and maintaining an erection is impossible.
Sex on demand. Infertility and fertility treatment being it’s most invasive.
As usual, I have no answers. There are many simple answers that I can give you. This is not a simple problem and probably requires the two individuals in the situation working it out together.
I will tell you that my solution was to go to a therapist. My husband and I went for two years while we were in fertility treatment and I am quite sure that it not only saved my marriage, but quite possibly his life!
It’s not necessary to wait until you are on the verge of divorce or murder to seek help. Our two mental health professionals provide just the type of support that can help this type of situation, as well as address the other stresses that infertility challenges bring. Dr. Lisa Tuttle and Jane Elisofon LCSW, both have the experience and compassion to help. You do not have to do this alone.
Thanks for reading today. Comments? Suggestions?