Friday, June 29, 2012

Blog Reader Question: Husband support

I recently had another question written in the comments on my blog. It is important to note that I am in no way an expert on these things. I am answering this question with just the limited amount of knowledge I have. It may not be worth much, but here it is anyhow. :)

I have a question for you. Sorry to bring up the infertility subject again but I don't have anyone else to ask: I've never tried to keep my feelings from my husband, I'm pretty much 'wear my heart on my sleeve' but after trying for over 2 years I feel like he's tainted to the whole baby thing. Let me rephrase that, not tainted like he doesn't want one he does, but a little callous to my emotions of wanting a child. It's super hard to be around pregnant people. I try to explain this to him and he sympathizes but I don't think he knows how to react. I know he's trying but honestly I don't feel the support and sympathy enough. I know that sounds super selfish but its true. No one else knows we're going through this so I need extra support from him b/c I feel like I'm silently suffering sometimes in public. Yes, I've told him this. My question IS: How did you try and express your feelings to your husband without sounding like a broken record or complaining? Thank you!

So first of all, I read your question to my husband. It is important for me to mention that my husband is a much more talkative guy than the average male. He will sit and talk for long periods of time (and will even initiate the topics on many occasions!) That being said, when I read this question to my husband his immediate response was, "I know exactly how that guy is feeling."

It's just the truth of it. I have yet to meet a couple that the husband was taking the infertility journey harder than the wife. I am yet to meet a couple that has the husband leave a baby shower in tears. Or a husband that has to be hit at the right moment with a pregnancy announcement. We women take infertility much harder than men. There's just no way around it.

Early on in our infertility journey, my husband and I had a conversation outside a friends' house. I remember that it was cold and there was a foot of snow on the ground. I was trying, yet again, to get him to understand why infertility hurt me so badly. I remember that this was the night he finally seemed to "get it" (at least more than he had). And I remember how I got him to see it.

I used a word picture. I painted a picture of him being told that he had to drop out of medical school (which was thing that he was, at that time, the most passionate about). I told him that he had to sit and watch his classmates finish school while he just waited to find out if they were going to let him back in to school or not. He could try to pursue other dreams while he waited, but there was no telling when the call would come that he was in or not. I told him that he may even get a call saying he was in only to receive a follow-up call that they had changed their mind. Or they may call and tell him that they were going to think about it for a few weeks before letting him know.

This worked for JB. I remember him saying that while he still didn't think I should take things as hard as I did, it made a bit more sense to him. Of course, as the years and procedures piled on top of us, John joined me more and more in our grieving process. As his desire and frustrations increased, we met more and more in the middle. In the end, he never reached my level of grief over our inability to conceive. But he definitely came closer. If you could find that thing your husband is the most passionate about and try to compare your infertility journey to him losing the ability to participate in that passion, maybe he can see it a bit more. He has to see it as you see it, somehow.

My second piece of advice is to find support aside from your husband. I, personally, suggest that people confide in a few close friends. In my case, I made the decision to "tell everyone" as my heart was so hurt and I just needed people to know.

However, if you choose to not find support "in the real world" than I really recommend you find that support online, where you can remain a bit more anonymous. I truly believe that the support I received through "girlfriends" was a key ingredient of releasing my husband from the burden of being my sole form of support. He is not able to completely relate. He is not a female. And only having one person for support is too much for anyone in any situation. They get burned out!

Here is a link to a past blog I did featuring online resources for infertility. I always especially recommend the following two links.
Hannah's Prayer, especially, was a HUGE source of encouragement to me during the years we dealt with infertility. Many of the women I am connected to online and who comment on this blog, were gals I met through this site. What I especially like about this Board is that it has "sections" of infertility. For instance, women struggling with infertility who have no children can go to a certain section for support. If you have a child and are struggling with secondary infertility, there is a separate section. And if you have been dealing with primary infertility for over four years (as I was), you could enter a long-term primary infertility section. There are also sections for adoption and pregnancy and multiples and other things that may occur after your journey moves into another direction.

I think you will find that support from other women will be a key ingredient in your husband not feeling overwhelmed or frustrated by how often you want to talk about things. If something hurt me or was hard on me, I would confide in a friend online or a friend in the real world. I then did not need my husband to provide me with the support I had already received. It was amazingly helpful.

Feel free to email me personally (wendi@wendkitsteiner.com) if you just need one person to talk to. Sometimes one person is all it takes. I hope this helps a bit.

3 comments:

  1. This is one of the most difficult things to convey to your significant other. Having this talk over and over and not getting any results makes it frustrating for both. And the brief hope that seeing Infertility Specialists brings for a new test is usually washed away quickly. But keep your head up and the solution presents itself!

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