It’s been a long two weeks away from the blog, spent mostly getting over jet lag from my Asia trip, a brief stomach bug, and a wicked fight with the hubs.
We’ve been having a hard time lately, the hubs and I. It is a hard thing to talk about publicly (and privately!) so I won’t go into the gory details, but I will say that the infertility dance can be hard on a marriage long after the music has stopped.
When I first started realizing that we weren’t going to get pregnant naturally, I started reading any and every infertility account I could get my hands on – blogs, books, articles, you name it. Most shared a similar story of two people joined together in the dogged pursuit of a shared dream, supporting each other every step of the way, even while navigating the fog of hormones, disappointment, and financial stress.
In these stories, each failed treatment presented an opportunity to look each other in the eye and share the grief, while contemplating the next step. There were many accounts of women distraught at the idea of not becoming a mother, and husbands vowing to do whatever it would take to help her fill that dream.
Oh how I longed for that to be our story. Instead, we struggled with differing views on how far we each were willing to go to create a family. The hubs’ attitude has always been that he would be happy just being married to me, making a life for the two of us, kids or not. While in theory I appreciated that sentiment as I didn’t feel pressure from him, I didn’t always share it and over time, even grew to resent it.
Let’s face it, even if as a couple you are completely aligned on the mechanics of infertility treatment – how many hormones you’re willing to ingest, how in debt you’re willing to go, how much humiliation you’re willing to endure (think sperm in a cup and banana-like ultrasound wands), whose genetic material you’re willing to use – couples struggling with infertility are faced with decisions that most couples can’t even dream of. So what happens if you’re not totally aligned? In my experience, lots of heartache, long discussions, and – if you’re smart – therapy.
As our journey dragged on through the years and we both pushed the limits of how far we’d be willing to go, I kept looking for stories of couples who weren’t naturally in lockstep about the whole infertility thing. I couldn’t find them, and eventually decided that maybe those stories didn’t exist because this was too hard a struggle and those couples just didn’t make it.
It wasn’t until the hubs and I went to therapy to resolve some of our issues that I felt comforted to hear that no, not every couple is on the same page about what lengths they might go to in order to build a family. It was reassuring at the time, and it helped us to better understand and appreciate where we each were coming from. It also helped us both get to a place where we were aligned on the fact that we had gone far enough.
Now that we’ve gotten off the crazy infertility train, I’m so grateful that the hubs doesn’t feel let down by our biological failures. I have no doubt that there are many women who don’t deliver the goods and are dropped like a hot potato. The challenge is, as we struggle to accept and embrace and define our life without children, the alignment issue is rearing its ugly head in a different way.
I never really let myself consider what a life without children would look like, because for so long I refused to accept that outcome. Now I’m spending lots of time thinking and writing about it, and we’re spending lots of time talking about it. We’re trying very hard to find that alignment again, but it has been a struggle.
I can’t help but wonder how much better we would be at this had we not already been through the mother of all marital struggles?