Infertility can drain the life out of a marriage, especially one that is not strong in the first place. For marriages considered stronger, then infertility will likely make it stronger…but only if both parties carry each other along.
And that is where the issue is, when an infertility diagnosis is made, it is often the woman who feels worst about it. Her entire world comes crashing down, but with the support of a good spouse, she can pull through. Some women have gone through it and survived; some with babies, some still on the trying to conceive journey. But they are hopefully still doing it hand in hand with their husbands…which I tell you is a big deal.
This post highlights the stories of some women, who shared how infertility helped to strengthen the bond between themselves and their husbands. How they dealt with the ugliness that it brought to their marriages, and how they were able to be thankful they have good partners to go through the journey with at all.
Precisely two years ago, Dorothy* was a 26 year old bride, who got married in one of the biggest society weddings that Nigerians are well known for. Marriage was fun for her and her husband, so they decided to wait a year before they started trying for babies.
When the year was up, they actively started trying, but nothing happened. But they were not that worried…not until one day, when the onset of Dorothy’s menstrual period landed her in the hospital.
There, the doctors found out that she had endometriosis, in addition to a large ovarian cyst, which needed to be removed as a matter of urgency. It was a mentally and physically defeated Dorothy who left the hospital. She did not know what to do. After she recovered from the surgery, they started trying again, and after six months with nothing to show, they ended up back in the consulting room of a fertility doctor.
After three failed Intrauterine Inseminations, (IUI) and three failed IVF cycles, she started feeling guilty about putting her husband through the physical, emotional, and financial stress. She felt like she had failed him, and wished things had been different for them. In spite of this, he remained her pillar of strength! He remained optimistic that they would pull through, that something would work, and they would end up with our baby. He even let her be, anytime she started her pity party. He always knew when to give her space, and when to reconnect, giving her the assurance they were in this together.
A turning point for her was the story of a woman, whose husband had turned against her in their bid to have a baby. This woman’s husband had lost patience, and decided he could do better than be to with someone who couldn’t give him a baby. After hearing her story, she went home with a big hug for her husband, and words of appreciation for his genuine support. For the first time since they began their journey, she was genuinely appreciative of being blessed with such a wonderful partner.
Whilst Dorothy had gotten a diagnosis and knew why she was having difficulties trying to conceive, Seun* was not getting pregnant, and could not find out what was wrong. The doctors she had been to could not understand why she and her husband were having difficulties, as all their tests had come back with nothing…zilch!
For her, not knowing what was wrong was even worse. At least if she knew, they could at least have a treatment plan. Not knowing was like a blind man groping in the dark. She felt blind.
And it was beginning to add considerable strain on their marriage, as they were unable to make any tangible life decisions. They were not able to determine whether or not they needed an extra bedroom, whether or not to move house, what kind of neighbourhood they should be looking to move to…especially with respect to if they were family friendly. Without a child, none of these factors were critical, but with one, they would all matter. Seun and her husband were control freaks…they liked to plan…but they could not. Their lives were in limbo, because a baby was not coming…and they did not know why.
She was placed on Clomid without any luck. All around her, everyone seemed to be as fertile as a rabbit, getting pregnant and having babies like they were going out of fashion. Her frustration was all the more compounded by the ministration of her husband. He was a man who liked to solve problems, so he would always postulate various factors that could be responsible for their infertility. Seun, on the other hand, was not a problem solver! All she wanted was to be hugged…to be with him. Sometimes, she wished she could smash his computer screen, or throw his smart phone out of the window. She was sick of hearing what Google had to say! His problem solving attitude led to many fights. It wasn’t until they underwent counselling did he finally understand that what she needed from him was not a Mr. Fix-it, but someone to wrap his arms around her and walk with her through the storm. Now, they talk more, and try to communicate their feelings better…and for Seun, that is all that counts.
Seun once said “This TTC period has made us bond in a completely different way! I look at my husband now and it realise that it might just the two of us…for the rest of our lives. I have finally reached the point where I’m okay with that. But we’re not going to stop trying. We canât stop trying, at least not yet.”
Having another baby is starting to look like a mirage for Nneoma* and her husband, although they have PCOS to contend with. Six months into their TTC, their tests revealed she was not ovulating normally. So, they immediately opted for assisted reproduction. She got pregnant on the first cycle of IVF and they had a baby.
But trying for more babies since the child’s birth has resulted in one miscarriage after the other, and Nneoma got tired of it all. She just wanted to rest and enjoy her child, but her husband did not feel so inclined.
So they kept trying until they both got to the point where they were both tired of the effect of multiple cycles…on their bodies and pocket…and not to mention the tsunami effect it was having on their marriage. Today, they are enjoying their only child and exploring other options like surrogacy…whilst trying to heal the rift infertility caused in their marriage.
For Nneoma, TTC helped her to see her husband in a different light. She saw that he could be your typical macho man…but she also got to see a whole new emotional side of him. This vulnerability has helped them in their healing process.
Infertility, if not dealt with, could be a cancer that eats into a marriage, most times unnoticed. On the flip side, it could also help strengthen a marriage, if both partners are on the same page…most of the time.
The stories of these women attest to their tenacious hold on hope…that one day, that they will carry their own child (ren). The same way, I pray for anyone reading this, still on the TTC journey, that you too will not lose sight of the light at the end of the tunnel.
Till then, keep the fire alit in your marriage. Without your husband, you will not be trying to conceive in the first place, so tell him, how he can help you deal with your pain…especially when Aunty Flo comes, or when the BFN appears again.
Oluwakemi is a member of The Fertile Chick family, and she is a writer, dreamer and mother of two sets of twins. She is passionate about issues that concern women, and does not shy away from airing her views. And words are her weapon of choice! She is reachable on her handle @oluwakemine
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