1. I had no idea how humiliating the process of testing and procedures were for my wife until I had to do my tests – even then they were not as humiliating and uncomfortable as the tests my wife had.
2. I wish I had got tested earlier. It was so easy to assume I was OK as my wife had been diagnosed with PCOS which we knew may affect her fertility.
3. I never knew what I was going to come home to each day, whether my wife would be in strong place or not. I didn’t know how to best support her. I wanted to make it better for her, help her, but I felt powerless to do so. This was one ‘problem’ I couldn’t fix! I learnt to listen to my wife without having to give solutions – because I couldn’t. I now recognize she doesn’t come to me wanting me to fix her problems she wants me to understand how she feels regardless of the subject.
4. I thought I had to be ‘the strong one’ in the relationship. I believed one of us had to keep strong, positive and hopeful. I was rubbish at being aware of my feelings at the best of times but I really thought now was a time to put aside my feelings and focus on my wife, to be there for her. It wasn’t until after eight years into our fertility journey when my wife was finally healed and I was diagnosed with infertility that I could no longer hang on to the thread of hope I had. I collapsed. This was both the worst and best thing that could have happened for us. It enabled me to be real. I stopped playing the role of ‘the strong one’. I could finally be the husband my wife wanted. One that was with her on the journey. Connected by our sharing of how we really felt moment to moment. I could suddenly see how keeping my emotions to myself were not helping my wife or us as a couple. I had been creating a distance between us and now it could come down and we could be united on our journey.
5. I found I needed an outlet for my feelings. The anger, the resentment, the jealousy. I needed to accept they were there and feel them and then let them go instead of denying their existence. I was so jealous of mates with their young families. They just didn’t understand, they were probably jealous of the fact we had more freedom in our lives as we didn’t have children, thinking we were living the high life. If only they knew the truth.
6. I am glad I did all I could to show my commitment to our cause, whether I truly believed it would make a difference or not, it is more about showing my commitment. I stopped putting my phone in my pocket, I took a bucket full of pills each day, I was even more careful with my diet. I embraced each and every idea doctors or my wife came up with that could help our chances of success.
7. I am glad I had a male friend who was going through a similar thing. Someone I could really be honest with who understood. Even my best friend could never understand what it was like, I don’t believe you can unless you have been there. It’s not the kind of thing that comes up at the pub over a pint!
8. I am glad we were honest with people about why we didn’t have children if the subject came up. We agreed on a standard phrase we would say which enabled, which didn’t disclose which of us had the problem (even though it ended up being one and then the other!). It helped me feel united and in it together.
About the Author
Russell Davis, survivor of double infertility, father, runner, Cognitive Hypnotherapist and founder of The Fertile Mind®. Russell has helped couples utilize the power of the mind-body link and achieve their dream of having a baby. He is also The National Council of Hypnotherapy’s Fertility Special Advisor.