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January06

LIVING WITH INFERTILITY

For most people, creating life has got to be the biggest achievement in life. The happiness and the fulfilment that comes from bringing a baby into this world will make everything else pale into insignificance.
Like most couples, we wanted this. Like most couples, we thought it was going to be easy. We embarked on this journey full of confidence and determination but after a few years of trying that same confidence and determination was replaced by depression, hopelessness and anger. Quite a transformation of feelings.
According to www.resolve.com 1 in 8 couples has problems getting pregnant or sustaining pregnancy. This equates to millions of normal people, struggling to create life. Are you or anyone you know having difficulty in getting pregnant and infertility? This is the real world. This is where the real pain starts.
This problem does not discriminate against race, religion or wealth. Should infertility decide to pay you a visit you will face seemingly endless lows. If it decides to stick around, you will face torment, frustration and devastation like never before. More and more couples face this problem now. Whether the problem resides with the woman, the man is firing blanks or whether they leave it later on in life because of their busy working lives, this problem is on the increase.
Try living with infertility for a few years and then you will get the privilege of experiencing problems and emotions that were previously inconceivable. Dealing with things that had never crossed your mind before. Infertility adds another dynamic to any relationship, regardless of its security, that was never part of the equation before. Infertility can break a marriage. This is how bad this problem is.
This problem has a huge effect on both men and women. The man is walking on eggshells around his wife, as he fears that whatever he says or do, he will get on her nerves. He begins to feel like a puppet, feeling forced to perform as and when he is told as ovulation charts and temperature plotting takes over the bedrooms. The woman endures intense mood swings and depression as she tries desperately to fulfil her need to be a mother, feeling ever more like a failure. Behind her tough exterior, lies a tortured and fragile soul who needs understanding and compassion. Behind his supportive shell lies a confused and lost man.
Gone were the sexy weekends away, long lie-ins and spontaneous trips to the bedroom. Now everything was organised, planned and prepared. I had to be ready to perform on command. When I was told that she was ovulating, God help me if I did not rise to the occasion. I might have had a bad day at work and coming home, all that I had in my mind was a couple of cans of beer and telling my wife about the jerk that upset me at work. When I entered the front door, she would sometimes be waiting for me and in a business-like manner telling me to come to the bedroom because she was ovulating. Sex was the last thing on my mind. Here comes the kicker. If I rose to the occasion, it would have been just another task of the day to be completed. If I did not rise to the occasion, recriminations and crying would follow… “Don’t you love me anymore? Don’t you want to have a baby?” All I wanted to say was “Of course I bloody love you. That is why I married you and that is why I put up with feeling like a puppet and have not complained once. It is just that I am pissed off tonight,”
Of course I said none of the above. She is my wife! Her need and desire to be a mom was so great, that every month it seems as though a piece of her soul was destroyed. The vibrant and witty girl I married was disappearing one bit at a time.
Living for a few years with this inability to get pregnant, can take its toll on a couple. Nothing else matters. All around us friends and family were calling us with their own good news that they were pregnant. Going to Christenings and baby birthday parties, just amplified our failure. When friends and family tried to give us words of encouragement, saying that they understood what we were going through and they just knew that we were going to be parents, it pushed my levels of anger to new heights. Of course they did not understand what we were going through. Unless they had lived through this problem, they had no idea how crippling it is and that their empty words were not needed.
When you live through this problem, you will hear a lot of:
“I just know that you will have a baby” — Do they have a crystal ball or something?
“Are you pregnant yet?”— The most insensitive question to ask a couple that has problems getting pregnant.
“Have faith and God will listen to your prayers”— The fact that we did not have a baby yet, were they implying that we were atheists and God was not answering our prayers?
“What do you want a baby for? They cost a fortune.”— Well, what do you say to that?
I sometimes felt like banging my head (and theirs) against the wall.
There were lots of times when I would get home and find my wife in tears. I just cuddled her. I never asked her why? I knew! I never told her that we were going to be alright and that our turn to be parents would come. It was bad enough, hearing this from our nearest and dearest. When you have nothing constructive to say, silence is the best option.
I am a social drinker and a smoker. Just like that, those little pleasures were gone. My diet was changed. Going for years, fruitlessly trying to get pregnant, made me question the wisdom of those little sacrifices. What if after five or ten years of trying, we did not get a result? What if we could not get pregnant anyway and all this was for nothing? What if…
I never voiced any this to my wife. How could I?
This is when problems and resentment start to surface. Was my wife’s need to be a mother, worth the daily hassles we were going through? How long would I have to put up with her mood swings and depression? Our lives were in limbo. Why could we not cut our losses and finally start getting on with our lives? We could have still lived a productive life without children! There had been no laughter in our house for more than four years. Surely, enough was enough.
To my shame, I thought about all those things but thankfully I never voiced them. I never realised how deep that desire ran. By my wife being unable to be a mom, made her feel less of a woman. Her not being able to be a mom, made her question the reason for her existence.
To be honest, I would have followed her on this road until the end. We would have been 70 years old, boxes full of Viagra and still trying! This was her battle which by default became my battle. She is my wife. Period!
When you embark on this journey and you face problems, in my opinion, the things that will see you through are, communication, understanding, compassion, faith and love for each other (try to just pick three). You need to face this battle as a unit, without allocating blame as to whose fault it is that you cannot get pregnant.
I thought that we had it tough during that period. I was a puppet, giving up smoking and drinking, living in an atmosphere of melancholy. Mood swings and lashings out by my wife. Unknown to me at the time this was nothing compared to what was coming our way.
Terror, death and helplessness were going to be our daily companions and we were unprepared for it. No one is! All this from a noble dream of trying to create life.
We suffered. We fought to achieve our miracle. We are VASPX.

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Steve Petrou — Co-Author of the true life story All I Ever Wanted Was to be Called Mom (A woman’s quest for salvation on the road to motherhood)

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Frankly I think that's ablstuoely good stuff.

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