Surviving The Fall Out

Posted in Motherhood Pursuit by
Picking Up The Pieces & Rebuilding

I would never, in a million years, have guessed that the real, long-term effects of my infertility would only be experienced after surviving the fall out.

Here’s something I haven’t shared with anyone but I’m going to share it with you. I’m going to put it out there and say it out aloud. It’s the most shocking effect of my infertility and its come to a head at a time when I, and I’m sure most infertiles as outsiders looking in on my life wouldn’t have expected it, me living the dream right?

My marriage has been in crisis. Walter and I are in the throes of doing some major over hauling and damage control on our relationship. Its only now, after more than 7 years of TTC and after the haze of a new-born baby has lifted that we are both seeing, clearly, for the first time in years, just what has happened to our relationship.

I hope that this is not unique to just us, I’d love to hear from the rest of you who have managed to have children, especially those of you who were in the trenches for extended periods, i.e. more than 5 years.

The truth is, we’ve simply spent the last 7 odd years just trying to survive the actual fall out, as our lives imploded and everything we thought, hoped, planned and dreamed of for our lives as a married couple went up in flames. We’ve been in survival mode for so long that we no longer knew what it was to be “normal” to not be fighting for our sanity, fighting for our broken hearts, fighting for our survival. We’d been in survival mode for so long, we didn’t even know we were in survival mode anymore.

Then one day, the haze of new-born baby shock and sleep deprivation lifted and we realized the dust from the explosion that was infertility, was starting to settle but we didn’t know how to settle with it. We didn’t know how to calm down, come out of fight or flight mode and continue on as “normal”.

The shocking part, for me at least, is that I thought that we were coping, that our relationship was holding steady under the rubble and strain of the fall out. But it wasn’t, we were just surviving. We were doing what we needed to do to get by. There was no nurturing of our relationship and now that we’re in the rebuilding phase, its been very very hard.

Walter and I have both had to own up to taking each other fore-granted, we’ve had to work hard at finding our way back to each other again. We went through a real wobbly patch, a patch where I think we were both left feeling extremely unsettled and insecure. A patch where we had to remind each other, at times daily, of our marriage vows, of for better or worse, in sickness and in health till death us do part. There were times when the thought of packing it all in, while scary, simply seemed like the best solution.

Thankfully, after lots of hard work over the past couple of months, things have started to settle, we are starting to find our new normal. Things are getting better, we’ve started to remember why we fell in love, we’ve started to find affection with each other again, we’ve started to be intimate again and we’ve become friends again.

Its been hard. Its been shocking. But thankfully it is another chapter we can put behind us and keep moving forward as we strive to be the most committed and best parents that Ava could ever hope for.

June 21, 2010
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39 Comments

  • Reply skrambled

    Wow, what an open an honest post. Sjoe, I can relate in one way. I have noticed how much we don’t ‘live’ because we are waiting for this baby. How much is waiting until after the baby comes. Travel, weight loss, motorbikes, LCD TV’s and lots of other stuff on an emotional level.

    Lotsa love xxx

    June 21, 2010 at 3:43 pm
    • Reply Sharon

      Thanks Sian. But that’s not what I’m referring to. I’m referring to the disconnect that developed between Walter and I that we couldn’t feel or notice until after the fall out.

      June 21, 2010 at 3:45 pm
  • Reply suestuart

    Wow Sharon, what a difficult time you have been going through, I really hope that you are well on the road to rebuilding! I can’t say we went through that, but our relationship really took strain after Katy’s arrival. Things just changed so much, more particularly for me, that it was really hard adjusting. I took on all the childcare, while it seemed to me that Craig’s life didn’t change at all. He still comes and goes as he pleases, plays sport etc, whereas I felt I couldn’t even get out to the hairdresser. I started to resent the fact that it seemed that I was the one who had to put everything on hold. Anyway, we’ve spoken it out, and this month we started Katy in daycare 2 mornings a week just to give me a chance to get some work done, go to the hairdresser, do the grocery shopping etc. We are getting there!

    June 21, 2010 at 6:01 pm
  • Reply pandoragelb

    People looking in only see what we let them, and no-one is really living the dream, we only think they do. And it makes our own lives look less wonderful if we think we are the only ones struggling.
    In all the time when all you are thinking about is that baby you want so badly, you think when you get there, it will be your happy ever after. But what it is, is a different kind of reality, and life goes on, it does not stop in that perfect moment. Our focus changes, and something lifts, and you can again see your life as being about more than that goal. That’s when it may be obvious that you have been living together, but have not really been together. I’m so happy that you both realise that you have something worth saving, and that you believe in your vows. Marriage is not easy, and so many people give up far too quickly. May your marriage just get stronger and better! Thank you for being so honest, and may I say, you look like such a lovely family, Ava is just adorable!

    June 21, 2010 at 8:14 pm
  • Reply zamom

    We went through a rough patch after Ava arived but think it was because I had some PND and just was a pretty awful person to be around and Chris had just had enough of putting up with my crap. It took lots and lots of talking and effort, especially from my side as I do admit that I was mostly to blame. I do strongly believe that all the hormones do mess with one’s chemical balance and even when one’s dream comes true, so to speak, that dream comes with little sleep and lots of additional stress and loads of feeling clueless and I’m afraid my reaction was to lash out at Chris. I think another problem is that the mom’s life really does change quite a bit more, there’s no turning back and it’s not always the bed of roses that one imagined it to be.

    June 21, 2010 at 9:26 pm
  • Reply ani007

    I’m so glad i’m not alone, my journey lasted 4yrs 3months till i conceived. My daughter will be 2 in November & dh & i have just about found each other again. So now we’ve got our baby – now what, it’s scary when you realise how far apart you’ve drifted & what your sole focus for the past years have been & it definitely wasn’t each other, it’s hard work to find your way back. I’m so glad it’s a closed chapter for you & that you can move forward with your beautiful family. You have been blessed!

    June 21, 2010 at 9:34 pm
  • Reply hcouperus

    Sharon, I’m sorry to hear of your struggle and I’m glad that both of you ‘saw’ the problem before it became to late and my ‘hat off’ to you and W for working through those issue and getting to know each other again! WOW admiration here :). As you are well aware I haven’t had any infertility issues but nevertheless have had other issues and I have struggled with motherhood (and still struggle somedays). Our marriage has changed (for the better) and adding children in the mix, is a huge challenge for anyone. WE have realised that once you have children, you NEED to make time for each other. Our marriage is a priority even before the children, and our children thrive! An excellent marriage movie we have watched is Fireproof //www.fireproofthemovie.com/, it is a Christian based movie but we have enjoyed it and learned from it.

    June 22, 2010 at 1:52 am
  • Reply ttcnot2easy

    I am really glad that you are picking up the pieces… Goodness knows that IF affects us one way or another. For Travers and I, it has actually brought us alot closer together (now – whereas 4 years ago, we were strangers). What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. The thing that ‘worries’ me is how things will change when we eventually become parents.. Because we actually never really do know, do we? We just never know the full effects until it hits us full on. But I reckon that if we can get through this, we can ultimately get through anything.

    June 22, 2010 at 7:18 am
  • Reply trishdg

    Oh yeah I can so relate. We did 6 years and numerous IVFs before we had a child and throughout those dark IF years I thought we had beaten the odds and had a stronger marriage because of what we had been through but when our baby was about 3 months old I realised we were barely able to communicate on a normal level. We handled crisis well but everyday life with children – not so much! We actually separated for a while and have spent a lot of time rebuliding our marriage and social life. We were so used to hiding out and distracting/protecting ourselves from the depressing never ending failures that we had lost touch. It was so shocking to me as just when I had everything I wanted and worked so hard for that it started falling apart – definitely not what I expected. Good luck Sharon it is not easy and I think us IF vets put so much pressure on ourselves to now have the perfect life that we really struggle sometimes. Hang in there and you are on the right track!

    June 22, 2010 at 8:26 am
    • Reply Sharon

      Trish! What you have said is 100% true for me, you have hit the nail right on the head. Walter and I can handle any kind of crisis, we were in crisis mode for 7 years and 5 months to be exact. And we too thought we’d beaten the odds, we’d said the same thing all infertiles say, our marriage was stronger because of it when in fact, our crisis control was simply better but we had no clue how to relate to each other after the crisis was over!

      June 22, 2010 at 9:22 am
      • Reply hollielee5

        I agree wholeheartedly with this. CRISIS MODE is what we do best.. its the every day that we have the most trouble with. Its like being shot up with a big dose of adrenaline and never coming down. Always in chaos. Hollie=IF vet 6 years

        June 22, 2010 at 9:20 pm
  • Reply mayflowerladybugs

    Sjoe Sharon, that really puts things into perspective! I am so sorry that you had to, in addition to everything else also go through this, and I am very glad that it is going better now. One of my friends once told me that acknowledging thta divorce is an option, rather than acting like the possibility doesn’t exist helped her and her husband wokr even harder at avoiding it, and that has also helped me and mine! Our journey wasn’t that long, and we are both very singleminded in persueing our goals, so it has rather been the very presence of the children that has taxed us. But we are working at it everyday.

    June 22, 2010 at 8:29 am
  • Reply anynamesavailable

    hell yeah!! I think we are only coming out of our “put the armour on an get through”..horrid breakin, move to CT, baby, move to NZ ,.. flippen hell Shari I reckon even just a normal life/pregnacy creates such a change in your lives that you often just “forget” eachother. So glad you are sorting through the pieces and making them whole again

    June 22, 2010 at 8:58 am
  • Reply vroutjie

    Sjoe – at least you recognised the fact that something was missing and you fixed it – that is what makes a great marriage!

    I, have, however, seen a few couples, when after they have a child have to re-assess their relationship. I think to have a child puts the ultimate strain on a relationship and if you can sort it out, then that is great!!

    Thank you for your honest post and good luck!!

    June 22, 2010 at 9:06 am
  • Reply tzipieastwest

    Sharon,

    I have the feeling – reading from the last sentene of your post – that you are well on your way; it is like you managed to shift your couple’s communal goal from fighting to buid a family and surviving crises to being the best possible parents for your child(ren).

    I really hope you find each other again, and shift into another stage of your relationship, now that you are, individuals, a couple, and a family !!

    June 22, 2010 at 9:34 am
  • Reply marina1605

    Hi Sharon. Not easy I’m sure, so much to deal with just having a baby, never mind all the years of struggling with IF before baby even arrived. I’m glad that you and W are working at it and finding each other again.

    June 22, 2010 at 10:27 am
  • Reply wheresmybun

    Aaaw Hon, that’s so sad. I didn’t even know you were going through such a hard time. I’m glad you guys are working it out, and that you are moving in the right direction. Having Ava has been wonderful but its been very strenuous on your relationship, and I’m sure the fact that W has been working such long hours, plus his hectic study schedule all contributed to the fact. The good news is that you both realised what was wrong and you are now working very hard at strengthening your relationship. You will get through it even stronger than ever, and soon you won’t be just good at handling crises but also the mundane, every day things that seem to suck life out of you. I hope and pray for peace and joy abundantly in your marriage and life, you guys make such a cute couple and with a gorgeous baby in the mix your family is cuteness personified. hugs and kisses my friend.

    June 22, 2010 at 10:38 am
  • Reply Me

    Guvnor and I have disconnected over the past 11 years (OMG) and honestly it’s mainly me.

    He’s always been “fine” to live a life/marriage with just us two in it whereas I have not. I know we’ve grown apart, we almost broke up a couple of years ago and if I’m honest I’ve thought about leaving in the past 12 months because I know I’ve made him unhappy.

    Crisis? No worries we can manage that but communicate? On a deeper personal level? We forgot how to do that or should I say I forgot how to do that. With each month of trying and then each loss, I just withdrew more and more into myself, I didn’t know how to reach out to Guvnor and truth be told I still don’t – mainly because he didn’t feel the losses the way I did and he couldn’t understand why they affected me so much.

    However as I’ve said on my latest post on The Miss Ruby, he’s all I have, if I don’t have him, then the past 11 years would have been for nothing, so each day is a battle to get back what we used to have.

    thegalwho.wordpress.com
    themissruby.blogspot.com

    June 22, 2010 at 11:49 am
  • Reply lollypie

    I can’t relate from an infertile level, so sorry if that sounds rude and/or insensitive.
    But I can relate on a survival level.
    We’re about to have our 3rd child and my oldest will be 3 on Saturday.
    We’ve been in newborn kiddy survival mode for a while.
    Some days I look at my hubby and wonder if I still know him. We don’t get much time to ourselves at all. I feel as though we co-exist in a state of chaos. 😉
    Not really as a couple.

    I know its hard, but you guys are definitely on track to sorting it out! Yup its hard, but hard work always has the best result!
    Keep it up!

    June 22, 2010 at 12:17 pm
  • Reply charnetrollip

    happy things are getting back on track

    xxx

    June 22, 2010 at 12:42 pm
  • Reply michiem1

    Hi Sharon. Reading your post makes me feel like Im reading an extract of my own diary. Years of IF, coping so well in fact thinking that our marriage had arrived only to realise after our little girl was born that not only were we not on the same page, we werent in the same book never mind the same library. Every time we would have some kind of stress-Kevin would run into his cave and deal with it in his own way- I would retreat into mine and deal with it on my own and we just headed into complete seperate directions. We also had one of those “AH-HA” moments and I cant say that it was instantly better but it did start getting better bit by bit. The thought of spending my life without him made my life seem like it was not worth living. Im not one of those woman that need my husband to give me value its just that I realised I felt complete with him. I hope and pray that the 2 of you find each other again. You will be in my prayers.
    Michelle

    June 22, 2010 at 1:17 pm
  • Reply aussiekim

    Two of my fav marriage quotes

    The success of marriage comes not in finding the “right” person, but in the ability of both partners to adjust to the real person they ineveitably realize they married. – John Fischer

    What counts in making a happy marriage is not so much how compatible you are, but how you deal with incompatibility. – Leo Tolstoy

    Big hugs

    Kim
    xxx

    June 22, 2010 at 1:30 pm
  • Reply kirstymac72

    sjoe – you have struck a chord with me, albeit not from a surviving infertility perspective. Just becoming parents seems to make couples forget each other. We became parents 3 x over in 4 short years – and the past 6 years have been spent just coping with babies, nappies, sick children, a trans-continental move,buying and selling houses etc…. And the “us” always finds a back seat. Well done for recognising it. I think me and hubby have a bit of recognising to do!

    June 22, 2010 at 1:54 pm
  • Reply thebsdiaries

    Well my friend you know what happened to my marriage! Having a baby in the house is one of the life-changing, most disruptive things to a relationship. And yes, being in a warzone for the past decade and now you are in peace time – you have to all of a sudden change communication too! I didn’t understand the concept of putting your relationship first until it was too late. But you and W have to come first – before Ava – and as hard as that is to even picture right now!!! Or disaster.

    June 22, 2010 at 4:02 pm
  • Reply charminka

    Jissie – When I read your post I thought – nope – you are not alone – We went *still are* going through the same thing. By the time I finally get to *post* my comment (see PS below) – I see that there is plenty people who also feel like *we* do.

    It is m**rse difficult in finding, keeping and having “us”!

    Take time out (even if its only 2 minutes) and just sit back and say “Phew” You have been through sooooooooooo much… its time to just, you know, …. “Phew”!

    PS)Seriously… I dont know what it is with your blog – but every time I want to type a comment and post – Chancia wakes up!!

    June 22, 2010 at 4:17 pm
  • Reply darylfaure

    Hey Sharon – sorry I’m only catching up on your posts now, but I know you understand how sometimes the days just run away and you have not achieved anything you wanted to. What a brave and honest post, and no – you are not alone. Doug and I are coming up for our 10 year anniversary, and I can honestly say this last year has been the hardest of our married life. Having a baby places an enormous strain on your marriage, and with the best intentions in the world I fell into all the old cliche traps. Before I had a baby I always said that I would always put my DH before my child, as he and I were an item first. Who was I kidding? The minute I held my LB for the first time, and felt that love well up in me, I knew that I would do anything to protect him, and that he would always come first in my life. So yes, my DH has taken a back seat, and we have neglected each other, and being a SAHM I resent the fact that I am always taken for granted and don’t get any “me” time. I think when you are battling infertility, you have a common “enemy” and that helps you to stay strong and focussed, but when that part is history you have to re-define your identities as well as coping with being new parents. My DH and I had a big blow up this weekend, but finally sat down and talked honestly about our feelings, and we are also both trying to make an effort and get back on track. I have also recently gone back on eltroxin, which I went off 6 weeks after giving birth. I cannot tell you how I feel like a new person again. I didn’t realise how bad I had been feeling, until I felt better, and obviously I was using all my energy just to get through the day and keep my LB happy.
    The fact that you and W have recognised that there is a problem and are both prepared to work on it is a really big step, and I know you will be ok.

    June 22, 2010 at 5:15 pm
  • Reply Yvonne

    Can’t offer advice Shaz but only biggest hugs.
    I’m so glad that you feel like you are finding one another again.
    xx

    June 22, 2010 at 6:10 pm
  • Reply dee

    All I can say is that I do understand, alot more than you know. I pray that you find each other again and soon. xxx

    June 22, 2010 at 6:11 pm
  • Reply orbit365

    Thank you for this beautiful, brave post. My DH and I also struggled after the birth of our 2nd child and though we didn’t have the added infertility that you have to deal with, we had numerous other challenges which also constantly put us in survival mode. It was tough but we are taking it one day at a time. What has helped us tremendously was to make time for one another. Obviously this is a bit difficult with kids but we make a plan. We go out sans kids and the only rule is that we are NOT allowed to talk about them. In the beginning this was incredibly tough but we were forced to talk about other things and it is so much easier now. I think that this also helped us to connect on a deeper emotional level.
    I’m so happy that you and Walter recognized that there was a problem and that you are committed to work at your marriage. All the best, and thank you so much for sharing..x

    Julia

    June 22, 2010 at 8:01 pm
  • Reply hollielee5

    WOW! you, as always, put MY feelings into words. YOU ARE NOT ALONE! I think that its so brave of you to put these feelings out there. Its just ONE MORE FACET of Infertility. Im ready to not be surprised at yet another bomb,lurking around the corner, that can be attributed to IF. I think you put our situation into perspective. I think we (Angel and I) are too frightened to admit that we need to work on ourselves. I think overall, IF has made us stronger. But, to some degree, we try to shield each other from any more pain and bottle up our emotions. Im thinking that a long talk is in order… thanks Sharon!

    June 22, 2010 at 9:10 pm
  • Reply ksmind

    Aussiekim – LOVE your quotes!!! so so frikken true!!! 🙂

    June 23, 2010 at 7:35 am
  • Reply rumneym

    Hi Shaz – your blog post gave me lots to think about and I admire your honesty and putting “it” out there for us all to read and share. I do’t think that any of us who have been through IF can honestly say that our marriages come out the otherside 100% intact. We all take a beating and have to work so hard at getting things back on track. And lets face it – things will never be the same as they were before IF but we can certainly try to make things better. Starting with myself. My whole focus is on my LB and like Daryl said that overwhelming love we have for our babies is life changing.
    Wishing you and W all the best and well done on making the start ont he road of “rediscovery”. Long may it last and go from strength to strenght.xxx

    June 23, 2010 at 8:56 am
  • Reply Zeu

    Rather Late than never I suppose..
    What a brave, brave post to admit that there is “trouble in paradise”, you are one of the few people I know who will openly admit that having a baby changes everything!

    I think when we finally have our little ones, and it’s own sets of trials and tribulations along with it, we tend to think that the Baby becomes Everything.(Certainly in my case)

    I often after the birth of Alizee felt, that although I reached my ultimate goal of becoming a Mom, I also lost the essence of Me.. Everything revolved around this little being, making sure she was fed, bathed, happy, content etc, so my wants and desire where either completely ignored or placed on the back burner.

    It’s only now, 18 months down the line, that she is becoming a bit more independent, that I find, that I can even indulge thoughts of me-time, or honestly making time for hubby and me to connect without Babes.

    Hang in there, the cloud is lifting! As always a very brave and honest post!

    June 23, 2010 at 9:00 am
  • Reply elna3

    DITTO!!! I so know what you mean. We have been married for nearly 11 years now and have a gorgeous one year old -after fertility treatment. What has been an easy marraige to sustain and uphold has turned into VERY hard work. I think previously we just had to look after each other and now there is someone else to look after. After a days work, looking after your child there isn’t too much left for hubby and visa versa. All those years of trying for a baby does not do many relationships any good. AS you say, it is recognizing that things aren’t right and working at it, really working at it.

    June 23, 2010 at 10:44 am
  • Reply Mash

    I think it’s actually totally normal. Sometimes I think we’ve been in survival mode since the day we got married, or maybe even before that. I haven’t had a child, but my mom has become a sort of dependant, her affairs take up a lot of my time since my Dad died. I know it’s not the same as the sleepless nights from a child, but my point is about survival mode. I keep putting off being happily married “until-everything-is-running-smoothly”. And that’s not how life works, as with everything, ALL good marriages need hard work and a lot of attention. I always say, you get out of bed every morning and loyally turn up for work, for a total stranger. The level of sacrifice and hard work that we put into our marriages should be much bigger than that! We’ve also had a very dark patch recently, during which I seriously considered leaving my husband so that he could marry someone fertile. But we’ve come through it now, and our love is stronger than ever! THanks for this post.

    June 23, 2010 at 11:09 am
  • Reply jbarff

    Gulp ….. its a little like looking in the mirror! Well done for taking that first step to healing !

    June 23, 2010 at 7:57 pm
  • Reply ldr1604

    This post really struck a cord with me. Unfortunately I think we would be hard-pressed to find a marriage that didn’t creak a little under the continual strain of TTC. Glad you took immediate remedial action though. I think as much as Ava’s quick arrival was amazing and wonderful, it must have been a huge shock to you and Walter which would require months of adjustment into your new roles. I think of reading this some of us with look into our own marraiges and do a quick stock-take, I know I will be.

    June 24, 2010 at 8:05 am
  • Reply samcy

    I think all too often when fighting infertility all you can do it fight it, work together against it and try and defeat it and whilst we all say in our castles that we’re not going to let it effect our marriages it does by it’s very definition.

    I’m not anywhere near the fall out phase so can’t talk for that side of things, but can apprecaite how you and W recognised the issue relatively quickly and have put a plan in place to combat it.

    xxx

    June 24, 2010 at 4:13 pm
  • Reply hayley

    Wow Sharon, this is what I love about your blog…not hearing the bad things, but hearing the truth. I read so many blogs (and mine I include in this list) where everything is just perfect.

    I take my hat off to you and to Walter. And wish you both all the luck and love in the world, you both deserve it.

    July 5, 2010 at 2:12 pm
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