Advice For Couples Struggling With Infertility

Yesterday during our one on one interviews with our SW, she went through the results of our psychometric tests with us individually and the results were a big a-ha moment for me.

Some of you will know this, but I fell pregnant the first time while we were on honeymoon and six weeks after returning from honeymoon, we were thrown head first into our struggle with infertility and recurrent pregnancy loss. We never had a chance to enjoy marital bliss and each other.

I came completely undone after my first miscarriage, for months after the miscarriage, Walter would arrive home from work and find me in a crumpled, snotty mess on the couch sobbing my heart out, balled up tissues scattered on the floor. My heart broke and it would take more than 7 years for it to be healed. My withdrawal from “breeders” (as they’re fondly called in the IF community) started there, I withdrew, I was broken, shattered, incapable of focusing on anything aside from trying to put my heart back together with a band aid in the form of another pregnancy and baby. Walter’s frustrating journey of exasperation and being sidelined began at around the same time.

A few years past in a muddle of we-must-have-sex-now-because-I’m-ovulating and no-don’t-touch-me-I-may-be-pregnant. Not exactly a healthy medium for any couple. Enter the fertility specialists and things took a turn for the worse. Ironic that the medical fraternity that were trying to help us have a baby were also the very people who would drive a wedge so deep between my husband and I that there was a time we thought we’ve never come together again. A midst a thousand invasive and humiliating tests and surgeries and injections and blood tests and procedures, we drifted further and further apart, at times barely even knowing why we were still together, except for the fact that we I wanted a child and Walter was my sperm donor, as crass as that may sound, I’m sad to admit, it is the truth.

I became obsessed with having a child, with beating infertility, to the exclusion and to the damage of everything and everyone else in my life. NOTHING. ELSE. MATTERED!

Enter Ava-Grace and instead of living happily ever after, Walter and I had more than 7 years worth of grief, hurt, mistrust, baggage and cr*p that we needed work through. But instead we pretended everything was just peachy, swept it under a rug and tried to pretend like there wasn’t a gigantic circus elephant sitting on the chair in the room with us, everything was fine.

Only, it wasn’t.

And it was with shock that I woke up one morning and realized that we were ONLY Ava’s parents. We were no longer a loving couple, the tatters of our relationship could barely even be described as a friendship. We bickered, we argued and we hurt each other.

Then sometime last year, Walter dropped a bomb on me and my entire world fell apart. He wanted a separation. He wanted to leave me. A part of me was relieved. A part of me was terrified.

We had hit rock bottom. Our relationship, our marriage had been ripped to shreds by years of infertility, of hurt, of my single mindedness in having a child to the exclusion of all else in my life. We were destroyed. Over. Finished. Broken.

I was terrified.

How were we going to make it through this. Would our marriage, our relationship survive this? The future suddenly seemed terrifying. A future without my husband, a single parenting the child I’d longed and yearned for, in a city more than a thousand kilometres from my family.

It was then that I knew that I had to fight. That I was not done fighting and just as I had fought for my dream of being a mother to be realized, I was going to have to put up the same fight to save my marriage. That I was in for the second biggest fight of my life, a second round in the ring, boxing against a heavy weight opponent.

Walter agreed to attend marriage counselling with me. It was hard. It was painful. After some sessions we were unable to look or speak to each other as slowly the realization of what we’d done to each other over the 7 years of our infertility. How damaged and humiliated I was by all the treatments, by having to give up the privacy of my own body and have nothing be sacred. To have every detail of our sex life chartered by the medical fraternity, told when we could and when we couldn’t have sex. (sorry if you’re reading this Mom!) Walter’s faith and trust in me destroyed. I’d hurt him. I’d stopped caring about what he wanted and single mindedly went about seeing to my own agenda.

It took months of weekly counselling for us to learn to trust each other again, to like each other again, to repair what too much heartache, too many Dr’s appointments, procedures and crushing disappointments and hurts had ripped us apart.

Yesterday the results of our psychometric tests revealed that we are free from the baggage of our years of infertility. There is no more guilt, no more blame. We are free. Our hearts as individuals and as a couple are healed. And I am proud. So very very proud.

We weathered one hell of a storm but we stuck by our marriage vows – “for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, through good times and bad.” We made it, with lots of hard work, we made it back to each other and today more than ever I can honestly say that I love my husband, understand him and feel connected to him in ways I did before we got married and before infertility nearly tore us apart.

So, my advice to all couples going through infertility treatment is this: acknowledge the toll it will take on your relationship.  Know that it is normal if infertility destroys your intimacy. Get help. Don’t underestimate how infertility can destroy your relationship and rock you to your core.

Stand strong together, don’t make the mistake I did of forsaking your partner in your goal to parenthood.

But above all else, know that dealing with the fall out after your infertility journey ends is just as important as walking your infertility journey.

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  • Reply Margot

    What an absolutely beautiful thing to read today. Thank you.

    July 6, 2012 at 11:35 am
  • Reply Sue Stuart

    So glad that you managed to work things out and rediscover your love for each other.

    July 6, 2012 at 11:40 am
  • Reply Shayne

    Wow. Thank you for sharing this – it could not have been easy to admit that things were as crap as they were, and it must have been even more difficult to put the pieces back together. Inspiration to others who are struggling out there x

    July 6, 2012 at 12:08 pm
  • Reply cat@jugglingact

    A huge congratulations to you both!

    July 6, 2012 at 12:49 pm
  • Reply Cath

    I absolutely sobbed when I read this. It was such a brave thing to say. You and Walter are an example of true, enduring love. May every day of your family be blessed. X

    July 6, 2012 at 1:53 pm
  • Reply Daryl Faure

    What a courageous blog, and more importantly, what a courageous couple you are. Congrats on weathering the storm, without throwing in the towel, as it is so easy to do. May your marriage continue to grow and strengthen with each passing year.XXX

    July 6, 2012 at 2:15 pm
  • Reply Elize

    Wow! Awesome post!

    July 6, 2012 at 2:44 pm
  • Reply Wynette

    Loved this post Sharon. Its so true! I experienced it personally even though our infertility journey was only 3 years and see it daily in my practice. Somehow you survive it because your drive keeps you going but its when you get your miricale, when your world can stop and quieten that you start to see the damages. I would recommend that every couple going through infertility should start counselling then already. Grief can always do one of two things. Seperate or draw closer, how we manage it is the secret and most of the time we need a facilitator who is non-judgemental to help us see clearly to contain us. I so excited that you going through Procare and may have a little boy. There is a very special relationship between mom and sons.

    July 7, 2012 at 9:13 am
  • Reply Julia

    Beautiful, brave lady. Thank You for sharing this. I know that it couldn’t have been easy. I so admire your FIGHTING attitude because it would have been so easy to just walk away from it all.
    Congrats on getting to the beautiful place where the two of you are now. I know it must have taken (and continues to take ) A LOT of hard work. You two can weather ANYTHING together. I wish you all the best for the remainder of your married life.
    Much love.

    July 7, 2012 at 5:40 pm
  • Reply Reluctant Mom

    {deep deep sigh} what a story …………. what a story ……………

    July 8, 2012 at 7:21 pm
  • Reply Lisa-Marie

    You and Walter were meant for each other!! You are an incredible couple and it was so lovely witnessing that love a few weekends back.
    I was the one who wanted to leave our relationship; but I wanted it for very different reasons – I wanted HIM to go off and find a woman who could bear him a child. That is a whole other story.
    I love that you are free of this baggage! I really do! What a great place to be.

    July 9, 2012 at 7:40 am
  • Reply Tania

    I feel like I just got punched in the stomach, this is so true.
    We went through the same thing, Infertility takes an enormous toll on your relationship, but you don’t see it until afterwards, sometimes many years down the line.

    July 18, 2012 at 12:26 pm
  • Reply ajacobs

    I would like to ask a few questions can anyone help me?

    August 27, 2017 at 12:19 pm
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