It’s not easy. I often felt like my brain was absolutely bursting to the brim with fear and anxiety; how to be an equal partner in my marriage was a challenge. However, six years in and my husband and I are as strong as ever. We have a deeper understanding of each other and I would say that our experience has brought us closer. Few people endure what we have, but we learnt how to cope…together.
There is no magic wand, unfortunately. Any relationship requires hard work, commitment and understanding. But when that relationship is tested through adversities, this is critical. I think it is quite possible not to put the work in, to let things slide. It is certainly easier, less exhausting…just to slowly drift away from one another. However, you don’t need to add more loss, on top of those that infertility is already taking from you.
My husband and I found that the biggest lesson we had to learn, was how to communicate with one another. When tough situations arise, it’s hard to face up to them - life can be reduced to nothing more than discussions around what’s for dinner and which TV show to watch. There becomes no space to talk, there isn’t the opportunity to open up about how you’re feeling or what your fears are, especially when it comes to IVF treatment.
We found that going for an evening walk together, just once or twice a week around our village, was a time where we could just be with each other. We could bring up things that were bothering us if we wanted or maybe discuss the next steps. There were no distractions, there was just us and the peaceful evening. As we got used to this time together, we talked more and opened up more.
Walking is incredibly good for mental health and the left/right motion of the legs can actually help stimulate the brain into processing things which you may be finding difficult. The fresh air and the world outside can all help to put things into perspective and ease the feelings of isolation and loneliness. I would look forward to our evening walks, a time just for us.
In addition to the general stress of infertility, there is also the crippling cost of fertility treatment. This can put a real strain on even the strongest of relationships. Knowing how many IVF cycles you can afford and agreeing to that in advance can be a good strategy. Seeking out the best place to buy medication from and researching value for money services – like those offered at abc ivf– can make all the difference to your bank balance…and your relationship.
With these multiple hardships and pressure coming in from every direction, the one thing that we never did, was to attach blame. No one asks to be infertile and therefore there is no sense in apportioning blame. Somehow we had to accept infertility as our reality and move on; to a place where we could begin treatment and try to support each other.
And support is the key. You are a team. My husband and I try to look after each other, we try to be kind at all times. Infertility and IVF treatment is stressful and painful and can incite anger and upset, taking it out on each other or reacting when one is having a bad day, can quickly cause things to escalate. Understanding and forgiveness is required. We take it in turns to carry each other when things get hard. We put thought into our words and use kind language. It’s about compromise, compassion and being mindful of the other person.
The emotions that you go through on an infertility journey, are almost impossible to explain to someone who has no experience of this life trauma. To maintain a relationship throughout all of this is difficult. But it can be done, by making time to communicate and listen to each other. And by remembering that you’re in it together, you have the same goal – to bring a much-wanted life into this world and you have a lot of love for each other.