I’m slowly coming to the end of this Gifts of Infertility
Series. The one big issue I haven’t yet touched on, the issue that I don’t
write about often on this blog because it’s not just my story, is that of our
Going through infertility and loss was incredibly stressful.
It was stressful for me, making me question who I was; it was stressful for my
husband, unable to do anything to help (and whose hair went grey over the year
of our first and second losses), and it was stressful on our marriage. We had
both changed in this process, and we were both finding that life together
wasn’t going to be what we had hoped.
We’d been together a long time by the time we faced
infertility. We’d had our ups and downs, made many compromises, and were
looking forward to having children together. When that didn’t happen, we could
have taken it out on each other. But we turned towards each other; we mourned
We tried to comfort each other, and - knowing that words
wouldn't help - we rediscovered the real value of touch. Not in a sensual way
(though that was still there), but in an intimate, caring way. Simple hugs, or
a touch as we passed, reminded each other we cared, that there was a place we
could feel safe, with a person who would love us no matter what. We learned
that even when words are too hard to get out, emotions too difficult to
express, a touch can speak volumes.
We showed patience with each other, more than ever before,
and learned to focus almost exclusively on the positive, on what we had
together, on what we loved about each other, and on what made us smile, or
laugh. We learned that life can hit you with sadness when you least expect it,
so we should embrace happiness with joy and enthusiasm when we have it.
As I learned to take care of my own feelings, I became more
acutely aware of my husband’s feelings. He didn’t react the same way as I did,
but that was okay. I didn’t place any expectations on how he should behave.
(Though some of this was instinctive, much of it came from the advice of a few
wise women who had been through this before.) This was helpful, as I think the
burden of his overwhelming sadness at the same time as my own might have been
too much to bear. We shared with each other, but we also protected each other.
My friends, and my online friends, gave me outlets to share my grief and
sadness, without expecting him to be all things to me. Because he was grieving
too, and as we all know, that is a lot. So he didn’t really start opening up
about his feelings until he saw a definite improvement in my demeanour. He felt
that he could do this when he felt I could cope with his grief. I think too he
also learnt from me that opening up was okay, and that grieving was okay too.
Ultimately, I think our losses and difficult no kidding
journey in those first years helped forge our relationship into something even
stronger. We turned to others, but in doing so we didn’t turn away from each
other. Yes, we were lucky. Not all couples are able to come through this with a
deeper, stronger, kinder relationship. But you know, my observation is that most of
us do. It's a lovely feeling too, knowing that we're together because we want to be, not because we feel we have to be.
When we travelled a couple of years ago for five months,
some people sounded puzzled that we could go five months with each other as
company, as the only people we talk to, as our social fun, and emotional
support. They joked that they were surprised we hadn’t killed one another,
which of course said much more about their relationships than about ours. Yet
the truth is, we didn’t find it an effort at all. Once we got home, it was also
another year before my husband started getting work more regularly, so we also
had a lot of time together after the trip. I did say to some people, perhaps
only 50% joking, “there is such a thing as too much togetherness.” But
actually, we don’t really have issues being together 24 hours a day, seven days
Our relationship is probably the beneficiary of the “no
kidding” factor in our lives. We both feel this way. We don’t have to be
parents together, so we don’t have to have battles about different parenting
philosophies and styles (and believe me, we would have had a few battles). We
don’t have to crawl in bed exhausted from looking after children, wrestling
with toddlers or teenagers, or juggling our annual leave so we can look after
the children in school holidays. We don’t struggle to find time for ourselves
as a couple. On the contrary, we need to be sure we find time for relationships
with other people, and give each other some breathing space.
As a couple without children, we are able to just “be.” It
doesn't mean we don’t have difficulties. But having been through some tough
times, and having survived these, we are able to know each other in a different
way than I suspect we would have if we were parents. For that, for our close
relationship now, I am very grateful.