When my husband and I were diagnosed with infertility and started IVF, we started a blog so we could keep our family and close friends up to date one what was happening. I wrote and Bob provided some of his input from time to time. A year and a half into our fertility diagnosis, and before we started any treatments, he asked if he could write his own post on our blog. I asked him if I could share those words again, so the male voice of infertility could also be heard:
I’ll never forget leaving the OB’s office that cold day, looking into Melissa’s sad eyes and thinking to myself that I will never be a dad. At that moment in time all I heard and could focus on was “1% chance.” Most men are built with the internal drive to be the provider and I was just told I could not provide my wife with a child. I was crushed! I knew the OB told us that we both had issues that contributed to a bigger problem but I felt a tremendous sense of guilt. How could I deal with not being able to give my wife, my best friend, the one thing that most women dream about? I had no idea what to do.
My instincts for “fixing” sometimes far outweigh those of compassion. Looking back at it now I should have spent more time comforting Melissa instead of trying to rationalize the situation and finding a way to make it better.
My first glimpse of there being light at the end of the tunnel ironically came the day that my world came crashing down on me. Right after our appointment with the OB, I went back to work. Melissa and I both agreed that we were going to try to finish our work day and then talk more at home that night. I hoped to become distracted by work so I wouldn’t focus on the news I just received. It took me a while to actually go in because I called Melissa on the way back to tell her I loved her and things would be okay. When she hung up the phone, I lost it; I sat in the parking lot and cried for a good amount of time, hoping no one would see me. I finally composed myself and went inside.
Shortly after getting back to work and trying to focus on something other than “1%” and calling and setting up an appointment with the fertility specialist the OB suggested, I received a phone call from a friend of ours that Melissa and I had dinner plans with for later in the week. We were even speculating that they were going to tell us they were expecting their first child. After debating to answer the phone I did. After a few minutes of chit chat in typical “Bob” fashion I blurted out what I was thinking. I said “Hey, not to sound like a jerk, but if you guys are inviting us over for dinner to tell us you are pregnant I don’t know if we can handle it; we just found out we had less than a 1% chance of having kids naturally”. Her immediate response was “Oh my gosh, we are going through the same thing and just started the IVF process.” I think we both had a certain sense of relief because now we had someone to share our mutual feelings with. They chose to keep things more personal, but being able to talk to them and share experiences has been helpful for both Melissa and me.
After our initial visit to the IVF Specialist my focus once again changed to the other demon in this story: Money. Melissa and I are fortunate and live what I would consider a better than average lifestyle, neither of us go without and splurge on things we like. But the reality of the situation was and is we didn’t have over $20,000 sitting in the bank. We had decided together that we would save and cut back some but we didn’t want to stop living in the meantime. We made the mistake of trying to forecast our budget and figure out when we would be ready. “When” came and went a few times because life happens, and we didn’t save as much as quick as we had hoped. This has been the single biggest cause of stress on our relationship during our infertility process. Like most things in life when you don’t completely focus on it and let it come to you things have a way of working themselves out.
Sometimes, it’s hard to say that good has come out of this, especially since we still do not have a baby and we aren’t 100% guaranteed to have one. But then I remember how much good there is — we have cried, screamed, laughed, and learned together through all of this. The key word is together. This process to this point has been one of the hardest things I have personally ever gone through and I can’t for one second imagine going through it with anyone but Melissa. She is by far my better half; and we have come closer because of this. She is the love of my life, my best friend, and the mother of my future children (no matter how that happens).
Writing isn’t therapeutic to Bob like it is for me. He wrote because he wanted me to feel supported, because he wanted to remember his experience, and because, like me, he hoped his words would be relatable for just one person. Over three years later, the relevance and perspective of his words is still profound to me, especially as we are starting to talk about a second child. I was then, and am now, so lucky that he was by my side through everything.
How has infertility affected your husband? Do you have any tips for couples trying to navigate their way through infertility together?
Melissa Kimball is an account executive at Hart, an ad agency in Maumee. She received her marketing and communications degree from Defiance College. She and her husband, Bob, recently moved to Whitehouse, Ohio, with their toddler, Hope, and boxer, Blue. In junior high, Melissa learned that her thoughts were always best expressed in writing. So as an adult, she turned to writing to cope with the couple’s infertility journey. Now Melissa’s wish is that her words offer comfort and company to others touched by infertility. You can read her monthly columns by clicking here.