I was so weighted down by this guilt I carried. I wanted to protect him from my pain. I wanted him to have more than what I could give. That little black mark in my medical file... my diagnosis.
For two years I told myself it was silly to feel so much weight for something I had no control over, by my heart wouldn't let it go. For two years, I looked in the mirror with every failed try and saw a failure as a wife. For two years I battled a guilt that wasn't mine to battle. I couldn't give him a baby; it was my fault.
On the rare occasion I would try to talk this out with my husband, he would say the perfect things. He would try his best to relieve me from this guilt I had placed upon myself. He would tell me to stop thinking that way because we were in this together. No matter what happened, natural conception, IVF, adoption or no child at all... we were in this together. My heart wasn't accepting though. I didn't want him to have to shoulder a diagnosis that wasn't his. I wanted to believe him. I fought to trust every word he said and that he truly didn't resent me for that little black mark in my medical files. I just couldn't let it go. I was so afraid of resentment and failure.
Two years into our infertility my perspective changed. Two years in and I finally understood. We had run out of options to try with the regular OB/GYN and had been handed over to the fertility specialist. Being the extremely thorough doctors that they are, they wanted to start from scratch and run every test, identify every possible factor, and then move forward with developing a plan to help us have a child. So we tested... only this time, he was thoroughly tested too. When the test results were all in and the doctors called us in to discuss the results, we were shocked to learn we both had a black mark in our medical files. We had known I had PCOS. What we didn't know was that my husband also had a factor as well.
My first reaction was complete relief, followed instantly by a flood of compassion, sympathy and heartbreak for him. I knew how he was feeling because I had been there for the last two years. I saw the look on his face as he now wrestled with what I had been fighting for years. I knew how he felt. But with that came a huge awakening.
Infertility isn't my fault. It isn't his fault.
It just is...
I finally understood all those beautiful words of reassurance he had speaking to me. I didn't marry you so you could give me a child. I will still love you just as much if we can never have kids. This isn't your fault. We are in this together. We multiply our blessings and divide our burdens - that's marriage.
I finally understood as I had my chance to say all those things right back to him as he fought back similar fears and self-imposed guilt.
Friends, a diagnosis of infertility is so hard. It puts a gut-wrenching pain into your lives and into your marriage. It affects you both. You have enough to face dealing with your diagnosis and the subsequent decisions of how that will impact your future. Be kind to yourself and don't add to your stress with self-imposed, undue guilt. Never forget why you are trying to have a baby with your spouse in the first place. You love them for who they are, period. You married them to have a life with them, period. Remind each other of this... often. Keep the communication between you open. You will likely both deal with the circumstances and stresses in different ways and to varying degrees, but allow each other the freedom to handle this process in you own styles. But in those different styles, never stop talking. Infertility can kill a marriage... but it can also bring you closer together than you ever thought possible. This takes work; it takes communicating when you'd rather pull the covers up over your head. It takes listening when the other person needs to vent their frustrations. But it is worth it. Free yourself of a guilt that isn't yours to carry and let your spouse know that you need them in this as much as they need you.
In good times and bad, in sickness and in health, till death do us part. We're in this thing together. No matter where it takes us. No matter where it leads.
I wish I could look each of you in the eyes when I tell you this, so you'll know how serious I am when I say it...
This infertility is not your fault.