I am the last person who thought I would be writing about infertility and what we have learned through our journey. As people of faith, we know to trust the process and timing of everything in our lives. However, dealing with what we want compared to what we are currently receiving tests all of our beliefs in the process. Through our first several miscarriages, I “knew” that each one was meant to be and there were difficulties with the genetics of our baby. Basically we were better off that it happened – at least that is what all of the healthcare professionals kept telling us. It sure did not feel that way and each new miscarriage had a compounding effect. The “you are better off” coping mechanism is the go to response of most people. It is not their fault and they want to care for you by helping you understand that you are now somehow better off that you just lost your child. The other outcome would have been much worse…
As men we compartmentalize and convince ourselves that we are better off. It was meant to be. Okay, now let’s convince our wives that we are better off.
Wrong path and approach.
She is way ahead of you and has already worked through the better of part of the equation. She knows that may be true but also feels the loss of her baby. She is absolutely sure she failed her child, you, her family, and herself. In her mind it is her fault and she is trying to figure out what she did to cause it. How she can change whatever she did wrong the next time (hopefully) she gets pregnant? Trying to move her back to being better off is the worst thing we attempt.
Grief, loss, sorrow, failure and sadness are not emotions we as men acknowledge. We deny those feelings until they bottle up and boil over in some other form – anger, frustration, isolation. A great way to support our wives is to talk about the loss and our feelings – even if we do not have any clue what we are feeling. At the moment we start the conversation, our wives open up and let loose a mountain of emotions. Please do not interrupt, try to help, speak, move away or do anything else but listen. Listen with every part of your body – eyes, face, arms, hands, back, legs, feet – Listen! Listen! Listen! They need us to listen more now than any other moment in our lives. Listen well enough to feel what they are feeling and acknowledge those feelings are justified.
Now here is the really hard part, subdue all thoughts and actions of solving or fixing the situation or what is causing her emotions. Simply look her in the eye and tell her “I love you!”, “I support you!”, and “We are a team!” without mentioning any solution or action step to rectify the moment. We are trying to makes things better for the future and our wives want to feel the now. We are denying those same feelings and want to focus on moving past them by finding better a path and getting to work.
The suggestions and advice I am writing is completely the benefit of hindsight. Hindsight is 20/20. I failed in most if not all of these areas. I did not listen and certainly had very little desire to talk about my feelings with my wife. That is why they are called “my feelings” because I do not have to share them, was my approach. Please learn from my mistakes and in turn share your advice with others who are working through infertility.