So there has been a pretty healthy gap since my last post, did you miss me? I have some news and to say that my mind has been other places, well, understatement. Let me get the big news out of the way (for those that don’t already know), we are having a Baby! In less than three months @savannahjessie and I will be responsible for another human being. Holy S#*t. This post is to celebrate the life that will be, but it will also talk about some things that don’t always get discussed. Loss and heartache are sometimes part of the journey and they can be terrifying. Today I’m going to tell you our story. It’s not always light and fun, but it will be frank. Society would prefer if we didn’t talk about the emotional bits, but today we will try and change that narrative.
The Fertility Journey
It is a journey and for some it doesn’t always end as they would have hoped. I thought that perhaps ours would be a story like that too. We’ve been trying for the better part of four years. That’s a long time. My wife is a champion… pokes, prods, ultrasounds, medications and more blood taking than a blood donation drive. She bore the brunt of the work, because fellas there about two tests total that we can do (plus some bloodwork). It’s not fair. It meant lots of early mornings in the clinic for testing all while trying to balance everything else a normal couple faces.
We had losses along the way and again @savannahjessie carried most of the burden of the physical and emotional pain. I handled the first loss terribly. I didn’t know how to help and whatever efforts I made were clumsy and stupid. Men aren’t supposed to cry. We have to be strong. Unflappable. A source of strength. Bullshit. But who do you even reach out to? I feel like I made it worse instead of better for her, even though I was trying to help.
What comes next? Do you try again? Do you risk going through all of it again? You hope for a different outcome, but in the back of your mind the doubt is there. Pregnancy is supposed to be a joyous time for the couple, but how can it be when you are afraid. Just trying to make it to the next step. Hoping to get to the next test. Being afraid to be excited.
We were farther along in the next pregnancy when some bleeding occurred. Stay calm. We went to emergency and they confirmed the pregnancy was ok and there was a heartbeat. We could breathe again, just take it easy that weekend until all was healed. With an appointment at the fertility clinic the following week, I was waiting to be brought into the ultrasound room to hear the heartbeat for the first time. I remember the confusion I had when she came out of the room before I was called in. The look of shock on her face. Then they usher you into an office to speak with a doctor and discuss options. Trying to comprehend the words the doctor was saying. No heartbeat. What? You’re wrong. Don’t you know that we were checked a few days ago and everything was fine? Arguing that they had made a mistake and needed to go do it properly.
Because the body was still holding the pregnancy, medication was needed to terminate this time. Another dark week. Another loss. At least I had learned how to be more of a support for my partner. This one was tougher.
More Than One Way to Start a Family
@savannnahjessie stated she couldn’t go through any more treatments or losses – The discussion turned to adoption. I will be honest with you, this was not something I was supportive of in the beginning. I had a very traditional view of how I wanted my life to play out, so I had a hard time wrapping my head around it. She gave me the time and space to do research, reach out to people I knew that had adopted and to get on board.
We then started the process of classes, the home study and countless interviews and police checks. This was another process affected by COVID – we were still waiting on a few things to come through to be accepted by an agency when…
One More Try
Then one last try during the pandemic. One last wish sent out into the world. A positive test. A pregnancy that you can’t risk being excited about because you can’t face the what ifs. This pregnancy is classified as high risk because of the multiple losses so there are many tests in the beginning including weekly ultrasounds. Because of the COVID restrictions I spent the Ultrasound appointments in the parking garage because only the expecting mother is allowed into the clinic. The test results that you close your eyes and say a prayer for before peeking at. After the last loss, when I was never brought in to the ultrasound room, if I didn’t get word that the baby was ok I had full blown panic attacks envisioning the worst. Seeing the videos of this new life moving and finally feeling a kick or a punch. It’s overwhelming and emotional, but this is what we’ve wanted and waited for.
Don’t Be Afraid
Now I don’t share this to scare you. There are lots of these stories out there, but we just don’t talk about them. Men don’t usually share this type of thing for fear of being labeled weak. I’m not afraid and I hope that the struggle we went through sheds light to others who may be feeling alone going through it. You are not alone. As I stared around the fertility clinic, there were other partners there and I wondered if they were feeling what I was feeling. I felt helpless. Scared for my wife. I felt inadequate because this wasn’t a burden I could carry for her. You are both a spectator in the cheap seats and a key member of the team if you can reconcile that in your minds.
Things I did do to help:
- Treatments and testing while also working a full time job and having a life takes a lot out of women, so I tried to take things off her plate. Dishes, breakfasts, cleaning… Basically whatever could be done.
- Couples therapy. Many marriages do not make it through this ordeal (they are 3x more likely than the average couple to get divorced). So any time we felt like things were breaking down, we sought help. This was especially true after the first loss when we didn’t know how to deal with it or move forward.
- We took a step back from our busy schedules. We are extroverted(ish) people who love to do all the things and see our friends regularly. This was not sustainable, so we had to start saying no to people.
If I can give any advice, it’s don’t be afraid to reach out. As hard as it may be to ask for help, speak to your friends, family a professional. Speak to me. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable because that is the only way to get help. There are support options out there.
In Other News
@RoroFromMexico is looking forward to being a big brother (we think), but he’s really excited for the new backyard when we move to Waterloo in August.
See, it’s been very busy.