I have thought a lot about my relationship with my husband recently and how we went through our journey together. Every relationship has its ups and downs. During treatment, emotional stability is the most important thing I believe. I believe if we both had not gone through these months as we did, we would certainly be much more exhausted and hurt.

When the diagnosis came that took us to treatment, we talked about the basics. Before we even had any appointment at the clinic, we asked ourselves how would we deal with a disability? Would we want to do a screening during the pregnancy, and if so, with what consequence? How would we deal with a child with a trisomy? I was 38 years old at the time and knew that the risk increases with age. I know it was all hypothetical but still, it made us truly think about where we stand. What about the health risk for me, an “older” woman? What about taking back two blastocytes, or better one? Having twins sounds so wonderful, but could we handle that, would we want to handle that, and would we want to take the health risks that would come along with it? How far would we want to travel that road? Would adoption or egg donation be an option for us? How about the responsibility for an adopted child. Would we be able to truly love it, no matter with which background and past that child would come to us? How do we ethically think about everything? Why do we want children in general? What in life other than becoming a parent is important to us? What goals do we have besides becoming parents? 

We kind of set our framework. Very rationally, clearly structured, realistic, and somewhat detached from our emotions and our great wish to become parents.

To deal with this so rationally and bearing in mind our values apart from becoming a parent, helped me a lot going through that time and still helps me today. During treatment, we took a break after and before every attempt and asked ourselves whether the things we did (and the things we didn’t do) made sense, until we finally decided that it was time to turn a new page in life. By then we were sure that we did everything we were capable of. 

At the same time, of course, there was and still is the emotional side. From the beginning I tried to picture that it was more likely that we would remain childless than become parents. I've read studies, looked into the probabilities of success, focused on the medical side. But every time when we started all over again, we put all our hopes in it. My husband once put it very nicely, he said every try, every little egg, got a change no matter how the probabilities were. Without hope, it wouldn’t make any sense at all.

After every negative there was an emotional break down. I was probably more affected by that than my husband, maybe due to the hormone levels, first rising than crashing down. (At least that’s what I tried to tell myself…)  And then the real work started, the work on how to communicate about all this and how to stay close to each other in times of emotinal stress.

I have to say we grew from it, not right from the beginning but as the journey went on, we moved closer to each other. There were times when I was speechless, word-less, silent. My husband said to me that he cannot help, stand beside me and understand my feelings if I went (emotionally) away. So, I forced myself to stay. And so did he did. I tried to stay with him, approach him, open myself to him and forced myself to articulate my feelings in situation in which I was hurt, sad, hopeless and would normally have turned away and would have refused to speak.

We tried to articulate our emotions and the expectations associated with them as clearly as possible, and by doing that sometimes it became even clearer to ourselves where we stood. That was quite some work because it meant being honest with him but more important being honest with myself.  

We did not travel at the same paste. Sometimes I was ahead of him, knowing the medical aspects and the probabilities better than he did, sometimes he was way faster than I was, having a positive perspective of how life could be without our own kids. Well, if I am honest, most of the times, he was the one standing. (He was hiding special chocolates in the fridge for me… “for emergency reasons” he used to say.)

That were rough times, that’s true. During those times I have read once that one should treat the relationship like the child that didn’t come. I tried to keep that in mind and both of us tried to be gentle to each other, we tried not to force one another to speed up, we took our time and our space if necessary.

It was and it still is an intense time when hope and hopelessness are linked so closely together and looking rationally on the procedures and the outcomes was (and still is) for me just as necessary as allowing myself to feel every emotion that came up and to hope for everything.

When I think about it, we would never have met each other so deeply if life had simply had less stones for us on the road. I not only got to know him better, but I also got to know me so much better.

 That’s at least one good reason why we went that road.


  1. Lilly, this is a really beautiful tribute to your relationship. Learning how to be with each other in the hard times is never easy. "Emergency chocolates" is a wonderful example of that. I think those of us who are lucky emerge from infertility with a closer relationship, as you have. And knowing more about ourselves means that we can be fairer and more open in a relationship too. A lovely, wise, post!

    1. Oh yes, the emergency chocolates were a great idea. But I really underestimated, how much emotional work it means for a couple to go through this...

    2. Yes, you are right, we have to learn new ways to interact with each other. But it is worth doing the emotional work, isn't it?

    3. It is definitely worth trying!
      I believe relationships and communication in relationships are kind of "work in progess", we learn everyday, in some times it is more intense than in others but otherwise we would stand still. And during those times, it was probably more intense.

  2. I dealt with infertility in a similar way. Part of me could deal with all of it very rationally and the other part of me had to feel absolutely everything.

    I'm glad you and your husband allowed each other to each move at your own pace. I'm happy you were able to communicate, even when it was hard. Support like that is invaluable.

    My ex-husband and I were close during fertility treatments, but we were really close the year after we ended treatments. Now we've been divorced for a couple of years and, looking back, I think it's because we wanted different things out of life now that we both knew we wouldn't be raising children.

    Your post was interesting for me to read!

    1. Dear Phoenix,

      I can understand that after closing the chapter of becoming a family and with that new and different perspective, you and your husband discovered that you need and want different things in life. It was probably a really rough and painful time.

      I have the feeling that the whole process makes one focus more on where we want to stand, what do we really want in life and also what is not important anymore and sometimes that means going different roads from there.

      I think it was really brave and admirable, that you chose that you'd rather to walk alone than staying together with differents ideas of how life should be!

      I am glad you are happy now and right where you want to be!

  3. Liebe Lilly,

    es klingt für mich, als hättet Ihr das Ganze sehr wohlüberlegt und weise angepackt. Das freut mich für Euch. Auch, dass du heute sagen kannst, dass Eure Paarbeziehung an den Schwierigkeiten gewachsen ist. Das ist nicht ganz selbstverständlich.

    "I have read once that one should treat the relationship like the child that didn’t come." Wie berührend. Da musste ich mir beim Lesen direkt ein Tränchen wegputzen...

    Ich wünsche dir ein erholsames Wochenende!


    1. Liebe Elaine,

      ich glaube, eine der größten Herausforderungen aber auch Ressource in diesem Prozess ist tatsächlich die Paarbeziehung, und die Kommunikation mit dem Partner/der Partnerin. Ich kann auch gut nachvollziehen, wenn eine Beziehung durch diese Schwierigkeiten oder auch danach nicht mehr gut funktioniert, denn nicht nur die eigenen Perspektiven ändern sich, sondern auch die des Partners/der Partnerin und manchmal sind diese dann nicht mehr gleich.

      Mit hat dieser Satz sehr geholfen, den Blick auf das zu lenken, was existent ist.
      Liebe Grüße


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