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.