Thursday morning at 12:36 AM, Joanna’s water broke. Eleven hours later, Marshall, our first son was born. It was an amazing experience. I’ll likely be posting in the future about the wonderful, and truly humbling, experience of becoming a father. However, I want to talk about something very different.
One year ago, Joanna and I were in a very different state. We were struggling with infertility. We were undergoing tests after tests, trying to diagnose why we were unable to get pregnant after trying for two years. While no diagnosis had been found for our infertility, Joanna was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. We struggled month after month of trying with no solution in sight. It was completely humbling as our life plans and hopes were slipping through our fingers and I could do absolutely nothing to “fix it.” We watched as dozens of friends, family, and neighbors got pregnant, gave birth to their babies, and lived a dream we thought we might never have. It was a very serious personal trial for my wife and I, one which can still bring tears when we look back, even though we’re “passed it” now.
The reason I bring this up, such a private and personal trial, is because for the majority of the time we were trying, my wife and I suffered through it alone. We didn’t really share this trial with anyone else. It wasn’t something we talked about with others. Only the very closest of friends had any idea. It wasn’t until much later, that we talked to other people, and realized that we weren’t alone.
15% of all couples will struggle with infertility, and as we talked with friends, family, and neighbors, we found so many more people who had gone through the same things as we had. Suddenly, we realized we had such a large support group of people who had gone through what we were going through. We could have had that support group so much sooner had we just opened up and talked about it with others sooner.
We sought out help for all aspects of our well-being. We started to work with a therapist to help work through some of our emotional trials. I cannot recommend high enough talking with a good counselor or therapist. Every time I see a “shrink” on TV or a movie, I want to just tear my hair out because of just how “fictional” those scenarios are, usually for comedic value. Our experience was nothing like that, it was like talking with a normal person who just helped us view our situation through other view points. He just helped us understand our thoughts, emotions, challenges, and helped us find way to healthily coupe with them.
We patiently worked with fertility specialists to come up with a plan to improve our chances of getting pregnant. We also talked about adoption, and we were starting the process by the time we got pregnant with Marshall. We worked with a physical trainer to help improve our physical health & nutrition. We had taken everything that was in our control and made a plan, and then left the rest to God and accept his plan for our family.
I feel incredibly fortunate that our struggles with infertility only was for a few years. There are so many amazing couples who will make incredible parents who struggle with infertility for much longer, and some ultimately will not have the opportunity to experience being a biological parent. My heart goes out to these great people, and I know that our Heavenly Father is acutely aware of their struggles & hasn’t forgotten or forsaken them, and has plans for each and every one of them and their families.
So you, as the reader, what do I hope you get out of this?
If you’re not struggling with infertility, just to simply be aware of it. Before going through this, I had no idea just how prevalent infertility is. I also can remember times where I put my foot in my mouth with others who likely were struggling with infertility. Joanna and I had comments from friends and neighbors who would say things that had the best intentions, but stung from our point of view. If you ever find yourself where you’ve put your foot in your mouth, don’t worry, a simple acknowledgement is more than enough. We understand what you said wasn’t intended for how it was heard.
The best advice is just to never assume that a couple has chosen their situation when it comes to children. Whether it is no children, one child, or even a dozen. It is a topic that can always evoke very deep, strong feelings, so always just be careful.
For those who are struggling with infertility now, or might struggle with it in the future: reach out to others and don’t struggle with it by yourself. You’ll get advice from many people who have no idea what their talking about, but mean well. I think Joanna was ready to punch the next person who told her “just relax and it will happen.” Find people who have actually gone through a similar situation to you. It was extremely helpful just to be able to vent stories with others. You can also learn of different options and ways to help your situation you weren’t aware of before. You’ll find out that in reality, each couple is unique, and each will differ from what is the right answer for your family. It is a choice that you and your loved ones will need to make. So please, reach out to others that you trust to treat your situation with the delicacy that it deserves.
I truly believe that every couple dealing with infertility can find peace and comfort in their situation to be able to coupe. The first step of finding peace and learning to coupe is to reach out to others and not try to struggle alone.
Finally, a thank you to the dear friends who had struggled with infertility and shared their stories with us. You know who you are, and I cannot thank you enough. I truly believe that if it wasn’t for your help, we wouldn’t have been emotionally healthy enough to get pregnant with Marshall, and we wouldn’t have this little sleeping boy in our room tonight. You truly have enriched our lives during some of our greatest trials, and will always be the dearest of friends to us.