Many in the world today look at marriage and procreating as old-fashioned. But I think they are two of the most important pieces of our lives. Within them, we are loved as wife, mother, father, husband.
We all have different worries, problems, obstacles standing in the way of our dreams. Sometimes those obstacles come from our own actions. Others simply stand outside of our control.
So how do we survive the struggle of wanting to be parents when it seems nothing is helping us get there? How do we keep our marriage strong throughout the course of this trial?
Marriage comes first
Being in my mid-20’s when I got married, I knew we would have to start trying for kids fairly soon after. Max and I wanted several children and so a year after we got married, we started on the path to become parents. I’ll be honest, I was pretty naive about how the whole ovulation thing works. But even after figuring it out, we still had no luck.
The time to pull out the pregnancy tests each month filled me with worry, dread, excitement, hope and sadness. I thought every little feeling and thought was attributed to the fact that I was pregnant, just like all the other women claimed. And then the test would be negative, sending me into a night of tissues and ice cream.
It was hard for Max too, even though he tried not to show it. His older sisters had several kids and were able to get pregnant during this time, which made it harder.
There were many times he was very supportive, saying, “We’ll be fine. We’ll get it figured out.” In the latter months (it took 18 months to get pregnant with C), he began saying, “What if we’re not able to have kids? What if we just can’t?”
I would scowl at him and think, “How can he even think about something like that? Where’s the faith in that?” But then I realized that we couldn’t live a happily married life if I was constantly freaking out about not being pregnant. We were married for the long haul and I had to start thinking about keeping that strong instead of wallowing in self-pity.
What I learned: Marriage is still the most important thing, with or without kids. Your relationship with your spouse is something that can bring you through those tough times. When the kids come, by whatever manner they do make it to the family, that relationship can’t be tossed to the back burner.
Take the time to be with your spouse and not dwell on what you don’t have. You are a team and only together can you get through the hard times.
Trying for a second child
We started trying for our next child a year after C was born. I figured if I was going to have to go through that long process once again, I might as well get going on it. Instead of trying things ourselves, I scheduled an appointment with our infertility specialist from the first go round.
After doing several tests, he found I had PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome). Basically, the testosterone levels are higher than normal, making things like gaining weight, growing facial hair and cysts growing on my ovaries all a common thing. This is why we needed Clomid to get pregnant the first time.
I lost some weight after training for a half marathon and was surprised to find that a month after seeing the doctor, I was pregnant! I was so excited. After hearing stories about secondary infertility, which is basically being able to have one kid but not being able to have other kids after, I figured it would be another uphill battle to grow our family.
My mind calculated when the baby would be born, how it would be to have two children and I thought life was turning out the way I had always hoped.
Gone Too Soon
Three weeks later, at eight weeks, I began to bleed. Just a little at first. My stomach tightened every once in a while but I figured it was just something I’d eaten causing me discomfort. I called my SIL, who is a nurse, and asked all of my questions. She said she had bled with her daughter at about 8 weeks and her daughter was just fine.
I focused on the fact that I was having a girl. That was the explanation for the bleeding. Because I couldn’t miscarry. After struggling to have kids, God wouldn’t give me this trial.
C and I walked to the park the next morning and after only a few minutes, I felt cramping in my abdomen. We were only a few blocks away but I was limping by the time I got home, the pain more excruciating as the minutes passed.
We made it home and I called Max, sobs making it hard to get anything intelligible out. I try not to be a needy wife because I like feeling independent but this was a time when I needed him because I was so scared. Somehow I knew I was miscarrying but I wasn’t sure what was going to happen and I needed him there to hold me and tell me it would be okay.
The baby passed and I oscillated between exhaustion and deep sadness. After an ultrasound, the doctor told me I didn’t need a D&C and sent me home. Those first days were hard as my mind constantly thought of the baby and how that perfect family picture would have to wait even longer.
Getting through the pain
I did the best I could to be happy for my son and husband but it took a few months to feel like myself again. I started to work out again, did my best to serve when opportunities came up and took things one day at a time.
The months passed and the due date for the baby came, opening those healed wounds. My SIL had a baby within a few days of that date and although I was excited for her, I couldn’t help but feel the loss that I wasn’t toting around my own baby. It took me two months before I felt okay enough to even hold her baby.
What I learned: That there needs to be a grieving process when any kind of loss happens and that’s okay. There’s no shame in feeling sad about a miscarriage or the loss of any child for a period of time. And it’s okay to ask for help to get through the hard times, even if it’s just a hug and a vent session.
The same old game plan
I had thought that since I got pregnant so quickly after seeing the infertility doctor that it would only be a month or two before I would be pregnant once again. But the months passed and with each negative pregnancy test my mind did the math of how far apart my children would be. I had always wanted them to be close and it seemed like that would never happen.
Max was supportive during this time, encouraged me as I joined a health challenge to lose weight. He encouraged me to take part in a couple of hobbies. But most of all, he was there to listen. It was usually at night, after all of the thoughts of the day collided before I could go to sleep. He would listen to my fears and doubts, making it so we drew closer together, even during such a hard situation.
I finally told myself that I would focus on losing weight (the thing that had helped me get pregnant before) and then I would worry about getting pregnant later. People say all the time that you have to relax or that you have to not worry so much. I hate to say that in my case, they were right.
I got pregnant, finding out at 5 weeks. Our appointment for the doctor came at 8 weeks, and that’s when we found out we were having triplets!
When the timing is right
One of the things I always hated people saying was that, “You need to wait on God’s timing” or “It’s just not your time yet.” No woman wants to hear that when she’s struggling to keep it together!
Just remember things might be a little tough for a while, especially if it takes some time to conceive. Going through tests and procedures, taking meds and being poked with needles can take a toll. Be there for your wife, whether she wants to talk about it or not at the time.
Do your best to be patient with your husband. He might not be feeling all the hormones you have but he still wants to be a father as much as you want to be a mother. Trust that he will understand and take the time to talk to him about how you’re feeling and what he can do to help you.
To Each Other
Remember that life doesn’t stop or start with a baby or lack thereof. Plans and goals should still be made, date nights enjoyed and relationship strengthened because if you’re not working together to come closer, you’re moving apart.
Support each other in fun hobbies and take up some activities together. Learn new skills and work together to make it through whatever difficulties come. When the baby (or babies) come, you need your relationship to be strong to raise them. No better time than before to start!