After learning that our first egg retrieval only yielded 2 fertilized embryos, I was devastated. All those meds and injections…all that money and time and build-up…all for such low odds.
I laid in bed and cried for three days.
My husband Brad built a deck in the backyard.
I was pissed, but he thought he was helping.
This kind of story is not unique. So many of my female friends have vented to me about their husbands while trying to conceive. They wanted more compassion and less complacency. More empathy and less apathy. More effort and less detachment. They were tired of feeling like they had to sacrifice so much to have a baby and like they were in it all alone.
I asked Brad why he thinks men are…not great…at supporting their female partners through infertility. After all, he WAS That Guy and he has also spoken with many other men about infertility and how it affects relationships.
A common theme he hears is that most men are “fixers” and just want to solve fertility like it was a final Jeopardy question or dead car battery. And while it’s sweet that their desire is often to save their partners from heartbreak, this lack of understanding often leads to efforts that don’t feel enough and leave both partners feeling frustrated and unseen.
“As men, we are conditioned to want to support our partners in a classic provider/hunter way. And while we feel this stoic role allows us to help our partners heal, it’s not really what their partners want,” Brad said.
The good news? So many men WANT to support their partners when they go through infertility. They just don’t really know HOW to do that.
So what are some things your partner can do to better help emotionally (and physically!) support you as you navigate OPKs, temperature charting and doctor’s visits? Grab your dude and buckle up.
How Your Dude Can Better Support You Through Infertility:
- He can take a prenatal vitamin. Why are women the only ones taking prenatal vitamins when we all know it takes two to make a baby? Taking a daily prenatal vitamin is one way that men can take an active role in ensuring their sperm are ready for TTC. After all, men’s overall health prior to conception has a profound impact on their fertility, so we recommend a science-based vitamin that helps make their sperm healthier and stronger like Beli Baby (BTW, Fruitful members get 10% their first order with Beli using the code FRUITFUL10).
- He can clean up his act. If you are serious about getting pregnant, odds are you are giving up quite a bit right now. You might be trying to eat healthier or take more walks or maybe even meditate. Maybe you have cut out caffeine, alcohol or gluten. Maybe you quit smoking. It’s frustrating to be the only one in a relationship making lots of sacrifices for a baby to raise together. Ask your guy to make changes to HIS diet and lifestyle, too. This will help you feel like you’re on the same team and he’ll appreciate you noticing his effort and teamwork.
- He can go to the appointments. While it might not always be easy (especially these days), it means a lot when your partner also can show up to the doctor’s appointments. Oftentimes we don’t hear the answers or advice offered up and we might even struggle to remember what was said…so having your partner in the room not only can make you feel more calm but can also help you remember what was said.
- He can listen. Ask him to just listen to you vent or express your feelings without trying to fix or offer solutions. Tell him to not try to make you feel better or give advice or say that everything is going to be ok. Literally ask him to just sit down next to you with the TV off and phones put away and give you his full, undivided attention. It’s really hard to just sit and listen and not try to fix or save or solve. But this is huge…you need to feel heard and seen.
- He can get his damn sperm tested. Sorry, but “providing a sample” in a cup is literally the MINIMUM effort right now. While you are most likely getting poked and prodded with ultrasound wands and needles (and probably scouring the internet for tips and hacks), the least your partner can do is get his sperm tested without making it a whole thing.
- He can process his own feelings about infertility. Infertility affects so many things in a relationship and it’s important that you both have your own coping mechanisms and community for getting support. Whether that’s by being outdoors, finding a great therapist or opening up to some friends, he needs to find ways to healthfully process what is going on in your life right now. Not only will it make him a better partner, it will make him a better person.
What does your husband or partner do to help you feel more connected during fertility treatments?
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