Love and Marriage, Waiting for Baby Bird

If Not For Me, Do It For Him

“If not for me, do it for him.”

That’s all I could cry out in my desperation as I could barely catch my breath while pressing my forehead to the wall of our shower one late summer evening after hearing the news of a friend’s pregnancy.

Infertility is so hard and after nearly six years of crying and begging and pleading, sometimes you just can’t cry or beg or plead anymore. You somehow come to terms with your circumstances and you go about your day with the hope and faith that things will soon change. But the passionate pleading you do while on your knees praying for a miracle? The bargaining you shamelessly do with God? The promises you vow to keep if He answers “just this one time”? And the tears you shed with each reminder of your failed plans and unfulfilled desires? They aren’t the same as they once were. They aren’t as intense. Not after six years. And it’s because you have somehow become numb.

Numb to the negative pregnancy tests.

Numb to the failed treatments..

Numb to the doctor’s reports.

Numb to the baby showers. And pregnancy announcements.

Or at least that is what it has become for me. Numbness. But one particular summer night, with my forehead pressed to the shower wall, my hands firmly placed on either side, and tears pouring down my face, the numbness that I had been feeling towards our inability to conceive came alive as I began to replay the moments of the evening.

Just hours earlier my husband’s phone rang and as I leaned in to listen I realized it was a friend. I continued on with painting our dining room walls when I heard him end the call by saying, “Nah man, thanks for calling…I really appreciate it.” Thinking nothing of it, I heard him come slowly walking towards me and as I turned to look at him, he just stood there. He put his hands on his hips and with a slight hesitation said, “That was so-and-so and his wife is pregnant.”

Smiling, I turned back to the wall I was assigned to paint and expressed my happiness for them and their two older children. Expecting him to turn back around and leave the room, I noticed he just stood there; looking down at me. Worried that he would think I was angry, perhaps even jealous, or at the very least upset, I slowly turned back around to look at him. I wanted him to see that I was fine. And that I was strong. And I wasn’t crying. After all, I have become numb. But as I turned to have my eyes meet his in order to give him that reassurance, the numbness I had been feeling over the years started to slowly fade away. And the pain of infertility that I hadn’t felt in so long started to resurface.

Because while I didn’t feel sorry for myself, nor did I feel abandoned or forgotten or cheated by God, I felt it for him.

Because this struggle, these shattered dreams and crumbled plans that have been laced with so much heartache and tears, is not because his body can’t create life, but because my body can’t seem to do it. And while he has never blamed me, and I know he never would, I couldn’t help but in that moment feel the weight of it all.

I couldn’t help but feel the guilt that he has been cheated and robbed blindly of even the simplest moments of life that so many others around him get to experience and enjoy; such as calling his friends to share in his exciting news.

Because the truth is I can handle never experiencing the moment when I am able to call and tell my friends and family that I am expecting, but I can’t handle the thought of him not being able to. He deserves everything he had planned and dreamed of ever having when he once-upon-a-time envisioned his life before our diagnosis of infertility.

This is why on that late summer evening with my forehead pressed tightly against the shower wall, my hands firmly placed on either side, and tears pouring down my face, I once again begged. I once again pleaded. And I once again shamelessly bargained. But this time in my exasperated plea of desperation, I asked Him to not do it for me, but for him.

Lord please, just do it for him.


would love to get connected with you on a more personal level, so if you liked this post, pass it on. Then click here to find Waiting for Baby Bird on Facebook, or come follow me on Instagram @waitingforbabybird. I can’t wait to “meet” you!

Love and Marriage

Preserving Your Marriage while Building Your Family

Infertility is hard. Especially on your marriage. Timed intercourse, discussion on whether to start (or stop) fertility treatments, how much money to spend on said treatments, lack of communication, and even feelings of inadequacy can really wreak havoc on a marriage. This is why I have asked Dr Carol-Peters Tanksley to guest post for me on this very topic. She has over 25 years of experience in helping infertile couples build their families as an OB-Gyn physician, Reproductive Endocrinologist, and Doctor of Ministry. So let’s give it up {brisk clap} for Dr. Carol-Peters Tanksley and her amazing nuggets of advice to those couples seeking to preserve their marriage while also building their strong family’s. 

Preserving Your Marriage

I haven’t kept track of how many infertility couples I’ve worked with over the years. It’s been thousands. But there are two whose tragedies will always stick with me – and it had nothing to do with whether or not they became pregnant.

Shirley and Jackson[i] had both been busy with their careers for several years. Both had become quite successful, and now they felt the only thing still lacking in their lives was a child. Shirley was approaching 40, which you all know makes achieving pregnancy statistically more challenging. But being take-charge kind of people, once they decided it was time to have a child they jumped in with both feet.

A few months of ovulation inducing medications and IUIs passed quickly, and Shirley was ready to move on to IVF. Jackson came with her to almost every one of her appointments. The embryo transfer seemed to go well and Shirley’s initial pregnancy test was positive. Sadly she lost that pregnancy a couple of weeks later, and we shed some tears together.

But that wasn’t the real tragedy. Shirley came by the office a couple of months later and told me that Jackson had moved out. Their marriage was over. She was devastated.

Melindai always brought her two children with her to her appointments, but her husband was never with them. She had some nearly expired vials of medication she had saved after her last successful infertility treatment, and she wanted to try again. Why now? “My husband is threatening to leave me, but if I have another baby he will stay.” He wasn’t interested in supporting her through treatment, but she was sure he could be counted on for timed intercourse.

I talked with Melinda about how unlikely it would be that having another child would fix her troubled marriage, but she insisted she wanted to try. Melinda did not get pregnant again, and the last time I spoke with her she was still begging her husband not to leave. She daily lived with the fear and dread of being left to raise her two children alone. Another tragedy.

Those stories may not be like yours, but they illustrate something important. Not being able to have a child when you so desperately want one is heartbreaking and stressful. Others who have never struggled with infertility cannot fully understand even if you try your best to explain. It becomes all-consuming to you. And yet there are worse things than infertility. The loss of your marriage would be one of them.

If you’ve struggled with infertility you know that it can put an enormous stress on even a healthy marriage. After working with such couples for 25 years, I’d like to suggest four things that will help preserve your marriage while wrestling with infertility. You don’t want to get pregnant only to discover that your marriage – the foundation of the family you are trying so hard to build – is falling apart.

4 Keys to Preserving

  1. Separate intimacy from trying to conceive whenever you can.

For you, sex may always be bound up in the idea of getting pregnant, but it’s probably not that way for your husband. You want your husband to desire YOU, not just your body. It’s just as important that you demonstrate to your husband that you desire HIM, not just his sperm.

Obviously there may be occasions when your primary motivation for intimacy is trying to conceive. You may even need to use that as the “hook” to get your husband in the mood. But when the two of you get naked together make it as much about your togetherness as possible.

During other times during the month make sure you are just as interested in intimacy as you are during your ideal fertile period. Make the conscious choice to take a mental step toward your husband. Hold on to his eyes with your eyes when he looks at you. Kiss a little longer. Find ways to celebrate your marriage. Make sex about the two of you and not primarily about the child you wish you had.

  1. Don’t use your hormones or your infertility as an excuse for bad behavior.

Sure, you’re hormonal. You’re glued to your calendar app and counting cycle days. If you’re taking medication you may be even more irritable, weepy, or physically miserable. You may feel as though your body is your enemy. You may be tempted to see your husband as the enemy because he doesn’t feel the same way you do, and he can’t fix you.

Your worst hormonal days, your monthly disappointment, your frustration at seeing your friends or family members celebrate their children, the insensitive things others say or do around you – none of those things give you an excuse to treat your husband badly. You are still responsible for the way you speak to him. This is not all about you!

You probably won’t do this perfectly. I encourage you to pray for God’s grace to rise above your own feelings and treat your husband with love and respect. If you mess up, ask him and God for forgiveness, and get up again tomorrow. Learning to feed yourself emotionally and spiritually will also help you develop the internal resilience to grow in maturity through this journey.

  1. Invest in your marriage as much as in trying to conceive.

When you were first married you probably had no trouble talking for hours, spending time doing things together, and discovering new things about each other. Those kinds of investments can easily go by the wayside as you focus on trying for a child. It doesn’t have to be that way.

You have a certain amount of money, time, and emotional energy, and how you invest those resources does vary during different seasons of life. That’s normal. But your marriage will languish if it’s neglected. It can be easy to forget how powerful you are as a wife in setting the emotional and spiritual climate in your home and marriage. Your choices in how you invest those resources now will make a difference.

Make the conscious choice to invest some of yourself – your time, money, and energy – in your relationship with the husband God has blessed you with. Spend time talking about things other than infertility. Do things together. Pray together. Don’t wait until your infertility journey is over – whatever the outcome – before taking care of your most important relationship outside of you and God.

  1. Enjoy Today, While You Wait for Your Future

Your husband is here now. Your hoped-for and prayed-for child may or may not be coming in the future. Don’t lose what you have now in the process of trying for something you have no human guarantee about.

God built into you the desire to be a mother, and that’s a good thing. But be sure you don’t neglect living along the way. If you don’t learn to be happy while trying to conceive, you’ll never be happy once you get pregnant.

And I pray God’s blessing on your heart, your infertility journey, and your marriage.

________________________

[i] Names have been changed for privacy reasons.

Dr Carol-Peters Tanksley is an OB-Gyn physician, Reproductive Endocrinologist, Doctor of Ministry, author and speaker. She has over 25 years of experience in helping infertile couples build their families. Her latest book Dr Carol’s Guide to Women’s Health brings together medical science, Dr Carol’s practical experience, and a faith perspective. An extensive chapter on infertility is included, but other chapters you may also find interesting include those on abnormal bleeding and PCOS, healthy eating and weight management, and finding healthy ways to deal with stress. Dr Carol invites you to join her on her website www.drcarolministries.com, Facebook, or Twitter.

 

 


I would love to connect with you on a personal level, so if you liked this post, pass it on. Then click here to find Waiting for Baby Bird on the public Facebook page or join me on Instagram @waitingforbabybird. I can’t wait to “meet” you!If you are looking for a faith-based infertility community of other women who just “get it”, then head over to the *PRIVATE* Waiting for Baby Bird Support group for hope + encouragement. There you will find opportunities to ask for prayer, watch *LIVE* encouragement videos from me, author of “Waiting for Baby Bird”, as well as be able to share your heart with others on the same path, enter into exclusive giveaways, and so much more! So what are you waiting for? Find us here!

 

Love and Marriage, Waiting for Baby Bird

Q & A: The Infertility Husband Tells All

Recently, at one of my infertility support group meetings (The Nest), my husband braved a room full of hormonal and emotionally charged women to answer any and all of their questions.  He opened up his heart as he shared the good, the bad, and the ugly side of infertility from a husband’s perspective.  We laughed, we cried, but most of all, we all learned a lot about the differences between a men and women in regards to this struggle.  And afterwards, he was gracious enough to pen his responses on paper.  But because he discusses “boxes” quite often in his answers, I suggest you first read this post that we wrote together called, “Men Are Like Waffles {and why this matters to women dealing with infertility}.”  If not?  The answers he gives might just leave you with more questions….and more confused looks.

The Infertility Husband Tells All

 1.  Do you ever feel like throwing in the towel? If so, when does this feeling usually happen?

Not on the idea of having a child. I see that day in my future. Even before I believed that it was God’s will for my wife to be healed of anything keeping her from conceiving a child, I had a gut feeling that we would eventually a child. However, I have on the other hand felt like throwing in the towel on trying to support my wife because most times my heart wants to do many things for her, but my brain says they’re stupid and she won’t like it. Therefore, I end up doing nothing at all and I know this in turn hurts her more. And as a result of my lack of efforts in supporting her and being sensitive to her needs, I feel like a failure of a husband and I just want to quit. Quit trying and quit thinking about trying. Because if I were honest, even trying to come up with ways that I think might support her is exhausting. In retrospect though, I know that I should still make the attempt and still make the effort even if I believe that she will think it is stupid.

Husband Tip:  If you see a negative pregnancy test in the trash can upon returning home from work, immediately leave the house and come back with her favorite candy bar and soda. Or maybe even some flowers and a card.

2.  What have you been most afraid of throughout this process?

First, I believe that every fear is rooted in lie.The worst lie that I’ve let deceive me is that I might lose my wife, my best friend, along the way. Through the process, our relationship had at one point whittled to where I thought all was lost and scattered. I thought it was completely broken, shattered, and ruined. I thought that I had lost her entirely.

Only one other fear comes to mind. It started as we were driving home from our IVF treatment. The whole process was overwhelming and I thought for a moment, that if this doesn’t work out, then I guess we won’t be having kids. I said before that my gut feeling was that we would have kids eventually, but that feeling or emotion changed (as emotions do). This was before I believed the truth that God wants our bodies to be healed of diseases and sicknesses. Before I knew this, that lie broke my gut feeling down and made me feel hopeless, but now that lie doesn’t bother me because I know the truth – God wants our bodies to be whole and complete, lacking nothing.

3.  Most days I don’t think I can go more than two minutes without thinking about something baby or fertility related. How often do you (and do you think most men) think about having children and being a father?

Umm…probably very little <<head rolls down>> – Well, probably less than once a week. The infertility box is just not a box that we men keep open. We can’t figure it out, so our minds don’t keep it open. We open other boxes where we succeed or have fun in – i.e. work, food, hobbies (and each one has it’s own box), sex, relax, sleep, cleaning…

There’s even a box for “When I’m a Dad”. It’s different from my infertility box. The infertility box is a box that has a problem that I can’t figure out. The “When I’m a Dad” box is a fun and joyful box that is fun to fill. For me, it all relates to fun activities or objects such as fishing poles so we can fish together, hunting blinds so hunt without him scaring all the deer, little baseball gloves and footballs so we can play catch – You get the point… I’ll be honest, cribs and other baby decorations for the walls never make me open my daddy box and think, “Man, I can’t wait to decorate his room with all that…stuff”. But hey, you talk about it as much as you want, because if that’s what you like, then that’s what you like. Just don’t get mad at me if I don’t have the same reaction as you.

4.  How do you feel when a friend or family member announces their pregnancy? My husband says it doesn’t bother him at all, almost as though he is indifferent. Do you think this is true or is he putting on a front?

This has changed over time. Prior to knowing about infertility, it was more like, “Oh wow, you got a kiddo coming? ‘Your life is gonna be different!’– ok, next subject, where are we eating lunch?”

Now when I hear about someone getting pregnant, I wonder if they struggled. I’m genuinely happy for the couple regardless. Sometimes, I know the couple was struggling with infertility and I get really excited when I hear the news because it’s a testimony of how God redeems.

But I’ll be honest. Sometimes, fear and jealously slips-in and makes me wonder, “why not me?” It’s the Me-Monster. The me that only cares about me. In those moments, I’m not upset that I don’t have my own baby, I’m upset that my wife doesn’t have her baby.

I question, “When is she going to get her opportunity to announce that she’s pregnant?!”. In those moments, I often feel like something was just stolen from her or she got skipped while waiting in line.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy for the couple that got pregnant, but I get jealous and envious on the inside. This is something that I would never share with my wife. The main reason as to why I don’t share these thoughts with her is because deep down I know they’re not from God. And just because a thought goes through my head, doesn’t mean it’s my thought. I have to guard my heart from letting thoughts like that get planted and rooted. The only thing that grows from thoughts like that is hopelessness, bitterness towards people, and ultimately bitterness towards God.

5.  How can we support the men in our lives while we fight this battle as a couple?

Forgive him and let go of the offenses that you have against your husband (sometimes by what you thought was a lack of concern on his part). Remember that his mind is wired to operate with boxes. When we can’t solve the issue and it hurts him, then the mind will have a tendency to close these boxes and open up other boxes where we find joy or experience success (hobbies or work).

Many times, those unresolved boxes get shelved way back in the back. In other words, we build walls around issues that we can’t resolve immediately. I’m not saying it’s right; I’m just saying it’s just what happens.

The Holy Spirit works in a man by breaking down those walls and getting into his closed boxes. God can reveal truths to us that allow us to renew the thoughts that are in those boxes. – i.e. When a man has an opened infertility box, it’s frustrates him that he can’t just solve the problem. In these moments of defeat, he will feel like a failure. His mind won’t keep dwelling in this box, and continue to stay in a place of feeling like a failure. His mind will close the box and move on. The Holy Spirit can help a man reopen that box, and change what he thought “that his wife has a 2% chance of getting pregnant” to “your wife can be healed and will have the same chance of getting pregnant as any other women”. The Holy Spirit says “with God, all things are possible”. God wants to help the man renew his infertility box and go from being hopeless to hopeful.

So, don’t get mad, take offense, or keep trying to force your husband’s infertility box open. As an alternative, open up boxes that you know he likes and finds success in; boxes that your husband loves. Show him that infertility doesn’t control your lives and daily conversations. He doesn’t want you to make it all about him, he just wants the old you back when you didn’t think about infertility all the time.

What a man doesn’t understand is that infertility is a noodle in your mind, not a box. The infertility noodle touches and influences everything for you. There needs to be a mutual understanding between the both of you because as a woman, you can’t avoid talking about infertility, or make a vow to not talk about it because it will cause inner turmoil for you. You have to talk about it!

So, it would be better to confide with another friend that understands how you operate (aka, another woman). But don’t forget, that your husband wants to support you through infertility, so don’t avoid all conversations about infertility, just limit them to ones where he might find success by offering a shoulder lean on or cry on (that’s ok).

6.  What can wives say or do to help our husbands open up about their feelings willingly instead of making them feel as though they are in a therapy session? Or should I just stay quiet and wait for him to bring it up?

Guys want to be seen as your unwavering support. Sharing our feelings in such a way that would make us feel like we’re jeopardizing our strength only makes us feel weaker. I’m not saying it’s right in every situation; it’s just the way we’re wired. That’s why the mind closes boxes automatically when we can’t resolve the issue for you. If we can figure it out, it shows our strengths. We actually love to talk about and hang out in boxes where we find success.

When we feel pressed to open a box that we don’t want to open, especially in a conversation with our wife, we experience inner turmoil because we feel defeated for not be able to resolve the issue. We don’t understand that you’ve got noodles and you just want to talk your feelings out.

7.  How do you lift your wife up on the days that are hardest for her?

I’m not sure I do much at all. This question identifies my parallel to my wife’s struggle with infertility. Many women feel like they’re not good enough, or inadequate, dysfunctional, or ill-equipped when they don’t become pregnant month after month. Although my wife may have moments where she may feel useless, I know these things aren’t true for her.

Ironic as it may be, I feel completely useless to my wife most of the time. I want to write a note or give encouragement in spoken words, but it just comes out sounding stupid and lame (inadequate). Most of the time I feel ill-equipped, as if God forgot to add the piece that thinks about all the awesome things to do for your wife when he created me (I know that’s not true, just another lie). But, no matter how many times I fail and fall apart from being unreliable, I still don’t feel like I ever improve. I beg God to help me show my wife how much I love her and how much she means to me but month after month, I’m convinced that I came up short.

8.  What has been the hardest part of the infertility journey for you?

My lack of support and understanding and learning how to help my wife has been the hardest part for me. This includes seeing her cry, finding negative pregnancy test in the trash can, and watching other people have babies without her.

9.  Do you feel a personal responsibility to stay strong? Does this make it harder for you to cope with your own feelings and struggles?

Oh yeah. I definitely feel like I have a responsibility to be unshakable. As men, we want to be solid fort that our wives take refuge in from the storm.  I can’t say that owning that responsibility makes coping harder for us. It’s just the way we are. I think of coping as pushing through negative stuff, always moving forward even through difficulty. I’m making a point to define cope because the man’s compartmental way of thinking makes it possible for us to isolate issues to the point where we don’t have to cope. i.e. – For women, you got noodles so everything affects everything, but for a man, he only has to “cope” when the box with issues is open. Since we don’t hang out with those boxes open, there’s no need to cope. It’s not an issue, because the box isn’t open.

10.  How did you feel when your wife went through treatments, medications, and tests?

It was gut wrenching. I felt a sense of unfairness. – “Why does my wife have to go through this?” I’d rather bear all the weight and make it easier for my wife (but I can’t). Some days I felt “this is crazy! – what are we doing?” just because it was so overwhelming.

11.  Do you ever feel like a failure as a husband and a man?

Sometimes I do when my wife is crying or upset (no matter what the issue is) and I can’t find the words or actions that will bring a smile to her face. Other times, I realize that she just wants a shoulder to cry on. If I keep my mouth shut and she accepts my shoulder to cry on, I feel like a hero.

12.  How do you stay so positive? Is it just a front in public and in private you break down?

There are no fronts, just boxes. Sure, I cry in private. The truth is boxes are better at isolating issues than noodles. I’ll explain in a minute. First, let me give you my personal story.

When we first found out that we had infertility problems, I had a gut feeling that we would eventually have children one day. So, if you looked in my infertility box (which I normally keep closed and on the shelf) then you would find that I was “positive” about having a baby one day. And as long as that box was closed and on the shelf, then I wasn’t thinking about it, so my positive resolution never changed. Occasionally I would peak in, and I still felt positive so I closed it and moved on. In time, as we pursued IVF and other means, the infertility box kept getting opened up routinely until one day a lie came to mind while the infertility box was opened. The lie was the thought that “maybe we weren’t going to have kids” – and that positive attitude changed immediately because I had nothing but a gut feeling to fall back on. Well, feelings (emotions) change and I didn’t feel positive anymore. But praise God that he was speaking to me during these times and he gave me a revelation that has changed my life. The revelation that not only did God want to forgive me of my sins, but he also wanted to heal me of all diseases. The same faith that believed that he had forgiven me of my inherent and past sins was the same faith needed to believe that he wanted me healthy and free of all sickness and disease. When I believed this truth, I put it in my fertility box and stood on it as opposed to that gut feeling.

So now that I have God’s truth in my box, you would think that I would keep it open. Nope, it’s kinda like the romantic box. Just because I don’t do romantic things or tell me wife that “I love her” doesn’t mean that I don’t love her any less. I just don’t open the romantic box as much as I should. – BUT, I should open it and tell her every day that I love her and she means the most to me. It’s the same way with the infertility box. Now that I have solid truth that God wants me whole, I need to open that infertility box everyday and proclaim the truth that God wants my wife completely healed and whole. Her body was created to procreate.

Okay, I saved what you wanted to hear for the end. Do I breakdown sometimes. Yes, but it’s probably very different from what you think. Yes, I cry but for brief moments. Your husband probably does as well, but don’t expect him to show it. As men, we feel like we need to be the unshakable positive rock for you to lean on. That’s our way of supporting you.

13.  Should I try to get my husband to talk about his feelings or wait until he brings it up?

No, I wouldn’t push your husband to talk about infertility. Remember that if men are forced to communicate about an issue we can’t resolve; it begins to make us feel defeated because we can’t solve the issue for you.

Even when we “feel” positive or know God’s truth about infertility, we’ll struggle because we think that will you think like us and so we will try to convince you to get your infertility box in order by telling you “it’ll be okay”. The thinking is that we want you to find the peace that we have when our infertility box is closed and on the shelf.

Unfortunately your mind doesn’t work that like. Your noodles are all over the place and you need to talk them straight. Eventually, we’ll realize that we’re not solving the problem and we’ll begin to feel defeated. Once we start feeling defeated, our minds will automatically start closing the box.

But don’t take this as we don’t want to talk about infertility because we want to support you. We want to be your hero.

14.  I have always wondered why stress or timed intercourse affected a man in the bedroom. Can you explain?

Yeah… if you understand the compartmentalized way that a guy’s mind works, then this should be pretty easy.

First, we men normally like to operate in one box at a time. It keeps things simpler. We’re focused. The “bedroom” that you allude to is the Sex box for a man (no, not that kinda sex box people!). If it’s game time and I’m in the sex box, then I don’t want any other boxes open, especially the infertility box. I mean you would think that they would go together, but they don’t! Since men only like operate in one box, the more we start opening up the infertility box in our mind, the more we get out of the Sex box.

15.  What goes through your mind the second you see a negative test in the trash can?

Disappointment. My heart breaks for my wife’s heart. Sometimes I immediately want to go find her and comfort her to make sure she’s okay. Other times, I get angry and frustrated that it’s not “our” month. I try not to soak in that pity for long because I realize that it only leads to thoughts that will steal joy and hope.

16.  Do you ever confide in anyone else about your struggles and feelings surrounding your infertility journey?

Yeah I do confide with others, but I live a pretty public life in regards to infertility since my wife writes a blog about it.

Mostly I openly talk about the generics of infertility and healing as opposed to confiding with other men on the personal struggles and hurts with infertility. It is very difficult for a man to confide with other men because infertility is not a regular subject in most men circles. Because we generally only like to be in one box at a time, you generally won’t find us in a boat fishing (note that we’re in our fishing box) talking about infertility.

The main reason is because we’re both out there in our fishing box! To actually talk about infertility would be kinda weird, because we would have to get out of our fishing box and into an infertility box. And if we did that, the fishing poles would just become awkward.  Besides, not all guys have an infertility box nor do they know how to solve those issues. So, why would I want to open a box that I can’t resolve only to talk about it with another man who has to open his infertility box that he can’t resolve either – it would be a mess!

Actually, I have participated in small groups with other men where the floor was open to discuss issues that happen in life. In these moments, the purpose for being there was to open boxes where we as men struggle so that we could find support through each other. In these environments, I have found support, and peace from confiding with other men in groups and one-on-one.


Thank you for giving me the privilege to answer your questions. Obviously they’re my answers, and so I don’t expect every husband to think or react in the same manner that I have.  But at the same time, I believe there are husband’s who can relate to some of the thoughts that I have expressed. In addition, it’s my hope that this post will give some of you insight to the way your husband’s might think and process infertility.  And as you continue on this journey, I want you to just keep reminding yourself that you are not in it alone, and that he loves and wants to support you more than you know.

-Dan


I would love to get connected with you on a more personal level, so if you liked this post, pass it on. Then click here to find Waiting for Baby Bird on Facebook or come follow me on Instagram @waitingforbabybird. I can’t wait to “meet” you.

Love and Marriage

Men Are Like Waffles

Men Are Like Waffles (why this matters to women)

“Gracie (that’s my nickname), men are like waffles and women…well, women are like spaghetti…”

It was an early Saturday morning years ago when I sat across from my dad at a local coffee shop diner listening to him ramble about this new book he had read called, “Men Are Like Waffles and Women Are Like Spaghetti.”  Like most young, 20 something daughters who could care less about the importance of knowing why men and women act, think, and communicate differently, I zoned out.  Maybe even rolled my eyes.  But ten years later, and in the throes of infertility and not knowing why my husband acts or responds in the manner that he does when dealing with it, I am more interested now more than ever in this whole waffles and spaghetti concept.  So interested in fact, I bought the book (shhh, don’t tell my dad).  And let me just say, it is fascinating (don’t tell him that either, he might make me say he was right).

For the last two years I have often wondered the reason behind why my supportive, yet seemingly clueless husband just stares at me when I am crying about a friend announcing their “whoopsie” pregnancy.  Doesn’t he have bitterness and jealousy issues too?  Or when I get another negative pregnancy test, how come he is not on the floor ugly crying with me.  Doesn’t he feel crushed?  Or why is it that when I want to talk about our infertility struggle, he shuts down.  Gets defensive.  Or in my mind, completely irrational with his hope that “everything will be okay.”  And why must he always try to solve everything?  Can’t he just listen?! (I see you nodding your head in agreement.) But the truth is, he probably can’t.

And it’s because he is like a waffle.  And me?  I’m more like a plate of pasta…specifically, spaghetti noodles.

Ladies, have you ever looked at a plate of those long, skinny noodles? If you were to pick one and follow it closely, you would see that it touches, even connects to another one…and then another…and then another.  They are all linked and intertwined.  And much is the same with how we, as women, process life.  Every emotion, every issue, and every conversation is connected together with other emotions, other issues, and other conversations.  They all unite and interweave together.  This is why when your best friend announces she is pregnant, it brings back the emotions you had three months ago of when you got a negative pregnancy test; which then reminds you of the feelings you had when you cried in the bathroom at a baby shower, that somehow leads to you imagining how the perfect idea you have pinned on pinterest to announce your own miracle pregnancy will never happen.  You see, your friend’s pregnancy announcement, it’s not just a pregnancy announcement.  If it were, you might be able to handle it.  Instead, it’s one event touching another event which crosses over to a painful emotion that reminds you of the fears you have hidden and tucked away inside the secret places of your heart. And as a result of them meshing together, you process them together.

This is a stark contrast to our better half. Because like I said earlier, they are more like waffles.

I don’t mean our men folk are like waffles in the sense that they waffle with their decisions and are unstable and fickle with their emotions, although some might and are, but rather because they process life in boxes.

Let me see if I can explain without quoting the entire book. If you look at a waffle, you will see a collection of boxes separated by walls, right? These boxes help create convenient holding places for things such as butter and syrup. This is typically how a man processes life. Their thinking is divided up into boxes and they can only live in one box at a time. For instance, your husband has a work box and so when he is at work, he is at work. When he is fishing, he is fishing. When he is watching sports center, he is simply watching sports center. Ladies, this explains why your husband can be watching television and seem as though he is in a trance, unable to notice even a fire sweeping through the home.

In addition to our men folk compartmentalizing their life and responsibilities into cute little boxes (I like to picture them with pretty bows on top), they are also problem solvers by nature.  Therefore when an issue arises, they take it, stick it in a box, size it up, and work immediately to find a solution.  Sounds great, right?  Well, sort of.  The problem with this is they will only spend most of their time in boxes they know they can succeed in.  And the ones that confuse or make them feel like a failure, they put on a shelf in the back part of their brain and ignore.  This also holds true for communication.  If they can’t solve it or understand it, they more than likely don’t want to talk about it.

(And I can hear all of the men quietly saying, aaaamen.)

But women?  Oh, no!  We like to talk.  A lot.  And we like to talk about everything, especially when dealing with a stressful issue, such as infertility and everything it entails.  And here is why.  When we feel our noodles are all in a jumble, all of our emotions, all of our issues and all of our conversations need to be processed and put into their proper place.  And for women this “noodle filing” is usually done by talking about the issue from every possible angle (spiritual, relational, emotional, logical).  It makes us feel better when we do even if the problem never gets solved.

Men on the other hand, don’t talk just to feel better.

For men, testosterone reduces stress and it’s stimulated through solving problems. Conversation about a problem that does not involve some sort of resolution will actually lower his testosterone levels, and he’ll start feeling uncomfortable and bored. Maybe even confused, stressed, defeated.  And dare I say it?  Worse for actually having the conversation.

Are things starting to make sense, ladies?  Are you starting to understand why it is that when you try to talk to him about your struggles, he never seems to hear a word you say and when given the chance, he quickly changes the subject, or better yet, offers you simple band-aid solutions like, “It will all work out”?  It’s not because he doesn’t care.  But rather, because he does care.  And he cares deeply and passionately.  That’s why he has more than likely placed this issue, the issue of infertility, where it is.  In a box, taped up, and on the top shelf in the very back of his brain.  It hurts him too much to think about it.  It hurts him too much to talk about it.  And it hurts him in ways that are unimaginable each time he sees your heart aching.  Each time you take the medicine, each time you are poked and prodded, each time you leave a doctor’s office in tears…he has to open up the box and look at the contents.  And because he doesn’t know how to understand all of the feelings involved, and because he doesn’t know how to fix the issue at hand, he quickly closes the box, tapes it shut, and again, tucks it in the very back part of his brain.

As wives we need to understand these boxes because sometimes (not all of the time) we need to help him leave his infertility box where it is…on the top shelf, in the back.  Does this mean you should never talk to them about your struggles?  Your painful emotions?  Or the bad days that rock you to the core?  No.  That’s not what I am saying at all. This is not a “get out of jail free card” per say.  I am just suggesting that you don’t need to let him see you ugly cry (different than the normal cry) after every negative pregnancy test.  Or complain to him every single time you see a pregnant woman in the grocery store or hear of yet another pregnancy announcement. (Perhaps save that for a girlfriend or your journal.)  Or maybe if you do need to talk to him about it, you go ahead and let him think he is solving the problem and bandaging up your wounds with his band-aid words of hope instead of lashing out at him for being too optimistic.

I know that for me, I don’t talk to my husband every day, or even every week about our struggle. I don’t let him know when it’s ovulation time (how is he supposed to jump in his sex box if I just made him open up the infertility box too?).  I also don’t let him know about the pregnancy announcement on Facebook that made me want to punch the computer screen.  Or point out the pregnant woman who caused my womb to ache.  Instead, I just find another plate of spaghetti…I find a friend.  I confide in her.  I spill my guts out to her.  I cry on her shoulder and complain of how unfair all of this can be.  And I know that because she intertwines her thoughts and emotions like I do, she gets it.  She understands the pain in my heart and the frustrations that overwhelm my soul.  This is why I feel so strongly about the need to attend an infertility support group and the benefits that can come from it.  But in the event I can’t talk to my friend or attend a support group, I grab a blanket, a box of Kleenex, and my journal and process my noodles through writing it out on paper.  I may not always find a solution when I do either of these things, but I always feel better when I am done.

Ladies, our husbands like to stay in the boxes that cause them satisfaction and bring success, so let’s help them. If we keep pulling out a box on a daily basis that does the opposite unnecessarily, science shows that their testosterone is going to be lowered and we are going to see them withdraw. Even crumble. And we might even start to see them resent us and our strong desire for a family.  And again, it’s not because he doesn’t care. The fact is he cares so much it hurts.

* Disclaimer: This article is my opinion.  The information I have given is based upon what I have gathered from reading the book, as well as from talking with my husband and other husbands who are also dealing with the struggles of infertility.  I realize not all men will act, think, or respond in the same manner I have shared.  Everyone is different.  I would also like to emphasize once again that we still need to talk to our husbands about life’s struggles.  This is not a “get out of jail card” for them.  But at the same time, I believe we need to just be more mindful of when and how often we do.*

With LoveIf you live in Southern Illinois and would like to join my once a month infertility support group (The Nest), I already have a seat saved for you!  All you need to do is email me at 10hopeingod@gmail.com for directions and details!


I would love to get connected with you on a more personal level, so if you liked this post, pass it on. Then click here to find Waiting for Baby Bird on Facebook or come follow me on Instagram @waitingforbabybird. I can’t wait to “meet” you.

 

Love and Marriage

12 Fun Ways to Wow Your Husband

Confession time. Ladies, after almost ten years of marriage, I have hit a slump. I no longer remember the “little” anniversary’s…you know…the day we first rekindled our old love affair from the 6th grade, or the night of our first date, or even the moment he proposed.  I have even stopped buying Valentine’s Day cards.  I know, shameful!  And ladies, if I were honest, it’s because I have become comfortable and lazy in our marriage.  This is not good.  It’s not acceptable.  Because comfortable and lazy is the breeding ground for taking him, our marriage, and the love we share for granted. It’s the start of letting the little things (and even the big things) that keep a marriage alive, grow cold and dead.  And so to fix this, I have decided to try and “wow” my man at least once a month and I couldn’t help but want to share my ideas with you. Because maybe you have also hit a slump.  Or are in need of something new and fresh to do.  Whatever the case, I hope you take the time and energy to keep the romance alive and your marriage as vibrant as the day you said I Do.

So without further ado, here they are…

12 Fun Ways to Wow Your Husband

1. Surprise him with a “just because” gift

I have learned over the years that a gift given as a surprise rather than expected, is better.  For instance, if I call my husband from the grocery store and ask if he needs me to grab him anything, he will say yes and will be grateful I thought of him.  But if I don’t call him and then surprise him later at work or after dinner with his favorite donuts, yogurt, or pie, I am all of a sudden the greatest wife in the world!.  So ladies, surprise the men in your life with a “just because” gift.  The possibilities are endless from something as cheap as a bag of his favorite candy to as expensive as an upgrade to his favorite sports channels.

2.  Fall in love with his hobby

Well, maybe not forever, but you can at least do it for a day, right?  The next time he mentions you tagging along when he goes fishing or wants you to sit down with him to watch a football game, don’t decline.  Instead, just go with it!  Showing genuine interest and enthusiasm in a hobby he loves, will not only strengthen your marriage, but will also make him feel like a million bucks!  And who knows?  You might just get a shopping trip in exchange.

3.  Play Jenga

Why Jenga and not any other game?  Because in Jenga, you can take the Jenga logs and write simple messages for your husband to read as you play.  Remind him of your first date and how much you fell in love with him.  Tell him thank you for helping around the house.  Compliment his eyes.  And if you want to give him the ultimate surprise, you can always write on a few logs, “take off one item of clothing.”  The possibilities are endless and it’s a game he will most likely never forget. (And more than likely want to play every night.)

4.  Write a sexy love note

You probably expected this idea, right? It’s a classic. But how about you change things up. Grab a red ink pen (meow) and write a love note letting him know how much you can’t wait to see him after work. Once you have done this (and signed it with a kiss), mail it to his work. Can’t do that? Then go ahead and place it inside of a balloon that is blown up and write “Pop Me” on it for him to find first thing in the morning. Or tuck it inside of his pants pocket before he gets dressed for work. I guarantee your note will have him blowing through every stop sign to get home to you.

9.  Do him a favor

I am the worst at doing “extra” favors for my husband. I know, shame on me. And maybe you too?  If so, do something unexpected for him, something little, that will make a huge impact in his day. For instance, slip out of bed a little early in the morning and start the vehicle and turn on the heat if it’s a bit nippy. Or brew his pot of coffee if he is the one to usually do it. If getting out of bed early is not your thing (it’s not mine), maybe complete a task around the house that is normally his job. I have always been told it’s the little things that count, so pick something little and wow him with it.

10.  Cook his favorite meal

We all know food is one of the fastest ways to a man’s heart, so why not surprise him with his favorite meal or dessert?  But don’t just stop there!  Go above and beyond by serving it to him in bed, or in his favorite recliner, or wherever he calls his happy place so that he can relax while watching the latest sports news.

11.  Initiate in bed

Does this one even need explaining?  I don’t think so.  And I am glad because I’m already blushing.

12. Text him

Finally, here’s one you can do right now–even if he’s home! Text him about anything–song lyrics that will remind him of your first date, memories of the fun times you’ve had on recent vacations, perhaps what you’re wearing…Men love to know when we are thinking of them and that we want them.  I may be speaking for myself, but it’s often easier for wives to say, “I love you” than it is for them to say, “I want you.” But we must never forget that our men want to hear both.  And they want to hear it often.  So text him now, again in an hour, and one more time before he comes home from work.

 


Ladies, don’t forget to bookmark this post or print it out! 

You will want to keep it handy so that you will always have a way to make your husband feel special.

With Love


I would love to get connected with you on a more personal level, so if you liked this post, pass it on. Then click here to find Waiting for Baby Bird on Facebook or come follow me on Instagram @waitingforbabybird. I can’t wait to “meet” you.