Last night, my husband and I spent a while in the hot tub just talking about life. We talked about our excitement for our upcoming embryo transfer, the hopes for a pregnancy, our overwhelming fears, and reminded one another how much we appreciated the other.
One thing that has been weighing on my mind heavily is how he feels throughout this part of the process. It is so easy to get caught up in my own emotions during something as difficult as infertility and forget that he endures the same pain. Infertility is such a cruel thing because unlike most problems where one spouse is strong while the other is hurting, both are hurting more than they've ever hurt before. It's incredibly hard to muster up enough strength to get yourself through it, let alone think and support your spouse's needs during their sorrows. It becomes insanely difficult when this is forgotten. We've had our share of upsets, fights, and tearful nights just as any other infertile couple will fully understand. But we have grown a million times stronger than we ever were before.
About a month or so ago we learned that one of the FDA requirements to do an embryo transfer with donor embryos was for the recipient patient's spouse to get an infectious disease panel completed. I personally think it's ridiculous since physically speaking, the spouse has no part in any of it. Nothing is happening to/from his body, yet our lovely government has made up this ridiculous hoop to jump through in order to move forward. *sigh* Let's remember how many babies are born while the mother is addicted to crack, but I digress. When researching this, I came across letters to the FDA from Dr Keenan at the NEDC. Read about his perspective on the FDA regulations here: FDA Threatens Human Embryo Adoption. This was written prior to the regulations being put in place.
When I told my husband he needed to get this done, he was angry and upset. Then I got angry with him for not immediately cooperating because in my mind it was just a simple needle prick and then it's over with from his standpoint. Compared to the amount of needle pricks, ultrasounds, and God-Willing pregnancy symptoms I'd endure(d), this seemed pale in comparison and I didn't understand the difficulty. After a heated discussion about it, he finally opened up and said how hard it was for him to be reminded that he didn't have a physical part in it. And it was a slap in the face that he had to do it at all. My heart dropped. I never thought about it like that, but he's totally right.
I guess you could say we are both technically "equal" as far as neither of us having a genetic relationship to our future children. But I, the mother, have some definite advantages. This baby gets to grow inside of me. It gets to be nourished from my body. So while my body doesn't determine what it will look like, it will be grown from my own flesh and blood.
I have done a lot of thinking about how it must be from his perspective and it has pained me to think of him just as a bystander. So last night in the hot tub, I specifically asked him how he feels about that part of it.
My husband, the tender and thoughtful man that he is, had a wonderful answer.
My husband is a runner. He has run three marathons and a few half marathons. He said that our quest for a child has been like a marathon. It's like both of us have spent all of this time training and preparing to run for what will be the race of our lives. We both planned that we'd run it together after all this training and preparation together. When we learned that we couldn't have genetic children, it was like he received an serious injury to his legs to the point where he knew he wouldn't be able to run the marathon with me anymore. He is left with two choices: He can either walk away and be bitter that he's not running the race anymore and wallow in his inability to run. OR, he can choose to stand on the sidelines and cheer me on while I run the race for the both of us. Because at the finish line, we will both have a baby that we will love no matter what.
Getting me to that finish line is what matters.
He knows he has a big part in this even if its not physical - he is my cheerleader and my support and we both know I can't do this without him. I love him so much.