In honor of National Infertility Awareness Week and we wanted to offer words of encouragement to the aspiring fathers and parents out there who are facing this difficult dilemma. Working through infertility can be challenging, no matter what the circumstances. When a couple is having trouble trying to get pregnant, each partner can be impacted in different ways which can lead to many complex feelings and experiences. Aspiring fathers and parents might struggle to know how to manage the unique challenges they face, and might also feel unsure about how to support their partner. In an effort to support those of you going through this experience, I hope you will remember a few important messages as you go through your experience.
You are not alone. There are many men who experience some version of infertility, but this is not always talked about openly. Some men feel a great deal of shame about infertility issues and don’t always share about their experience with others. Whereas it can be easy to feel alone in your experience, you are not the first or last man to deal with this. If you can embrace that fact, it can allow you to open yourself to the support that exists among support communities. We are in a mostly virtual world at this moment, but you can still seek out online resources for support and knowledge on social media or internet.
Your feelings are valid no matter what they are. Infertility, no matter what its cause may be, can create a complex set of emotions. You may experience any number of combinations of sadness, anger, impatience, fear, confusion, or hopelessness. Any emotions are valid, and your experience gets to be exactly what it is. Don’t spend time worrying whether you should feel something, focus on dealing with what you do feel. If you are angry, let that experience happen and seek an appropriate way to channel it. If you are sad, let yourself express that even if it is through tears or other form of grief.
Turn toward your partner so you weather this as a team. Many men or partners are uncertain how to support themselves, let alone their other half, when going through something that is so complex. This can lead to a tendency to withdraw because they are unsure how to help the situation. There is no perfect thing to say or do for your partner. The most powerful things you can do is be present and available. Be available to listen if your partner needs to talk, is in need of a hug, needs you to step in with chores, or needs more support parenting existing children. When in doubt, check in directly with your partner by initiating communication that will help you understand how you can best support them. Share how you are feeling, let your partner know that they are not alone in this or not the only one feeling vulnerable. When you are able to offer sincere support and emotional presence to your partner, it can help you manage your own pain through offering compassion, love, and agency.
Seek support where available, and consider therapeutic support if you are continuing to struggle. The Catalyst Center is dedicated to supporting couples and individuals in all stages of infertility. Our team of therapists are uniquely experienced with helping couples navigate the immense emotional difficulties that can arise during infertility challenges. If you are not finding the support you need from friends, family, or other types of community, consider finding a therapist who can offer professional and personalized guidance. Our therapists are all doing virtual sessions, so you can even get started even with the current social distancing measures.
We sincerely wish you the best on your journey. If we can be of help, please don’t hesitate to reach out.