Written by Nicole Briand, guest blogger
I read a statistic that near 80% of marriages end up in divorce after the loss of a child. I don’t know if this is true or not, but I wouldn’t be surprised. This whole process—infertility, miscarriage, and child loss, is a tough road to travel.
Growing up I had this idea of what life would be like. You get married, buy a house, pop a few kids out, etc.
When I look back at that naivety, I laugh.
After dating for a few years, my husband and I got married after a short engagement in a intimate October wedding. We closed on our first home just a few weeks after the wedding. So far so good, right?
I went off birth control a few months prior to the wedding because we knew we wanted to start a family right away. My husband is 10 years older than me so that was definitely a factor. But more so, I just felt this strong desire that I was meant to be a mom.
After not getting pregnant the first couple months, I became obsessed with trying to conceive. I was charting my cycles, taking my temperature, peeing on every type of stick I could get my hands on, and examining every bodily fluid with a fine tooth comb. As I’m sure most people in this community know, when you are determined to get pregnant, sex can become very not sexy. At least that’s how I felt. It became so transactional. “I’m ovulating so we have to do it X number of times in X number of days.” And afterwards I needed to lay with my legs in the air (as if that actually makes a difference.) Talk about taking the magic out of the honeymoon phase. The more time elapsed that we weren’t getting pregnant, the worse my anxiety got. I became obsessed and desperate to have a baby.
As we started fertility treatments, things only got worse. My husband would often say things like “ I want my wife back.” And he was right. I had become a monster with one goal in mind-a baby. After learning that our fertility issues were my own, I became angry and insecure. I was so angry at my body for letting me down and I took a lot of that anger out on him. In hindsight, I wouldn’t have blamed him if he threw in the towel right there. The man is a saint. I don’t give him nearly enough credit.
Even when I finally got pregnant with our twin boys, my anxiety never let up. Having such a difficult time conceiving and miscarrying just a few months earlier, I had a very difficult time allowing myself to enjoy the pregnancy. I lived in constant fear that something bad would happen. I began to socially isolate myself because I just wanted to stay home and protect my babies. This was especially difficult for my husband because he is, by nature, a very social person.
When we learned that one of our boys, William, passed away, just a few weeks shy of our delivery, our world was rocked. In the moments following when the doctor said the words, “I’m so incredibly sorry, but there is no heartbeat,” I remember thinking about how thankful I was that my husband was by my side. I just wanted him to hold me, which was something I hadn’t wanted in a very long time.
The coming weeks were the most difficult of my life. It was little things like hearing my husband sobbing in the shower, that broke my heart in a way that I can’t even begin to describe. However, as difficult of a road as it was to get to that point, I began to realize that he wanted to start a family just as much as I did.
In grief counseling, we talked often about how men and women grieve the loss of a child differently. And I can imagine that it is very similar in how we deal with the struggle of TTC and infertility. I would often get angry with my husband and accuse him of not caring—about starting a family, about miscarrying, about losing our son, because he wasn’t grieving in the same way I was. But what I have come to realize is that we just express these feelings differently.
This whole journey has changed me. It’s changed my husband. And it has changed our marriage. Some days are good and some are really damn tough. But I’ve learned to hold my husband closer, instead of pushing him away. In an unlucky situation, I have been very lucky to have him by my side.