Do you feel like infertility is impacting your relationship?
If you’re feeling like your relationship is suffering because of your infertility you aren’t alone. Infertility is bloody hard! There are the hormones, the impacts on your mental health, the stress and the list goes on. It’s actually so common it’s been well researched – here’s just one such study.
So, let me share a story of a couple who completed the MindBody Program for Fertility.
‘Why doesn’t he leave?” sobbed Emma during one of our first sessions in the MindBody Program for Fertility. “He really wants a baby, and I’ve let him down. Why is he still here? Why doesn’t he leave?” By now Emma was a wreck. She had been caught up in this ‘why doesn’t he leave’ story in her head for months now. Read on for the story of *Todd and *Emma (not their real names).
Do you relate?
Emma and Todd met in university. She was in her first year studying journalism and he was in his final year, majoring in engineering. They caught each other’s eyes at the local Uni pub, and she said it was love at first sight for both of them. They spent the night talking, not wanting the night to end. From then on, they were virtually inseparable.
They moved in together in her final year. Todd had taken a job at a local firm, but he really wanted to get into mining. Todd had big dreams. They travelled for a couple of years and then worked overseas, living in London for 5 years. Todd wanted to run his own company one day and felt there were more opportunities in Europe and wanted to stay.
They’d never really had the ‘chat’ about children, despite that Emma felt they were both on the same page and could see kids in their future … one day.
Emma took on small jobs for a while and then landed a great journalist position, writing for a major news outlet. Life was great. They were working in their dream jobs and travelling the world during their holidays – hiking mountains, rafting, they shared lots of adventures, and loved it. Their life was a dream!
After a few more years they knew the time had come to move back home to Australia. It was time to start a family. By this stage Emma was 35 and Todd 39. They’d had their adventures it was time to settle down.
Still feeling familiar?
After settling back in Australia Emma found a part-time job as she planned on being pregnant and wanted a job that wasn’t too demanding. She was running every day and ate well – all the things she knew would help her to fall pregnant.
But it just wasn’t happening!
Month after month the disappointment of a period or negative pregnancy test. Before long she started worrying – was something wrong?
Todd was busy with his new business and was travelling a lot for work, but they were able to find time to travel as a couple and dreamt of taking their future kids with them. They would be a family of the world.
The dream was so real … but still, no positive test!
Todd was still positive their dreams would come true. But Emma was spiralling … everything started to annoy her, even Todd leaving his clothes on the bedroom floor or not hanging up his towel were in her mind intolerable and her response was akin to a nuclear explosion!
Fast forward another year and over 18 months of trying, Emma realised it was time to figure out what was going wrong. The time had come to stop crying and start taking action.
No-one in their family had experienced infertility. Todd was reluctant to get tested at first (which is really common for many male partners). She talked him around though and he was tested. While his sperm were healthy, there wasn’t a lot of them. The doctors thought that was ok.
Emma had found that she had undiagnosed endometriosis – again not uncommon for this to go undiagnosed. They were out of choices, they needed to start their fertility treatment journey.
Emma was confused and wondered what possible infertility for mean for her … and for them as a couple. They were in love; they were financially comfortable, and she had a great career. She found it hard to let go of Todd’s heart being set on being a dad and he’d be such a great dad. She felt she was letting him down. She had no idea how to broach this with Todd though – I mean, how do you even start that conversation. So, communication got harder and harder – were they on the same page? How would and could they move forward as a couple?
Enter ARTs and IVF, and the BIG fear
Emma and Todd began their IVF treatment and after three years of round after round of IVF Todd had had enough … he wanted to give up. He just couldn’t watch Emma’s heartache month after month any longer. Todd told Emma he was done and wanted to stop treatment. They could create new dreams he told her. But, in Emma’s mind she heard ‘I want to leave you’. She was certain she’d come home from work one day and he’d be gone, along with all his belongings. Empty house. Empty heart.
Emma found hope – The MindBody for Fertility Program!
Googling on her phone while watching TV one night she came across @MindfulMomentsbyTS and realised this could be the way to get rid of the “invisible infertility demon” as she referred to it. There was still hope and it was worth a bloody shot – no matter the outcome. She wasn’t ready to let go of her dream of being a mum just yet … and this might just save her marriage too.
Emma told Todd there was hope. The MindBody Program for Fertility might be able to unlock her fertility after all. Todd was on board and they signed up for the program.
They both came along to the first virtual session – which we encourage. Todd was quiet, but at the same time engaged and curious (phew!). As Emma progressed each week through the program, she told Todd about all what she was learning – the strategies, the meditations, and the activities. They both did the couples yoga and they loved it. They were reintroduced to touch, but mostly they laughed their way through it. Laughter, that had been missing in their worlds, and it was great to be able to finally have a laugh together.
Next came the Couples Connection session, which was amazing for both Emma and Todd. They listened – really listened – to each other to connect with each other and re-establish their communication. Their love was revitalised. They realised sex wasn’t just about creating a baby – this session was a game changer for them as a couple.
My work here was done. We completed the program and Emma had learnt to heal her mind and body, and now understood the connection between the two. She was still scared, but more hopeful than ever, she had unlocked herself from her fertility.
How does this story end?
Emma reached out a month after completing the program. She had made some huge changes in her life by changing careers – to early childhood education – and made the huge decision to stop fertility treatment. They were exploring adoption. Emma thanked me for the support and was so grateful for the opportunity to be open and vulnerable in a safe space. Time to find a new path to parenthood.
Infertility is a rollercoaster ride. Infertility is a challenge for any couple and will have an impact on all relationships. That’s the harsh reality of fertility and infertility. Sadly, some relationships don’t survive … but on the other hand some are stronger because of the journey.
I’m going to put my psychologist hat on a for a moment. Throughout the journey remember the Three Cs – communication, compromise and compassion. Find a way to openly and honestly communicate with each other. Find ways to compromise as a couple. Be compassionate with each other. This isn’t easy on either of you.
Finally, remember infertility might just be the first crisis you’ve experienced as a couple. You don’t have to walk this path alone though. If you’re curious to learn the facts of infertility and some small changes you can make check out this blog. If you’re curious whether the MindBody Program for Fertility might be the next step for you take a look at our FAQ or reach out and let’s chat.