Every day with infertility is difficult. Some days you feel hopeful and you truly believe you will hold a baby in your arms. Other days you feel angry or sad and you can hardly pull yourself out from under the covers and get through the day without crying in the bathroom stall at work. (Come on, we've all done it.) Some days you go through a mixture of these emotions--like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hide. One minute you are fine, and the next you are a wreck. The great thing about these days or moments when you are writhing in pain is there are at least ten other girls around you to lift you up and carry you out of the funk. There's your husband, who brings home your favorite flowers or candy. In the end, you can pop in a girlie movie, pour yourself a glass of wine, and curl up on the couch knowing that tomorrow will be a different day.
But we all share common days of low. When none of us can pick each other up off the floor, because we're all too busy throwing hissy fits down there, too. It's easy to remember these days, because they are also marked on the calendar: Mother's Day, Christmas, Easter, etc. Family gatherings make you want to pull your hair out. You don't want to go into the mall for fear of walking past Santa holding a newborn set of triplets (Seriously, three? I can't have ONE!) The weeks leading up to these days, when you are bombarded with ads every three minutes, are like being shot with rubber bullets before getting hit in the heart with the real thing. Even tax day this year brought on horrendous commercials about getting married, buying a house, and having a baby IN THE SAME year:
Dear H&R Block,
A few questions: Is it possible for a couple to marry, buy a house, AND have a baby in one year? I mean, I just want to know how that happens. It's been over two years and my husband and I have only accomplished two of the three. What kind of prize do you win for doing everything in the same year? How did the couple in your commercial achieve goal #3? By relaxing and going on vacation? Do you mean to tell me that people still get pregnant that way?
Thanks in advance for your help.
All of these holidays are painful in their own, unique way. But I think the holiday that's most painful of all is the one people often overlook.
There's no nice way of putting it: Father's Day sucks. Infertile men can't go cry on the shoulder of their buddies and whine about how badly they want to celebrate this holiday with a baby on their hip. They can't go out and get a mani/pedi to take their mind off of the pain and get away from the endless television commercials. They can't go online to their blogs and vent about how life is unfair and crack jokes about fertile men to get them through. Even in relationships where no male factor infertility is involved, Father's Day is torture for men who experience infertility. While women can find outlets for their emotions, men are less likely to let it out and really cope with their own loss on Father's Day--the loss of a child, the loss of the ability to father a child, or even just the loss of the ability to father a child naturally.
This day is difficult for women, too, of course. It's a helpless feeling to know that your husband might be feeling pain on Father's Day but he is unable or unwilling to express it. They are always the strong ones: staying positive when you are down, wiping your tears when you cry. They rarely break down, but it doesn't mean they don't hurt. And even though infertility is no one's fault, it can be a guilty feeling. You want to give your husband a child just as much as you want one yourself.
So as much as Mother's Day is painful and Christmas is unbearable, I think Father's Day takes the cake, at least for me. This Sunday, on Father's Day, please remember those men in your life who are unable to have children, those who are waiting to hear from their adoption agency, and those who have suffered loss. They may not admit it, but the pain of infertility affects them, too. Remember to ask how they are feeling. Remember to give them a big hug. Remember to tell them you care. And please remind them: they have yet to meet their children, but they are all still fathers at heart.
(For a great article about Mother's Day that really should apply to any holiday, click here.)