Thursday, June 17, 2010

fathers at heart

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.

Sincerely,
Infertile Customer

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.

Father's Day.

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.)

26 comments:

Marla Z said...

Hear hear! Our hubbies suffer silently (at least mine does...) This year, instead of a girly flick, we'll curl up on the couch with our bottle of wine and a Nascar race..oh wait, do those drivers get a day off, too ???

Once again, Katie, a beautiful post!

WannabeMom said...

Great post. I've definitely been thinking about that. So many guys don't show how hard this is for them. We have some great men in our lives and they are going to be amazing fathers. I can't wait to see my hubby with our own baby :)

Secret Sloper said...

A-freaking-men. My husband does not consider himself a father and doesn't like dealing with his sadness about the miscarriage, so this day is going to suck doubly, because he's insisting we spend it with his brother and his wife and kids. Watching other people open presents from their children. My favorite way to spend the day.

KeepOnTrying said...

You said it perfectly! Thanks for posting this.

Crossed Fingers said...

Seriously - you have made me cry with this post. Thank you for the reminder to not overlook Father's Day for our husbands. My DH doesn't talk too much about our TTC issues so I don't know if or how much he's hurting over everything. I'll make sure to let him know he's a father at heart - because he is.

*hugs*

Arlyne said...

Oh wow! Thanks for making me cry...again. But seriously, I love this! :)

xoxoxo

Glass Case of Emotion said...

I have been thinking about this today as well. I really feel just awful for my husband this year, more than ever. It hurts in a different way than mother's day.

Dawn said...

Very well said!

Trisha said...

Very, very true!

S said...

I know my husband feels awful about the fact that he (still) isn't a father, but I really hadn't thought about in relation to Father's Day.

Now I feel extra bad about the fact that not only does he have to experience his second childless Father's Day since we married, he also has to spend the day with my father (& stepmother). . . and I am testing that morning, so he may be dealing with yet another BFN.

IF sucks.

I am going to be extra nice to my husband on Sunday after reading this post.

Stephanie said...

Katie, you are such an amazing writer. I just adore reading you. You are so right about this, I've been thinking about my hubby and how to make this day special for him. He is a daddy already to our furbabies and one day, whether naturally or through adoption he'll be the most amazing daddy to our children.

T said...

Your posts always gives chills! Now I have to go shave again!! :O)

2catdaughters said...

So beautiful as always. You're able to articulate what other people feel but can't put into words. Thank you for expressing what most people can't but wish they could.

micgruber said...

Reading your post has picked me up a little bit because I am having an awful day of feeling sorry for myself.

My husband just disclosed to me that he is feeling quite depressed and has been hiding it from me because he is trying to be the backbone during this rollercoaster ride. He is sad for me because we can't understand why we are having such difficulty considering he has an amazing sperm count with 90% motility.

Life just seems unfair, but thank you for such a wonderful post.

Kelly said...

You know, most of those men would do much better for themselves if they actually did get a pedi. :)

JC said...

This was a beautiful post and a good thing to remember. I'll def have to do something nice for F.

Erin said...

Thank you so much for posting this, Katie! There have been so many Father's Days that my Ted had to suffer through in silence. Not only is it not socially acceptable for men to be emotional, especially about stuff like infertility, but he spent so much effort trying to be strong for me. I think it's so important for us to remember how hard it is for the amazing fathers-to-be in our lives.

someday-soon said...

Something we should all keep in mind for sure! Your DH is lucky to have a wife who is so insightful =)

foxy said...

What a post! You say what I am feeling so well!

I wrote a post about my experience last weekend at Target. I discovered that there are "for my husband on fathers day" cards. I was stopped in my tracks. I bought a card and am going to give it to my lover on Sunday. I worried at first that it might upset him, but it really feels like the right thing for me to do. You post really validates my instinct.

Mothers Day, at least this year, was fine for me. But Fathers Day really has me worked up.

S.I.F. said...

I've never even thought about this Katie (lacking that component in my life), but it is so smart and so true... I hope you are able to lift your man up this Fathers Day, and I hope by this time next year you are both well on the road to being the amazing parents you were meant to be!

serenity said...

My husband always looked at Father's Day as a way to celebrate his dad, but I distinctly recall a Father's Day barbecue, when we were in the midst of treatments, where I looked out of a window and saw J sitting under a tree with his cousin's son who was 5 or 6 at the time. J was reading a book to him.

It was one of the moments where I felt saddest for HIM, and not for me.

xoxo

Conceptionally Challenged said...

It's true, most men (mine included) are not good at showing or sharing their emotions in this situation. I'm glad to live in a place where this isn't a big holiday, but I'll be thinking of all guys affected by IF.

Elizabeth said...

thanks for writing this. FD takes the cake for me too, and I had to fight back tears reading your blog. seriously...thanks...I have a little peace knowing I'm not alone.

A said...

Love this :) I bought my hubby a Father's Day card and signed it from me and our embryo, just like he signed the Mother's Day card he got for me. He is going to be an amazing dad, and I plan on telling him that a zillion times this weekend :)

Ashley said...

This post is so beautifully written. You are amazing with your words! And I completely agree.

Jessica said...

I totally agree with this post.

This father's day is going to suck for three reasons.
#1 - its the 1st without my Dad
#2 - My DH STILL isn't a Dad
#3 - My DH's dad is deceased.

What a crappy day for my DH.....