It’s a conversation I find myself having often, and it makes me laugh. Someone will say, “aren’t you lucky, you and your husband have time to bond” or “having children right away is no picnic, be grateful you have time together” or even “it’s so nice that you can enjoy each other, if you’d be constantly pregnant who knows what your marriage might look like” In more than one way, they’re right. But at the same time, they’re so wrong.
For starters, I don’t need to be constantly pregnant. That’s not my goal right now, although I can’t say I’d mind. I also imagine that had I had children by now, I’d still qualify for “having had time together” At the same time I realize that having children isn’t easy (ha!) and that hormones can send a woman, and her marriage, into a spin. I know that when a woman is preoccupied with “other stuff” her husband suffers. And I know that stress, be it emotional or financial, can be extremely taxing on any relationship.
Do you know how I know this? Because we IFers experience it too.
Pregnant women are hormonal? So are IFers, although we get to add powerful mood-changing meds to the mix. Pregnant women are preoccupied with children? IF women are preoccupied too, but with taxing treatments, not precious joys. Pregnant women are drained, exhausted, and maxed out? Well, let me ask you, have you tried IF? We go through it all – the physical, the financial, and most of all, the emotional. And I’m sure I don’t need to mention the bottom line difference, the missing take-away prize at the end of the day…
I don’t mean to discredit pregnant women, or anyone for that matter. We all struggle, and we all deserve to be heard. But I do want to bust this myth that infertility is a magical elixir for bringing couples together. It’s simply unfair to think so, and doesn’t do justice to the tremendous effort happy IFers invest in their marriage. For every one reason a “pregnant marriage” should fail, there are four reasons why an IF couple should be doomed. And while I wish a happy and fulfilling marriage for every last person I do and don’t know, let’s not kid ourselves into thinking that IF is an automated force that brings couples together.
True, I would be lying if I said that IF hasn’t brought us closer. But that’s not because of IF. It’s because of the choices we’ve made as a couple. When in pain, we’ve chosen to reach out instead of in. We’ve learned to listen to words unspoken, to fine tune our ability to truly hear each other when surrounded by confusion. We chose to support each other through disappointment, and to respect each other even in high-stakes situation when our personal preferences differed. We’ve seen the strength in each other, and allowed ourselves to be amazed. And we’ve come out stronger for it. Yes, we found ourselves in these scenarios thanks to IF. But IF did not bring us together. We did.
So please, next time our marriage comes up in conversation, try to give credit where credit is due. With siyata d’shmaya, our marriage is strong and proud. But know that if your pregnant, your marriage can be too. It’s not about the circumstance. It’s about the choices we make that allow us to grow.