Trying to conceive a baby isn't always as easy as it sounds. While some seem to get pregnant at the drop of a hat, others have a much harder time getting things to line up as they're supposed to. Problems such as PCOS, endometriosis, and sterility wreak havoc on those desperately wanting a child to call their own. However, there are some good things that can come from all of this, like how fertility struggles make your relationship stronger. Yes, stronger, and I can attest to this.
My body's ability to get pregnant with my firstborn was effortless. In fact, I'd actually been on birth control at the time and in no way trying to have a baby. Surprise! Life had other plans and I'm grateful for that. Years later, though, when my partner and I actively planned and tried for our second child, life had other plans again. This time, however, it was not to give us another baby just yet. I suffered my first miscarriage in 2009 and again at the tail end of 2010 (New Year's Eve, to be exact). I'd long before been diagnosed with PCOS with a tilted uterus to boot, so my doctor and I had spoken about fertility treatments often. It never occurred to me I couldn't have another baby at some point because, at the time, I wasn't ready to face such finality.
Luckily, in the early winter months of 2011, I became pregnant again. Due to previous complications and losses, I'd been labeled a "threatened abortion." They did not believe this baby would thrive and thus, I prepared for another long journey of healing. I remember very vividly how they immediately sent me down for an ultrasound and, to everyone's delight, there was a strong heartbeat. I gave birth to my beautiful, healthy son, October 11th, 2011. I can't help but reflect back on all my partner and I went through together and how, in all this, we came out stronger than ever. With that said, here are just a few ways fertility struggles can make your relationship stronger. Infertility doesn't have to break you, if you don't let it.
You Learn To Lean On One Another
Before our issues with infertility, we didn't turn to one another as much as we did after. I don't know what that says about us, but it's how our relationship evolved. There's something to be said about going through hard times only we understand from our perspective that eased the pain of not getting pregnant right away. You can try to talk and confide in others about your feelings but, in the end, it's something only you and your partner share.
I learned how to rely on my partner in ways I never had before and had this not happened, we may not be where we are today.
There's A Lot Of Chanced To Bond Through Appointments
When you're dealing with issues like PCOS, you see doctors more than usual and on a pretty regular basis. (In my case, it became more about my overall health than fertility, as I had painful cysts that needed removed.)
When you're navigating fertility you're a regular at doctor's offices and hospitals, because there's no one answer to the root cause. These appointments became regular "dates" between my partner and I because, sometimes, it was all the alone time we could manage. Plus, having him right there with me helped remind that I wasn't alone.
You Learn About Bodies, Together
Besides the fact that pregnancy is its own incredible mystery, infertility is much of the same, just in a very different way. Why is it easier for some to conceive than others? How should I know when to consider fertility treatment? In going to appointments together, we learned how my PCOS changed the game for me and, during his appointments, how his reproductive organs weren't adding to our problems conceiving. By supporting each other during each phase of the learning curve, we could better understand what the other was going through.
You're Probably Having A Little More Sex Than Usual
Sure, a lot of the time the sex had a distinct purpose (to conceive a baby), but other times it was for fun. There were, inevitably, times one of us didn't want to but the closeness of going through the motions was healing, in and of itself. More sex in a relationship is rarely a bad thing and, for us, it distracted from all we didn't have.
You've Got Your Eye On Future Plans
If you're having fertility issues, it can sometimes be all you see, feel, and hear. Honestly, it's overwhelming as hell. You'll see pregnant women literally everywhere you look or hear news every two seconds about another friend who's celebrating a positive pregnancy test, all while you're fighting this private battle behind closed doors. This happened to me a lot. I wanted a second child so bad, I couldn't focus on anything else.
Thankfully, my partner stepped in to help re-route those energies into something positive. We planned things that would give me something to look forward to, such as a vacation or exciting event and, together, aimed our sights forward. No more looking back.
You Become Authorities On Fertility
When you're unable to have a baby, it's natural to read up on pretty much everything you can get your hands on about the subject. You want answers, explanations, and remedies (and so does your partner).
When you go down this path together, not only do you understand more about your own reproductive health but his, or hers, as well. If you'd asked my partner long before what it means to live with PCOS or struggle with fertility, I'm sure he wouldn't have an answer. Now? He'll school anyone, anytime. Live and learn, folks. That's how relationships grow.
You Communicate More Than Ever
Communication has been one of the biggest obstacles in the history of relationships, including mine. Currently, my partner and I have been together 12 years, and we've probably miscommunicated about 90 percent of the time. During our fertility hell, we talked more than we ever had because the topic necessitated it. My need to talk things through wasn't optional anymore, which meant he had to step up and do the same or we'd never get through it.
The circumstances forced us to reveal our greatest fears (not having another baby), and also, our greatest victories (as there were many). It's important to open up even when your first reaction is to shut down. It might mean the difference in building a strong foundation and knocking a weak one down.
You Seek Out Alternative Therapies Together
The journey of fertility often leads down many roads you wouldn't otherwise go down. Between talk therapy, IVF, natural remedies, donors, surrogates, and so much more; you never really know which path you'll choose.
Part of the process, though, is doing and learning together. If you go it alone, your relationship may suffer. Fertility is between the both of you. Remember that.
You Life One Another Up
Figuratively and metaphorically, when all seems lost and you have a supportive partner lifting you up, it's much easier to endure. Whether this means he, or she, makes you laugh when you want to cry, or they're invested in mapping out a plan for the next steps, remember; this doesn't have to break your partnership down but rather, it's a great way to make you closer.
Fertility struggles aren't easy to talk about (or live through) but rest assured, regardless of whether there's a baby at the end of the journey or not, something good can come out of this. I promise.