There is a unique type of pain that arises by preparing a place in your heart for a child who never comes.
Fertility has been considered a valuable characteristic in most cultures since always, and the desire for a child is one of the fundamental human motivations. For women, pregnancy and motherhood are very often desires from early childhood, and also, this desire and motivation develop under the influence of society and culture. When attempts to make this wish come true fail, it can be an extremely difficult emotional experience.
On the medical side, infertility is diagnosed after 12 consecutive months during which intimate intercourse did not result in pregnancy. Although there appear to be more and more infertile couples, it is an unwanted byproduct of postponing marriage and pregnancy. The social clock has changed, i.e. expectations have changed about at what age one should start a marriage and have a child. Although our expectations have changed, our biological apparatus has remained the same and is not in line with our modern desires.
If we look at couples struggling with infertility, we find that men, as often as women, are the cause of infertility (40%), and in 20% of cases, the cause is in both of them, or unknown.
In modern society, children are considered emotionally priceless. Children are a source of happiness and life fulfillment. That is why the difficulty or inability to meet this (life) goal is often emotionally devastating for an individual or a couple. Infertility is a loss – a loss of a dream, a loss of a presumed future – and like any loss, it should be mourned. Responses to infertility make up a whole array of feelings – from surprise, guilt, anger, depression, and withdrawal, as well as all the other emotions that are characteristic of any type of loss. Seldom depression is camouflaged by consciously or unconsciously sabotaging one’s personal endeavors to conceive, without diminishing the chance of disappointment. For example, he or she may intentionally avoid partnerships during the fertile period by avoiding postmenstrual depression that is the result of repeated failures. All couples who have had an unsuccessful attempt to conceive on several occasions know how vast the expectation is and how proportionate the sorrow that follows a negative pregnancy test is. It often happens that partners hide disappointment and sadness from each other, sometimes because of misunderstanding, and sometimes because they are afraid to share the burden with their partner – mistakenly believing that the burden of infertility will be even heavier.
The feeling of depression is accompanied by a feeling of losing control of one’s life. For many couples who have managed to achieve almost all the goals they have set for themselves so far, the problem of infertility is perhaps the first experience of losing control. They feel helpless and try to establish greater control over testing, infertility treatments, or even in some other areas of life. Feelings of anger and injustice are also common. People have a deep-seated belief that they have a right to a child and that they deserve it. It makes them extremely angry when they see “to whom God gave a child” or “who gives birth” appealing to irresponsible or emotionally cold parents, too young parents, abusive parents, parents who neglect children, etc. This infuriates them like a grave injustice because they – who have all the prerequisites for a child and who would love that child, take care of him – they cannot get him in any way. This feeling of anger can later be redirected – to close people who do not provide enough emotional support and understanding or do not provide it in a way that would suit them best. Sometimes this emotion is directed towards the members of the medical team who help them with fertilization. It is necessary to recognize that behind this anger of difficult couples lies pain, anxiety, and fear.
Couples struggling with infertility frequently have a fear of losing a partner. The infertile partner is afraid that he will be abandoned by the fertile partner. At the same time, they can have difficulties in intimate relationships, precisely because relationships become a rough reminder of unsuccessful attempts to conceive, but also because these attempts have reduced intimate relationships to a task to be performed. Fear also arises from losing relationships with other beloved people. After an infinitely long series of well-meaning advice on how to just relax, etc., but also happy births, expectations, children’s birthdays in the family, couples know how to distance themselves from close people, who only remind them of their pain. This isolation leads to an additional loss of social support, which is needed. People close to you forget that advice needs support.
And then what to do?
Today’s currents of positive thinking would certainly emphasize the importance of visualizing your baby as if he or she is already there, visualizing yourself as a mother/father, the feeling of happiness that fills you. Most people would certainly say that you should never give up your dream, your desire for a child and that this is “never known” because many gave birth after 10 or 20 years of marriage after they adopted a child or the like. I will not say that. You’ve heard that before.
I want to tell you that it is vitally important to build your life without a child. The baby will happen. Or they won’t. But YOU – you have already happened! You have already happened to your parents, your grandparents, siblings, friends and – your partner! You are already here, and it is the right time to live your life. Build your life for yourself and those who are already there. Develop yourself. If you don’t already have one, create your own circle of friends, make close friendships. Work on your character. Work on improving those characteristics that you don’t like. Dedicate yourself to something you love to do, a hobby you may have neglected or never tried. Learn something you’ve always dreamed of – it’s never too late. Work on your happiness, as an individual and as a couple. Why? Because you can be happy and fulfilled even without a child. Because even that child you want so much would be happier to be born into a happy family, with happy and fulfilled parents. Because being a mother or a father is not the only thing that determines a man and his value.
Of course, you will not give up as long as the desire for a child exists, no one needs to tell you that. No one needs to tell you that no matter how strong the storm is, you will survive it. Don’t get to shore like a wreck, stay like an upright ship sailing through a storm. Do not be afraid of bad weather, see it as an opportunity to learn to sail to a calm shore.