Infertility - Men Are Not Ducks. Maybe They Are Swans?
Understanding Infertility - Do They Get It?
There's been a lot of conversation lately about how our male partners/husbands just don't get it when it comes to understanding infertility. They don't get the intensity that we feel about fertility treatment and more specifically, they don't get how we feel about not having those babies yet.
There's been a lot of anger as well towards the men about not getting it. The word insensitive has been used a lot to describe them. They want sex at what seems like inappropriate times (in the middle of a cycle or two days after a miscarriage). They don't listen or respond when we talk about the despair we feel when a fertility cycle doesn't work.
That old joke about the duck comes to mind. If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, swims like a duck, well then, most likely, it's a duck!
Except when these wonderful women, who are feeling angry, sad, lonely and somewhat (or very) abandoned by their men are asked about whether these men love them, the answer is a resounding yes. Unequivocally yes.
They talk about their marriages being stronger than they were before infertility walked in and took a seat.
I’m wondering if the duck is perhaps not a duck.
Perhaps it’s a tern. Or a loon (kinda like that one). Or a swan. Or a goose.
Infertility Problems: Dealing with the Pain
Maybe insensitivity is a great mask for denial (if I ignore the infertility problems, one day they will be solved and all will be great, etc.). Maybe it is that their beloved’s pain is so deep that they do not know how to touch it gently enough without causing more pain. Perhaps they are worried about drowning in the pain themselves and not being able to be the anchor that they are expected to be. Perhaps their own pain is so bewildering to them that without our help, they are lost and they cannot ask for help while we are in such pain.
It is possible that the only thing they know how to do is to do more of what they know how to do. Work. Fix things. Shelter us the best they know how.
While there were a few names flying around describing these men that were not duck or goose or loon, there was also general consensus that these men love us. And that their best wasn’t good enough. That’s a hard concept to face, that our best isn’t good enough. We know about that one, don’t we? Because that’s the one we face when it comes to failed fertility cycles.
Infertility Support - Is Something Getting In The Way?
Perhaps they need more help and direction than we can give them about how to support us.
Or, maybe they are the ones who need the support and help themselves and have no idea how to dig deeply enough to ask for it.
I don’t know. I just suspect that if there is love there and it’s not being expressed then something is getting in the way. Going a step further, I would suspect that the culprit getting in the way is our pain.
Not making excuses or apologies for them or us. Just trying to figure out the odd phenomena of our men not showing up in ways that are helpful or supportive even when we all agree that they love us.
Maybe it’s time for us to look past the obvious. Maybe it’s not a duck at all.
Maybe it’s the swan we see struggling under the weight of not knowing the right thing to do or say. Or being too afraid to say it.
About Lisa Rosenthal
Lisa has over thirty years of experience in the fertility field. After her personal infertility journey, she felt dissatisfied with the lack of comprehensive services available to support her. She was determined to help others undergoing fertility treatment. Lisa has been with RMACT for eleven years and serves as Patient Advocate and the Strategic Content Lead.
Lisa is the teacher and founder of Fertile Yoga, a program designed to support men and women on their quest for their families through gentle movement and meditation.
Lisa’s true passion is supporting patients getting into treatment, being able to stay in treatment and staying whole and complete throughout the process. Lisa is also a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist, which is helpful in her work with fertility patients.
Her experience also includes working with RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association and The American Fertility Association (now Path2Parenthood), where she was Educational Coordinator, Conference Director and Assistant Executive Director.