Today’s featured What It’s Like writer is none other than my husband, Josh. Words can’t express the deep impact his words made on my heart. “So what would you think about writing something for my blog ….” I asked him months ago. “I’ll do it.” he responded, and I had no idea what he would write, or what he would share. And yet, his words below give me, and many of you, an inside peek at what it’s like to be him…the husband in a couple that is struggling with infertility.
A peek inside of the male mind … inside the mind of someone who has stood by me in 13+ years of marriage and 10 years of infertility …. someone who has lost just as many babies as I have …. who has gone to the appointments … who has administered the shots … who has been through it all with me. Today we get to hear from him. I am so proud of his words below and pray you walk away encouraged.
Josh, honey, I love you and I am so proud to be your wife.
I still remember the day. The day after Christmas 2012. I was at work, in my office. Chelsea had just told me that our beta numbers were not good, and the pregnancy that we both rejoiced for was over, the bleeding was indeed a miscarriage. The gifts we opened the day before, the mom and dad onesies, would not be worn. It was over. I tried to breathe. How was I going to make it from my office to my home? I had to talk to people. I had to drive. I had to choke back the imminent tears so I could commute safely. It was early afternoon, still long before it was time for me to leave, but today it was time for me to go.
I work in the same office as my father. I emailed him “Chelsea’s numbers went down. The pregnancy is no longer. I can’t talk about it right now, so please don’t ask.” Any other day breathing was second nature, but suddenly I found each breath very intentional, holding back emotions with each slow breath. I went home to be with Chelsea, and found her lying in a dark room, with worship music playing and tears flowing.
I didn’t know what to do. How do we move forward?
Many men traveling the infertility journey have no idea how to deal with their emotions, and I was one of them. I saw this poem around that time, and it really spoke to me.
A Father’s Grief – by Eileen Knight Hagemeister
It must be very difficult
To be a man in grief.
Since “men don’t cry” and “men are strong”
No tears can bring relief.
It must be very difficult
To stand up to the test.
And field calls and visitors
So that she can get some rest.
They always ask if she’s alright
And what she’s going through.
But seldom take his hand and ask,
“My friend, how are you?”
He hears her cry in the night
And thinks his heart will break.
And dries her tears and comforts her
But “stays strong” for her sake.
It must be very difficult
To start each day anew.
And try to be so very brave-
He lost his baby too.
I struggled. How can I be strong for Chelsea, while also dealing with my own emotions? It’s like Chelsea and I were navigating a journey blindfolded, except I was getting a piggy back ride from her; along for the ride on this blinded journey, but with less feeling of control or understanding.
Naturally I only speak for myself, but I feel like this is probably a pretty common feeling for most men. We feel the stumbles on the piggy back ride, the falls, the fear, and yet we feel an utter lack of control as well. Both in direction, and also our emotions. We feel the losses, the figurative prick of every needle, the fear of every bathroom visit, the gagging while choking down the pills. We feel the rejoicing in the wins, and the heartbreak of the losses. And the hardest part, we are solvers, and we can’t do a thing to solve this.
And then we had another miscarriage. And another. I couldn’t fix this.
I felt lost, however over the decade in which we tried to have kids, I found one thing that consistently help me.
Prayer. Talking to God. Sharing my lack of control with the One who has control.
I prayed every morning on my way to the gym. I prayed on the way to work. I prayed with Chelsea every night, and I leaned into God through prayer every time I could. Sometimes I would just play a song and sing it in my head as a prayer (Need You Now by Plumbwas often my go-to). I would love to say I had some sort of 3 step method for all men out there, but here is the thing: navigating the infertility road pretty much requires men to often act and react in ways that are foreign to them and that’s why we need Jesus.
My advice for all husbands out there: Pray. Express to God how you feel. Pray about the hope you want to have. Pray about losses, the wins, the understanding you want to have for your wife and how to support her. Pray for the pain to subside and for the doctors to figure out what did and didn’t work. Pray for the medications to work, the babies to grow. Pray for anything and everything. Don’t keep things pent up. Share them with God because I learned just how much He cares. It doesn’t have to be the perfect words. He understands.
We have seen so many things on our journey. Miscarriages, tests with one line and two lines, shots, pills, ultrasounds, weeping and laughter. We have been up, down, tossed around, and at times, felt like we were losing our minds. But the one thing that always seemed to help me deal with the ups and downs was my faith and prayer.
It is difficult to be the husband, wife, parent to, or any other person affected by infertility. It’s an unfair journey that too many have to travel. Being a husband on this journey is a lonely road, full of many emotions many men are not ready or equipped to handle.
Take it to God and the Creator of life, the Creator of the lives you hope to cherish one day, will help you navigate the lost feeling and journey that is infertility.
Josh is the proud husband of Chelsea, creator of this blog, and Dad to his long-awaited for miracle twins Kirsten and Logan. He resides in Minnesota and enjoys hunting and golfing in his free time. He prides himself in a well timed joke and is always up for a competition of some sort. He is grateful for the story that God has given Him even through the ups and downs.
PPS – If you’re ever looking for a devotional on living life while in a waiting season, check out the devotional I co-authored called ‘In the Wait’!
PPPS – Check out the other contributions from this series, including What It’s Like: to experience multiple IVF cycles, raise a child with special needs, use an egg donor, be a DIY-er and home style blogger , be a NICU nurse, Live fully in singleness while still hoping for marriage, suffer with endometriosis. experience depression, start a company, have a micro preemie, lose a parent, be childless not by choice, have a spouse with a chronic illness, fund raise for fertility treatments, have a traumatic birthing experience, take a natural route with infertility, be on a reality show, go through the adoption process, have male factor infertility,be a stay at home mom, be an entertainer, be given a Down syndrome diagnosis for your child , experience multiple miscarriages, have a surrogate, experience a late pregnancy stillbirth, be a police officers wife, be a working mom , be a breastfeeding mother, have weight loss surgery, donate and adopt an embryo, be on a reality show, go through the fostering process, throw a themed dinner party , have PCOS, have had a cancer diagnosis, be a high school teacher,love someone who’s experiencing infertility and be a step-parent. Stay tuned for many other amazing topics to come every Tuesday and Friday here!