In recognition of National Infertility Awareness Week, we are seeking to raise awareness about this struggle by sharing stories from local moms and a dad who have been in this difficult place, as well as additional local resources to help parents along this journey. Through this series, we hope to provide encouragement for women and men who are facing infertility and perspective for those supporting them in the battle. Thank you to our sponsors, UAB Women & Infants Services, and to each of the contributors to this series — especially the courageous parents who have shared a painful piece of your journeys.
There are two distinct times I remember God speaking directly to me, and rather bluntly at that. The first time was on a flight shortly after taking my first job out of college. I was headed back to Atlanta from Chicago after being gone for two weeks. I had an absolute fear of flying, and our plane was siting on the tarmac waiting to push back. The route back to Atlanta was scattered with heavy thunderstorms that typically accompany a late afternoon in the summer. I remember thinking to myself, Why am I so afraid of flying? I know – it’s because I can’t see where we’re headed and I’m not in control of the situation.
The second time was just six short years ago, as I sat with my wife awaiting another round of fertility treatments. We had been through the routine several times before; we knew the thrill of expectation and the agony of waiting to hear the results of the procedure, most often leading to weeks of disappointment and depression.
Simply put, I was angry. You see, some people describe me as driven. Not from a materialistic perspective, per se, but I always try to excel at anything I set out to achieve. Throughout high school, college, and my job, I could always study harder to make the grade. I could always practice longer to propel my gifts and talents. I could always work harder to better my situation. And there I sat in the exam room, totally helpless with the outcome of our next aspiration. I thought to myself, What are we doing wrong? Why can I not control this situation?
And then God hit me with the freeing truth, just like He hit me years earlier: “Bryant, my son, what makes you think you’ve ever been in control? I love you, but you’ve got to realize that I’m in control, not you.”
Those words allowed me to realize that while I cannot see the direction of where we are headed and I’m not in control, there is a Savior that works all things for my good, even if the situations or events, in and of themselves, aren’t good. The fact is, I wouldn’t wish infertility on any couple, but God used it in our lives in ways I cannot explain, and given the choice, I’d go through it again if it meant walking closer with Stacy and God.
Men, here are some lessons I have learned along this rocky road.
You don’t have to fix this situation. As guys, we have a natural desire to fix things, whether it’s a flat tire or a strained relationship. But this is a time where you should lean on the expertise of medical professionals and allow them to work through the medicine. You should also know when enough is enough, however. Listen to your wife and know her limits.
Be the calming presence in her storm. There will be times when your wife needs you to simply be present and listen, and other times when you need to be her rock and hold her up. Guys, it’s okay if you let your guard down and get emotional as well. It will make you more of a man than you think.
The process is expensive, but don’t complain about money. Financial issues can always cause stress in a relationship, but adding financial worry at the wrong time can increase stress and cause strife between you and your wife. Discuss the financial expectations before you enter the fertility process and know your limitations.
Fertility treatments are taxing on her body, your romance, and your commitments. The medications will create a range of side effects for her (and you, if you have to take injections as well). You will become a master of ovulation cycles. You’ll learn to plan your social calendar around doctor visits and pregnancy tests. Your marriage will start to feel like a business relationship. Resist the urge to simply trudge through this journey; embrace it and continue to pursue your wife.
I learned these lessons through our eight-year journey of infertility. It is my hope and anticipation that God will use these words as encouragement to others so that relationships are strengthened rather than strained, virtues are revealed rather than concealed, and communication is unlocked rather than stifled.
Bryant M. grew up in LaGrange, GA. After graduating from the University of Alabama in Finance and Economics, he worked briefly in Atlanta before calling Birmingham home. Bryant met the love of his life, Stacy, on a blind date in 2006. They enjoy all things outdoors, including snow skiing, fly-fishing, and golf. They are active members of their church and enjoy spending time with their wonderful children, Harris (4) and Julia (7 months). Bryant runs a financial services practice in Homewood.