“Aren’t you sad?”
I asked as I glared into my husband’s eyes. Silence filled the air as we stared at each other in our parked car. My heart was exploding with a multitude of emotions. “I’m sad. I’m just so sad!!” Tears flowed uncontrollably down my cheeks. Again, I asked in a more demanding tone “Aren’t you sad?”
Without even giving Ryan a chance to answer my question, I continued to to express to him the deep heartache that I was drowning in that day. My heart was truly in a state of grief. I wondered “how can I be in a place of such profound brokenness and he not shed a single tear? How is he just staring at me right now?” My grief turned instantly into anguish and all of the sudden, I was immersed with frustration and resentment. I was upset because I felt like I was the only one feeling and expressing such overwhelming misery in our journey. So many questions filled my mind: Why didn’t Ryan’s heart fill with sadness at the look of the many negative pregnancy tests? Why did it seem so easy for him “to just have faith?” Truthfully, I was upset with him for not responding to this difficult season of infertility the exact way I did, especially in that specific moment. Why wasn’t he in tears over my empty womb, like I was? Why couldn’t he openly express his emotions to me? Why won’t he just tell me when he is sad? Ryan listened to every array of emotion I expressed that night-rational and irrational. He was patient and kind, even though I probably didn’t deserve it. He loved me through my unwanted feelings and had grace for my anger and attitude.
Finally, he gently grabbed my hands and pulled me in close, whispering into my ear “Honey, of course, I am sad.” His genuine heart and pure look of love as he gazed into my eyes caught my attention instantly. I was able to STOP, take a deep breath, and truly listen as he expressed his own grief and despair through our journey.
“Don’t you think my heart breaks every month that goes by that our hopes of being parents are taken from us or when I walk in on you swallowed up in tears on the bathroom floor, knowing I cannot fix this. I have to be strong for you.”
“Often times men deal with their grief, sadness, or helplessness in the only way they know how: through being strong.”-Jennifer Sake, Hannah’s Hope.
It wasn’t until I finally grasped onto this concept that I could truly appreciate the beauty of the intricate way God designed my husband. He carries so many beautiful qualities, but his strength to push through a season such as this in complete steadfast faith and hope, believing only in what God says is very admirable. He has been strong when I have been weak. A friend told me once “God handmade Ryan just for you.” This couldn’t be a more true statement. God knew from the very beginning the kind of man I would need to face and conquer infertility. I absolutely treasure my husband and I admire the strength that continually resides in him. It has allowed us to stand together, hand in hand, believing in God’s hope as we overcome infertility.
Looking back, I cannot believe I was actually angry at my husband for not expressing his heartache through this unbearable walk the same way I did. My unrealistic expectations were unfair to Ryan. However, this experience allowed me truly embrace the simplicity in that God wired men and women in two very unique, yet different ways. Although, we may experience similar heartaches and feelings, our ability to work through those feelings and express them couldn’t be more dissimilar. I came to realize that even though my heart was walking through deep valleys, that as stoic and as strong as my husband was in the midst of one of our most challenging walks, he too was desperately grieving our unborn child.
Ryan’s desire to be a Father is just as great as my desire to be a Mother. Like any man seeking parenthood, he dreams about the first time he will hold our son in his arms or teach him all about the game of football. He thinks about our daughter and how she will be his little princess– a Daddy’s girl. And she too, might just know all the ins and outs of the game. However, as the days slip by, where my womb continues to remain barren, he too, faces the agony of infertility.
If you know my husband, then you know, one of the many characteristics he carries is humor. He has charm and wit like I have never seen before and it is a really special quality I see in him. He learned at very young age that humor was his saving grace in working through his own adversities growing up, which also became a coping mechanism for the pain and hardships that he would endure. There have been several moments along our journey to parenthood, where humor has been Ryan’s default to cover the grief and sadness that truly engulfs his heart through this difficult season. Babies are the natural progression of marriage, so as the years have gone by, and the infamous question was asked on numerous occasions “When are you going to start trying?” Immediately, Ryan would respond the only way he knew how: Humor… “We’ll see… we’re both twins, so if more than two come out, I’m going to have to push the other ones back up.”
One night, after Ryan had yet again, laughed off the infamous question he came to me and said “I’m tired of being funny about our infertility.”
The truth was he didn’t have to respond in humor, but it has become a pedestal for him through difficult circumstances. Although Ryan wasn’t crying out as sobs of tears rolled down his cheeks or sulking in loneliness on the bathroom floor, like I probably would have, I knew his heart was hurting. I could see in his eyes his desperation to be a Father and how the battle of infertility had been difficult for him that day. In this moment, I was able to be strong for Ryan. For myself, knowing the depth of his own struggles and pain was comforting to me as I felt like I wasn’t alone. His vulnerability and authenticity to open up to me about the rawness of his own thoughts and feelings allowed me to be there for him in a way that I truly desire to be. Though infertility is certainly not a walk I would have chosen, nor did I ever think this would be our story, I know the Lord has used infertility to plant a deep seed of intimacy between my husband and I that is truly one of a kind.
Honestly, our journey to parenthood has required much strength, amongst other things, from the both of us to pull through our most difficult days. Ryan is the rock of strength in our marriage. However, the truth is, we have to be strong for each other, especially in our weaknesses. And although, Ryan has been there for me on countless occasions standing in strength, holding me as we battle infertility, I too, have to be strong for him.