Pillar of Strength

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“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.

 

 

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5 thoughts on “Pillar of Strength

  1. Pingback: Journey of Thanks | shutter & spice photography

  2. You have such a poignant, heart-felt way of revealing the emotions and frustrations of infertility. My husband and I are also battling infertility (3 years and counting….) and he has definitely been my pillar of strength. God bless you for your wonderful writings: you know how to capture the grief, the tears, the sadness, and the overwhelming emotions, yet also with faith and trust in God at the forefront. With prayers that your womb may become fruitful soon. ❤

    • Thank you so much Melissa. I have discovered that writing has become therapeutic for me on this journey and it has taught me that I am not the only person walking through the pain of infertility. I am so sorry that you too are battling this. I pray for God’s strength to cover you both and that very soon your womb will too be fruitful! All my love!

  3. Melissa, thank you so much for writing this blog. I stumbled across your blog after your fox 8a article. I just want to say thank you. I can relate to your blog and so many and it hits my feelings on the nose.. Me husband to is very similar to your in the aspect of so strong emotionally and strong faith wise through our infertility process. Me, well I find some days are easy the others.We have been trying for about a year and a half. So, I just wanted to say thank you I guess.. Reading your thoughts and blog almost gave me hope today.. just helped remind me that it’s in God’s hands and that its okay to worry, wonder and struggle with holding the faith sometimes…I just really appreciate you having the heart to write this blog.. congrats on the new babies to come! 🙂

    • Thank you so much Jenn,
      I know the journey is so hard. I know I found comfort in connecting with other women who truly understood the heartache I felt.
      It sounds like you are married to an amazing man… It is such a unique journey for both husband and wife and I think we process everything so differently. Being open and vulnerable to each other really helped us and allowed us to grow even closer together.
      Thank you for sharing your heart. I am touched to hear that my blog can come as an encouragement of hope to you.
      God is good…and i know it is hard to understand why this is your journey, but He is good. Feel what you need to feel–and give yourself a break on those rough days. I know that our journey had me in tears all the time, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Not only am I so overjoyed over our precious trio, but God revealed Himself to me in ways I never knew. I was able to learn a deeper understanding of trusting Him. He loves you. 🙂
      We are praying for you and standing in hope with you!!! sending love your way!

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