When Brandon and I first married we used to stay up late into the night dreaming of and talking about our future children. We used to talk about traits that we hoped they inherited from us and traits we hoped they didn’t. We discussed our favorite baby names and nursery decor. We used to try to imagine what a child with my eyes and his smile would look like; or a child with his eyes and my nose; or a child with my eyes, my smile, but his blonde hair. We would spend hours just dreaming about our future children and we would pray for the people we hoped they would one day be.
Those days stopped almost two years ago, after our second miscarriage. These days it isn’t a topic a topic that comes up in our house. We don’t talk about pregnancies, or babies, or children. We don’t talk about parenting or schooling options. Things that once started out as conscious habits have become second nature to us; things like avoiding the baby clothes section of a department store, skipping events where there will be children present, choosing restaurants that are not frequented by families, and refusing to even look at a baby if we happen to find ourselves near one. It’s almost as though we’ve somehow trained ourselves to live in a world where children don’t exist. It’s an unhealthy coping mechanism, we know, but it’s one of the only ways that we can continue in a world where we feel so much pain in our hearts over the family we don’t have.
One thing I’ve never spoken about is the different kind of grief I feel over our inability to have a child and that is knowing that my husband’s dreams of fatherhood are slowly dying.
- Once upon a time my husband used to talk about the things he wanted to do with his own children and lessons he wanted to teach them.
- Once upon a time my husband used to talk about how he wanted to be different from his own parents.
- Once upon a time my husband used to worry about not being a good father.
- Once upon a time my husband used to wonder what our child would be like and what kind of interests he/she would have.
- Once upon a time my husband dreamed about having a daughter to raise to be a kind-hearted, modest, and gentle spirit.
- Once upon a time my husband dreamed about having a son to raise and teach to be a strong leader, forgiving, and generous in all things.
- Once upon a time my husband used to fear every time I had a drink “just in case” I was pregnant.
Once upon a time, my husband dreamed of family, but those dreams are so deeply hidden right now that I’m not even sure that he knows if they are still there or not. It’s just something we don’t talk about – for my own heartache and his. It’s hard sometimes, when you love someone so much, to know that for some reason neither of you can explain there is an incompatibility that is preventing you from becoming parents. Just knowing that his heart is feeling the same kind of ache that mine is and that there is nothing that I can do about it, is devastating.
There have been more than a few nights that have led to a breakdown on my part as I’ve sobbed into his arms about our struggle with infertility and how much pain I feel over feeling like such a failure.
I feel as though I’m failing my role as a woman.
I feel as though I’m failing my parents for not being able to provide grandchildren.
I feel as though I’m failing my niece and nephew by not being able to provide cousins.
I feel as though I’m failing my brother but more strongly, my sister, for not being able to provide nieces or nephews.
I feel as though I’m failing my sister again because I have an intense void in my heart that is preventing me from being able to open my heart fully to her children.
I feel as though I’m failing my husband because he may never be ‘Daddy.”
By choosing me as his wife, my husband gave up one of the greatest dreams of his life which was his dream of fatherhood. I’ve wept in his arms so many nights as he’s held me and reassured me that it’s not my fault and that for all we know fatherhood may never have been God’s plan for him. I’m not failing him and he’s not failing me, this is just the path that our Lord has us on and there is a purpose, despite our lack of understanding. It’s just hard and it’s a different kind of hurt that we just don’t talk about often enough.
My husband and I have chosen not to pursue any infertility testing so we don’t truly know if there is a problem with him, or with me, or no problem at all. All we know is that we don’t have, and haven’t been able to have a child. I don’t blame him and he doesn’t blame me but it is hard on us both to know that together we don’t have the one thing we both so desperately want.
It’s hard. It’s a hard place to be because I hurt so badly for myself and for my husband whom I love so much. For now, we are setting aside trying to have a child and are focusing on building the best possible future we can for ourselves as life stands today. It’s sad for us, but it’s simply where we are at this moment in life.