Fellas, You might think that your contribution to the fertility treatment process ends with providing a sample or two of your little swimmers – but you could not be more wrong about IVF.
You are not just a bystander.
Buckle up buddy, because you chose each other to take this crazy ride together.
For you and your partner, this is about to get real.
She is going to need you like never before – literally in ways you haven't been prepared for.
This is not PMS. This is not a drill.
Chocolate and tissues are not going to be enough.
In case you weren't already aware, there are going to be good days, bad days, rough patches, good and bad news, and needles – hundreds of fucking needles – taking blood, injecting hormones and, just for fun, you might like to try acupuncture while you throw everything at this menace called 'unexplained infertility'.
And you, my friend, are going to have to step up and be there for her like never before.
So let's get clear on What she doesn't need from you during IVF (actually ever, but especially now):
- Pity or blame;
- Pettiness and frustration;
- Pressure in the bedroom;
- Pressure to be awesome in all other aspects of her life right now;
- Penny-pinching: because heads up, treatment can get expensive really quick, so I recommend the pair of you set some limits and expectations now about the resources you have as a team to put toward your shared goal of parenthood.
You can access my guide to making decisions together ahead of IVF here.
What she actually needs from you is:
- Understanding that her body is going to go through a lot and it's going to drag her mind along for the ride. She's not crazy, she's trying really hard to make you a Daddy;
- Unity – you're a team in this mess and she needs to feel that she is enough for you – with or without a baby, even if it would crush you to not be a father with this perfect creature, your other half. You are whole and a family already;
- Unconditional love – A shoulder to cry on, arms to hold her and make her feel safe, loved and supported even on the darkest days or for no reason at all;
- Unlimited patience and the space to come to decisions, feel her feelings and deal with them in a healthy way, especially if you experience loss;
And if you do suffer a loss, she'll need:
- Unlimited time to grieve, in whatever way she finds healing.
Your grief is important too, and your way of grieving will be different to hers, but it is just as necessary for you to grieve your loss too. So, please remember to look after yourself when you are looking after her. And please don't underestimate the power of a good cry, an angry boxing session with a trainer, or time taken writing out your thoughts to clear your head.
That goes for both of you.
Ultimately what she really needs is YOU. In her corner. AT ALL TIMES.
But especially when:
- Treatments get too invasive, painful or just too much;
- Someone makes an insensitive comment about your situation that sets her off;
- Your mother asks you again when she's going to be a grandmother;
- She knows her body better than anyone – including the doctors – and she needs you to help her stand her ground;
And I can't recommend strongly enough that you seek out the support and guidance of a professional to help you steer through the choppy waters ahead.
It doesn't have to be me, but I am here for you if you'd like to talk. I see women individually or with their partners, and please believe me when I say the process works much better when couples face it as a team.
Fertility is not a women's problem, it is a family issue, and one that is better coped with when supported by our loved ones, like you.
I wouldn't wish fertility struggles on my worst enemy, so please don't leave your partner to manage all of this on her own and expect her to present you with baby at the end of it. It's rough and harsh and you'll both be changed in the process, whether you admit it now or not.
Take care of each other whatever happens, and I hope to hear from you soon.
Much love and baby dust,