How can a strong marriage make it through infertility?
On this week’s Feature Friday we are showcasing a REAL-ationship that knows this battle well. Today we have another guest author sharing her story with Infertility and relationships. It’s our honour to introduce Nicole and share her story. We’ve known Nicole for many years, and keeping in touch throughout that time, we’ve been able to witness the exhaustive battle she faces with infertility. (She is one of the strongest women we know!)
In today’s feature, Nicole’s courageously opening up about her experience with Infertility, sharing her incredibly painful journey, and how her marriage manages to grow stronger from these challenges. She’s also sharing her advice and perspective for both roles in the relationship and encouraging others with similar fertility issues to know they’re not alone.
At The Relationship Project, we are firm believers in exposing the underbellies of all relationships and although we don’t have children, we know this battle is a common one and deserves to be spotlighted.
We’re thrilled and honoured to be sharing more stories, just like Nicole’s, experiences and advice, to help others out there–just like us.
Without further ado, let’s get to it!
October 2012 changed our lives forever. I peed on stick and broke down in tears instantly.
We. Were. Pregnant.
Who knew it could happen that fast! We literally, and I mean literally, tried one time and 9 months later our son, Mason, made his appearance.
We had a very rough and traumatizing birth (you can check that out HERE) but the pregnancy was pretty text book. It was easy and I felt beautiful. It was probably the best year of our marriage too.
We have now been trying to have another baby for almost 3 years.
Now that might not seem that long (and I personally know a lot of people who have tried for longer) but when you are in it, it’s an eternity. But let’s just put this into perspective.
That is 36 (ish) times that we had hoped for a missed period.
That is 36 (ish) times that have ended in tears and disappointment.
That is 36 (ish) months of forcefully trying to add to our family.
Because let’s face it, it isn’t for fun anymore.
But first some back story.
It had been well over 2 years that Shawn and I have been trying to add to our little family. After all of the fertility tests we could go through I was finally told I had “unexplained infertility” and we needed a little help getting pregnant.
So we did.
Not to mention all of the poking and prodding. All of the doctors appointments, physicals, HSG tests, fertility meds, D&C, and complications.
And now medicine to force my body to miscarry, yes we are going through miscarriage, too.
Oh, and then there is the mental taxation it takes on a person (and a relationship) as well as the physical. I’ve just been putting my body through hell trying so damn hard to get pregnant.
Yup, all of that in the past 3 years.
Let me share with you a bit about my experience.
When I found out I was pregnant again, I literally was vibrating. Like, could not believe I was pregnant at all.
So, within days (yes days, keeping it a secret was so hard) we planned a family shoot. We did all of our family photos and then Shauna (photographer) said she had one last one, which was the chalkboard.
I was so nervous but so excited for Shawn to finally know. It was our moment and not for one second did we ever think of loss then.
I am so sad looking at those photos because it truly does represent such an amazing time and feeling. But, unfortunately, they also represent loss and the beginning of a very hard time for us.
When we lost the twins, I had a D&C the very next day. Came home and said I cannot be here. I don’t want to be here. I need to run away. So we did. Literally drove to BC for a week. Shawn had mentioned to me that he thought it might be nice to do a send off for the babies. I was in shock..and in love. So I said the ocean. It has to be the ocean.
So we went out, we got a little wooden boat and some candles. Two small bottles and some paper. Shawn even painted the boat teal because it’s my favorite color. We headed out at sunset, knelt in the muddy waters and each wrote a little note to the twins. We put them in two little bottle, put a candle on the boat and had a moment.
A moment where tears streamed down our face and Mason asked us why the babies had to go to heaven.
Then, we let the boat go. We watched the waves take it further and further away. We listened to Mason say, “No, I want it to stay.” As silly as it is that it was “just” a boat, I wasn’t ready, either. I needed it back. And Shawn knew it.
He emptied his pockets and jumped in the water. Our hearts were racing. (It probably wasn’t the best idea in the world but man did I fall head over heels in love with him all over again)
I held it and I sobbed. And here I had this wonderful man by my side, who is also grieving, but all he can think about is me holding this little boat. We held the boat with all of our hands, and we said good-bye, again. And again, we sat in silence.
This has all been life changing and will forever be part of our lives. Something we shared together.
Now, am I bitter?
Hell yes. I am so extremely and utterly bitter.
I feel broken and defeated. I feel cheated from the idea of how my family would look. I feel like my body has completely failed me as a woman. I feel like everywhere I look is a reminder of what I can’t have. So many things I didn’t even know were important to me. It affects it all.
Although you cannot plan life (as we are surely figuring out), I am heartbroken that our “plan” has been taken away from us. What I’m left with right now is wonder and confusion.
Why is this happening to us?
Why was it so easy with Mason?
Is it something I’m doing wrong?
Why is my body failing me?
What do we do now?
So many questions, so many thoughts and so much heartbreak.
When all the scary stuff happened with Mason, it was hard. I think it affected everyone around us differently. My husband was scared and so caring and I was angry and depressed. He was the most amazing Dad right from the beginning. Not that I had any doubts, but because I couldn’t take care of myself, let alone our new baby, he really stepped up and showed me I was still #1.
Now, infertility has definitely put a strain on our relationship. Not only ours but everyone around us. Honestly, it’s been pretty isolating. Our lives have been in limbo for almost 3 years now and it’s just a weird place to be. It’s hard to stay positive and in good spirits after so much heartbreak and disappointment. We lost friendships. We cried a lot. My husband and I really had to lean on each other, be google doctors and trust the information our doctor was giving us.
He was hurting too, but in a different way. It can be so easy to get wrapped up in the emotions and hurt and forget that the other half of you is hurting just as much. I can’t imagine what it’s like for him to watch his wife go through all of this. He broke a few times, not too many, but enough for me to know he was hurt, too. He’s stronger than me.
At no point did Shawn say we had to keep trying. He always took me aside, held my face and said, “We are done the minute you say so.” This last loss that we had broke me quite a bit and he flat out said, “I want my wife more than I want a baby and this is killing you.”
My husband sat there and just held me while I sobbed. It’s moments like these, where we were so broken and so vulnerable, but also growing our relationship. Nobody could feel what we were feeling. We need each other in ever sense of the word.
The past 3 years it has been extremely hard on our relationship. In so many ways, this has been the most awful experience ever. But in others, it has brought us closer together that we’ve ever imagined. We need to be there for one another because at the end of the day, only we could know what we were feeling. So many people deal with infertility and losses, but honestly unless you have felt the pain of it, you cannot know all that it brings. It is absolutely heartbreaking. And through it all, we had each other. The most vulnerable side of each other.
We leaned on each other like we never thought we would.
If I could say anything to a couple experiencing infertility it would be this:
Stick together and share your story–Not a lot of people talk about infertility and miscarriages. After opening up about everything we have gone through, so many people have reached out to me about their own struggles. It has been very eye opening, heartbreaking, but also interesting.
Why is this such a hidden thing?
Why aren’t people talking about it?
Why are women suffering in silence?
Know what you want and be on the same page–From the beginning we knew that IVF was not an option for us. We agreed that if it came to that we would accept that Mason is our miracle and this is what our family was meant to look like.
Communication is key to any relationship–We all know this. Going through something of this magnitude only confirms that. Shawn and I really had to work on our communication in order to stay on the same page and stick together.
Allow yourself to change your mind as you go through it–It’s okay to feel different things than you thought you would or should. I always said I could never live through a miscarriage. (And here I am 2 miscarriages, and a chemical pregnancy later.)
I’ve learned so much about my body, pregnancies, and unfortunately losses. I’ve learned that sometimes, life just freaking sucks, and sucks, and sucks some more! I’ve learned that life events like this make a marriage stronger in ways you just can’t describe.
Mason is our miracle and this is what our family was meant to look like right now. Whether it was the picture in our head or not, this is what we are given and we are going to love the shit out of that little boy.
Unfortunately, we’ve had some complications from my last miscarriage, which was the beginning of February and is still taking its course. Our plan is to continue to try, just one more time (haha who am I kidding, I said that last time). But until then, we have to let it take its course.
There you have it, our Feature Friday spotlighting one story on how a strong marriage can manage infertility. Our biggest take aways from Nicole’s brave story are:
Stay on the same page–clear communication and common values are key.
Reach out to your support system and celebrate the losses–you are not alone in these struggles, even if your community is small, we need more conversations sharing these challenges. You can make these losses incredibly precious moments of remembrance, connection, and honour.
Be aware of your partners experience–as Nicole so perfectly said, “It can be so easy to get wrapped up in the emotions and hurt and forget that the other half of you is hurting just as much.”
Thank you, Nicole, for being so vulnerable, real and honest in sharing your story. You are not alone in these struggles and we are so honoured to be sharing your story and providing the platform for these REALationships to be showcased. You, Shawn and Mason are an incredibly resilient family unit and we admire you all. We commend the courage it takes to share this with us and the social media world.
Cheers to imperfect relationships, and not only managing Infertility, but setting an inspiring example of how a strong marriage can support this journey. If you want to read up more on Nicole’s experiences, visit her links below. (Hint: She’s amazing.)
Nicole Modde, award winning Edmonton based photographer, is not just a show up, take pictures type of girl. Personally invested in each and every client, she gets to know you over the time leading up to your big day and ensures you’re looking forward to spending an entire day with her by your side. Self-proclaimed Instagram fanatic, you’ll see a ton of pictures of her little man there, as well as some very bad hair days. She believes in true love, making your own magic and owning your story.
Blogs referenced in the story:
Birth story of Mason
Loss of the Twins