Have you ever heard the term “rainbow baby?”
A rainbow baby is a baby that is born following a period of infertility, miscarriage, stillbirth, or a baby that is adopted after a long waiting period. Think about it; seeing a beautiful bright rainbow after a storm gives you hope that things are getting better. The rainbow is greatly appreciated compared to the storm you’ve just experienced and it signifies that wonderful things come after dark times.
If you are in the midst of infertility, you understand how devastating the storm can be. One of the most challenging aspects of the storm is the isolation that typically results. Most people feel alone in the hurt and pain of infertility; they become scared or uncomfortable in discussing the experience with others. Marital problems frequently arise because both partners are facing the challenge at the same time, but each partner has their own feelings and their own ways of dealing with grief. Stress is high and there are many important medical decisions to make. Partners find themselves turning inward for protection, instead of reaching to each other for safety.
But your partner can be a valuable resource for you, and you can provide comfort to them. You both are sharing the journey even if you have differing views or feelings about it. If anyone can understand what you’re going through, it’s the person traveling by your side. You and your partner both need a great support system, so it makes sense to weather the storm together. Here are some strategies for how to maintain a strong relationship and move through infertility as a united front.
Be Honest About Your Feelings
As humans, we make assumptions about what other people are feeling based on our own experience. We also expect that our partner knows exactly what we are feeling, when we are feeling it, and how to respond. Infertility brings about a variety of emotions and reactions that you may not have expected or understand and avoiding difficult conversations will only heighten your fear and anxiety. Be open with your partner about your emotions. Your partner will be more willing to share their feelings and a meaningful dialogue can begin. Your partner is not a mind reader, and neither are you, so start talking.
Turn Towards Each Other
In times of grief or stress, it’s easy to turn away from your partner. Talking about difficult subjects is uncomfortable, brings up underlying emotions, and may result in conflict. But, research has shown that turning away from each other can be problematic for your relationship, whereas turning towards each other can enhance your connection and strengthen intimacy. If you have a need, look to your partner to meet it. In return, allow your partner to rely on you when they need something. Having that support system in place will make it much easier to weather the storm together.
Talk About Your Goals and Make a Plan Together
You may think you are on the same page when it comes to infertility treatment, but partners often approach the treatment process differently. Typically women are eager to begin treatments and move quickly, whereas men are more conservative in the efforts. Talk about how you want to proceed as you go along your journey, as well as your feelings about different options. It will be helpful to understand your partner’s thoughts and point of view, as you will be making decisions as a couple.
Do Fun Things Together
You’ve dedicated all your time and efforts into making a baby, and now you have a two week waiting period to find out if it worked. Use this time to have fun with your partner and do something to distract yourself. It’s easy to become completely consumed by the infertility storm. Remember that you have opportunities to be spontaneous and enjoy your relationship. Take advantage of your time together and focus on something other than stress and anxiety.
If you need more information about infertility, please visit Resolve.org.
Nobody should go through infertility alone. If you are facing infertility and want to explore more about maintaining a strong relationship during this difficult time, please contact Erika Labuzan-Lopez Therapy for a free 20 minute phone consultation.