MicroblogMondays: A Man’s Pain

Microblog_Mondays

My husband is hurting.  And it sometimes feels so helpless to see him in pain.

His recent emotional experience reminds me of myself a couple of years ago.  At that time, I hated people.  I didn’t feel good at all when I was bombarded with birth announcements, pregnancy announcements, and adoption news.  I just wanted to hide from the world.  All sorts of feelings consumed me: anger, despair, disappointment, jealously.  You name it.  I had it.

Even though we just lost another early pregnancy, I am in a much better place emotionally and spiritually than my old self back then.  My relationship with the Lord is going strong despite all of this going on.  It is not the case for Bob.

Bob was strong for me the week we found out about the chemical pregnancy.  He comforted me.  He was there for me, smiling and cheering me up.  However, my poor husband has definitely been hurting.  The weekend after we lost the pregnancy, I found him home early Saturday morning.  He was supposed to be at his bible study training until 9am.  He told me he left early.  At first he wouldn’t tell me why he did.  Later, he finally divulged.  What happened was, during prayer time, one of the leaders gave thanks to the Lord for his wife’s new pregnancy.  Everyone else was praising the Lord and praying for the baby.  Bob told me that all he felt was anger.  Angry that it was supposed to be our turn as well.  Angry that this journey wasn’t any easier with donor eggs.  Angry that others got to celebrate their blessings but not us.  He lasted for another part of the training.  When he returned to the main room for the last hour of the training, he looked inside and saw that people were still talking about that pregnancy.  He did not feel that there was the place for him.  Instead of going in and enduring the silent pain of listening to others’ joy, he decided to pack up and go.  He went to a coffee shop, picked up a cup of his favorite coffee, and drove home.  He told me that he sat in our car in the driveway for a long time, thinking about our life and our journey.  Listening to him, my heart was filled with compassion for my dear partner in life who was hurting so badly.  His desires to be a father are so strong that this recent loss just pushes him over the edge.  It hurt me to see him hurt.  All I did and all I could do was just to hold him in my arms and to tell him that I understand 100% of how he was feeling.  Sometimes, just being there for him brings comfort.

The next day, we were at church for our greeting duty.  Bob was outside the church greeting people while I was right at the entrance.  A very good friend out ours, an American of Indian descent, came to me with a special smile on his face.  I had been anticipating his announcement of his wife’s pregnancy for months now, simply because he and I had a long talk about babies before he proposed to his wife.  After a year and a half of marriage, I knew that I would hear from him any time.  Plus a few weeks ago, after learning that she wasn’t feeling well, I had an intuition that she might have been pregnant.  This friend said, “We had some good news to share with you!” I forced a smile on my face and waited.  He went on to tell me that his wife is expecting.  I said congratulations with my forced smile and asked him how far along she was.  She is now about four months.  Then, there was this awkward silence before he walked away telling me that he would go and share the news with some other people.

This was the weekend after we learned about our most recent loss.  As hard as it sounded, I was doing okay with this news.  It wasn’t a great feeling to learn that yet another couple successfully became pregnant seemingly without any effort.  But surprisingly I was doing okay.  I knew how Bob had been with pregnancy news and I thought about not telling him until after the service.  However, I didn’t hold my tongue and shared with him when he came back inside the church.  I could see the hurt on his face, which broke my heart.  Pregnancy news from his guy friends two days in a row was just too much for him.  He asked if he could just leave right after our duty.  I told him to feel free to do whatever he felt like.  It was going to be very tough for him to sit through the service not feeling loved by God.  I didn’t want to force him to do anything as he had his way of handling and processing his emotions.  I think this one hit him hard also because our friend’s wife is Chinese, so the baby will be an Indian-Chinese mix.  We have always been the first Indian-Chinese couple who got married first and tried for a baby first.  I can imagine how difficult it is for him to be waiting for so long and watching someone else have their Indian-Chinese baby first.

Bless his heart.  Bob sat through service and even waited for me to finish my duty.  He went for a walk right after service.  We skipped the going away party for our close friends right after service.  Although I wanted to be at the going away party, I knew how much Bob just wanted to be left alone and not to be forced to smile when he felt like he was dying inside.  I really got it.  So we just spent the rest of the day at home by ourselves.

How has he been doing since?  I have never seen him so angry and sad in his life.  This failure of the first DE cycle has really pushed him over the edge.  He continues his ministry as a children’s leader at bible study, but he has just been going through the motions.  He has been angry with God for allowing us to be on this journey for so long without any results.  He does not feel loved by God.  He refused to talk to God.  He does not want to talk to anyone about his struggles.  He has not shared with any of his friends about them.  When he shares his prayer requests, he shares about mundane stuff.  I asked him about it.  He said that our loss and our struggle is just too huge for him to put into words to share with others who may or may not pray for us.  He even has an idea of us not sharing with anyone about any details for our upcoming frozen embryo transfer so that nobody would pray for us.  To him, clearly, prayers have not been working.  I have never seen his faith in God so shaken up.  But as a wife, I have learned to shut up about it because really, it is between him and God, and I have no place in talking with him other than prayers for him.

The Lord is merciful, full of grace, and full of comfort though.  Fortunately, when Bob is weak, the Lord has kept me strong.  My heart and my soul yearn for a baby, but I have not been pulled down by this failed cycle.  I still have faith that things will work out in the end, and I have seen the Lord’s hand in sustaining us.  I can be the strong one for my husband when he doesn’t have enough strength and faith to carry on, hopefully for this short time of grief.  Although emotionally I am doing better than he is, I am very attuned to my feelings.  Skipping my work holiday party for the first time in the 12 years that I have worked there tells you how meaningless I feel to be socializing with people who know nothing about our struggles.  I don’t feel sorry for skipping.  It’s our way of preserving our sanity.

The Lord is patient though.  Even though Bob is going through some very trying times, He is still speaking to Bob through his struggles.  The day after our weekend full of pregnancy news, Bob did his daily bible study and came across a passage that spoke to him.  He shared with me that morning, telling me that God has not given up on him.  This passage is from Ephesians chapter 4:

30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

I am so glad that Bob did not just tune God out.  He is still receptive to whatever God has to show him.  This whole last week, he has been talking on and off to God about his feelings, his anger, his disappointment, and his pain.  I have never prayed for my husband so much in my life, but I know that I have to be the one praying if he is too hurt to pray.  I am glad that he is slowly coming back to an open dialogue with God.  I know that I cannot force Bob to feel better because he needs to sort through his feelings and reestablish his relationship with God himself.  But I am confident that with my patience and with God’s patience, my husband will return to the previous state of trusting and having faith in the Lord for guiding our path.

But, this time, it may really take some time.

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Being (overly) sensitive?

I admit that I am feeling hurt, but I’m wondering if I am a bit overly sensitive.

I am talking about my friend who I will call Kate here.  We have been very good friends in the last nine years.  We met through another friend and somehow just clicked.  Our friendship continued to grow in the last nine years during which time she got engaged, got married, had kid number one, proceeded to have kid number two, went through job changes and moved. She experienced serious postpartum depression after she had her second baby.  She would hide in her closet and cry.  She had a difficult time bonding with her daughter.  Kate is not a believer but I offered to pray for her and over her if she would like.  I prayed for her consistently for some time.  Finally one day out of the blue she called me at around 9am on a work day and asked if I could pray for her.  She was driving to work and was crying uncontrollably.  Right then and there on the phone I prayed to God for her healing and for her to know that God loved her.  To cheer her up, I arranged with her husband to give her a surprise birthday treat; a girl day out with high tea and manicure/pedicure.  She eventually went to a psychiatrist and got better with her treatment.  We live about 40 minutes away from each other.  Bob and I would drive down to visit with them.  We attend her kids’ birthday parties every single year although we are usually the only couple who doesn’t have children and are always bombarded with inappropriate questions from her extremely fertile friends about our timeline for having children.  Her son was the ring bearer at our wedding.  All of these descriptions are just to show you that we have been very good friends for quite some time.

I am selective with the people with whom I share my fertility struggles.  Kate has been one of the selected few friends in real life to know about us trying for a baby.  I would update her on the IVF seminars that we attended, the choice between mini-IVF and conventional IVF, and my emotional ups and downs.  Looking back in the past couple of years, I have a feeling that I am the one who has been taking the initiative to update her on my life as she goes about her busy life juggling being a career woman, a caring wife, and a good mother.  I would write her Fac.ebook messages, send her texts, or call her to chat.  I didn’t mind because I knew that leading a life as a working mother takes a lot out of a person.  She even admitted at one point that she wasn’t good at keeping in touch with people.

In May, Kate’s whole family came over to our place for dinner.  It was then that I told her about our decision to go with Dr. E.  From the way she spoke to me, I just felt that it was getting more difficult to share my feelings with her about being unable to get pregnant due to the dreadful diagnosis of DOR.  When I told her how lonely I am sometimes when I see that 99% of my friends don’t seem to have any struggles with getting pregnant, she told me that I wasn’t the only person that she knew who couldn’t get pregnant and had to pursue IVF.  Although I know that it is true that I am not the only person having to go through IVF, somehow the way she said it made me feel slighted.  That I should just get with the program and just go ahead with it.  That I shouldn’t feel that everyone around me is lucky except for myself.  She didn’t say all these words… but I could sense and smell the undertone.  Maybe that was the one moment when I was overly sensitive.  I sometimes just wish that my fertile friends in real life would just listen without making a lot of comments.

Fast forward to July.  I updated her via FB about our egg retrieval on my birthday.   On the day of our failed day three transfer, she sent me a text at about dinner time and said that she was in the neighborhood with her family and asked if we wanted to meet up for ice cream.  I was thrilled that I got to see her and the kids.  So we met up at the ice cream parlor.  Bob asked if I felt up to it given the emotional craziness that we experienced earlier that day.  I did want to see her and update her so we went.  As usual, our meeting was rushed with kids running around interrupting and talking over us.  In between paying and waiting for ice cream, we stood far away from the kids and her mother-in-law and I updated her on what happened that morning.  Her first reaction was, Oh the transfer comes this soon?  I did explain to her the whole IVF process before but I was not that surprised that she didn’t really know what the process entailed.  I explained to her the process again, shared with her about the crazy roller coaster that we went through that very morning, and the unknown about the pending transfer on day five.  I shared about my fear of the embryos all dying and having nothing to transfer.  While she was tending her kids for their dripping ice cream and whining to play at the playground, she commented on what I told her with what I would consider platitude.  I don’t remember the exact wording but it made me feel slighted again.  We parted ways after the ice cream date.  That was July 13th.

Kate knew that we were supposed to attempt a transfer on July 15th.  Guess what?  I have not heard from her since the ice cream date.  That was almost a month ago.  Since I was a bit discouraged after her comments, I didn’t feel up to taking the initiative to explain a lot to her.  So I haven’t called her, written her any emails, sent her any texts, or written any FB messages.  Yesterday it just dawned on me that she has not contacted me to see how the transfer went or how I was doing.  All my real life friends who are in the know called me, texted me, asked me, prayed for me, and followed up with me about the first IVF cycle.  Some followed up and asked when I would start my next cycle.  I know some people don’t want a lot of questions from their friends during an IVF cycle but I really appreciate the thoughts.  Bob thinks that Kate just doesn’t have the emotional capacity to understand the feelings of someone going through infertility.

I guess I am just…. disappointed.  Disappointed that she hasn’t taken the time to ask.  Disappointed that she hasn’t shown more interest in finding out more about the process.  Disappointed that I am fitting my friend in a profile that many infertile people would portray their super fertile friends.  Disappointed that infertility has seemingly become a test of my friendship with Kate.  Disappointed that I am feeling hurt and disappointed when I think that I shouldn’t be.

I don’t know how I would handle my hurtful feelings yet.  I wonder if I would/should share with her about my feelings or if I would just let it go.  Maybe I’m really overly sensitive.  Maybe I’ll feel better later and things would be fine.  But I don’t want to lose a friend and I don’t want to be resentful with what she hasn’t done.  This is a tough one for me and I’ll continue to sleep on it.