This Woman’s Work

Pray God you can cope.
I stand outside this woman’s work,
This woman’s world.
Ooh, it’s hard on the man…

~ Kate Bush, “This Woman’s Work”

Today it was tough to wake up. We stayed up late to watch a movie, V for Vendetta (which is actually quite good. I really like it.)

I went into the bathroom to find a sombre BDH. He said he was really tired. He had slept okay, but not enough, he said. So he carried on getting ready for work, and I went downstairs to make his lunch and a pot of coffee.

When he came down to leave for work, he was still not himself. He just seemed down and subdued. He said he was thinking a bit about my family this morning — which goodness knows is enough to turn anyone’s mood sour — but that he was really just tired. I left it that that. He left for work.

About an hour later, I got an IM from him, apologizing for being so glum. As it turns out, he’s just starting to be hit by the sadness and the disappointment from finding out our IVF had failed. While he played his computer game all weekend, or watched movies, he was able to keep it at bay. But this morning, in time alone getting ready or driving to work, it hit him. Hard.

So often in the infertility process, men are forgotten. They are a part of it, sure, but (usually) everything is so centred around the female in the process that men’s needs and feelings are not addressed adequately. I am sure if the infertility problem is a male-factor problem, things are different. In our experience, though, because conception is so critically timed around a woman’s system, they are the focus of the process. And it is not fair. Men are under the same stress, feel the same disappointment and worry, and to add to that, they are sitting on the sidelines for a lot of the process. They are supportive, sitting by and watching the woman they love undergo indignity and pain and discomfort, procedure after procedure, and they cannot do anything to fix it. They have to be strong and positive to support their wives, who are allowed to cry and rant and complain.

It must be so very hard to be a man in the infertility process. I cannot even imagine.

And so, when I get a message from my husband saying that this morning, he is in pain, that he is struggling to hold it together, that he must do his job and not lose it at work, I get only the tiniest glimpse of what his life must have been like over the last few years. I cannot do anything to ease his hurting right now. I have to support him and try to help him get through the day. I have to hear the pain in his voice as he tells someone we will likely not be able to have the kids we want so badly, and there is nothing I can do to take the pain away. There is nothing I can do to fix this.

I can only give him my love and understanding. I feel helpless.

I know all men are not so good, but I am grateful for all BDH has done for me over these last three years of trying, loss, and treatment. And so, I will do what I can to be comforting and supportive. And, I will talk to someone at the clinic, when all this is done, to say maybe it is time to really re-evaluate their treament process, to include special support for husbands. This woman’s work, it’s so hard on the man.

2 thoughts on “This Woman’s Work

  1. You know, I really think you could do a lot of good by talking to the clinic. It seems unbalanced somehow to me that the men are seen more as a prop than a participant.

    Eh, maybe ‘prop’ is the wrong word, but I can’t quite hit on the right one.

Comments are closed.