Saturday, August 6, 2011

The importance of a good partner

Time and again throughout this TTC, IVF and pregnancy journey, I have been reminded of this fact: it is essential to have a good partner.  A patient partner.  An understanding and forgiving partner.  And someone who loves you a whole bunch.  Let me be clear – this does not necessarily have to be someone to whom you’re married (although living in the same house helps – usually).  I know of strong, brave, single women who are going through this process with the intent of raising a child on their own.  But this message does not exclude them.  Whether it be a spouse, best friend or family member, a good partner is a critical element in the making-a-baby experiment.
I am fortunate to have married someone who was cool with having an emotional wife to begin with.  Oh, if he only knew what he was in for!  But surprisingly, he has not faltered in his devotion to me, even when I’m at my most hormonal, irrational, weepy and inconsolable.  Does that mean he doesn’t get frustrated with me sometimes?  Of course not.  Does it mean he takes all my crap without calling me out?  No way.  But I am certain that the ratio of times that he does push back, compared with the times that I deserve it, is very small. 
When you are TTC (and perhaps it is not going as well or as quickly as you’d like it to), very little else matters.  Your partner should understand this, even if they are able to keep a calm head and continue about their lives.  They are your safe place to empty out all the thoughts you keep to yourself throughout the day – thoughts about ovulation and cervical mucus, your next doctor’s appointment and whether or not you should try the latest fertility fad you read about online.  
Another important place for your partner is with you in the doctor’s office.  This can be a place of great anxiety and/or anticipation, and it’s good to have someone to keep you from jumping out of your skin.  John has sat with me to talk to multiple doctors and fertility specialists, accompanied me to numerous appointments and procedures, and helped me process diagnoses and next steps.  I needed him there, to keep me anchored to reality and to the task at hand.  (I have a habit of running away with worry.)
Your partner should be someone who is willing to administer your shots, should you get to that point in your efforts to have a baby.  At the very least, they should give you lots of love and sympathy for having to poke yourself with multiple needles a day.  And when you both suffer the hormonal consequences, they – hopefully – can remember the you they loved before the crazy set in and treat you with the kindness you deserve but don’t necessarily earn.
Those of you who’ve been following my blog know that early pregnancy is not a time of total bliss (even when it is something you’ve wanted for so long).  There is a lot of crying, both for emotional and biological reasons.  Your partner is the one you can open up to about your fears, day in and day out.  He or she should be at the ready to comfort you and baby you  – even if you’re someone who never needed much babying.  (This is not me, but I imagine others may operate differently).  Ultimately, you need a best friend to hold your hand as you face all these unknowns, to help you keep steady and to reassure you that you are doing fine.
This morning, John told me that he happened to see a “what’s happening as your baby grows” chart online and became engrossed with weeks 17 and 18, which is where we’re at right now.  He started telling me about how I might have pain in my abdomen because the ligaments are stretching with my growing uterus.  He then explained that our baby is now covered with “goo” that protects his or her delicate skin from the amniotic fluid and prepares him or her for birth.  I just looked at him with total adoration.  This is what a partner is for.  To comfort, to protect and – ultimately, when it’s finally your turn – to celebrate.

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