By IVF warrior and author Keegan, AKA @TheIVFDad
Going through infertility can strain even the strongest relationship. I know this well, as my wife and I went through multiple rounds of IVF and multiple losses before finally welcoming our first daughter. At times during treatment, we both felt upset, exhausted, drained, and sad. That’s not exactly a recipe for easy times!
Yet I always remembered throughout just how grateful I was for everything my wife Olivia was doing for us. From endless rounds of shots, to enduring surgeries and being pumped full of hormones that made her extremely uncomfortable (to say the least), I tried to both stay mindful of how thankful I was for what she was doing, and to show her that gratitude through my words and actions.
Here are five tips (plus a bonus!) I learned throughout our journey
I hope they’ll help other men out there with some ideas for how to show their partners lots of gratitude during fertility treatment!
Remind your partner, in actions and words, that you’re in this TOGETHER
It’s so important to show that you’re a united front during the fertility journey. You can do this through actions like attending appointments and consultations as often as possible. You can also do this by taking steps to learn about potential diagnoses and treatment options by reading blogs (like right here at IVF Babble!) and books (like my book The IVF Dad!) and listening to podcasts such as BFN or Infertile AF. Having this knowledge will allow you to participate actively in conversations with your partner and your medical team.
But you can also demonstrate that you’re in this together through words—when talking about your journey, treatments, and plans, make a point to use words like WE, OUR, and US. For instance—“I know this is a hard decision for us. This is our journey, and together we’ll figure out the right next step for treatment.”
Cook a special meal or grab her favourite takeaway
Fertility treatments like IVF can be physically and emotionally draining. Hopefully the guys out there are already contributing and putting their fair share of effort into meal planning and cooking, but during particularly intensive points in treatment, make an extra effort to show your partner that you appreciate all she is doing. Cook a really special meal you know she loves, or grab her favourite takeaway!
Plan a special date night—something you know she really enjoys!
It can be easy to forget the importance of staying connected and fostering intimacy in your relationship during the ups and downs and constant effort of fertility treatment. Take the initiative to plan a date night you know your partner will really enjoy to show her how grateful you are, and to give you both some time to connect and step away—even if only for a teeny tiny bit—from the infertility roller coaster.
Make sure the plan is something your partner will really enjoy, and don’t hesitate to ask her if you aren’t sure what she’d prefer to do. You can say something like “I know how hard you’re working for us and am really thankful for you. I’d really like to plan a nice date for us. Is there something in particular you’d really enjoy doing?”
Take on extra chores (beyond your usual!)
Again here, I want to be clear—men should already be doing their share of household chores, so this is not meant in anyway to suggest otherwise! But taking on even more tasks can be a nice way to give your partner some extra time to herself especially during something like IVF stims or preparing for an embryo transfer, which are both very draining. She’s working incredibly hard, so take on some extra duties—beyond your share of the chores you’re hopefully doing already, lads!
Just tell her “thank you”—even (and especially!) for the little things (or better yet, get a nice thank you card and handwrite a message to her!)
It sounds silly, but we so often forget that one of the best ways to show gratitude is simply to say thank you, especially for the people we’re closest with. While we might thank a stranger for holding a door for us, we may forget to thank our partner for the many little things they do every day that show their love. So—start by just thinking: What are five things your partner has done today that you’re thankful for—big or small? Write down your list and commit to telling your partner how thankful you are for those things. And they don’t have to just be fertility treatment related!
And for bonus points, go out and get a nice thank you card and handwrite out a note. Surprise your partner with it on a random Tuesday. Then, try to make a habit of telling your partner at least one thing each day that you’re grateful for about her.
And speaking of bonuses, here’s a BONUS Number 6—I saved maybe the most important for last:
Validate her feelings when she’s upset, and be there to cheer her up when she’s ready
As men, we’re generally discouraged from showing when we’re upset or sad about something. Because of this, a guy’s first instinct when his partner is sad might be to say things like “Don’t cry!,” or “Cheer up, I’m sure this next treatment will work.” While these might feel like the right thing to say, phrases like those can minimise the real feelings your partner is having. Instead, validate what she’s feeling.
I can hear a chorus of guys out there saying “Validate her feelings? What the hell does that mean?” Ok, here’s how you validate your partner’s feelings:
First, instead of trying to fix or immediately make her feel better, just listen. Second, say things that show you’re there to support her without trying to fix anything—something like “I hear how hard this is on you. I love you and am here for you.”
Then, when it seems like your partner is prepared, you can pull your silliest fart noise (or insert other joke here) to try to cheer her up—but first, validate and give her some space and support. And hey—while you’re at it, guys—think about doing the same thing for yourself and giving yourself some space to feel the sadness or upset that might come with fertility issues!
Hopefully these six tips help the men out there feel empowered to support and show gratitude to their partners on YOUR infertility journey. Pick one of these out, and commit to trying it today!
You can follow Keegan on Instagram @TheIVFDad, or at his website TheIVFDad.com. His book, The IVF Dad, is available on Amazon (links below!) A third of proceeds from the book go to support organizations that make grants to support families to afford fertility treatment.
Read more from Keegan:
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