Be the rock your partner can lean on during your IVF treatment - just like she deserves.
Some men are raised to be some kind of soldier from childhood on. Hide your emotions! Be tough! They learn very early on that boys are not supposed to cry or complain. In fact, they grow a protective shield around them based on what everyone tells them, which makes it hard for them to express their emotions. Unfortunately, this can become a natural and permanent state of mind for them.
Other men grow up surrounded by the freedom to express their emotions. It is natural for them to talk about their feelings, which makes them considerably more empathetic and vulnerable at the same time. I belong to this group and, in my opinion, my kind of men need more support throughout their life, especially in relationships. That is why they often choose stronger women as their partners.
It does not matter which group you belong to. When undergoing fertility treatments, we all need to make some changes. If you have a stronger character you will need to become a bit more sensitive and learn how to respond to the challenges of your journey with sufficient subtlety. There is nothing wrong with determination or a healthy sense of reality. However, you will need to try to soften your character and become a little more compassionate. The sensitive souls, myself included, should put their hypersensitivity somewhat aside because your partner needs someone who can be strong and provide solid support during difficult days.
The reality of IVF is uncertain; either you succeed or you don’t. Your fertility treatment will be accompanied by constant doubts and question marks. The truth is that during your journey you will most probably experience some great victories, but many failures as well. All of these new experiences will greatly affect you both mentally and emotionally, and you will have to be her number one supporter during all of these ups and downs.
My strategy is to empathise with all of the emotions that she may feel at that moment. I accept the fact that her mood changes more frequently than it normally does. Every time I feel like she wants to talk about the fertility process or tell me how she is feeling, I put everything else aside because the most important thing for me is to be there for her. Sometimes I just listen, other times I tell her my point of view, even though I am definitely not trying to be a know-it-all. Typically, I don’t even initiate a conversation about IVF, unless I read or hear something interesting or beneficial that I would like to share with her.
Another useful trick I have learnt was to divert her attention, which was necessary more than just a few times. This came particularly handy when we were waiting for important news regarding test results or procedure outcomes, for example, after the oocyte (egg) retrieval, when we were waiting for information about how many of our oocytes had been fertilised.
I try to stay level headed at all times, even though my overly emotional self is trying to rebel against that from time to time. Believe me when I say that sometimes deep down inside there is more tension in me than in her. I experience the same uncertainties as she does, and I am scared and disappointed at times, too. But I really hope that she doesn’t know this.
And the conclusion? Make sure that your woman and her feelings are always the centre of attention. Don’t forget to be cooperative, supportive, and attentive.