April 27, 2011

Dispatches from My Better Half: A Guest Post by My Husband

While I'm happy to take the microphone and do all the talking, I'm stepping off the stage today to shine some light on someone who deserves just as much attention and credit: my fantastic husband, Larry. I'm blessed to have found my soulmate and to have someone who dives head and heart-first into our family-building adventures with me. I hope you'll enjoy his unique take on things as the "elusive male point of view."

. . .

For a long time, Keiko’s been asking me to write a guest post and for a long time – thanks to my unabashed sense of procrastination – I haven’t. I haven’t really known what to say. Keiko has built herself quite the readership and become a fairly prominent fixture in the infertility community. I, like many husbands in our situation, have hung back. I’ve been here to provide my unconditional love and support, but I’ve never felt it was my place to speak out. It wasn’t my body that was having havoc wreaked on it and it wasn’t my body by which I felt betrayed.

I have to say, in some ways, I think Keiko’s diagnosis was, to be cliché, a blessing in disguise. Keiko has always been the one on my arm for business events and at various other gatherings of my peers where the attendance of a spouse who knows no one is absolutely required. It’s brought me a lot of joy over the past year to be on the other side of that coin. When we go to an event for RESOLVE or anything regarding the infertility community, Keiko is the one who is in the spotlight, she is the one who is recognized for the hard work she does for this community and I’m the one on her arm. And although I know the only reason she’s even here is because of a condition she never asked for or wanted, she’s been able to turn that pain into motivation and a directed sense of purpose that I’ve never seen in her before... and for that I’m thankful. She asked me to write about my feelings regarding our whole situation, this curveball that neither of us ever expected. It’s hard to sum that up into a few paragraphs, but her strength through the whole thing has been absolutely inspiring.

When we were at the RESOLVE of New England conference last November, Keiko asked me to attend a session that was specifically for husbands of women who couldn’t conceive on their own. I agreed, begrudgingly, because you know, I’m a man. I don’t need any of that stuff. But I came out of it with two very interesting insights.

First was that I wasn’t alone in my philosophy about the whole situation. From the very beginning, I’ve always told Keiko that to me it didn’t matter how we had a family as long as we had one, and no one could stop us from doing that. I don’t care if a child is 100% genetically ours, 50%, or 0%. Genetics only get you so far in life, and to be honest, between the two of us there are plenty that don’t need to get passed on. What really matters is imparting the knowledge and, dare I say, wisdom of my vast 29 years.

Having a family isn’t about a kid who has my hair (which is receding anyway, thanks to my genes); it’s about raising a child with our values and teaching them to have their own. To my surprise, most of the other guys in the group felt the same way. What’s important is the end result: being a family. I’ve felt that way since day one. So while I feel for Keiko with every cell in my body, her condition has never negatively affected my image of her, because regardless of how it happens we’ll always be able to have that family one way or another. And it will never affect her ability to be the wonderful mother I know she’ll be.

The second thing I came away from that group with was slightly more science-y. The guy who ran the session had done vast amounts of research on the emotional toll this situation takes on the husband. He’s found on average men lag about 3 years behind women in terms of emotional response. Now I don’t think that in a year I’m going to be sitting at my desk one minute and bawling the next. That’s just not how I operate. I bring it up though in hopes that some husbands and wives out there may take some solace in the idea that you may not be responding the same way as the other all the time; just because he’s not there crying next to you doesn’t mean or imply that he’s any less affected or that he doesn’t care. We just run on different timelines. It has never been a factor in my level of support for Keiko. My brain just processes the whole thing a little bit differently.

I don’t really know how to end this. I’ve done my fair share of writing, but never on something that’s so personal. I usually wrap up my articles with a succinct piece of poignant advice, but that doesn’t seem so apropos here. So I’ll just say that I hope a point of view from the other side was a little bit helpful and gives just a peek into what may be going on in the mind of those who care for you the most.


Hope said...

Thank you so much for these insights into the male perspective. They do help me to understand what might be going on inside my husband's head, a little better.

What you said about most men feeling that the most important thing is the end result of having a family, not how you got there or whose genes were involved, was especially moving. Thank you so much for sharing this particular insight.

Virginia said...

What a beautiful wedding photo! Infertility can be so rough on a marriage. Thank you for clearly speaking out about your love and support for your wife and for acknowledging the growth that she has experienced as your still small family has struggled with IF. Her growth and determination, your support and your joint commitment to marriage & family light the way for so many right now! Blessed be both of you. :)

Kim said...

Hi Keiko,

What a beautiful piece. By complete fluke, my husband posted his thoughts on infertility too today... amazing that today was the day to do that!


You've got a great husband... together, you two do and will do amazing things!

Kim @ The Ladies in Waiting Book Club

Esperanza said...

Larry - thank you so much for your brave and thoughtful words. I also ask my partner to guest post here and there (and he also procrastinates greatly ;-). It is so nice for us to hear the male perspective on all of this. I didn't think it was possible but I am now even more inspired and in awe of Keiko and her life and relationship. You two are amazing souls and I'm so thankful to have "known" you. Thank you very much for this post.

TheKirCorner said...

Oh wow, this was just right, I could hear your voice, and your pro and cons list...the way you deal with this. Men are such a different species but the thing about them is that their hurt and empathy isn't less than our own.

I am so glad that Keiko has you. That she found a soulmate that doesn't get mired in the whys, hows, whats and knows that when you become a family, however that eventually happens, that you have found the mother of your children.

you are both so lucky to have each other on this TTC journey.

Kate said...

thank you for your post. It's always nice to hear the man's perspective.

Sonja said...

Thank you for sharing!!

jjiraffe said...

Hi Larry! Thanks for writing this post. It makes me so pleased for Keiko that you are so proud of her. She is amazing! Your attitude about what parenting should be is something I don't hear enough, and you are right. Parenting is about "raising a child with our values and teaching them to have their own." You and Keiko are going to be world-class parents.

justine said...

Thank you, Larry! That was super. You are so lucky to have each other for support ... you will be such fabulous parents some day!

Chickenpig said...

This post is helpful, but as I point out to my husband, it isn't just about the genetics. For us women, it is also about being able to experience pregnancy and breastfeeding, which is HUGE. The idea of not passing on my genetics never bothered me, but the thought of not being able to be pregnant or breastfeed my baby was.

Serendipitie said...

Thank you so much for sharing! I have also observed a difference in timeline between my husband and me. I think we're only about a year apart, but I'm happy to hear that it's not weird.