The bad news: My therapist won’t agree to see both of us unless we commit to bi-monthly couples counseling for at least six months. At this point we don’t feel that is the best option for us so for the time being, I’m going to keep going solo. We’ve agreed that we’ll definitely go in the future, either out of unforeseen necessity or before whatever treatment we decide to do this summer (if any at all). I’m definitely bummed we can’t just go in every once in a while but I understand my therapist’s requirement of consistency. It’s nice to know it’s available when we need it.
The good news: We had a really good conversation tonight and I was able to air my concerns about his attitude and he was able to voice his concerns about things as well. Luckily we both heard, and understood, each other.
This is what we learned.
Basically I told Mi.Vida that I felt the diet (and it was made clear early on that his big issue is no longer the restrictions but the amount of prep time it requires–so really “diet” means “cooking”) should be a very manageable exercise. I argued that if we were in it together, if we approached it with a positive attitude, it could be a really fun exercise in healthier eating. I just didn’t believe it warranted the negativity Mi.Vida felt toward it.
Mi.Vida explained that he feels stretched thin without all the cooking and that he believes the stress of the diet/cooking negates the physical advantages. He feels like all the time cooking and cleaning afterward are creating even more of a rift between us as we have even less time to hang out together. He also doesn’t understand why all the recipes have to be so complicated and time consuming.
He understood what I was saying and I respected his points, and he did the same with mine, so we came to the following compromise:
1. We’ll cut down on the amount of “elaborate” recipes that take a long time and require us to eat dinner really late. We’ll only do these 2-3 times a week (or less). The rest of the time we’ll eat leftovers or the simple medleys of chicken/quinoa/green veggies that we used to fall back on a lot.
2. We’ll cook together once a week, preferably on a Saturday or Sunday.
3. We’ll try to be more positive about the diet and consider it an opportunity to eat healthier foods while improving our meal planning/executing skills.
Mi.Vida also expressed concern that he didn’t know how I was feeling about any of this. He worries that I’m holding all my sadness and negativity in to protect him. While I have been known to pull this move in the past, I assured him that I’m not doing it now. The truth is I’m not really sure how I feel about any of this. I’m working through my shock and greif slowly. I’m also trying to take what I learned during our struggles TTC#1 and after our loss to create a game plan that I know works for both of us.
Our first attempt at TTC was really rough but it had one important silver lining: I learned what both of us can handle. I realized tonight that everything I’ve been doing so far to cope with this has been with one goal in mind: to create a path through this hell that we can both handle. I feel acutely aware of what both Mi.Vida and I can tolerate and I want to make sure that at the end of this, neither of us has been forced to endure experiences too far outside of their tolerable zone.
One of the major themes I’ve come across in my research on secondary infertility has been how long the struggle can last. People routinely try for a second child for three or more years. Some never seem to stop trying, they eventually lose hope that their efforts will amount to anything and yet they keep trying, month after month. I know for a fact that neither of us could handle that. I would slowly go insane–living in limbo, constantly disappointed by our failures–and Mi.Vida would quickly resent my inability to move on.
The whole point of this 12-18 month “super natural approach” is that I need to know we did out best for a certain amount of time so that I can move on. If we can’t get pregnant after many months of following a fertility boosting diet, taking supplements and doing acupuncture, I know we’re not going to get pregnant NOT doing those things. After this attempt, I’ll be ready (as I’ll ever be) to move on. Only then will I be able to start discussing adoption or accepting our family of three. This plan is not so much about regret management as it is about damage control. I’m employing this in an attempt to protect our relationship from the unbearable SUCK of secondary infertility. It’s the one aspect of all of this that I CAN control.
Which brings me to the strange line I seem to toe each and every day. On the one hand I want desperately for all we’re doing to work, to have another child born of my partner and my genetic histories. On the other hand, I’m trying to accept the possible alternatives, trying to open my heart to foster-adoption (likely the only kind of adoption we can afford) in an attempt to protect myself from the probable devastation of it not working. It’s a hard line to navigate, between maintaing the hope that this will work (necessary to staying on the diet and enduring many months more of TTC) and preparing myself that it probably won’t. That is the line I’m not quite sure how to walk, and it is that uncertainty that Mi.Vida reads as distance. It’s not that I’m hiding anything from him, it’s that I’m not sure how I’m proceeding myself.
I think we impressed ourselves with our talk today. Neither of us got mad, and while I did cry (quite a few times), it never became about that. For the first time I feel like we’re on the same page about a few key things, or at the very least understand each other. I just hope we can keep having these kinds of conversations, even when shit gets hard again.