As any woman dealing with infertility knows, Mother’s Day is an excruciating day to get through if you’re still childless. We generally suffer through the day waiting for Monday to roll around. Yet, there is little to no real discussion about how Father’s Day affects men dealing with infertility.
Men are weird creatures.
Sure, that seems like a loaded statement, but from a female perspective they are hard to wrap your mind around. They have the same feelings women do, yet they don’t deal with them the same way or process them like we do. I know my husband can be rather confusing. Trying to gauge how he’s feeling on this infertility roller coaster ride can be like pulling teeth.
Now don’t get me wrong, he’s my biggest support system through this journey and has been the voice of reason many a times, but there are those times where I have NO clue how he’s feeling or dealing with all of this. Maybe it’s the fault of society and how we “expect” men to act or feel. I mean if they had the same breakdowns we did every month over a negative test how would the world around them react? Would they be judged because this is not how men are supposed to act or feel?
So how do these expectations and judgement surrounding men affect them when it comes to getting through Father’s Day? As I mentioned above, the natural feeling for an infertile woman on Mother’s Day is sorrow, but would we be accepting if that was the same experience for a man on Father’s Day?
And do men even feel the same heartache their female counterparts do?
I tried to ask my husband one day how he felt about Father’s Day and what we’re dealing with, and he, being ever the casual jokester said: “I have the dog, he’s pretty cool.”
Trying to get more in depth I said, “Well other people have dogs too.”
“Oh”, he replied, “Sure, but none are as cool as deefer.” (one of about 600 nicknames for our dog) “Just look at him.”
The conversation was left at that. But it got me to thinking:
Do we really value masculinity more than feeling when it comes to things like this?
Is he just trying to preserve his manliness for fear of judgement? Or is he just trying to stay strong, for me, so that at least one of us doesn’t feel like they’re drowning most of the time. Does it just not affect him the same way it does me?
When I tried digging deeper with him, to get an honest answer to be able to write this blog, I got him to open up a bit more. The short of it is, in his words:
“It sucks, sure, but there’s so much more to Father’s Day than just me. I didn’t have dad around a lot as a kid for this stuff so it’s nice to be able to celebrate him now. Do I wish I was doing it with my own kids, sure, but that doesn’t mean I’m not happy for other people getting to experience it. It’s hard to be going through but I don’t dwell on it.”
The fact that I even got that much out of him is a bit of a miracle. He’s often so stoic and just muscles through the tough stuff. I’ve found that as time goes on, and the length of time for trying gets longer, you can see the hurt in his eyes. He’s the tough one, the seasoned sailor who lets everything roll off his back and puts on this very gruff exterior. I don’t think anyone would ever really know if something were bothering him unless he outright said so.
I posed these questions to a few friends dealing with infertility, and the consensus was fairly similar.
Father’s Day while dealing with infertility doesn’t seem to have the same affect on men the way Mother’s Day does on us ladies.
Most say their fellas just shrugged off the question. To them it was just “another day”, or “it sucks, but oh well”. There weren’t the same feelings of sadness surrounding Father’s Day for men, or at least not a sadness they were willing to let on to.
There was one response though, that I think rings true for a lot of us. A good friend and her husband are finally pregnant. It was a rough road to get there, but that miracle has finally blessed them. Her husband is having a hard time getting excited about his first “technical” Father’s Day because he’s waiting for that other shoe to drop.
I think a lot of us experience that in one way or another – the inability to get excited about a new treatment or a positive test, because we’re so used to that disappointment. I don’t think men are immune to that one.
It’s hard to get excited when you’ve faced so much let down.
I guess infertility and Father’s Day isn’t as big of an issue as infertility and Mother’s Day. Or at least not an issue that men are really willing to open up about. They are our unwavering positivity, our rocks, and our blind faith that everything will work itself out. They’re often the ones who continue to push us forward when we’re ready to give up.
But I think it affects them more than they ever want to admit. It’s hard to shake off that persona of tough guy or Mr. Positive, especially when society demands they keep it. Even more so since infertility is still such a taboo subject.
It’s hard to be sad about something that so many people out there really don’t want to hear about or even care about.
So, I suppose all we can really do this Father’s Day is be kind to our guys. Let them know that we support them and that it is OK to not be OK! They are allowed to feel the same disappointment we do every May when Mother’s Day rolls around.
Heck, maybe even make your fella breakfast in bed this Sunday. Lord knows they deserve it for all they do for us on this journey!