For the person who is directly experiencing infertility or undergoing infertility treatments, the back-and-forth of grief and hope is often at the center of it all. But what about their partner? It's important to remember that they're experiencing their own emotional journey as they watch the person they love endure infertility. Every aspect of it deeply impacts both partners.
A series of tweets shared last fall by Aaron Hoyland, whose partner has been undergoing infertility treatments, is going viral once more—and it's not hard to see why. Hoyland's perspective is valid, valuable, and heartbreakingly familiar to anyone who also finds themselves in his shoes.
"It's 3 AM. She goes for her test at the clinic in a few hours. Hopefully it worked this time. I wake up as she crawls into bed and slides up behind me. 'I couldn't wait so I took a test.' I hold my breath. 'It was negative.' No baby this month," he writes.
He says in these moments, he thinks of the doctors and nurses at the clinic where she receives treatments. He credits them for being "compassionate and gentle," particularly when giving bad news to their patients. He says he also checks their bank account, and feels grateful they're financially secure even if they're grieving.
"I think about the books downstairs on the coffee table," he continues. "About pregnancy and baby names. Maybe I'll go put them away before she gets up, so she doesn't have to. It was too early, but it's still hard not to get excited about the possibility."
Going through infertility together means you become aware of the things—big and small—that emotionally trigger your partner. Also, so much is out of your control when you're in the thick of something like this. Being able to think ahead and protect your partner's feelings in any way you can become second nature.
"I feel her body against mine, full of pills and dotted with injection bruises," he writes. "I have the easy part. I wish I could take on more of it from her. I pull her arms tighter around me and I hear her breath quicken as the tears come. I'm still groggy from sleep, but I know mine will follow soon."
Hoyland also talks about the hopeful yet stressful knowledge that you'll have to try again.
"We can try again in a month or two," he says. "Hope springs eternal. But every time it doesn't work, it costs you something deep in yourself. You can't do this forever. Even if you had unlimited money and unlimited time. Because it costs you something."
Anyone who's experienced infertility—from both sides of the coin—can relate to his words here. There are the physical and financial burdens to consider, of course. But the mental and emotional burdens of trying again, and again, and again, can make you feel pretty defeated.
That, Hoyland explains, is where courage comes in.
"Hope is a funny thing," he writes. "People talk of hope as though it's the currency of the naive. Those people are wrong. It requires courage. Daring to hope and face disappointment is far more difficult than letting yourself succumb to the inevitability of disappointment."
"We shift, and now I'm holding her. I feel her body shake. 'We'll be okay,' I tell her. And we will. Many of the best parts of my life are the things that didn't go according to plan. Maybe this will be one more."
And because going through any sort of life-altering event or struggle can feel just as lonely as it is exhausting, Hoyland has a message for anyone else in the same boat: you're not alone. One in 8 couples experiences infertility, after all.
Sometimes hearing someone else say the things you're feeling out loud is everything.
"Fertility challenges & pregnancy loss can feel profoundly isolating, but there are so many people going through this. If this hits close to home, please know that you are loved and you are not alone. It's a shitty club, but there are a lot of us."