Father’s Day is a day set aside to honor and celebrate those who are fathers or father figures to children of all ages. For those of us fortunate enough to have a good relationship with a father who still is alive, this day is one of gratitude and joy, as we thank our fathers for all that they have done and continue to do to enrich our lives and to support us. For others, this day is marked with great sadness and pain, as some people mourn the death of their father or remain estranged from their father. Also, some fathers grieve the death of a child on this day meant to honor them. Then, there are those people who usually are forgotten on Father’s Day-the men who are affected by infertility.
My now ex-husband and I went through five years of extensive infertility treatment before the birth of our oldest daughter led us out of the valley of infertility onto the path of parenthood. Through it all, my ex-husband was a quiet and steady source of strength, support, and comfort, and he also became a pro at administering the various daily shots that were a part of my treatment regime. Since I was the one undergoing the actual procedures, our family and friends turned most of their attention to me, while my ex-husband stood by my side. Since he was not as expressive or emotive as I was about our infertility struggles, it was very easy to think that he was not as affected by it as I was, but he was.
I remember the moment I realized that even the strongest of people have their breaking point, and he was no different. After one of our many failed in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycles, as I began the all too familiar cycle of grief, I watched him break down and cry for the first time since infertility overtook our lives. This wasn’t just my journey. It was our journey. While he did not put his grief and pain on display as readily as I did, those feelings still were there, and he was in need of support.
So, on this Father’s Day, if there is a man in your life who is on the infertility rollercoaster, take a moment to do something kind for him:
- Acknowledge him on a day that may leave him feeling forgotten. Not knowing what to say is not an excuse to remain silent. Say something to let him know that you care.
- Take him out to do something. It is easy to isolate yourself when dealing with infertility, so, invite him on an outing with you or to socialize with a group.
- Treat him to something special. Treat him to coffee, take him out to eat, give him a meaningful gift, etc. Sometimes, little things mean a lot.
- Ask what you can do to support him. Everyone handles infertility differently, so, ask for his guidance about what he needs most during this difficult time. Then, if possible, do what he requests.
- Be fully present for him. There is strength in numbers, so, being there for him can help more than you know.
Here’s to all of those men who want to be fathers and to those who support them on this journey.
Just one thing each day . . .