I think my problem recently has been looking at my marriage through the stages of grief. Over the past year and change, the process of trying to unravel our fertility issues has taken its toll on us. For me, it has colored and camouflaged love in the form I knew and recognized and understood it...so I just don't see it as easily as I did before.
Marriage is not my grief though. Our fertility is. But the fact that my fertility was never fully realized until I was married is what intertwines and confuses this topic for me so often. At least that is today's self-diagnosis! :)
I don't suppose that I write today with answers so much as I write with questions and to process 'out loud'. How do we encounter our spouse, through the lens of infertility, without our marriage suffering? The people who can answer that question with "It's easy, you just..." are the people who don't sit here as I carefully count out X number of fertility-focused pills each day and figure out when I can eat before one of them and which ones have to wait until after Y and the math on how I can manage to keep Z exactly 12 hours apart from X if meal A is late today. They aren't the people who get horrid bruises from incompetent Lab.Corp staff every. single. month. And they aren't the people who have lived the hope and subsequent let down when you are once again not pregnant (whether that involved never being pregnant or losing a pregnancy).
There is no "It's easy, you just..." to this Catholic path of being married and not having children. It's like a constant itch. We know we're living our vocation and that children are an important component to that. In the day-to-day living of that reality we feel the void. There is a place in our life for children that is not occupied. And we as married creatures feel that void heavily, though differently as man and woman.
When I finally got the courage to start talking about this journey 'out loud' (read: I still cringe every time I push the 'publish' button), I didn't realize how consumed my life and every passing thought is focused to the goal of having children. I knew we were immersed in treatment for the betterment of my health. I knew that we were focused on conceiving and carrying a child. But I didn't realize how much of a one-track-record-on-repeat that I have become. I went from being a dynamic, smiley, multi-hobbied, adventure-loving, light-hearted girl to a monotone, frown-faced and miserable ear-worm in under two years. It just feels like I have a constant thundercloud over my head...
And why is that? How did that happen? Actually, I know the answer to that question; I can even tell you all of the steps to achieve that! This is the moment where I realize NFP's impact on my psyche and how I have approached my marriage. And I'm not talking about the practice of achieving or timing things, y'all. There are other blogs that whine about that and I have no intention of joining that chorus. What I mean is a little different. My NFP chart is an integral part of my medical treatment plan and it is the 'God document' if-you-will on how our marriage looks on paper. For spouses to encounter each other, even from the early newlywed days, there have always been ultrasounds, needles, pints and pints of blood draws, bruises from the blood draws, pelvic exams, cervical exams, laparoscopic surgery, incisions, stitches, abnormal bleeding, infections, torn-up stomachs from antibiotics, fevers, drug induced panic and anxiety, drug interactions, severe exhaustion and lingering fatigue, drastic diet changes, itchy rashes, constant recurring UTIs.......... and the list goes on.
Marriage has literally HURT for the entire time I have experienced it. It has involved fear and physical and emotional pain the entire time. No wonder I'm not having any fun over here and I feel like a 2 dimensional bore! How did I not see this before? Maybe it's because the cyclical reality that I live now involves an active audience and it never did before (at least he doesn't make popcorn and sit back and watch me unravel like I'm a one-act tragedy)? Maybe it's because one hundred percent of our marriage has had to be focused on children from day one because the women in my family go through early menopause and I'm not young enough to be casual about this? Maybe it's all of the above and a couple things I'm not thinking of yet? I bet it's probably that last one, y'all.
I sit here thinking about how every single month has been lived as a neat, contained cycle of grief. And how each month after the next has been compartmentalized and disconnected from the previous disappointments and becomes it's own vacuum-sealed terrarium of grief [that's right, I just described marriage like it was part of the Kreb's cycle... :)] If we continue this way, I'm going to need a very large warehouse for all of these individual compartments of grief. None of that sounds like a great way to live out marriage in the long term.
2 Corinthians 4:8-9
"We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed..."
So this is where I ask you if you can relate. How do you rise above the fog? I can't seem to connect with the girl I used to be - she knew tons about life that had nothing to do with making babies and the heartbreak that comes with that. She wasn't boring or monotone. So what works for you? How did you push the reset button? (Counseling and spiritual direction are definitely part of the answer. We know that much. I'm more asking what else worked for you with your spouse. You are creative, internets! Share your creative wisdom!)
A needy newlywed