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Jan 17, 2017

Communication With Your Spouse When Grieving


Although all a lot of the intimacy gets put on the back-burner when going through IVF...what you never realize is just how much you are going to need to lean on your spouse through the process.

Looking at the above picture, you would never know that we just spent the last 4+ years battling infertility...and, at the time, we had won, so I suppose that trumped all the worry-filled days.

On the flip-side, if something atrocious occurs and you finally beat infertility, get pregnant, only to miscarry?

LOOK OUT.

Because this is the point where any semblance of a marriage can easily crumble around you if you're not careful.

Here is what I am learning through the grieving and healing process.
*This is not a catch-all or a how-to...it's simply a few tactics Mark and I found helpful going through the first few weeks after the chaos of 2016 came to a close.

1. Emotions are going to change often and will not necessarily align with your spouse

At the moment our miscarriage actually happened, Mark and I did very different things.

As I always do in a crisis, I needed to think through the logical next steps and just get through everything.

Find a box, put baby inside, clean up blood, put on a pad, put pants on, start car, get to doctor.

Mark got sick to his stomach. I coached him as best I could so that we could get to the doctor as quickly as possible, which, obviously, looking back, is sort of weird, I guess...but we were in survival mode at that point.

When we got home, I lost it. I cried so hard and so loudly.
Mark was the strong one at that point. He didn't say one word. He just held me.

When I was mad, he was my rock.
When he was angry, I was the gentle hand on his shoulder.

You will likely have every emotion under the sun and they will hardly ever align with your spouse. That's okay.
Don't add fuel to the fire and get mad that he isn't feeling what you are feeling.

You are two different people trying to survive.

Hug each other.
A lot.

2. Allow yourself to have every emotion you need in the early days

At first it was minutes, then hours, then most days would go by where I wouldn't cry.

I was depressed at times.
At my lowest, I felt as though I could actually die.
I felt angry, and heart broken, and furious, and livid, and bat-shit crazy too.

Mostly, I just let the crazy happen.
I just let it do its thing.

I always felt like I needed to get over all these emotional hurdles to move forward.
I think it has helped...to not bottle things up.

And emotions can come on at the weirdest times.

We were watching a comedy and then out of nowhere Mark was furious.
Instead of flying off the handle, I simply asked....about what happened?

He said yes, and instead of drilling him about poor timing and how to fix it, I held his hand and went on like it was normal. Getting the shitty emotions out is therapeutic.

3. Allow space and time away from your spouse

Mark spent a lot of time in the garage, doing, well...I don't really know what he was doing.
Guy stuff.....I guess.

I spent a lot of time zoning out in front of the tv, hugging our dog and purging and organizing every last nook and cranny in our home.

I also spent a lot of time talking to friends and loved ones...especially people that had gone through what I have, in some form or another.

Mark needed to pretend like this didn't happen. He wanted to move on and forget about it.
I wanted to fix it. I researched and dove into options and plans to bring my baby back.

And guess what? Neither option is going to actually fix what happened.
But we both welcomed our distractions as we felt we needed them to get through another day.

4. Tell your spouse what you need to heal

I realized almost immediately that in the first couple of hours after we went to bed each night, is when my mind would start racing. I would get incredibly emotional and cry harder than I had all day, to the point where I could hardly catch my breath.

At first I would hide this crying as I didn't want to wake up or disturb Mark.

Wrong.

I finally moved back to bed but couldn't stop the tears. Mark, realizing he needed to be present during these times, helped stop the crying and soothed me. Yes, we got less sleep, but it's okay to ask the other person for help sometimes, even if it might be inconvenient in your eyes.

Mark on the other hand....simply didn't want to talk about it.

Sometimes I would get caught up in my thoughts, not realizing I was re-hashing a lot of things that triggered his sadness.

He would get angry with me and this would lead to un-necessary fighting.
Now he clearly says I don't want to talk about this....and I stop.
No further questions asked.

5. Don't Make any Final Decisions

If you were to ask both of us what we see in the future, you would probably get very different answers.

Plans set in stone, baby-related or not, cannot be committed to in these early weeks, no matter how badly you want to get back to some sort of normal.

Because guess what? Your old normal doesn't exist anymore.

You have this new normal, and you have to decide if you are going to continue to make all these definitive plans, or just take life as it comes.

Hint: It's easier to just go with the flow right now.

Mark got real ballsy at one point...after he didn't see me cry in a few days, and flat out told me life with kids was over. To get over it. (remember his way of healing?)

And shockingly, the Type A psycho-mama in me came out in full force.

After I flipped out and locked myself in the bedroom with a bottle of wine, the shittiest of futures ran through my mind including divorce....because, in this dramatic state....it's my way or the highway buddy!! And...he'll never understand me!!

But neither of our accusations were fair to other person.

After we made up, we both agreed to stop talking about the future right now.
Let's circle back when our minds are clearer and the weather is better. Because we all know sunny skies and warmer weather make a lot of situations easier to handle. :)

6. Do you boo

Research still helps calm me in times of stress. I like to know my options and feel like I haven't left any stone un-turned. I don't find a lot of pleasure in shuffling through trashy magazines to fill my time...I like it to be more productive.

Mark still doesn't really want to talk about it.

And that's okay.

Sometimes we cross over into each other's worlds.

Mark will ask me what I'm reading about....but I always ask him first....do you want me to get into it?
If he says yes, then I give him the Cliff's notes, otherwise, we move on.

And sometimes we just get drunk in the hot tub and pretend like it never happened.

7. Remember why you married each other

You probably didn't fall in love with each other because you thought you would each be good parents.
That was probably the last thing on your mind.
At least, it was for us.

You fell in love with your spouse because of the way they conduct themselves, their kind heart, their patience, or their giving attitude, or how well they compliment your life.

If they are easy on the eyes, I'm sure that didn't hurt either. ;)

You fell in love because you felt safe with them, because they were your rock, because they got you.

When life gets tough, (and it WILL happen at some point, in some fashion) you have to rely on the original reasons you married this person to show who they really are.

It gets messy, no doubt, as you ebb and flow between the highs and lows of healing.

But keep talking, keep hugging, and try and find a bit of laughter and joy in each day, even if small at first.

It gets better.
Thanks for reading. XO

5 comments:

  1. This is really good and thoughtful advice! Having gone thru the miscarriage part but not the infertility I can say the emotions are the same. It was devastating to me, my ex was angry but he just wanted to get on with life and forget it. One of the many things we effed up in marriage lol. Sounds like you two have a great handle on how best to support each other which is lifesaving:)

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  2. I pray for you and Mark that with each passing day you will continue to heal and continue to find joy and peace in each other.

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  3. Continuing to pray for you two. You guys have such a strong foundation and God knows you need it for what you've been through the past few years. I will say this is one way I struggle in our relationship. I am a horrible communicator. I just shut down. We've been going through some stuff lately (who hasn't?) and a huge part of it is my communication skills are lacking. This is great advice for any couple, and I appreciate you being so open with how you guys have been working through everything.

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  4. I can't imagine the strain this puts on a marriage. I am so happy that you and Mark have each other as hard as it is. Hugs to you both!

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  5. This is so so so good, and I feel like you guys learned all this a lot easier than we did.

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