July 20, 2022

When it hurts to change (Unexplained Infertility)

Rachel Varkey

I find myself incredibly annoyed my way of loving others — isn’t the right way. I’m a little resentful, even. Just depends on how you want to think about it.

Let me explain.

After a month of careful poking and prodding to find out if I or my partner were responsible for infertility, we came up with nothing. We were diagnosed with “unexplained infertility”— which sucks and actually accounts for one in three couples who are trying to have a baby.

So here we sat, listening to my fertility doctor tell us what our options were. Nothing was new, but I found myself feeling some type of way about it.

It was suddenly becoming real that we were going to be making a valiant effort to start a family.

For some reason, sitting on the cold exam table in a crepe-thin patient gown, was really what did it for me.

And while this may seem silly, because you would think by now, spending over $500 on fertility testing would make this obvious.

It was no longer theoretical.

It was indeed happening. We were putting some pretty expensive, medically invasive things in motion.

I was getting ready to turn my reproductive cycle into a science experiment.

And while this method is extremely calculated, and probably the closest thing I could get to control — I didn’t expect to feel very out of control, very afraid, and completely out of sorts.

And of course, me being me, needed to take it out on someone. *Enter Charles*

And this is where it became real to me. This very stressful season we were about to go in was either going to wreck us or make us stronger.

I have always struggled with the way Charles loves me. It is consistent, it is enduring, it is strong.

But it is also quiet, unassuming, and extremely not in your face.

In my anger of a season I never expected to be in, I found myself throwing grenade after grenade of unfair assaults at him.

"This is only my journey."

"It’s my body — my pills and my injections. You won’t feel a thing."

"You’ll never understand what it feels to have to take this all on."

I know, I was a total bitch. Point, blank, period. I get it. We are all Charles’ fans here.

My fear was the driver of that conversation. My utter terror of being out of control — of being disappointed by this process we were about to embark on — had completely washed over me.

I let these harmful words flow out of me like a leaky faucet — knowing my selfish need to externally process everything I was feeling — was drowning him in a deep vat of misery.

I was beating a horse dead with my worry. He was trying his best to be part of it. He didn’t even disagree it was primarily my burden to carry. He had even let me be the final decision maker.

I have to see he’s doing his part even when he’s not doing it the way I want him to.

I have reached a point in my marriage where I can choose to love him fairly — or

I could choose to love him the way I want to be loved.

The way you learned to love may not be the way. It may be a way, but it is not the only way.

And that’s the problem, because we spend our lives convinced we are the hero of the story.

We learn a certain love style (or lack thereof) to be the right way of feeling and experiencing love.

But one day, we find ourselves looking in the eyes of someone who desperately wants to love you, doing their absolute best, and it's just so damn hard to get on board.

It finally clicked.

Since the start of our marriage, we had been having the same argument. I was resentful of accepting his perfect, unconditional love, because it was unfamiliar to me.

I couldn’t acknowledge his wonderful love had already gone through its fair share of transformation — because it was not living up to the scorecard I had for it.

I can’t say I am fully over that resentment.

I just want to be mad and turn to the friends and family who have known me longer, and love me in a way I am familiar with.

But, I know, this is the depth and height of a grown-up relationship.

A new layer of our relationship will be learning how to embrace love that isn’t familiar — trusting the <em>person</em> who is confident enough to share it, is doing their best.

It’s learning to love through the “or worse” in those vows that feel like a distant memory now.

It’s learning to trust everything we go through is meant to chisel and change us.

It’s trusting when we made the decision however many years ago, we were willing to go the distance.

I don’t want to change. I desperately want to stay the same.

Changing is a lot of fucking work — especially when you already feel like you’ve changed enough. I feel so set in my ways.

When we decided to have children, we always dreamed of building a third culture, one that was dramatically different from the one we came from.

Not because the culture we came from was bad, but because we knew we are products of generational trauma — of sexual violence, of oppression, of small thinking, of never questioning the status quo, of unresolved conflict — the list could go on and on.

Having this family is not just about having cute babies to look at.

It’s about building a generation who can believe God-sized things about their lives.

And while that seems pretty presumptuous to think this is possible, it is what I believe about my parenthood.

While we will definitely make countless mistakes and send our kids to therapy for many reasons, we can *try* to bring up a generation we can do right by.

I don’t fault our parents for the sacrifices they made to keep us healthy, safe, and loved. They did their best in a world unimaginable to them, often with very little resources, and very little support both for themselves as they navigated the turbulence of their adulthood, and for their children.

But thankfully, I do have the wherewithal to not repeat history. I can live differently. I want to.

I believe when you have big dreams, big obstacles are inevitable.

But I also believe everyone, regardless of where you are — whether all the natural life steps have come easily to you or you, like me, have experienced setbacks, disappointment, or sorrow — you will find your way.

Because that’s really all it is, right? Finding your way. Emphasis on the "your."

I think it’s pretty easy to stay the same, to accept your reality, to choose to not disrupt the status quo. And I think a lot of people do that, mostly because having to evolve takes a lot of work most people aren’t willing to do.

But if you’re sitting in a season of uncertainty, if you keep running into the same issue with your partner, maybe it’s time to look in the mirror and see what it’s really about. It’s likely it’s not about them. It’s very likely it’s about you — especially if they are choosing to love you despite.

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