Valentine’s Day focuses us on relationships, where we celebrate what is going well and imagine what could be better. For some, “more love” involves bringing a baby in to the relationship, where “two become three.” (Or variations, such as twins, being a single mom, having a second child, and more.)
We talk often about how to successfully become pregnant when it isn’t happening quickly on its own, but how do you strengthen the relationship before becoming a parent? There’s a myth that “a baby will fix everything” when in fact having that tiny miracle sometimes exposes existing cracks in relationships. If communication is already difficult, it won’t necessarily be easier to negotiate at three AM who has to change a diaper. However, working together for the sake of that child, who will be one of the most wonderful things you or any of us achieve in life, creates a unique common ground that only the two of you share.
Before heading on this path, you want to be well as a couple.
Speaking openly about common topics helps:
- You may feel differently about becoming parents: Sometimes one person has baby fever and the other doesn’t. It is actually normal for people to be at different points. (My wife thought babies were noisy and smelled bad and was more of a dog person; however, once she had our boys, they became her world.) Not only will you potentially be at different points now, but you also may be in the future—I loved my sons when born, but they were so much more fun as they grew, learned to talk, and more. Who you are will evolve as a parent.
- You may have different life goals: Some think they just want to get through the day, which can be hard enough, and they don’t want to have anything change that balance. Others wonder why they are getting through a day, and having a child creates a purpose, and the balance will be figured out later. Figuring out the direction you’re headed together is important before you reach a point where you’re older and fertility becomes “use it or lose it.”
- Sex may become different: Beyond having a baby in the house (and especially if co-sleeping, though there are risks with this), if trying to conceive and it takes a while, sometimes sex can lose intimacy and become a chore. Even if not wanting advanced therapy, talk to a specialist if this happens as there are low cost, low tech ways of accelerating the process. (I always tell medical students, “Don’t destroy the relationship for the sake of expanding it.”)
- Differences in whether to talk about fertility: For some, reproductive issues are very private. Others will talk with all their friends about next steps. Explore common ground on the balance between not embarrassing anyone, but also not going it alone where someone suffers in silence.
- Finding fault: Infertility is a medical condition with social implications, just like cancer, lupus, diabetes, and more. Just as you shouldn’t blame a spouse for cancer, there should be support and love regardless of who is more or less fertile. If there is guilt and blame, consider a psychologist, as you want to be well regardless of whether you are successful.
A successful path to parenthood often involves the same steps for any healthy relationship with communication, compromise, and caring. If the Positive Steps Fertility team can make your journey easier in any way, please let us know. We hope 2020 brings all the love through family that you dream of!
J. Preston Parry, MD, MPH
From simple explanations, to high tech solutions, or simply a fresh perspective of what you’ve been doing on your own or with a doctor hasn’t worked, come see us in our Monroe, Shreveport, Madison, Starkville or Hattiesburg offices.