Thoughtful Thursday: Partner

October 22, 2009

Thoughtful ThursdayAs I mentioned in last week’s BBBB post, one of the biggest surprises since the Burrito and the Tamale were born has been the changes I’ve seen in their father.

Normally, DH is a highly emotional guy — mostly when it comes to unimportant things. When he watches sports on TV, his yelling has been known to send pets and neighbors running for cover. He shows uncommon enthusiasm in response to new flavors of ice cream and sunny days. Don’t even get me started on what happens when he sees a puppy.

In terms of negative emotion, he is usually very even-keeled. He gets worked up over abstract issues like government encroachment on civil liberties, but if something unpleasant happens to him personally, it’s like water off a duck’s back.

He is fiercely loyal and effusive when it comes to me and his friends, but less so with family.

His high levels of energy and emotion have made it all the more bizarre that over 7 years of infertility, he was almost always calm to the point of being blasé. He’d get riled up about the money or about minor inconveniences, but the big picture didn’t seem to bother him the way that it got to me. There were hints, but, like the physical toll of the treatments, most of the emotional toll seemed to fall on me.

During the pregnancy, he was phenomenal as far as helping me during the months of 1st trimester immobility and 3rd trimester home and hospital bedrest. But, when it came to the babies, I was disappointed at his lack of enthusiasm. The correct response to, “Do you want to feel the baby kick?” is “Yes!” Instead, he often answered, “I guess,” or even, “No thanks, not right now.” Instead of cooing at cute baby items, he questioned the cost. During every minute of each ultrasound my eyes were as wide as a kid’s on Christmas morning. Being in a dark room for an hour made DH sleepy.

I didn’t question what kind of father he’d be nor the kind of husband he’s been all along, but, during a supposedly happy time for which we’d worked so long and so hard, I found his reactions (or lack thereof) disheartening.

And then the babies were born, and all of the emotion burst out. Not the screaming-at-the-TV emotion, but the sweet, joyful, loving emotion that I fell in love with, a decade and a half ago. He marveled at the Tamale’s resemblance to me, chuckled at the Burrito’s antics, told them sweetly about the cat waiting for them at home, made up songs to sing to them in the NICU.

When I pointed out the contrast between his pre- and post-birth reactions to the babies, DH said, “We weren’t counting our chickens before they hatched. I didn’t want to get too attached. Now they are here, and I can love them.”

When I pointed out the contrast between his effusive reaction to the babies and his stoicism during infertility, he said, “Infertility was depressing! If I’d showed emotion then, it would only have been bad emotions.”

7.5 years of DH’s guarded emotions during IF and pregnancy in exchange for singing and dancing through the house for the next couple of decades? Not a bargain I expected to make, but I’ll take it.

How has your partner reacted to infertility/loss? Is this consistent with your partner’s typical style of emotional expression?

22 Responses to “Thoughtful Thursday: Partner”

  1. Kate Says:

    He sounds very sweet, and his outlook makes a lot of sense. It’s not one I’ve been able to have personally, but I can understand it.
    How great to have your two babies at home, and the wonderful guy you fell in love with to share them with!

  2. Ana Says:

    Wow, that story brought tears to my eyes…the thought of seeing my husband become a father is one of the most exciting things about this pregnancy. During IF my guy was similar to yours, very blase and stoic. He showed up when he needed to, but rarely asked questions, did research, wanted to “talk about it”, didn’t brood over the “what if this doesn’t work” and certainly didn’t sink into the sadness I often did. It was kind of weird, but I guess his way of coping. Early pregnancy we were both in a “don’t count chickens” phase, where we didn’t allow ourselves to get too excited. I’m starting to see glimmers now…

  3. Elana Kahn Says:

    My hubby was relatively blase about the whole thing. Before he met me, he had totally given up on ever getting married and having kids. He wanted to, but never thought it would happen. So getting married to him was a miracle, and kids would really be the icing on the cake. So going through infertility treatments and everything, even though he wanted children SO BAD, he was very detached from the whole thing, not thinking it would ever happen. When I finally got pregnant with the twins, he was terrified I would miscarry (like the first time I was pregnant) or that something awful would happen and we wouldn’t actually get to take home a baby. When they were born it was like “Oh, so I’m a dad now. Wow…I *never* thought this would happen!” This is definitely his style of emotional expression, but I do wish he had been more excited when I got pregnant (instead of being worried, nervous and scared out of his wits). 🙂

  4. Amy Says:

    It sounds like your husband is loving this fatherhood thing, which is fabulous.

    Our infertility journey has really brought me and my DH closer together. He’s really stepped up his game and takes such good care of me.

  5. Julie Says:

    Hubby is very outwardly unemotional. Not that he doesn’t care or show emotion but just stays pretty level in terms of expressing emotion. When he does I tend to find it amusing since it’s ao rare. (Go figure after dating too many “overly emotional” guys I ended up at the other end of the spectrum. (cetain things however will get to him – he accidentally hit a cat once driving and really upset him) Me and my numerous trips to the ER as a klutz? Not so much emotion.

    While going through IF, he was much the same. Went to all the appointments, gave me shots, just did what needed to be done. Even accepted that in the end it may never work. I may never know 100% what he felt on the inside but he kept as upbeat / go with the flow as he normally would. I could tell every BFN there was disappointment, but it wouldn’t last. Took the initial “twin” shock and the revelation that he wouldn’t have a son much the same.

    He does show a good deal of emotion towards the girls – you can tell they are a bright spot in his day.

  6. Jamie Says:

    My husband is not a very emotional guy. I definitely felt like I held the burden of carrying the emotional baggage during IVF.

    Since our children have been born it’s apparent how much he loves them. He’s a great dad — especially to Bo. I think he likes the children better after they are about 6 months old and start to interact. I do too — but I don’t have much choice but to be with them constantly. Especially since I’m nursing.

    Are you nursing?

  7. WiseGuy Says:

    So Tamale does look like you. Her hair colour is just like yours, isn’t it?

    How has your partner reacted to infertility/loss? Is this consistent with your partner’s typical style of emotional expression?

    Like most couples, I and DH have our points of concurrence and differences. IF is one realm where we have more differences than concurrences.

    If I scream a break, he would always support me. (like these two months of 2009)

    But I have to always persuade him specially to pursue anything new.

    For quite a while, I thought that I was wanting children more than him, that I was committed to it more, and more active in the pursuit than him. I am still not decided about how correct I am in my suppostion regarding this, but that is what I have felt at mundane points.

    DH is always sensitive to the monetary and time costs of everything in the IF treatment….ovulation drugs, injections, fees, u/s charges and so on….and that is consistent with the rest of his emotional expression.

    I have never been money-conscious, but he is deeply so.

    But one of the things here that I want to point out is that we are Night and Day in our personalities and likes and dislikes. I may scream with joy at a book, and he would go ‘Duh!’. He would dance for his mother’s cooking, and I would go ‘Duh!’.

    A kink came into our IF journey, when my SIL conceived and successfully delivered my niece in her first go. Now somehow everybody’s focus is on the little girl, and when I see my DH taking care or being sensitive, appreciative and focussed in his attention, I know that he has it in him to love children.

    He is not very expressive about his desire to have children. If I keep on egging him on, he may just come out and say that it would not matter to him. And I keep on thinking as to why it would not matter to him. But one of the reasons I ascribe to that statement, is emotional self-defence.

  8. Ninali Says:

    I can relate to your feelings of when you would ask him to feel the baby kick and ooing and ahhing at baby items…mine husband was the same way with our first. He seems a bit more enthusiastic about the twins this time though…I still have to reach for his hand to place it on my belly and how I long for him to reach out and touch it himself. I also think he may have the same mindset as your husband…although we have no fertility issues, my medical issue with my funky uterus can cause loss and pre-term labor…so losing the babies could be on his mind too. I am so happy how engaged your husband is with the babies…I just watch my husband sometimes with my son and marvel at how amazing he is. Enjoy it!

  9. Wishing4One Says:

    Super S is exactly the same with all his emotions. He is soooo calm and soft spoken. And did I say calm? He has maintained this calm during all of our IVF cycles as well. He wants children as much as I do, but is alot calmer and not as emotional when we get a BFN. He has tons of optimism and always tries to lift my spirits, which is not easy. He keeps me grounded and reminds me of all the important things in our life and that adding children will happen if its meant to. Sounds great but not always easy to believe. Although I completely agree, just not as easily as he does. Did i mention he was calm?

  10. Dora Says:

    Obviously, being single, I have no partner to tell stories about. Although, as I get closer to my due date, my donor has become more excited and is having a blast picking out presents.

    This is a lovely post to read. It must fill your heart to see your DH get all mushy with the babes. I’m also glad he was so able to verbalize his previous reactions. You’ve got yourself a good communicator there. Awesome! The Burrito and the Tamale are going to be such smart cookies. 🙂

  11. Great question. CH was totally upbeat and optimistic about everything all the way through, which made me a lot more upbeat and optimistic. But towards the end I got like DH. Unable to get too excited about anything b/c I was so very scared something would go wrong. I hope it will be a little easier emotionally the next time if there is a next time.

  12. Cat Says:

    My DH doesn’t typically show as much emotion as I do unless he’s watching football. Otherwise the only things he gets worked up over are silly little things (in my opinion) like the water filter popping off the sink while he’s using it and spraying water everywhere.

    While we were TTC my DH didn’t seem phased by our lack of success at all and didn’t understand my obsessiveness. When we started IVF that all changed. Suddenly he was on board and went to any appts I asked him to and did all my shots for the first two cycles. He even got upset one night when I started mixing without him because that was “his job”. When we had our miscarriage last fall he was so upset he cried in the doctors office. Not the big heaving sobs I had, but a few tears, which is more than I’d ever seen from him before.

    During the pregnancy with our triplets he initially didn’t seem that into it and wouldn’t ever touch my belly. I understood that while he couldn’t have felt them move, but it also felt like he wasn’t that interested. Once I mentioned it to him, something clicked somehow and he wanted to feel my belly all the time. Once they started really kicking he wanted to feel each baby at least once a day. It was very sweet.

  13. Enna Says:

    That made me cry! Your husband and mine seem to have quite a bit in common in the emotion front. I’m so glad to know that now you both get to rejoice in the happy presence of your healthy babies!
    My husband has been relatively detached during much of the infertility/loss part of the last two years- he’s much better at being angry about politics or something than he is at expressing sad emotions over something closer to his heart. Don’t get me wrong, he’s been incredibly supportive to me through it all, but he definitely tried to keep himself a bit ‘safe’ from being in the thick of the emotional side. Now that I’m pregnant though he’s been better than me at being hopeful and he was rapt and thrilled when our latest ultrasound revealed movement!

  14. Photogrl Says:

    Your DH sounds a lot like mine…

    M. is very much the calm one about all of this. He has shown emotion, but is usually upbeat, positive, and supportive. I started to wonder if he cared, as much as I did about having #2. When I questioned him on whether we wanted to keep trying to have #2 he finally broke down and admitted he wanted more children badly, but didn’t want to make me feel bad. (so far all our problems stem from me)

    Just this week, at my u/s, I was a nut case because they only found one follie, M. was very calm and couldn’t figure out why I was so upset!

    But that’s one of the reasons I love him. We balance each other perfectly. 😉

  15. Kami Says:

    What a great post. My husband is just like yours. I only hope the outcome is exactly like yours when the girls come. Congratulations again honey. I am so happy for you guys.


  16. staciet Says:

    I have often felt alone in my feelings during our ttc. Isaac is not one to express a lot of emotion over things he feels he cannot change-he’s of the ‘if we don’t talk about it, it will go away’ mentality, which as you can guess meant we didn’t do a lot of talking about things in this area. He was sad when I miscarried, but he mostly just listened and tried to divert my attention to happier things when I would want to talk about it. That was/is hard for me because I do feel like I shoulder the grief and worry alone.

    Like your husband, he is an entirely different person when it comes to the boys. I have found him in thier room just staring at them sleeping on many occasions. He appreciates even the simplest of things and takes delight in just about everything they do (sometimes I think much more than me!). While I had no doubt that he would be an awesome father, I had underestimated him! 🙂

  17. birdless Says:

    That’s so great! Not the pre-baby stuff, but what you have now. I have no idea what my husband would be like during a pregnancy, but when I see him with other people’s kids I just know he’d be the best dad. I’m glad you are getting the chance to see this side of your husband!

  18. Mel Says:

    Oooh, that’s a very interesting contrast. I’d say that Josh was emotionally through IF the same as he has been emotionally through all things which is supportive, pretty even-tempered, rock-solid. I’m the emotional one. He’s the one who holds us both up.

  19. samcy Says:

    Very interesting. He seems so sweet now that he can admit he loves them cos they are here.

    My hubby was very removed during our clomid, AI and IUI cycles and even to an extent through our first IVF cycle – almost like I was doing them on my own. But with our failed FET and our failed 2nd fresh IVF he showed more of his emotion in them failing and the pent up hope he had for what could have been. Going into IVF #3 he’s more optimisitc and hopeful than I. And I like that he’s showing this side to himself.


  20. My husband is a pretty introvert guy and during IF he didn’t show much emotion either. I never really knew how he felt about it all (I sometimes asked, but never got much of an answer). I always had the feeling he was a few steps behind me in terms of wanting to get tested/start treatment, although that changed a bit after so many failed IUIs – then he was really like ‘let’s get going with IVF’. During the pregnancy he usually talked to the baby the first few minutes when we went to bed at night, that was always very sweet – and towards the end he kept asking ‘when are we going to meet you?’ When the baby was born he was so happy and so proud. Still not screaming from the roof tops, but he was just glowing. Even though now sometimes work stress takes over, his son can make him forget that for a moment. It’s great to see them together.

  21. a Says:

    I was the one who wanted kids, according to my husband. He went along with the show – whatever I wanted to do in terms of treatment (I think he even offered to get sperm from his brother if he was the one with the problem) – but he would have been equally happy to not have children. He wouldn’t trade our daughter for anything, but it was not him actively seeking a family. My husband refused to go to any of my pre-natal appointments or ultrasounds. I finally dragged him to one so he could meet my doctor, so they wouldn’t be complete strangers in the delivery room. He wouldn’t voluntarily feel the kicking (although my daughter’s feet were almost exclusively lodged in my ribs). After two miscarriages in a row, he was afraid to jinx the pregnancy. Even after she was born – in the pictures from the recovery room he just looks scared. For several months, he continued to just look scared. Once she was more of a mobile kid rather than a helpless infant, the fear finally left his face, but I don’t think it will ever leave his mind completely. Although fear is not natural to him, feeling like he can influence outcomes (just by his involvement in something) is very much a part of his makeup.

  22. Bluebird Says:


    I imagine this was difficult to deal with during IF. But how heartbreakenly adorable now 🙂

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