Do you ever feel guilty for taking time off? I could be the only one, but I doubt it . Vacation guilt is only one of many symptoms of being a workaholic. Other signs you need to chill out include: Not taking time off in the first place Thinking something will go wrong with the business/team if you are not working Constantly checking work emails on your days off
Hello, I am the PCOS husband! I am honored to post this as a guest on the TLC blog!
My Perspective As the Husband
When I first learned that my wife had PCOS, I was actually somewhat relieved… not relieved she had to deal with it, but relieved to finally have an explanation. For years I had watched her struggle with the symptoms without any idea of what it was. Now at least there was a label for her frustration. A label and a path forward.
We men love to solve problems. Loose handle or doorknob? No problem. Leaky faucet? Let me at it. Weird looking bug on the wall? We got this. But bring us a problem with no foreseeable solution and we go CRAZY.
And so it is with PCOS. Our plan was to have kids, but for years PCOS has been standing in the way like a 300-pound boulder. My wife cannot seem to get pregnant, and the fertility doctors say the very first thing that my wife must do before we can move forward is lose a pretty significant amount of weight. At that point, outside of encouragement and support, the situation is out of my hands. There’s nothing in my toolbox for this one. It’s our problem, but it’s HER body.
Even the encouragement and support part is easier said than done. At first, I came in like a drill sergeant or football coach, pumped up with veins in my neck talking about how we were going to “get after it”. I asked for the green light to be in charge of our workouts since it was not her strong point, not fully realizing what I was getting into. BAD idea. The workouts ended up more painful than productive. I was disappointed at her effort and that she wasn’t “crushing it”, and she quickly got tired of my mouth and pushy “encouragement”. She interpreted everything I said as her not being good enough, so we quickly abandoned this plan for the sake of everyone involved.
Once that didn’t work, I went to the extreme opposite: silence. Whenever she would come to me to discuss what she was going through or how she was feeling, I would simply nod my head and say: “you will figure it out… you can do this.” This lead to zero progress as my wife abandoned working out at all and fell back into old habits with her diet. I was either too pushy or too passive. Either way, I felt like we couldn’t win.
The Way Forward
Since then I have been working to find a middle ground between drill sergeant and mime. She has tried working out with some of her lady friends, which has only worked out occasionally. We then discussed hiring a personal trainer but had some things come up financially that prevented us from going that route. We are now working to fit it into the budget, hoping that having a trainer will be the move that sets everything in motion toward our objective. I am much more careful with my words and actions, and I simply do whatever I can to help her stay positive and find solutions.
I am an assertive person by nature, so it is hard to sit back and wait. However, I have come to accept that this is something that has to move at her pace, and I just have to trust her and, more importantly, trust God.
After all, in relationships, facing PCOS and infertility isn’t just the woman’s journey. It’s our journey too.
Common Questions of Male PCOS/Infertility Supporters:
- How do we support our partners without offending them?
- Is being honest about how it is affecting us too much pressure on them? Will it make things worse?
- What do we do with any stress we feel about potentially not having kids?
- If we believe the pressure to have kids is making the problem worse, does it help to say we are ok if we don’t have kids?
- If we suggest starting with adoption will it seem like we’re giving up on her?
- If weight loss is prescribed by the doctor in order to improve fertility and increase odds of getting pregnant, but our partner has not taken action for quite some time, is there ever a point when we can say something? When, and how do we approach it without making them feel worse?
I first received the diagnosis of PCOS about 7 years ago. I had always known that my cycle wasn’t “normal” but didn’t understand WHY it wasn’t normal. I just thought it was hereditary. My mother had to have a hysterectomy in her late 20’s (after me, her 3rd child) from complications related to her own reproductive issues. My grandmother had 6 miscarriages while trying to conceive a girl (she successfully birthed my father and uncle) but was unable to carry to term again. I also have an Aunt and Cousin who struggled with infertility, so I just assumed that I too would face reproductive problems as they seemed to run in my family.
However, I must admit the news still stung. I already knew prior to the diagnosis that I had one known factor that would considerably dampen my fertility goals. I had an ectopic pregnancy years before and had to have one of my fallopian tubes removed. The news that I had PCOS was yet another barrier to getting pregnant. I was newly married and excited to get started TTC and was devastated to hear this new diagnosis that would further complicate my fertility journey.
I had never heard of PCOS and was completely overwhelmed by the entire process of learning all about it. I spent a few years in the denial phase and thought feeling sorry for myself and asking WHY ME more than a few THOUSAND TIMES would actually change something. I figured if I just cried/whined/begged/prayed a little harder God would take pity on me and bless me with a baby. You see, both my husband and I had a child from previous relationships and I desperately wanted a child with my husband. We did seek out our 1st fertility doctor during this time and she was AMAZING! She specialized in PCOS and gave lots of good information. She had a great supportive spirit about her and I was completely confident we were going to have total success using her.
Unfortunately, the pressure to relocate back to my hometown of Atlanta was mounting and it just didn’t seem like the “right time” to pursue the whole IVF thing at the time. My husband and I were not on one accord on how to pursue family planning. He was satisfied with holding off on family planning until we were settled in our new state, and that just made me feel as if he didn’t share my desire to have more children. I could see his logic and argument, but I was in full blown baby mode and just wanted to start sooner rather than later. I wasn’t sure how long it would take to get pregnant so I wanted to get started immediately. Since we couldn’t agree we put it off for a few years until we got relocated and settled in Atlanta.
We used these years to beautifully blend our newly formed blended family. Our kids were only children before and now they had to learn to operate with a “sibling” structure. “Sharing is Caring” took much longer to implement than either of us ever expected. There was also the co-parenting factor that needed to be navigated with care. We worked tirelessly to ensure that both kids got the love, nurturing, and support they needed to adjust to the new lifestyle. We took parenting classes, marriage classes, going a small group and also took individual group studies at church. We also continued working with our pre-martial counselor long into our marriage so we could have the right tools to handle to unique challenges that comes along with our family structure. Marriage is hard even without the added factors we were dealing with so all the extra help was necessary to make sure our marriage and family stayed on solid foundation. All the hard work and dedication seemed to work because we were in a great space as a couple and a family. Even total strangers would comment on our family and told us often how joyful our kids were and how we looked like a happy family. That was so exciting to hear.
Since arriving here in Metro Atlanta, we have been in quite a transition as a family. We went through a brief job loss, AND a yearlong custody battle over one our children. This created a “rough patch” in our marriage filled with hurt, anger and unmet expectations on both sides. To say our relocation back home has been stressful would be the understatement of the year. Our children began to pick up on the tension also became resentful to one another. We had allowed this move to disturb our family dynamic and disrupt the solid foundation we had worked so hard to create. To be honest we needed that initial time at the beginning of our relocation to gel and mesh again as a blended family. I think a baby would have just created more stress both financially (with fertility costs) and as a family. I can say that now looking back I don’t think it would have been wise to be pregnant and have a baby during that time anyway, but I assure you that I was not as insightful while going through it.
We’ve been here 2.5 years now and we are now back in great groove. We have been gainfully employed (thankfully), a year post custody battle, and have purchased our 1st home. During this time we have learned a lot about ourselves and learned our fair share of life lessons along the way. It has strengthened our marriage, bonded our blended family, and ignited a greater desire in me to “do my part” in making my motherhood dreams come true. I have finally moved to the acceptance phase of the diagnosis and I’m now ready to do whatever is necessary to achieve my goal of becoming a mother again.
Even though we weren’t actively seeing a fertility doctor over the last seven years, we were still trying to conceive the old fashion way with no success. We are now on our 3rd fertility doctor. We began seeing a new highly rated, well respected doctor here in Atlanta when we first arrived but I just didn’t have good experiences with him. He left me feeling like more of a failure and his bedside manner left much to be desired. Add this uncomfortable feeling with the family stress of the transition and we decided to take another break for a while (about 2 years) before seeking a new Dr. recommended by a co-worker who had IVF success with him.
I’ve joined Weight Watchers and have begun taking my health seriously. All 3 fertility doctors have asked me to lose a significant amount of weight. I am plus sized and have been since having my son. It has been a point of pain for me as I’d always been fit/athletic. I gained quite a bit of my weight during my pregnancy with my son and couldn’t seem to lose it no matter what I did. Then over the years, I would add 5 or so more pounds each year. After 13 years, I’m now 50 lbs heavier than I was the day I gave birth to my son. You tack on the more than 65 lbs I gained during the pregnancy and if your good at math, you guessed it, I’m now over 115 lbs heavier than I was. The road that lies before me is LONG but an absolute MUST if I want to become a mother again. And if I’m honest, I need to lose this weight even if I never do get the privilege of becoming a mother again. This weight is just not healthy for ANYONE let alone someone dreaming of becoming a new mother.
So here’s to the last “DAY ONE” I shall ever experience! Because this time, I believe it is a MUST for me to succeed. All my dreams and the dreams of my husband are riding on me becoming successful at this goal of losing weight.
I’m in the beginning stages of learning to treat my Temple as the sacred vessel it is. Embarking on this beautiful new journey of Loving my God, myself, and those around me. Valuing self-Care, and the care of those I hold dear.
I’ve come to this point in my life as many others do, through pain, as well as trials and tribulations. I have long allowed my self to end up at the bottom of the list, ANY LIST. Didn’t matter what list I was making, I didn’t value myself enough to prioritize me. This has left me wanting. Wanting a more healthy lifestyle, wanting more confidence, wanting to have a baby and wanting to feel less insecure.
I created this blog as s creative outlet. A way for me to speak my truth and allow that truth to resonate with others. It’s a way for me to find commonalities with others that also are having trials in this area. I hope to connect in ways that I find difficult in my own circle of influence.