Where should we go for dinner? Should I wear brown or black shoes? Which hat matches better? These questions, these opportunities for disagreement are readily reconcilable. Even if you didn’t want dim sum for dinner, knowing that your partner did may be enough for you to forget your longings for that delicately prepared 6,000 calorie mega bacon, buffalo wing burger with a 98 ounce 8.4 % abv IPA to wash it down with that your favorite dive bar serves. That stuff is easy.
How about those harder decisions? Should we sell our house? When should we trade in this old gas guzzling, child frightening, road hazard for a sweet mid-life crisis convertible? What do you think about me quitting my job and pursuing my passion of being an ad-lib mime in subway stations in NYC? These decisions are tough, could have lasting consequences, and may dramatically alter the path of your life. They pale in comparison to some of the decisions we, the infertiles of the world, often find ourselves facing.
Should we cash in our retirement for another go at having a family? Should we use our nest egg to pursue IVF … again … or do we cut our losses or maybe we pursue adoption? How about questions
Candace and I wrestled with: do we do IVF again? Do we adopt domestic or international? Do we pursue surrogacy a second time? Now that our second surrogacy agreement is in shambles, do we dare take a second bite of that enigmatic apple of chance to try for another surrogate? What are we willing to sacrifice if we do go that route? Dim sum doozies there (see what I did there?).
So, we have a difficult decision to make. Wouldn’t it be great if both of us were on the same side? Sure, the decision could result in a huge, irreversible loss. Sure, the decision could change the landscape of our lives, alter the feasibility of us attaining our dreams, and ensure that neither of us will be able to retire until our age reaches a 4th digit. All that is totally palatable so long as we are on the same side of the choice. It becomes exponentially harder when we are on opposite sides.
Although Candace and I are still reeling from the seemingly undecipherable decisions that were made resulting in our second surrogacy agreement falling through, we have broached, albeit not fully, the topic of what our next steps would/will be. This is where some dichotomy of thought has arisen. As a dude, last shower confirmed this for me, I am a fixer. If we get a flat, the next logical step is to replace the tire. So, if our surrogacy agreement falls through, fine. Grieve for a second (literally), get really upset (maybe for several seconds), then cast those thoughts from your aching brain and start working toward resolution. In this case, replacing that flat tire.
Candace, she confirmed her non-dudely status based on the magnitude of articles in her bedroom closet, is not a fixer. She literally suffered physically, mentally, and emotionally to just get to the point that we would have the necessary biological materials to pursue surrogacy, i.e., the struggle was real for her stim cycle which has resulted in 3 perfect blastocysts. With those battle wounds, she is not as eager to “throw her hat back in the ring.” She has mentioned just wanted to temporarily “get off the ride.” Can you blame her? How about years of disappointment, questioning her fundamental feminine nature, oh and just for kicks, let’s throw a little cancer scare resulting in a partial hysterectomy further muddying her feelings into the mix.
(Boxing ring announcer style) “In this corner, weighing in at ‘none of your damn business,’ the lady who has made a phoenix look like a chump, the human pin-cushion … Candace” (probably modest applause from the crowd) “And in this corner, dashing, debonair, and filled with infectious charm … Chris” The real question, how do we survive this boxing match and stay together? Simple … we talk. I know that may seem like a bit of a ‘let-down,’ kind of like me selling you on a “Grand Canyon view” to only deliver a “still kind of impressive” crack in the sidewalk. But that is the key. We talk. Not just a, “I think this, you think that, one of us will cave” kind of talk though. It has to be genuine. We not only talk, we listen too. This only works if you can will yourself to, in the moments you are listening, set aside your inner dialogue to actually hear what you are being told.
Here is something of a rough path to follow if you are faced with one of these definitive decisions and find yourself opposite your partner:
- Talk about what you want to do and why. What is your thoughts on the next step? What is your motivation? Why are you choosing that path?
- Listen to the same from your partner. OK, so this is second, but it could just as easily be first. Really listen though, hear their emotional drivers. What past experiences (maybe in the infertility world, maybe not) are providing inspiration for their disposition? What fears are guiding them to this decision and what fears have guided you away from it?
- Now, everything is on the table. Time to start throwing stuff … just kidding. Now though, hopefully you have been able to get to this point without it turning into a yelling match with blame and pointing fingers. Time to roll up your sleeves, tackle the differences in your opinions, contrast the effects of the two different paths. Are there similarities in the goals from the two different decisions that can be used as unifying anchor points? Maybe these could be used to find other similarities as you work toward resolution.
- If step 3 didn’t resolve the conflict, maybe there are near-term events that could clear things up. The size of a bonus you were planning to use as down payment on the next IVF, the number of vacation days you carry over at the end of the year, differences in average wait time for adoption from various countries/continents. Once more information is gained, it could help to clarify a solution to your disagreement.
Keep in mind that, this could take more than one trip down verbal engagement lane. Candace and I, after several conversations, still are not united in what we want to do next. But that is the last point of this, and maybe the most important: You MUST be united in your decision to move from the point you are at! Regardless of what that decision is, you must visit, revisit, double back, retrace steps, whatever it takes to make sure that you and your partner come to consensus. In this game, decisions are hard, consequences are huge, and the most vital and fragile part of it all, is the person that you entered the game with. Never lose sight of that or give up on resolving to be on the same side for the next big play.
You like-y? For those who want to keep insta-tabs on our regular shenanigans check out @Ourmisconception on Instagram. If you have comments, witty quips to share or need some encouragement feels, drop by our Facebook page.