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I’ve found myself in a difficult spot this holiday season. My husband and I have been married for almost six years. He was diagnosed with male infertility, and the only way we could have a child together is if we went right down the IVF path. I went through IVF hell for 3.5 years and will spare you the details, but our eighth frozen embryo transfer failed this August (all the failures are unexplained). The emotional, physical, and financial pain is too much for me to continue with IVF.
I feel that during this journey we’ve been doing as well as we can to navigate this together, but the holidays have become a problem this year. Our families live on different sides of the country, and we usually spend Thanksgiving with my family and Christmas with his family. But both his sister and sister-in-law had babies this year. The grief, depression, and anxiety that I am experiencing is so triggered by being around babies; as a result, I told him that I just can’t join him this year. He still wants to go. My problem, albeit selfish, is that I also don’t want to be alone for the holidays this year—I feel like I’m experiencing these triggers because of the sacrifices I made for our relationship, and it would be nice if he could compromise (such as going to see his nieces and nephews another weekend). He thinks this compromise would be too inconvenient since his “whole family will be in one place for Christmas,” and he has not expressed willingness to try anything else. Should I just accept that we will be going our “merry ways,” or is there any other solution that you can think of?
-I(VF) Hate This
First off, I’m sorry for your ordeal. I know a few parents who have dealt with something similar, and I wouldn’t wish it upon my worst enemies.
Let me try to offer another (and probably unpopular) perspective here. I don’t want to play “misery poker” by comparing who has it worse between you and your husband, but I’m going to assume that dealing with male infertility is not the greatest feeling in the world for any man. Even if your husband hasn’t articulated that to you directly, I’m sure he’s suffering mightily in his own way.
You both spent Thanksgiving with your family without any incident and now he wants to visit his family for the holiday season leading up to the new year. I totally understand your reason for not wanting to go, and I’m not going to try to convince you, but I think it’s pretty selfish (you used that word, too) to expect him to stay home with you and not meet the new babies in his family—especially since they will all be under one roof. It would be one thing if they lived close by, but we’re talking about opposite ends of the country, and separate visits later on could be expensive and cumbersome from a planning perspective.
If you play hardball with him on this, I feel that he’ll harbor some serious resentment towards you, and then nobody wins. Granted, you may harbor some resentment towards him as well, but from my standpoint, it doesn’t seem fair to deny him spending Christmas with the new children in his family. Maybe this is his way of trying to deal with the grief he’s experiencing.
You have your entire lives to spend together—but these kiddos will only have one first holiday season. I would advise you to bend a little and let him go without making him feel guilty for it.
More Advice From Slate
My husband and I are in a loving marriage of eight years. We have a 14-month-old son, whom I still nurse. Our son still wakes up once or twice a night, requiring me to go in his room and get him back to sleep. The problem? This is a huge mood killer for, ahem, adult time. How can I mentally toggle between being wife and mother? This is exhausting!