Amanda & Magnus - IVF and relationship challenges

There is a lot of talk that having children can pose challenges for relationships. But strangely enough, there is almost no discussion at all about what a challenge it can be to try to have children, and what that can mean for the relationship. This is despite the fact that there is a lot of research on the high stress levels infertility causes and the pressure it puts on the relationship. In this article, Amanda and Magnus tell us about their journey and how they take of each other throughout all their challenges.

At Tilly, we’re passionate about helping anyone who is struggling to have children. Together with Linn Heed from Coupleness, we’ve put together the guide "Doing anything to have a child; how do you take care of your relationship?" which contains a number of concrete tips for couples facing infertility.

Download the guide HERE.

1. How long have you been together?

Almost 3 years. And we've been doing IVF for half of that time.

2. Amanda: What do you like most about Magnus?

Magnus is an incredibly warm and kind person, and he's truly great to talk to. He's a really good listener, never judges and gets along with just about anyone. He's also very funny and make people around him feel at ease. One thing that's been important throughout our IVF process, is also his ability to focus on the way forward and what he's grateful for, regardless of the situation. He makes me feel seen, valued, and loved every day.

3. Magnus: What do you like most about Amanda?

There are many things I like about Amanda, one being her ability understand other's perspective and situation. That's not only very attractive, but also reassures me that we can always sort things out between us. I also love is her social skills. She can have fun with anyone, but also love deep conversations where she's equally curious about others as open with her own experiences. Also, Amanda's mischievous side should not be forgotten. I love her sarcastic humor as well as fiery outbursts. The contrast between her serious and integrity side and her humorous and mischievous side is absolutely amazing!

4. When did you realize that having children was not going to be easy? Did you react the same way?

We knew from the beginning that children would come easy for us. I (Amanda) have known since I was about 20 years that I would need help if I ever wanted to become a mother.

I didn't have a period and when I go tested, they found a sky-high FSH value (100 in several measurements). They first suspected POI (premature menopause), but then they saw that I had tons of follicles on my ovaries so that wasn't it. Over a year, I did a large number of examinations, from brain CTs to lots of blood tests, but they couldn't find an explanation for my absent period and high FSH values.

I met Magnus when I was 31 and it was the first time I felt that I met someone I wanted to start a family with. Already on the second date, the question came up and I told him about my challenges. At that point, Magnus was mostly happy that I shared this with him and I don't think any of us really understood the width of my issues and what an IVF journey would mean at that point.

We continued to date, and partially because we knew we needed help, we started planning for real quite quickly into the relationship. After about 8 months I (Amanda) contacted my diabetes clinic to understand if there was something I had to consider since I have type 1 diabetes. And a couple of months after that, I went off the pill (which I was on due to low estrogen levels).

For the first 3 months, we both had some kind of naive hope that it might work without any help. But then I read my journal and started to understand what my diagnosis means for real, and only then did I understand that we should seek help as soon as possible. After three more months we got an appointment at a fertility clinic and go to start IVF immediately.

At that first meeting with the clinic, when the doctor told us about our odds and that we may not succeed with my eggs, is when it hit us both for real. I (Amanda) felt afraid and sad, I gelt guilty and I guess some kind of suffered from fear, sadness, guilt, and a kind of existential anxiety. There were many questions about what life would look like without children and I very much felt like less of a woman and that Magnus deserves better. I started to educate myself and became very focused at "fixing" the problem as soon as possible. I ended up in a mild depression for a short period of time, and I was very jealous of my pregnant friends making me feel isolated.

Magnus did not react as strongly, partially because the issue was not his in the same way. For him, the focus was to support me (Amanda), and he tried to stay strong in front of me not t make me feel more guilty.

After a few months, we got out of the worst crisis and grief and I started to feel better. We found our way of handling the whole thing and some kind of acceptance. Now we share both joy and sorrow, and Magnus dares to show all his feelings which is so much better.

5. Fighting for a child can mean a lot of stress and grief. What are your best tips for supporting each other?

It may sound obvious, but we think the most important thing is to talk to each other, and share all thoughts and emotions. Don't ever take for granted that you understand what the other person feels, it's always better to ask.

"When you're not feeling great, it's important to feel that your feelings are ok, to feel seen. For me (Amanda), it's been very important that Magnus has always tried to understand even when he hasn't felt the same way."

And remember to share positive emotions too - like when you feel joy or hope. It's been really important for us to actively verbalise what we are grateful form and to continue to do things we like and that gives us energy. Like arranging romantic dinners, working out together and travelling. To touch each other, sit close to each other on the couch, and continue to have sex has also been important to make us feel like a team.

Lastly, we've felt it's been incredibly valuable to talk to people around us about what we're going through. One person can never give you everything you need, and it's important to have other people to talk to as well.

6. Have you introduced any new routines that have helped you?

We've made sure to ask each other how we feel - a lot. And we've made a habit out of booking a small trip close to the test date - to give us time to be together and either celebrate or mourn together.

Another thing is that Amanda always calls Magnus immediately after each visit at the fertility clinic to debrief Magnus about how it went. In this way, Magnus has felt a little more involved even though he wasn't allowed to come along due to covid.

7. Is there anything you've felt completely different about along the journey and how have you handled that?

“We have very different experiences of guilt. I (Amanda) have felt very guilty because I'm the reason we need to go through this - a feeling that Magnus hasn't experienced. We have handled this by talking openly about it and simply allowing and accepting the guilt. Magnus has listened, confirmed that he understands and that it’s ok to feel this way. And only after that, he's said that I don't have to worry because I'm the one he wants to live with, and that he knows that our issues are beyond my control so he doesn't see it as being my fault at all. Much better than just saying “Don’t feel that way”.”

At Tilly, we’re passionate about helping anyone who is struggling to have children. Together with Linn Heed from Coupleness, we’ve put together the guide "Doing anything to have a child; how do you take care of your relationship?" which contains a number of concrete tips for couples facing infertility.

Download the guide HERE.


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