What to expect when you’re not expecting IX: The Mental Load

by Lord Sutch

There’s this amazing web comic floating around that talks about the mental load that women are often asked to bear when it comes to household chores. It’s spread like wild-fire around the Internet, originally in French (as the artist, Emma, is French) it was translated to English and boom. Meme.

In the comic, Emma writes how even with the best of intentions men often leave the strain of the mental load for household chores to women. I read this comic and it made me feel really down for a while. Because I realised that I do that to my wife. I’m the husband in the comic. I don’t do my share of the mental load.

So since that comic I’ve been trying harder to be better. To not just do what I’m asked but to do it before I’m asked. To do more than I’m asked when Kim does ask me to do things.

I bring this comic up because I love the term “mental load”. The idea that we have a finite capacity for mental strain or things on our mind. I say this because I feel like right now my mental load is straining with this infertility thing. Our latest setback has really got me down.

We’ve had some lovely messages from people in support which has been nice. I’ve been getting a lot of text messages from friends asking if Kim is ok/surrounding herself in booze/if she needs anything but to be honest I think she’s coping better with this latest hurdle than I am.

All through our battle with infertility she’s taken so much of the responsibility, worn it as her fault when I’ve said it’s not. It’s just one of those things. But one of the by-products of this is that she’s developed a thicker skin than I have. So now when we’ve had this setback it’s thrown me for quite a spin. And I’m not very good with emotions. I don’t know how to cope with negative ones very well.

No-one close to me has died since 1990. Consequently I’m not sure how I process grief or negativity. Ninety-nine per cent of the time I’m a happy go-lucky kind of guy. But at the moment I feel a bit under water. And the things I do to in these situations is write my feelings. So that’s what this blog has become. My diary.

I know that time heals all wounds so this is just a case of waiting it out, but it’s a bit shit and I’d like to figure my way out of a funk. You kind of know there’s a mental strain to all this but for the first time since we began this journey I don’t feel on top of it.

I know everyone has their own shit, and we’re all struggling with our own demons but I wanted to keep writing how I felt because, aside from being cathartic for me, I want those of you out there also struggling with infertility that these feelings are being felt all over the world. It’s a crushing, terrible, unpleasant thing.

We have our appointment with the doctor tomorrow to find out what the hell happened. Why we got the delightfully named “total fertilisation failure”. In a weird way I hope it’s because of the sperm rather than anything to do with the eggs because then it would be one fewer thing for Kim to take on board. And I just feel that throughout this process she’s worn so much of it, had to do 99% of it and that’s not fair. I’m down, but I want to take some of the shitness from her please. Or failing that, it was just an unfortunate thing that happened and next time it might be different. I hope so. I hope it’s not something insurmountable. I hope that I feel better. I hope that we get what we want. I hope this hasn’t sounded selfish.


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