Wednesday, January 13, 2010
I've been putting off this post for a while. It's not an easy to post for me to write. But I think any man or woman who is dealing with infertility will at one point or another experience feelings of guilt and blame. While I in no way wish to diminish what a woman dealing with infertility may feel (please do not misunderstand), I do believe that for men it may even be a little bit harder. Why? Because unlike our wise female counterparts, we tend not to talk about this. We bottle it up. We pretend it isn't there. We don't seek (or sometimes can't find) a community to help us through.
Let me unpack this a bit.
When my wife and I first went to the OB/GYN affiliated with our current fertility clinic it was her who was feeling guilty. She suspected PCOS. She was having issues with a non-existent period. She knew she was not ovulating. It was "all her fault" (her words) that we weren't getting pregnant. She blamed herself. I, on the other hand, was blissfully ignorant of my own issues and assured her with everything in me that there was no need to feel guilty or to blame herself. I loved her and we would figure this out together no matter what.
She was prescribed Clomid. I was instructed to have a semen analysis (SA) as a formality. So I did.
When the results came back that there was no sperm we were floored. None. Zero. Zilch. For me, perhaps unconsciously, the tables had been turned. I was no longer the one to reassure her not to blame herself. With this news, I was left feeling very guilty and I was definitely dealing with a lot of self-blame.
My wife has fertility issues, yes. But with the help of medications among other things, there is still a good chance that she can become pregnant and sustain a healthy pregnancy.
But me. I've got nothing. There's no medication in my particular case that would produce sperm. Trust me, we tried a few options. We tried surgery, but no luck.
For quite a while, I felt really guilty. I blamed myself for ruining our chances of having a baby. There was nothing that could possibly "fix" me. Why on earth would she want to stay with me? I'm broken.
But if I give infertility one thing, I'll give it this. Going through this together has made our marriage stronger than it has ever been. We are a team. It doesn't matter if one or both of us have fertility issues. There's no room for guilt or blame in this relationship.
We choose instead to turn our faces toward the future. We have the courage to say yes in the face of adversity. The courage to say yes to choices that may not be for everyone but that are right for us. The courage to say yes to deal with the lot we have been given with optimism and humour.
To experience feelings of guilt or blame is not wrong. They are, in fact, very normal. The key, in my personal opinion, is to find a way to dig yourself out of the depths of guilt and blame.
Infertility does not define me. And it never will. That, friends, is my mantra.