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.


Waiting Lisa January 13, 2010 at 5:00 PM  

It's great to read this from a man's perspective. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

I especially liked what you said about it making you stronger as a team. That is how it's been for my husband and I. We figure if we can make it through this, we can make it through anything.

Martin English January 13, 2010 at 5:13 PM  

Thanks for posting - Its good to see another mans viewpoint.

All 3 of our children are IVF, due my infertility problems. To be honest, we saw it as liberating...
* No need for birth control :)
* Our children know that we wanted them

Once again, thanks

finding_ac January 13, 2010 at 8:22 PM  

i was thinking that you should have that biopsy that i mentioned a while back...maybe you will have luck finding sperms that way.

♥ ac

Anonymous,  January 14, 2010 at 9:08 AM  

Thank you for posting this. It's really refreshing to hear this from a man's perspective. Best of luck to you and your wife. May 2010 bring you wonderful things! :)

Fran January 15, 2010 at 1:53 PM  

Beatiful post and I couldn't agree more. IF had done the same thing to us, it made us stronger. Fran

Anonymous,  January 17, 2010 at 9:28 AM  

Wonderful post. I could not agree more about infertility making marriage stronger-it's the same with us. I hope that 2010 brings y'all wonderful things :)

Anonymous,  January 17, 2010 at 9:52 PM  

Hey Fertility Guy, thank you for posting it is so rare to find a bloke blog, much less one where the bloke is willing to be open about his feelings. The thing with IF is that there is VERY seldom anything one partner can blame the other partner for, it's just stuff that happens and it sucks for everyone involved. I'm so glad to hear that you've got beyond the blame game and your marriage continues to go from strength to strength

April January 18, 2010 at 8:13 PM  

Hey there, I just wanted to say thank you for posting a mans perspective. My husband is in a similar situation, and he does seem to "bottle up" at times when we talk about it. Your post helped me understand him better. Thanks... :)

Melissa January 21, 2010 at 12:00 PM  

Hi! I am here from ICLW and I am so happy that I found your blog. My DH was diagnosed with Azoospermia and he is Ireland born (what is it with you Irish guys?!) lol and I had a blocked tube. We are currently pregnant with our first through IVF. DH had the MESA procedure done and I know for a fact that he bottled up his feelings, and still does. I LOVE YOUR MANTRA and also agree with one of the other comments, just think no more Birth Control and absolutely will your children know just how much you wanted them!!! I will be reading along!!

Auntie K January 21, 2010 at 4:06 PM  

I just came across your blog and have to say it's pretty refreshing hearing a male's perspective on infertility, especially when it's his own. I can relate 200% to your blog. I was diagnosed a few months ago at the ripe old age of 28 with high fsh, which in girly town means that my egg supply is limited, if not completely gone. I'm sure you can imagine my shock! I've been back and forth with blame, guilt, acceptance ... only to repeat the whole process every time I hear someone else (who isn't me) is pregnant.

I pray and hope that we're both able to fulfill our dreams of becoming parents. You getting that one magical tadpole and I that one golden egg!

Best of luck!

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