I have written a lot about my journey through infertility to motherhood, and while I have talked a lot about my point of view and the way my husband and I were affected as a couple, I have never really asked him to share his feelings about it. Infertility happens to fathers too, and today my husband Dan is opening up about how infertility affected him on his path to becoming a father.
Remembering back to 2006 when we first found out that male infertility was an issue for us (one of our issues), what was your reaction?
I guess I thought about a couple of things. First, while there were some problems, there were some viable sperm there, and it seemed like “this is a problem with a solution”, which is a relief. Second, I wondered what might have caused the issue. They ask a few questions about medical history but the reality is I’ll never know why I had an issue, which makes it frustrating in terms of trying to think what advice I’d give others or in raising my own son.
In a weird way, I also felt relieved that there was an actual physical problem that could be overcome. When you don’t know why you’re not getting pregnant, you’re thinking, are we trying to hard? Not hard enough? Are we doing it wrong? And you get advice from people, some of it based in medicine and some of it more “folksy”, which can be contradictory and overwhelming.
What do you remember about that first visit to the fertility clinic when we heard about IVF and ISCI?
I remember it sounded expensive! But it sounded like a reasonable course of action, that had a probability of success. It was nice to hear that there was a plan, with steps to take and milestones along the way. I also remember thinking ahead about all of the injections you were going to have to get (and me to give) and early-morning appointments at the clinic, etc. – it was going to be something we’d need to be really committed to.
What was the hardest part of that time for you?
I think two things stand out. First, keeping you on the rails of positivity was difficult – there was a lot of frustrations and some setbacks. The people who talk about how fun it is trying to get pregnant have obviously not gone through infertility. And the times when we received disheartening news from the clinic were especially tough, trying to reassure you that we’d just keep moving forward and taking the next step.
Second, I think we were both starting to come to terms with the possibility that we might not end up having children. For me it wasn’t tough per se, just an adjustment of my reality – but watching you go through it and not being able to “fix it” was difficult.
What advice would you give to other men who are embarking on the difficult journey through infertility and fertility clinics.
I can’t imagine heeding any advice I might have gotten to share my experience with others, so I won’t give that advice either. But, I would say that I’m surprised to know now how many couples have this sort of issue. Literally while I was going through this, in a group of seven 40-something men, 2 of them were looking into reversing vasectomies, and one of them ended up doing IVF unsuccessfully. I also ran into a co-worker at the fertility clinic (who had a positive outcome). I discussed it with my HR partner at work, and she had gone through infertility issues herself. It’s an issue that affects many more people than you’re likely aware of.
I’d also say that as a guy who likes to fix things, there were things that were up my alley during that time – buying a fertility monitor at a reasonable price, talking to my benefits people about getting drug costs covered, coming up with the finances to support the procedures, learning how to perform injections. All of those were things that I could do to move the process along and feel useful.
What does being a dad now mean to you?
I always thought I’d be a dad, and I had things I wanted to do and share with a child. Being able to do those things is so cool. It’s remarkable how often I notice little things that our son has learned – almost on a daily basis. Having the opportunity to help him learn along the way is really gratifying. And it’s also an opportunity to share some of my passions and fun interests like music, sports, fixing things, woodworking, Lego, etc. Seeing my kid enjoying those things himself gives me an amazing feeling.
Having said that, it can feel like it requires so much of my time, and some times I’d just like a little time to myself, but on the other hand, there’s only so much time in a childhood to be able to have that time together. That “Cats in the Cradle” song is a good yardstick, when you hear your kid asking you “when are you coming home” and “come on let’s play”, it can be tempting to say “maybe later” – it’s all a test. I hope my kid feels like I’m there for him and that I’m proud of him.
IVF4BC is a fabulous campaign from the Infertility Awareness Association of Canada to advocate for IVF coverage for the 1 in 6 BC families who are dealing with infertility. Check out their website and find them on twitter @ivf4bc.
This is a sponsored post for IVF4BC but more importantly this is our story and we are honoured to help raise awareness about IVF and infertility.<