Listen Up: Infertility Never Really Leaves You…Even If You’re a Guy

Listen Up.

Infertility never really leaves you…even if you’re a guy.

It’s been 21 years since our infertility journey.  After making my wife, Lisa take a vow of silence early in our assisted parenthood pursuits, I ended up writing far more about this subject than I ever dreamed.

I even wrote a book about it that has sold maybe 25 copies in the five years since it was published.  I wrote it because all along, Lisa kept telling me that she wished while we were going through the process she could read something about what goes inside a guy’s head during the medical mayhem that is medically assisted reproduction.

So I poured my heart out about every little detail of our six year journey through every procedure known to medical science, and along the way I found some kindred guy spirits.

I’ve said many times that infertility is a couples issue, but looking back on that, I think now that’s nonsense.  It’s a women’s issue because at the end of the infertility day, women have to bear the brunt of the medical intervention to have the child.  Not that men’s voices don’t need to be heard.

If there is any advice I can give to any of you infertility brothers out there it’s LEARN everything you can about this process so you’re not a hindrance.The worst time to ask questions about IVF or IUI is when your wife is in the midst of hormone manipulation, or her fifth blood draw in 2 weeks for an IVF, or another ultrasound to make sure that swelling in her abdomen is not from the hormones producing too many eggs.

But I digress.  I started out with a simple statement.

Infertility never really leaves you…even if you’re a guy.

Our formerly frozen embryo has blessed us with 14 years of joy, laughter, tears, anger, attitude and pure chaos, fulfilling us as parents beyond anything we ever dreamed possible when parenthood seemed so unattainable.

The thing that sucks is it goes by so fast.

If you are in the midst of your journey, trying for kid #1 with all your heart and soul, you’re probably flipping me off right now, complaining that I’m complaining that my kid is growing up so fast.   Flip away—I would have done the same thing if I had read something like this 21 years ago.

You see the baby we tried so hard for is starting high school next year.

The double-edge of the parenting-after-infertility sword is that you still have to go through the process of letting your child fly from the nest.  The nest you fought epic infertility battles to create is four–maybe eight years if we’re lucky if she wants to hang with us while she goes to college–from being emptied.

I still flinch when I meet someone new at school who asks ‘you just have the one?’ as if we had the luxury of being able to choose how many kids we would have.   The question ranks up there with ‘why don’t you just adopt’ that we heard during the journey.

I know I’m a guy and I shouldn’t have all these feelings of infertility angst.  I didn’t birth our child, didn’t have my nether regions violated on a weekly basis with ultra sound wands, shots of various sorts and egg sucking paraphenelia.

I just provided a sample.

But I also provided my heart and soul to my wife during the process, and I had to deal with the reality that at the end of the day, it wasn’t about just us anymore. After the positive pregnancy test, it was even less about us as a couple, and we had to immediately adjust to pregnancy and then parenthood.

The blessing and the curse of succeeding is that you’re never really ready for what comes next.  You’re just recovering from all the years of emotional, physical and financial strain, and then you get the positive phone call.

The initial euphoria is replaced by the reality that holy shit—you’re really going to be a parent. I invested so much emotional capital and prayer into every second of that pregnancy, fearing that something could go wrong (PTSD from 11 cycles of ART that did go wrong before we had Elli), that when she was born, I wasn’t prepared for how much more it would take to actually be a dad and supportive husband to the now mother of my child.

As the guy you want everything to be…perfect.  Only life is never perfect.  Careers crash.  Shit happens.    Hell, I’m an infertility survivor—I should know that sometimes the universe kicks your ass.  Maybe I had some false sense of entitlement that we would be immune to any of the other indignities of life after having to go through so much to have a child.

It’s just that any time we have to spend away from Elliana because of all that other life crap feels exponentially longer because we know we get a one-time shot at each parenting milestone.  You also want every moment to be magical, because you know how precious the life is that you’ve brought into this world, and are never too far away from remembering what it took to get her into this world.

The bottom line is–infertility never really leaves you–even if you’re a guy.



2 Responses to Listen Up: Infertility Never Really Leaves You…Even If You’re a Guy

  1. Thank you for sharing your story! If infertility is a taboo subject for women, it’s even more so for men. This sentence stood out to me, “I know I’m a guy and I shouldn’t have all these feelings of infertility angst.” Your feelings aren’t any less valid just because you didn’t endure the brunt of the physical affects of infertility. You are just as important. You are allowed to have these feelings, no matter what our society says about men and feelings.

    Also, I so agree with the comments about “you can always adopt.” They are like nails on a chalkboard for me! My response has been some variation of “you can always pay for it.”

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