Our lives were ticking along nicely, and we were super lucky with all we had achieved together. But nothing could of prepared us for the journey to come and fertility treatment for men.
My wife and I had been living the dream through our 20’s! With travelling, growing our careers, buying our first home and having the dream wedding. The obvious next step for us was trying for a baby. Little did we know that this would be so physically, emotionally & financially heart breaking.
It Started Like Most Good Things – An Idea and A Bit Of Fun!
We were told we needed to try the old fashioned way for 12 months minimum before considering help. So the fun stuff started, and it was great for a while! Let me tell you something. Seriously trying for a baby can, even for the most compassionate of couples, become a desperate chore very quickly. This may sound funny to some. But once you start bringing cycles, timetables, apps and pressure from other people into the equation… it gets old fast. I’m not saying other people mean to pile pressure on by asking “When are you trying” or “Has it happened yet”, but it really does not help your head.
So fast forward to 12 months and still no pregnancy. Doctors were still putting us off, but we were determined to get help and answers. “As soon as you relax or we start the process it generally just happens” they said. “Great!” we said thinking that’s it we are just being uptight and impatient millennials.
Getting Some Tests.
So, my wife went on Folic acid and had some tests and I was sent off to provide a sample. If you were ever wondering what this is like it’s every bit as awkward and weird as you can imagine. I was sent to a strange, converted town house surgery in the city that I didn’t even know existed. Then I was directed down to a basement room that screamed ‘well used’ if you know what I mean. It was awful but was for the greater good, so you just put up and crack on.
My wife’s results were all coming back pretty good, but she was resolute that she was the problem. In all sad honesty I felt it might be her too. My complete ignorance of what could go wrong for guys, the statistics and at this point my optimism that we could fix anything together led me to this way of thinking. That optimism was soon shattered.
The Day I Found Out I Had No Sperm
It was a Thursday I think, and I was at work. In the middle of a busy day, I stopped for a quick break and a laugh with a few colleagues. Suddenly I got ‘The phone call’ from the doctor. He was a local GP who had been well known for being awkward and blunt. I think he is no longer with the surgery – or he’s been avoiding me.
He opened the call with “Where are you & can you sit down?”.
I did as I was told and he continued:
“I’m not really sure how to tell you this. And it is the first time I have come across it so I will have to do some more research but you have no sperm.”
I remember it all so vividly thinking that’s weird and must be a false test.
He then went on to say “It’s called Azoospermia and from what I’ve been able to find out from Google it effects roughly 1% of men and is associated with being a carrier of the Cystic Fibrosis gene. Now that doesn’t mean you have Cystic Fibrosis. But it’s very common to carry the gene as about 1 in 30 have it. If passed on to children, it can have severe health implications. I guess that’s why it won’t let you have children.”
The Impact On Me.
My heart sank to the pit of my stomach, and I couldn’t move. He said of course more tests and research will be needed but I was welcome to google it myself and he was going to refer me to a specialist. He apologised for such bad news and ended the call. It took over a minute for me to stand up from my chair and my colleagues could see straight away that it was bad news. Without thinking I just blurted out to the whole office “I have no sperm”.
I was in shock, and nobody really knew what to say. My boss said “Oh mate, that’s crazy” with a slight awkward smirk on his face. He then asked me if I wanted to go home – I did. That drive seemed to take forever. The whole time I just kept thinking ‘It’s me, I’m the problem, it’s unbelievable”. Followed by “how am I going to explain this to anyone let alone my incredible wife”. It felt like she had planned her whole life around having children. She had put herself under so much pressure, but it was me that was screwing everything up for us.
I really wanted kids, but I was much more laid back about how and when. So to now have this news that I could possibly take that away from her was starting to kill me. She had picked me to be her soul mate and to love. To provide the life that we had worked so hard to achieve together, and now I’m the one putting all the breaks. What was I going to do?
Telling My Wife We Needed Fertility Treatment for Men.
I got in and just broke down to her. I told her everything and I watched her face as it looked like her dreams were being shattered. But there was something else. She had a second of relief in her eyes. I guess relieved that it wasn’t her fault followed by a vision of me in a different way. I have never felt particularly masculine and certainly not butch! In that moment, I had never felt less of a man and more of a complete failure. Not just as a human being but as a husband and partner. She instantly sprang into positivity – of alternatives and ideas and questioning what we had been told. Although I was questioning the uncertainty of everything so far. I had already started to fall into a deep pit of self-loathing and psychological flagellation.
I had somehow made an evaluation in my head that my wonderful wife needed to give birth to children. And if I couldn’t provide that basic human need to her then I needed to step aside. It seems crazy to me now that I was in such a dark place but that’s how I felt. This as you can imagine did not go down well. I was so lucky to have a brave, loving partner who held onto me so tightly and was willing to go through everything. Despite me pushing her away and withdrawing from everything.
A Glimmer of Hope.
About a week had past and still no follow up from the doctors. My wife had researched the heck out of everything and there were talks of operations and experimental treatments. But I really still couldn’t come to terms with it all. We had a very heated discussion about adoption and fostering that I was in no place to entertain. It was all very surreal and like it was someone else’s life or problem.
I can’t remember if it was her or the doctors, probably both that finally gave us some hope. With the amazing and unimaginable science (almost fiction) that fertility treatment for men can do. What they were proposing seemed like a lifetime of if, buts, medications & treatments but finally it was hope. So, we jumped in with both feet. The way we do with everything. It’s how I imagine most couples going through fertility treatment for men would act. I leapt at the glimmer of hope for us to have a family..
Emily and I had a meeting in a clinic which felt like being sent the head masters office. I did have to laugh as the clinic was opposite a plumbing shop called Ballcock & Bits! It gave me a brief sense of ironic humour for a moment that I needed to mentally prepare. The clinic was a family planning centre and full of new mums with their babies. This felt like a bit of a kick back to reality.
The meeting was with a doctor that gave us her life story! She talked for ages about her planned sabbatical and how this would be the only time we’d meet her. I’m not sure why that sticks in my memory – but it does!
Learning More About Fertility Treatment for Men.
She explained some men that carry SF either had missing or malformed Vas which are the tubes that carry sperm from the testis and rarely sometimes don’t have any sperm at all. The thought that my sperm could well be in there but unable to get out gave me some really mixed feelings about the whole thing. How can they say SF careers are not affected when I feel so effected by this? I got the evolutionary purpose of it but how unfair and where the hell did it all start.
This raised some serious concern and unfortunate finger pointing throughout my family. My mother’s family has always suffered with respiratory issues. This news stupidly threw up some suspicions on their side. It really did mess with my head and make little sense to me, but we were at the mercy of the professionals.
My mother bless her got tested and even my cousin who was trying with his wife for a baby had one to make sure. He didn’t tell me till much later, but my news must of shaken him to check which really made me feel sorry that I had made shockwaves for others. I suppose getting it out there and raising awareness is supposed to feel like a worthy and good thing to do but for me I just felt belittled and worthless. Naturally when they got the all clear it was a relief but meant it must of been my dad’s side. There was no way he was going to test, and I wasn’t going to ask him as our relationship was occasionally rocky anyway and I didn’t see it achieving much.
The doctor referred us to an IVF clinic for assessment and gave us two options. My brilliant wife had really done her research here and pushed for Oxford as she had found their results to be the most successful and the lead physician was leading the way with his practice and developments. We had the pleasure of meeting him a few times and to say he knew his stuff would be an understatement.
Our experience with Oxford was first class the whole way through. From super modern facilities to impeccably empathetic and professional practitioners the place was amazing. We had many ups and downs along the way and the procedures are worthy of their own blog! But for mine I imagine would be much aligned to the snip which many go through.
Fast forward 6 years and two babies… I can now sit here and finally talk/write about it and get this all down. I can tell you that, amazingly, we are one of the lucky ones. You see the truth about fertility treatment for men is if you don’t try you wont know. And if you don’t know you shouldn’t judge, especially yourself.
Read Jeremy Wife’s Story!
Jeremy’s wife Emily has also shared the fertility treatment story from her perspective – read it here.
Do You Want to Talk About Fertility Treatment for Men?
Has this post got you thinking about fertility treatment for men? Do you have your own fertility journey you’d like to share? Get in touch in the comments section below, or via the contact page, and share this and other Dadvengers Posts with your family and parenting friends.
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