Infertility & Dads: Why We Need Emotional Support Too
BY A CITYKIN DAD WHO DIDN’T WANT TO PUT HIS NAME ON THIS
A dad in the Citykin community reached out to us about the experience he and his wife went through trying to conceive their two kids. While he was free flowing in sharing his story, he and his wife did not want to put their names on the essay, which brings up a really interesting point about the underlying guilt and shame there is that surrounds infertility in society. We asked him why he didn’t want to put his name on it and he said he “isn’t comfortable sharing really personal things on social media.” Fair enough. The couple explained their close friends know about their struggle but neither of their workplaces knew what they had to go through. When we suggested putting a name and a face -especially from a dad’s perspective as they really are the silent partners in this issue - might help open up the dialogue in general and help C-suites understand this is an issue that isn’t going away, they said they were not ready to be this public.
Infertility is something that is only growing in numbers as people wait longer to have families. People who live in expensive cities wait the longest on average to start a family, making infertility an issue that disproportionally affects city communities. It brings up a lot of questions such as what is the responsibility of employers to its employees in regards to this? As workplaces expect more out of people and student debt can be life altering in the States, starting a family in your 20s just isn’t an option to a lot of people anymore. With this comes the reality of taking biological bets and waiting to start families. And given the fact not being able to have a baby naturally can be extortionate in the States, we need more employers to share in these costs. At any rate, here is one dad’s story:
When did you think something maybe wasn't right?
We were in our mid 30s when we started trying, so after about six months we were getting a bit worried that it wasn’t happening.
how long did you wait until you sought advice?
Everyone says to wait a year but after six months we thought we’d double check everything was OK and thankfully we didn’t wait the full year as when my wife got tested, they found she had blocked Fallopian tubes.
did it ever cross your mind you might be the one to have issues?
Yes- and that was hard if I’m being totally honest. Guys just don’t talk about this stuff at all so if there was an issue with me, it just wasn’t in my nature to grab beers and talk about that. I panicked a bit at first. But the absolute hardest thing was seeing how upset she was -about the possibility of not having children. This was the first step of the journey- and also one of the hardest; the next being when the first embryo didn’t take.
how did it make you feel once you figured out the issue?
A bit helpless at first- not knowing what to do. But it also inspired me to want to be the best support I could for her. We then tackled the problem together and found humor and togetherness during a difficult time.
tell us about what happened after you discovered why you couldn’t get pregnant.
They had to do a mini operation to sever the blocked tubes. We then had to artificially encourage the womb to make eggs to be fertilized. For that to happen, I had to go to the clinic and they gave me a cup and then sent me to a room for 10 minutes before you have to exit the room in front of other couple also waiting!! (That brought some color to the day). Following that, they then work their magic before implantation. First one didn’t take- we found out after a day. That was very upsetting and a set back. But they next one did and we have our beautiful daughter. We then did it again 2 years later and had our son :)
You hear so much advice from a woman’s perspective for obvious reasons but what is your advice for couples from a dad’s point of view?
No doubt- it’s going to be stressful but you have to approach this situation together and be strong. Also, it doesn’t matter who “has the issue” and you can’t get caught up in that as that will lead you both down a really negative path. For the man- empathy is incredibly important but equally, the man needs some support too. It was really hard on me even though my wife bore the brunt of it all. In general, women talk more openly about this stuff and I didn’t really have a support system outside of my wife and the doctors. I wish it was different. We were very fortunate that it worked and my heart goes out to those who do many rounds and are unsuccessful as life just sort of stops.
why do you think it's important for the dads to get support in all of this?
It was a really emotional time, and my wife was trying to grapple with so many tough issues, I felt like I had to be the strong one to. But I did feel that I didn’t have anyone to ask those difficult questions too and I was also really really sad. I always imagined a life with kids, and it was a sad thought to not have a future son or daughter. Men are rubbish at talking about this stuff so I could really only go to my wife which wasn’t always what we needed. We were lucky, and we got pregnant with our second round, but I really feel for all those couples who have successive failed rounds, and for the Dads who feel they have to be strong.