It takes two to make a baby, whether naturally or otherwise! However, the male side of things is often seen as the “silent partner” in the whole process. If you get pregnant naturally, all the emphasis immediately falls to the woman and her expanding tummy, and even in assisted fertility, doctors tend to direct questions and information to the woman; it’s the woman who has the appointments and leads the process.
For some reason, everything to do with fertility is still seen as the “woman’s problem” even if she’s not the cause at all!
Because of this, getting male perspectives on infertility is not often easy. Eric has done a fantastic job with this blog exposing his honest thoughts and feelings on the subject and so I thought it would be interesting to keep this momentum going.
So how does it feel for the male half of the party throughout this female centred journey? This week, we get an insight from my very own partner in crime, Lee in this interview….
If you think back on the past 4 years, what’s been the most challenging part of the fertility journey for you?
Seeing you with all the injections and thinking is it happening this time? Will this all be worth it? I think also struggling with belief in the process. You have to put so much trust in a process that is scary and in professionals that can never offer any guarantees. I think that another difficult thing has been seeing time passing, other people’s kids growing up and feeling like we haven’t moved any further. That all sounds a bit depressing doesn’t it?! There have been a lot of light-hearted moments too!
Haha – yes! So tell us about those…
You’ve got to find the humour in some of the situations we’ve been presented with over the years. I’ll never forget the awful daytime TV we were subjected to while we’ve been in hospital waiting rooms watching “One born every minute” or The Jerry Springer Show “I have 8 kids but I only see 3 of them!”
Sometimes you’ve just got to laugh and I think that’s helped us get through so many tough times.
Yes I think you’re right there! So, if you could change one thing about the past 4 years what would it be?
I think the miscarriages have been the hardest thing. For me to see you going through that has been really tough but it’s made us stronger and I have such a respect for your strength and our bodies to know what’s right and what’s not. Hopefully we’ll never have to do that again.
Some tough moments, but as with most things the tougher the struggle, the bigger the learning, so what do you think you’ve learned from it?
I think the main one has been patience and resilience. To not give up even when it feels hopeless and to bounce back as quickly as we can so that we can keep moving forward in whatever direction we choose.
How do you manage your own stress or anxiety?
I try not to dwell on things too much – when bad stuff happens, I want to make sure you’re ok first so feel I have to be the strong one to get us through it and then I might have a private moment to myself where I consider what’s happened and how we can move forward from it. Exercising really helps me as well to let out some frustrations and clear my head.
How involved have you felt in our fertility journey?
For me, it feels like we’ve done it together even though I know I haven’t been through it physically like you have but I’ve been there helping with every injection and at every appointment so mentally it feels like we’ve done it together.
How supported have you felt during this journey?
I have felt supported – I think mostly from each other and then family yes as well. Once they started to understand what we were really going through it was much easier.
I’ve had a lot of friends going through the same thing but what I haven’t liked is well meaning throwaway comments ie. people telling me about all the friends they have who got pregnant naturally after IVF – just because it worked for someone else, doesn’t mean it will for us.
How easy do you find it to talk to people about it all?
I often have to instigate it but once you start chatting you realise how many people have been in similar positions or going through the same thing and it feels really good having other people to talk to who understand it all. With everyone else, if people are embarrassed about it, it makes it awkward but I feel confident bringing it up.
What would be your one piece of advice for other men starting on this path?
Be realistic – don’t take things for granted or assume things will work. Try not to see having a child as the be all and end all by putting your life on hold. I think we got to a place where we were mentally prepared for a life without kids. Mentally rewiring isn’t easy but it is possible. Both options are good though and I think that’s where we got to recently and we felt our most settled and content for a long time.