Let me start off by telling you about my condition… It’s called Retrograde Ejaculation. Basically, the sperm and semen take a left turn when they should take a right. It goes into my bladder instead of out where it should. This is something I’ve had all my life. I’ve had tests galore and there is no obvious medical reason as to why this happens. Now, I’ll get into the fertility part of it.
My wife was put on this Earth to be a Mom.
There is nothing she wants more in this life than to be the Mother of a child. We’ve been together for 12 years so, of course she was aware of my situation. It was just one of those things that we’d get to when we wanted to start trying to have kids.
My first appointment for a Cystoscopy was in February 2017. For those who are unaware, it’s when a Urologist inserts a camera into the urethra to examine the bladder and/or prostate. Now, I KNEW this wasn’t going to be comfortable but, it was going to be nothing compared to what my wife would have to endure when it came time for child birth so, of course I was going to do it. I don’t know why but, at the time, I thought this was the appointment that was going to solve my issue. I would need to endure a couple minutes of extreme discomfort but at least we would have an answer.
Boy was I wrong.
The Urologist said he didn’t see any obvious reason that this was happening and that he would refer me to a fertility clinic. Now, I know this sounds like good news, that this was the next step to figuring out what was wrong and, you wouldn’t be wrong, it’s just not how I felt. You know that ringing in your ears after a loud concert? When he said there was nothing obviously wrong, that happened to me. I suddenly felt “broken”. This was the first step into a downward spiral that I would go through over the next 16 months.
At night, after my wife went to bed, I would sit up and sob… That’s right sob… I had convinced myself that I WAS broken. Now, I’m not the manliest of men. I don’t cut down trees with my bare hands or wrestle bears… I’m a computer geek. I work in IT. I have a desk job where I’m alone with my thoughts all day. No, I’m not the manliest of men but, I have my pride and my own sense of “manliness” and that was crumbling. I felt broken, I felt like less of a man, I felt hopeless and fell into a very deep depression. If you think about the male contribution to life, I mean the biology of it, it’s laughable and I couldn’t even do that… That’s what was going on in my head, “THE ONE THING I’M SUPPOSED TO DO AS A MAN TO CREATE LIFE, I CAN’T.
Days go by, nights go by, weeks, months, time goes by and I fight with these thoughts of being less of a man day and night.
It got to the point where my first thought in the morning and my last thought at night was: “if my wife was with ANYONE else, she could have a child and be happy.” Do you know what that’s like? To live with the thought that if your significant other, the one you want to spend the rest of your life with, was with another man, she could have everything you couldn’t give her… It breaks a person. It broke me. My mental health was shattered. Now, I’m not a religious person but, it was hard not to think that SOMETHING in the universe was telling me that “kids just aren’t in the cards for you” and I convinced myself that I had made peace with that.
We started going to a fertility clinic. Where the issue was with me, of course, the spotlight was on me. Humiliating tests, embarrassing questions, mortifying procedures… At the end of all that, we got good news, providing that there was nothing wrong with my wife, we could use MY sperm for IVF. You’d think that would make me happy, right? It didn’t.
I have been carrying around the guilt that I had wasted the best years of my wife’s life where she could of have a child only if she was with someone else. Someone who wasn’t as broken and as pathetic as me. It’s a lot to carry. So much that it got to the point where I planned my death… I felt like it was the only way that she could have what she wanted. If I was out of the picture, she would mourn for a while but, eventually move on and have the life she wanted. I started acting distant, I was moody, snappy towards her, just not being a good partner.
I didn’t like who I have become and neither did she.
I remember a discussion my wife and I were having and I told her that this entire process made me not want to have kids. The embarrassing tests and questions and procedures… I was done. Obviously, that upset her. The man who she wants to spend the rest of her life with suddenly doesn’t want children?
For me to see how broken hearted she was made me realize that I was wrong. That I wasn’t in the right frame of mind. I started getting help. I started getting treatment for clinical depression and have been making strides in getting back to the “right head-space”.
I’m not saying that I’m fully over SOME of the feelings I’ve had but, having better communication with my wife has been helping. I think deep down I knew that it was all in my head but, sometimes, your head is a tough place to get out of.
You can’t help how you feel and you let it control you.
The support of infertility in males is almost non-existent. I can understand why. All our lives we’re being told to “man up”, “act like a man”, “don’t be such a baby, suck it up” … I feel it’s important for women to know that men carry an “emotional cross” as well. It weighs on us too. I also feel that it’s important to let men know that they aren’t alone. That other men could potentially feel the exact same way that they do. Telling our significant others (or some other support person) how we feel isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s strength. We’re in this together. People say that marriages/relationships are “50/50” … They aren’t, they’re 100/100. Our partners are there for us to lean on when we need it most.
By Jim Wiltshire