Wednesday, April 27, 2011

NIAW: A Manly Myth

Myth: "I am less of a man because I can't get my wife pregnant"

I have to be honest with you. When I read through the various myths that RESOLVE listed for our amazing community to bust and blog about, I had to sit with the statement above for a few days before I could put my thoughts into words.

You see, that myth almost became a reality for us.

No, no...I'm not calling Mook less of a man at all. 

But he almost let that statement define him as we launched ourselves into the world of fertility treatments. I can blog and talk about this easier in the now, but when we were in the thick of it all, I thought I might see the spirit of my husband overtaken by infertility.

Mook was diagnosed in early 2007 with crappy sperm. There's no sugar coating it--he's got bad everything: count, morphology, and motility. When we actually saw the numbers printed on a piece of paper, we were standing in our kitchen...and Ill never forget the expression on his face. I knew that if we were going to make it as a couple and through this journey, we had to address the male factor infertility as a WE and not a HIM. I have always referred to our diagnosis as just that: ours.  

We both went through a very similar process as grieving. We wanted to deny that his sperm couldn't do "the job" so we wanted to have another sample tested. The results showed the same numbers--actually a bit worse than the first. So then came the anger: why was this happening to us? Why couldn't we just get pregnant like everyone else? Then there was the bargaining with the doctors--if he ate a better diet, took vitamins and supplements, he'd be able to fix this "problem" and we could improve the sperm on our own. This brought our hopes way up for a few months--but after a third sperm sample came back with the same numbers, we both sank into a state of depression.

And that stage is where Mook and I took different paths...

I was welcomed with open arms into the blogging community and found a place where I could vent, ask for help/suggestions, and feel like I wasn't the only one going through this process.

Mook was of course supportive of the blog--he was aware of it from the very beginning--he read the posts, saw the comments and was grateful for the outlet. But it wasn't providing the same outlet and healing for him...

He seemed fine on the "outside" but was slowly pulling away from me emotionally. Things got really, really tough for us in December/January of '07/'08, and after hitting close to rock bottom, I sought out counseling and was very thankful and grateful that Mook agreed to come so we could work on us. This was not an overnight solution. But as we worked through our sessions, the communication became easier and more revealing of exactly what we were both feeling about the life we were living--focused on having a baby and forgetting that life was going on around us.

As much as I felt like I was being a supportive spouse, it became clear that I was being more of a coach than a wife. Not that it was bad to be positive and on a schedule, but Mook needed to not feel like our whole life was revolving around making a baby. He was feeling "like less of a man..."

We were lucky. Very lucky. We survived as a couple, and we learned things from the counseling that we still practice today. And my husband is an incredible man. Not to mention our 2nd IVF cycle gave us our precious O-man. He's the result of a lot of love, patience, communication, medical intervention, heartache, prayers, and support all rolled into one little miracle.

With this being National Infertility Awareness Week, my hope is that awareness about the male side of infertility will receive more attention. I started this blog 4 years ago noticing that MFI was still a quiet side of infertility, and I still think many men are suffering silently.

This myth is officially: BUSTED!

To learn more about the basics of infertility visit: 
Read more about the background of National Infertility Awareness Week® (NIAW):


  1. Perfect! Thank you so much for sharing this. I didn't know you then.

    As I reflect I realize how little we were informed about Cap'm's diagnosis. We were confused and alone. It was such a terrible place to be. That's when I turned to blogging and learned so much.

    I hope you are well.

  2. It is so hard,isn't it? I slays enjoyed reading about your compassion and team focus to conquer infertility. It's not easy, it took us many years to get to that place, a long hard battle.

  3. "...and I still think many men are suffering silently."

    Yes. I am convinced that J is suffering silently through it as well, even now. Which is why I am so ready to move past treatments and get on with our LIFE. I think our repeated failures are really bringing it out in him now.

    Ironically, the first time around, he was stoic and practical about it. It's just now that he's starting to emote about the diagnosis. Not sure why.

    Anyway. Thank you for sharing.


  4. Oh I loved this. You know even men who don't have the issue (like Mr Kir) feel a lot of responsibility for the outcome of a cycle...I'd like every man to not feel that way. Of course I'd love for every woman to not to feel like a failure month after month.

    this was fantastic....a truthful, honest, heartwrenching look at this from a wife's eyes looking at her husband struggling. I felt every emotion with you.

    and of course, your marriage, O-man, all of it, how blessed you've been, here on the other side.

  5. Absolutely BUSTED!
    This could have been ME writing about our situation. The similarities are unreal. After I finished reading, I felt so incredibly happy that in this vast world, I found you, JJ. You can put my feelings into words and comfort me like no one else. THANK YOU!

  6. After all you have been through in the last few years, I think it's pretty obvious that you guys are a much stronger couple for what you have survived and conquered together.

  7. This is perfect. I think you are right about why so many people are silent about male factor.

  8. I don't know if there's any way that a man would not be emotionally invested in his sperm analysis. It must have been very difficult for you both.

    My husband didn't even want to give a sample for analysis...

  9. What a totally awesome and wonderful post. You and Mook are both incredible.

  10. I love this! For so long, I've said that "I'm broken", since the fertilty problem was with me, but I love how you all sated it, from now on it will be "our" problem! :)

  11. Fisting Pumping and knuckle pounding in Mooks honor!great post

  12. Infertility is so hard on couples. Thank you for including the male perspective and reminding us of how harmful infertility is to relationships.

    I'm so glad you got through all of that and came out on the other side of it together.

  13. Myth busted!

    I'm your newest follower visiting from Stirrup Queens. Love the blog.

  14. It is completely a myth, but I think it is going to take a lot more than NIAW to make MFI less taboo. It is ok for me to have issues - endo, poor responder, etc., but it isn't ok for my husband to have issues in society's eyes.

    I yearn for the day when we have finished family building completely, because I hope that will bring back the part of our marriage that was lost with the MFI diagnosis. I think my husband will be able to put it behind him at that point, but I know right now, it still weighs heavily on him.


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