#NIAW: Infertility from the Husband’s Perspective

National Infertility Awareness Week at A Royal Daughter

Day One: Finding Purpose in the Waiting

Day Two: Lies Women Believe About Infertility

Day Three: Infertility Resources

Today I’ve asked my sweet husband to share a little bit about infertility from the husband’s perspective. I’ll warn you: it’s kind of long. And very raw. But it is important to spread awareness about infertility from a guy’s perspective.

Infertility from the husband's perspective

Here at A Royal Daughter, you mostly hear about infertility from a female perspective. I’m not much of a writer and I don’t spend a lot of time on the blogging side of the internet. But I’m here today to try to explain a little bit what it’s like dealing with infertility from a male perspective.

First I have to admit that I have no idea how other men have dealt with infertility. Honestly, I’ve never looked into it. I have no idea if men have written books or blogged about the struggle with infertility. I don’t really deal with it by learning about others or talking about it much. I pretty much just by talk with Amanda, and sometimes my parents and my sister. Most of my family, close friends, and colleagues know about it, but we don’t talk about it. Why is that? I have no idea. It’s part of who I am. I’m an introvert and I don’t derive a great deal of psychological satisfaction from baring my soul. Instead, I deal with stress and struggle primarily by working. I don’t want to talk about it. I just work out my frustration through physical labor. It’s one of the many benefits of having a farm!

In our family I’m the primary breadwinner and infertility definitely causes some financial stress. Being infertile is really, really cheap. You save all kinds of money on pregnancy, delivery, 18 years of extra food, clothing, sports, etc., plus no college fund! On the other hand, trying to treat infertility gets expensive! Not a little expensive. Really expensive. Ranging from down payment on a new car to buy a whole new car kind of expensive! That brings some extra stress and frustration in the pocketbook.

It’s frustrating to fork over tons of money and still not be pregnant. Most people get pregnant for free. At worst it costs a nice dinner or a couple of nights at a bed and breakfast (or a case of beer, for those who are into big surprises). Then there’s us. We’ve spent lots of money trying to get pregnant. And it’s hard to watch the savings be depleted. It’s difficult to watch the financial goals we’ve worked towards for many years slip out of reach. It’s hard to not get resentful and frustrated.

We’re not rich. Not even close. I chose a career based on job satisfaction not financial compensation. I get paid a decent salary, enough to live comfortably and raise a couple of kids. But it’s a long, long way from six figures. It’s not the kind of salary that allows us to fork over a few grand every month on infertility treatments. Thankfully God has always provided for us. He has always come through for us and has graciously used some people to majorly help us. But that doesn’t mean the stress isn’t there every month.

One of my greatest struggles is trying not to project my frustrations with infertility onto other people. It’s a temptation to resent those who do have children. I graduated from college a decade ago. Since then most of my college friends have married and started families. That’s great. I’m happy for them. I’d really like to join them in the daily struggles and joys of raising children. But I can’t. And that’s hard. Even though I have a beautiful wife, a great career, and a lovely farm, I’m still tempted to envy those who have something I want so much. It’s tough to keep those kinds of feelings under control. That I do it at all is a result of God’s grace.

I also struggle with the uncertainty that comes with infertility. It’s impossible to plan anything. That’s hard on me because I’m a planner. I always want to know where we’re going and when we expect to get there. Shortly after we got married I figured out a plan for when we should buy cars. According to the plan, in 2013 we should buy a car. That was an ideal year, as we expected to have two children by then and could be deciding whether we were preparing for a third (need a minivan) or thought two was enough (SUV or sedan will do). So now what am I supposed to buy? Of course it’s all a moo point now (It’s like a cow’s opinion. It just doesn’t matter. It’s moo). Most of the money for a new car went for fertility treatments anyway. So the old Taurus (with no heat) rides on.

It’s not just big things that are hard to plan. I have no idea when our summer vacation might be, or even if there will be one. I can plan the next two weeks, but everything after that is unknown. It’s hard to plan even basic things, like my work schedule (although I have a very generous boss), much less things that are months away. Months ago I planned to spend this week with my Grandpa. I have the week off and it seemed like an ideal time to go visit him. His health isn’t the best and there won’t be many more chances to visit him. But I can’t, because we have a treatment today. That’s just the way it goes, with things both little and small. That kind of constant uncertainty makes it hard to keep my grip. It feels like I’m in an indefinite holding pattern. Most of my life is on hold until we get pregnant. Meanwhile the weeks, months, and years are flying by. And I don’t know what to do.

Everyone who’s struggled with infertility knows that it doesn’t feel fair compared to other couples. Less known is that infertility treatments aren’t fair within the couple either. Not even close. Pretty much everything falls on the woman. The man is mostly a spectator in all this. The woman takes all kinds of hormone altering drugs and gets to feel her ovaries swelling and working overtime. Then her body gets invaded. A lot. She has to do all the vaginal ultrasounds, inseminations, egg extractions, and embryo implantations. It all looks at least terribly uncomfortable, if not plain old painful. At least that’s what I interpret from the bone-crushing grip Amanda occasionally has. That’s my job. To hold her hand (I know this is really impressing all the ladies).

Actually, I do have one other job. I’m the sperm provider. It’s a tough gig. It means no sex for a few critical days and then I have to provide a sperm sample. And yes, that is just as awkward as they depict it on TV. But a few minutes of awkwardness is nothing compared to what the woman has to do. It’s not fair and it’s no fun watching Amanda go through all this. Nor is there anything I can do to make it any better for her. Except try to be an understanding and helpful husband.

Being understanding is important. Pretty much everybody knows that pregnancy really, really messes with a woman’s hormones. The stories are legendary. But nobody warns you that infertility treatments cause much the same thing. The only way for the doctor to do what he wants to do is to artificially make the hormones do what he wants them to do. And he wants them to do a lot of things. There are some side effects. And those are compounded by the monthly emotional turmoil of infertility. Revealing more here is potentially life threatening, so that’s all I will say. But there are a few surprises along the way.

So how am I dealing with infertility? Having written it all out, I’d say that I’m not handling it all that well. Here is the part where as a minister I know I should insert some kind of spiritual insight or lesson. Unfortunately I’m keenly aware that in the midst of pain and frustration insights often sound like platitudes and lessons seem judgmental. So instead I’m going outside. There’s work to do. And sweat is a salve for raw emotions.

23 thoughts on “#NIAW: Infertility from the Husband’s Perspective

  1. Amanda

    Thank you for sharing this! I’m pretty lucky to have a supporting husband. Just like you frustrated regarding $. And we haven’t done treatments like you & Amanda. But since I have health issues its mainly regarding that. My husband is very open to adoption. But I know in my heart he would rather have me have a full term pregnancy .

    Reply
  2. Angela Peters

    You married an amazing man <3 It was wonderful to read it from a man's perspective and I'll leave you with that because we all know I cry about everything (I'm doing the ugly cry) and I laughed and cried through out this. I just want to hug you both!!

    You may not think you're handling it all that well but from an outsiders view you're doing a great job keeping it together forbthe both of you!

    XO
    Ange

    Reply
  3. Vera

    I don’t have any words – – – other than to say thank you and I continue praying for you both, and as individuals.

    Reply
  4. Alissa

    This post broke my heart. I love that you were vulnerable + shared what it’s like for a husband in the midst of infertility. I can’t even imagine the heart break and I think often times we think of it from a woman’s perspective and forget that this can make our men feel broken too. Praying for you both in the midst of this journey, for God’s will and for a sweet baby for you both. I love Amanda and feel blessed to have her in my life!

    Reply
  5. Mackenzie

    Amanda, your husbands words are important and honest, and I’m proud of you guys for sharing this. I hope some men out there read this and know that they aren’t alone. You are an amazing couple!

    Reply
  6. Karmen

    wow. just wow! thanks for sharing Professor. Thank you for your authenticity. It’s rare and refreshing. praying diligently for you and your sweet wife.

    Reply
  7. Stephanie

    I was interested to read this, because I really can’t imagine. I’m so, so thankful that you have such an amazing supporter in The Professor. Praying for both of you. <3

    Reply
  8. Kara

    Here from Megan’s blog…. I really enjoyed reading this! I have many friends struggling with infertility and it is interesting to hear it from a male perspective.

    Reply
  9. Bri

    Oh this was so so helpful! I absolutely loved that it wasn’t full of spiritual insights or manly save the day stuff. Just raw and real. This is truly the first time I’ve read a husband’s perspective on infertility. We’ve walked through it with several of our close friends but it dawned on me that I have only truly heard the woman’s side. Thank you for giving me another point of view so that I can be praying more specifically for the guys.

    Reply
  10. Salena Lee

    Wow, your husband just took me down memory lane of all that we went through. It’s great to see a husband’s perspective, especially one who is so in-tuned with what is going on with the whole entire process, including how the wife feels. This post will help so many other couples. Thank you for sharing this raw post. xo

    Reply
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  12. Kendall

    Wow, You two are so strong – not only apart but as a couple. You are such an inspiration to others. I know this is hard, I’ve struggled with infertility too – but not as long as you both. And I can’t imagine how painful it must be. Just know that there are so many people praying and sending well wishes your way. And like I’ve told Amanda many times, I KNOW this will happen for you both. I just know it. Don’t lose hope. When you’re finally holding that little bundle in your arms you will realize that everything else will just melt away. XO.

    Reply
  13. Maren

    My husband and I are dealing with infertility right now as well. We don’t talk about it much, but I have found http://www.ablogaboutlove.com to be helpful. The writer, Mara, has been dealing with infertility for 8 years. Her and her husband have the most beautiful, positive outlook on life. It’s worth a gander if your not familiar with it already:)

    Reply
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  15. Em

    Thank you so much for speaking out from the male perspective. I’ll let you know that you’re not alone in your desire to be vocal about your struggle! I have come across several blogs written by men regarding their fertility journey, and they are all EXCELLENT. Thanks for raising your voice with theirs. I hope more men join you soon!

    Reply
  16. Low buddy count

    Thanks for sharing. As a husband that’s the likely cause of our infertility, I still need to give it up to God, though my wife has a harder time dealing with it outwardly. Somehow, I think I’m not fully aware of how it is impacting me. Partially it is because I don’t have a male sounding board, because with my wife, her needs must come first.

    I would like to hear from other men. Again, thanks for breaking the ice.

    Reply
  17. Susie Ellison

    It is great to read a man perspective and his emotions during infertility. My husband and I having been trying for 3 years now and two chemical pregnancies later, still no clinical pregnancy. Just the other day my husband and I had talked about our emotions. I think it helps both of us cope with the stress, hurt, emptiness we both have. Much of what you said in your post is exactly what my husband said. And although he is an extrovert, he mostly keeps his emotion about infertility to himself. Thank yall for sharing your story for all us who are traveling the path of infertility hoping one day to turn onto the road of parenthood. God bless yall!

    Reply
  18. Another Guys perspective

    We’ve been trying for a little over 3 years now and I can definitely say it’s taking its toll. We started out all optimistic, we even decided what month we wanted to conceive! That seems so far away now. It progressed from fun to a little off putting (I know WAY too much about my wife’s mucus) to almost a chore to just depressing. As more and more of our friends got pregnant, we eventually had to stop going on Facebook…

    I’ve lost most motivation and am rarely happy anymore. I’ve gone to see a shrink (at my wife’s pleading) but nothing. The medicine they put me on didn’t help and I felt horrible if I forgot to take it. I basically stopped taking it and am just trying to tread water at this point. I feel like I’m drowning. I don’t see the point of going back. I already know what the problem and solution is. I’m just powerless. I’ve used more sick time (mostly mental health but some doctors visits) in the past 2 years then I have in my entire working career (8 years)… I feel like I should be the strong one and should be carrying all the weight but I just cant do that anymore. I have had to learn to trust and lean on her more lately.

    Anyway, we’re now well into the IVF process and that’s adding even more stress. It’s ridiculously expensive. We can afford it, so that’s one blessing. My biggest fear right now is that this doesn’t work, which means i’ll be stuck in this limbo of depression and anger. We’re cautiously optimistic. Two miscarriages will do that to you. It seems kinda cruel. At this point, if we get a positive, I think we’ll just go all out and enjoy the high. If it doesn’t work out, I guess we’ll just crash from a little higher up.

    I believe God has a plan for us, I just wish I could see out of this valley long enough to get a glimpse of what that plan is… That said, we are very blessed. We both have good state jobs, great health care, good health, good family and friend support, etc… We have friends that have been through, or are going through worse.

    Sorry for bringing down the mood and rambling on. We should be going for retrieval in a week or so, so fingers crossed!

    Reply
  19. Mr. Rock

    Yup. This is how it feels.

    We’re trying for our second and the secondary infertility took us by surprise. We already have a 4 year old son that we somehow conceived without treatment. It took us a bit on the long side to conceive (just over a year) but it happened just as we were considering getting a consultation. We know we are luckier than so many, but the pain still feels very real. This time around we’ve been trying for over 2 years, with one first trimester miscarriage. That was a devastating experience in so many ways… We are now doing IUI treatments and I’m not sure when we’ll go to IVF, honestly just hoping it doesn’t come to that.

    Waiting, being on constantly on hold is the hardest part for me. Surprisingly, I think it was a relief for my wife when I shared some of my frustration with her. I do think generally being strong for her is the best contribution I can make most days since all the treatments are inflicted on her, but I’m coming around to the idea that the occasional role reversal does us both good. I find the first 5-10 of the cycle the easiest (after the initial disappointment) and from there the anxiety and pressure rises. I try to make it a point to focus on enjoying life during that time.

    Here’s another interesting post I found about what infertility can do to a marriage: http://the2weekwait.blogspot.com/2013/01/unexplained-infertility-explained.html

    Good luck to everyone out there in a similar situation. Be kind to yourself and do whatever it takes to find the occasional enjoyment in life while you navigate these treacherous waters.

    Reply

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