The journey to make a family is different for everyone, so to show the amazing diversity, brave women, men and couples are sharing in this new series “My Hope Squad Stories”.
Together, we need to change how others view the diversity in making families. To let them know it’s something beautiful, and if they are looking at their own options, they are’t alone. The Hope Squad have got their back.
Today’s story covers the trauma of sperm issues, and being referred for ICSI. This couple are in the middle of their journey so lets wish them heaps of luck and strength…
It all started 12.5 years ago when I walking into the office he worked in for an interview and he told is friend he was going to marry me. Fast forward a year and a half and we were married and I was beyond happy, we had our little house, two cats and dreams of a baby to complete our fairy tale.
Fast forward again to 2014 and I was due to go for my check up and to get some more of my contraceptive pill, however I had been having headaches on the new one I had been prescribed, and as we had been discussing adding to our family since we got married, my husband said ‘why don’t you just not bother, its making you ill, come off the pill, you need time for it to come out of your system anyway and we are going to start trying in the next year aren’t we!’ I can hear his words clear as day stood in the doorway of our bedroom.
And so I did, I came off the pill and we let nature take its course. No pressure.
Not more than a year later however, he had a change of heart, again I can clearly see him stood in the bathroom door while I was soaking with a glass of wine after work, and he broke my heart. He told me that actually he really doesn’t want a child. That was it, no discussion, just a big fat no.
Now we had spoken about this hypothetical baby since marriage and I had always known he was not broody like I was, and that he was easy either way really, but I never thought he would be so firm on a decision which caused me so much heart ache, especially when he had been to the one to suggest I come off the pill and he knew how broody I was. He had even at one point bought me a beautiful little vintage children’s garden bench with Noah’s ark in the back plate for our future toddler.
Around the time this devastating blow happened, one of my oldest and closest friends was expecting her first. Before she was pregnant I had joked that she could go first, see what it’s like. We talked about having kids who would grow up together like we had. Now her pregnancy, which should have been a happy and exciting event for me as prospective ‘Aunty’, was a painful experience as I watched from the sidelines while she went through what I cried for. The day he was born I got the usual text. I remember standing in my kitchen getting ready for work crying, I was a churning mess of upset, excitement and jealousy, not to mention what a bad person I felt for being so jealous of someone I also love.
Obviously I had to tell my parents and a number of friends who were expecting us to have a child at some point. My parents were heartbroken, and all discussion of the future grandchild which had once happened around the dinner table (which my husband had joined in with) stopped. With friends I withheld details, telling them we had decided to have a wonderful life of expensive holidays and whatever we wanted. The truth was the only thing I really wanted was not an option for me.
For a good year I kept up this bravado, and gradually it became real. I turned cold towards anything child related. At my friends second baby shower I was the only non mum there and an entire bottle of wine helped me get through, but afterwards in private I was in bits. Even my mum felt a change in me, I was distant from everything and everyone, and this culminated in a breakdown which we’ll not go into here but needless to say my marriage was lucky to survive.
Now we will fast forward 2 year to happier times shall we, however these start and my husband in tears. The setting is a works family friendly event, and he had been sat with a mutual friend and his adorable angelic children watching them play. He found me later in tears and declared ‘I want a baby’. Turns out this simple interaction had made his see the light, he suddenly realised what he was missing out on and in turn what he was denying me. I could not have been more shocked!
I waited until the morning as alcohol was involved, but since that day he has been steadfast. Like a softer side of him suddenly appeared that is open to children, that wanted a baby as badly as I once had. However that was the problem, I once had. I had lived this hard childless persona so well that I had talked myself round. It had been the only way to get through for both myself and my marriage, but now I was being asked to change my thinking again. That was possibly harder than the first time as I was (and still am a little) afraid that he might change his mind again. I know we couldn’t survive that.
So we started trying, well, we started trying for a baby and I started trying to come back round to the idea of a baby. I waited a while to tell my parents, I felt this was important for their relationship with my husband as I knew that my mum looked at her beloved son in law differently for taking this away from her only child, and that upset me. She cried when I told her.
Some friends I still haven’t told as it’s just easier.
Anyway, needless to say I have managed to get back to broody slowly but surely and after 2 years of not getting pregnant naturally (I never actually went back on the pill) we decided to go to the Drs.
I think we both knew what the diagnosis was going to be but that didn’t make it any easier to hear. After the slow process of both of us going through the usual tests, bloods, a scan etc, our Dr informed us that while I am fine, my husband has no sperm. Immediately she moved on to sperm donation like it was a case of popping to Tesco. It was something we did not want to hear at that point, we needed to absorb the diagnosis first and all that it meant.
In actual fact, she was jumping the gun as his hormone levels indicate he does have sperm, they just can’t get out, which we believe is due to a severe water infection he has some 20 years ago which actually killed one of his testical’s.
This led to our ICSI referral and we are hopeful this will be successful for us. We are only at the start of this journey having had our first appointment this week. My husband is due to provide another sample soon to triple check with more accurate and detailed investigation before we move onto more invasive measures (TESA) to extract his little swimmers. But I am staying positive we will find some somehow.
On my journey back to the thought of a baby my mind has been opened, and while we are not open to sperm donation, embryo donation or even adoption is not something we would rule out should we need a plan B or C.
However for me, this might sound odd to all you TTCers, but the battle for me is already won. When I cry now it’s not because I’m devastated we need IVF or that I can’t conceive my husband’s baby naturally, IVF is just a means to an end in my eyes and something I feel privileged to have as an option. I cry because I now know my husband wants to have a child and that is something I ever thought would happen. And whether or not this ever happens for us via plan A B or C, I am happier with the knowledge that we tried over never knowing, always wondering what could have been…. The more I think about it, the more peace I feel around this. And I think that is the most important thing. No matter how you get there, and no matter what the eventual outcome, you need to make peace with it. Keep strong.
If you’d like a little extra support with issues brought up here, there’s a fab list here