The only thing I want to be in life is to be as good a father and husband as my Dad is. It’s a pretty simple goal. Everything else in life – work, money, travel etc. comes second to being a good father.
So when you’re told you can’t have a child, that’s pretty damn hard to take. That’s what happened to me about two years ago.
My wife and I had been married for five years and we had been trying to start a family for a similar length of time to no avail. Occasionally the “regular monthly event” wouldn’t happen and we would get our hopes up, then it would turn up late and you’d just hope the next month was different.
People offered what they thought was “helpful” advice – “Have you tried drinking smoothies?” “Have you tried taking an aspirin a day?” I have absolutely NO idea what these had to do with getting pregnant. But the one thing that linked all the advice we received was that NONE of it involved penises and vaginas!
We went to the doctor and got put on the public fertility waiting list, started eating healthier and going to the gym to get fitter and thinner as part of the eligibility criteria was based on our BMI figures – A pretty ridiculous gauge, as A: At 6’8” and 100kg I was classed as “Overweight” and B: We have all seen excessively large men and women who seem perfectly capable of spurting out child after child much to the glee and apparent encouragement of our nation’s Social Welfare system.
Eventually our number was called and we went down to Wellington to begin fertility treatment. It didn’t start well.
Our first visit involved providing “a sample”, a meeting with a fertility specialist and a meeting with a counsellor. But our appointments got swapped around and we saw the counsellor first. One of the first things she told us was that they had tested my sample and found no sperm. Sorry, what? NO sperm? Not lots, not a few, N.O.N.E.
Ok, there might be reasons that are easily fixed, right? We asked the doctor next. Maybe. Maybe not. The first step was a second test the following day (to let the “troops” re-marshal) and if that still didn’t show up anything, then slightly more drastic measures would be taken – namely an operation called a “testicular biopsy” to see if there might be a blockage and things were fine behind it.
We got back to our hotel and I bawled my eyes out repeatedly. I was a failure. As a man, as a husband, as a father, as a human. I must have been very hard on my wife, but she never showed it, just gave me all the support I needed and occasionally donuts.
The next day arrived and a second sample returned the same results as the first. So off to theatre I went. My wife wanted to come too and support me, but I wouldn’t let her. I was at one of the lowest points in my life and I didn’t want to drag her down there with me.
Now as a man, there is one area of your body that you don’t allow very sharp objects near, and that area is your crotch. That was exactly the area that sharp objects were headed. Needles to (thankfully) administer anaesthetic and scalpels to, well take slightly more solid samples for testing (It still makes me cross my legs tightly just thinking about it).
Cue icepack in a very sensitive place made even more sensitive than usual and slow, tentative walk back to the hotel to await the results.
Still no joy, still no swimmers. It was a very quiet, long drive back to Napier the next day.
There were options, but they all involved any children we had not being “mine.” Once again, my wife was a rock. “If I can’t have your children, then we won’t have children” she said. That broke my heart even more, because I knew she wanted them as much as I did.
Long discussions, cries and cuddles later I decided that I would be fine with using a donor’s sperm. It may not be my child biologically, but it would be half my wife’s biologically (she has the better set of genes by far, anyway) and I would still be a father and love and care for our child to the very best of my ability. We decided it was the best way to go.
At our next meeting with the fertility specialist we told him our decision. He told us he would put us on the donor list, but first wanted to try something and put me on a medication not usually used on men, if we were ok with it.
We agreed. What did we have to lose?
To be continued