Infertility from a Dad’s Point of View

How it feels to be a man struggling to get his partner pregnant.

Infertility from a Dad’s Point of View

I remember the day I found out we’d had our second miscarriage. My wife was lying on the floor, crying. The loss of life was painful, of course. But knowing that she would need another D&C (dilation & curettage, which clears out the uterus) was soul crushing -- waiting for the hospital to schedule her, the lifelessness in her body while she waited the procedure itself. As I embraced her I remember thinking, “I need to fix this for her.”

Things should have been easy — my wife and I were both perfectly healthy. There was no reason we shouldn’t have been able to have kids. But instead, we got pregnant and suffered a miscarriage. And then we had five more. This led us to see fertility specialists and eventually undergo fertility treatments. Our third (and what we had decided would be our final) IVF cycle was successful. We were blessed with twins: a boy and a girl. It took five years.

I learned a lot about myself during that time. As a man going through infertility, you are a passenger on the shittiest car ride ever. You don’t have any control. Your partner’s body is the conduit in which fertility takes place. Seeing my wife in so much physical and emotional pain made me desperately want to alleviate her burden. But instead, I made the situation about myself.

There’s a cliché that men are always trying to fix the problem. As a man going through infertility, that cliché became the truth.

My first attempt at “fixing” our fertility problem was to start blaming myself. I was convinced the doctors had missed something, that there was something physically wrong with me or my sperm. By thinking of myself as the problem, I thought it would make things easier on my wife; she wouldn’t have time to blame herself. Unfortunately, it made more work for her. My wife would have to stop whatever she was doing (researching doctors or dealing with our insurance) to give me, the person who didn’t have to get a D&C, a pep talk. What a bonehead move. I felt so bad for my wife that I went looking for sympathy from my wife.

Eventually, I got over myself and became a supportive partner. I listened. I became a part of the process. In fact — and here’s where it turned out that I had one more trick up my sleeve to “fix” things — I decided I was going to be a really ACTIVE part of the process. How? By volunteering to masturbate! In my mind, the doctors needed to do more tests to find the problem. So I was going to supply them with the solution: more and more sperm to study and dissect. At all times.

My wife had to give me another pep talk. Well, she probably had to tell me to pull my pants up before we spoke, because I was ready to go at a moment’s notice. Once again, I had tried to help but had only made more work for her. She gently explained to me that the doctors had everything they needed from me, and that the focus was on her body because, well, that’s where the magic happens. Of course, she was right. And though I knew now that doctors didn’t need more of my sperm, I continued to masturbate; I just didn’t make such a big deal of it.

You might be wondering why I kept turning to my wife for support. She was going through the same stuff I was; it was like a snake eating its own tale. But my wife was the only one I could turn to. My friends had no clue. At the time, most of them (male and female) were single, or in relationships but not ready to have kids. They were sympathetic of our problems, but they weren’t equipped to hear about how our IUI didn’t take and didn’t understand the terminology or circumstances of infertility. So instead of talking about my emotional pain, I’d just end up giving a tutorial on fertility treatments; and though I would be impressed with how knowledgeable I had become, I wouldn’t feel an emotional catharsis.

That’s not to say there was nobody who understood. I had a good friend who was going through similar struggles with his wife, but since he lived a state away, we rarely saw each other, and when we did, we would commiserate over drinks like grizzled veterans talking about the war. So that left my wife. And while it was lonely for us as a couple, our bond got stronger. We became a team in our battle against infertility.

After the crying-on-the-floor incident, I was there for my wife in a better way. Instead of thinking of how to fix things, I was there to hold her and cry with her. I was there to grieve and listen. I was there to help her as she’d helped me — to muster up the courage to try again.

And that support didn’t stop once we got pregnant. After what we’d been through, we were constantly nervous about our pregnancy remaining viable. I had to continuously remind myself that there was nothing I could do and to go with the flow of the unknown.

Infertility taught me to just listen. It also taught me to embrace my sadness. That emotion wasn’t something I could hide or push away; it was part of the process and needed to be recognized and given time.

I carry these thoughts with me whenever I talk to anyone going through infertility, man or woman. I never try to give advice or fix it, but instead try to be there to listen and commiserate. That kind of thinking is what led me and my friend Silvija to write a sketch-comedy show about infertility. She was going through the process of infertility with her husband, I was willing to listen, and we started to write stuff down. We didn’t fix anything, but we were able to laugh about what we had been through, and that gave us the show.

Ultimately, coping with infertility was less about dealing as a man or woman, and more about dealing as a person. In fact, while writing this, I read parts of it to my wife, and she said that she felt pretty much the same way during the process (without the constant offers to masturbate). Yes, men and women go through different physical procedures while struggling with infertility, but emotionally the journey is similar. So the more you communicate with your partner, the more helpful it will be. Ah crap, I just gave advice. There I go trying to fix things.

John Murray co-wrote and stars with Silvija Ozols in the comedy show Infertile, running bi-monthly at the UCB Theater in New York City and as part of the 2016 New York Comedy Festival. Follow them on Twitter @NYComedyFest (hashtag: #MakeNYLaugh) and on Facebook at Follow John and Silvija on twitter at @thejohnmurray and @silvijaozols.

These are the best bath time products you can get for under $20

These budget-friendly products really make a splash.

With babies and toddlers, bath time is about so much more than washing off: It's an opportunity for fun, sensory play and sweet bonding moments—with the added benefit of a cuddly, clean baby afterward.

Because bathing your baby is part business, part playtime, you're going to want products that can help with both of those activities. After countless bath times, here are the products that our editors think really make a splash. (Better yet, each item is less than $20!)

Comforts Bath Wash & Shampoo

Comforts Baby Wash & Shampoo

Made with oat extract, this bath wash and shampoo combo is designed to leave delicate skin cleansed and nourished. You and your baby will both appreciate the tear-free formula—so you can really focus on the bath time fun.

Munckin Soft Spot Bath Mat

Munchkin slip mat

When your little one is splish-splashing in the bath, help keep them from also sliding around with a soft, anti-slip bath mat. With strong suction cups to keep it in place and extra cushion to make bath time even more comfortable for your little one, this is an essential in our books.

Comforts Baby Lotion

Comforts baby lotion

For most of us, the bath time ritual continues when your baby is out of the tub when you want to moisturize their freshly cleaned skin. We look for lotions that are hypoallergenic, nourishing and designed to protect their skin.

The First Years Stack Up Cups

First year stack cups

When it comes to bath toys, nothing beats the classic set of stackable cups: Sort them by size, practice pouring water, pile them high—your little one will have fun with these every single bath time.

Comforts Baby Oil

Comforts baby oil

For dry skin that needs a little extra TLC, our team loves Comforts' fast-absorbing baby oil aloe vera and vitamin E. Pro tip: When applied right after drying off your baby, the absorption is even more effective.

KidCo Bath Toy Organizer

KidCo Bath Organizer

Between bathing supplies, wash rags, toys and more, the tub sure can get crowded in a hurry. We like that this organizer gives your little one space to play and bathe while still keeping everything you need within reach.

Another great tip? Shopping the Comforts line on to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices—and follow along on social media to see product releases and news at @comfortsforbaby.

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

Motherly editors’ 7 favorite hacks for organizing their diaper bags

Make frantically fishing around for a diaper a thing of the past!

As any parent knows, the term "diaper bag" only scratches the surface. In reality, this catchall holds so much more: a change of clothes, bottles, snacks, wipes and probably about a dozen more essential items.

Which makes finding the exact item you need, when you need it (read: A diaper when you're in public with a blowout on your hands) kind of tricky.

That's why organization is the name of the game when it comes to outings with your littles. We pooled the Motherly team of editors to learn some favorite hacks for organizing diaper bags. Here are our top tips.

1. Divide and conquer with small bags

Here's a tip we heard more than a few times: Use smaller storage bags to organize your stuff. Not only is this helpful for keeping related items together, but it can also help keep things from floating around in the expanse of the larger diaper bag. These bags don't have to be anything particularly fancy: an unused toiletry bag, pencil case or even plastic baggies will work.

2. Have an emergency changing kit

When you're dealing with a diaper blowout situation, it's not the time to go searching for a pack of wipes. Instead, assemble an emergency changing kit ahead of time by bundling a change of baby clothes, a fresh diaper, plenty of wipes and hand sanitizer in a bag you can quickly grab. We're partial to pop-top wipes that don't dry out or get dirty inside the diaper bag.

3. Simplify bottle prep

Organization isn't just being able to find what you need, but also having what you need. For formula-feeding on the go, keep an extra bottle with the formula you need measured out along with water to mix it up. You never know when your outing will take longer than expected—especially with a baby in the mix!

4. Get resealable snacks

When getting out with toddlers and older kids, snacks are the key to success. Still, it isn't fun to constantly dig crumbs out of the bottom of your diaper bag. Our editors love pouches with resealable caps and snacks that come in their own sealable containers. Travel-sized snacks like freeze-dried fruit crisps or meal-ready pouches can get an unfair reputation for being more expensive, but that isn't the case with the budget-friendly Comforts line.

5. Keep a carabiner on your keychain

You'll think a lot about what your child needs for an outing, but you can't forget this must-have: your keys. Add a carabiner to your keychain so you can hook them onto a loop inside your diaper bag. Trust us when we say it's a much better option than dumping out the bag's contents on your front step to find your house key!

6. Bundle your essentials

If your diaper bag doubles as your purse (and we bet it does) you're going to want easy access to your essentials, too. Dedicate a smaller storage bag of your diaper bag to items like your phone, wallet and lip balm. Then, when you're ready to transfer your items to a real purse, you don't have to look for them individually.

7. Keep wipes in an outer compartment

Baby wipes aren't just for diaper changes: They're also great for cleaning up messy faces, wiping off smudges, touching up your makeup and more. Since you'll be reaching for them time and time again, keep a container of sensitive baby wipes in an easily accessible outer compartment of your bag.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

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