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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.

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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 facebook.com/newyorkcomedyfestival. Follow John and Silvija on twitter at @thejohnmurray and @silvijaozols.

This is how we’re defining success this school year

Hint: It's not related to grades.

In the ever-moving lives of parents and children, opportunities to slow down and reflect on priorities can be hard to come by. But a new school year scheduled to begin in the midst of a global pandemic offers the chance to reflect on how we should all think about measures of success. For both parents and kids, that may mean putting a fresh emphasis on optimism, creativity and curiosity.

Throughout recent decades, "school success" became entangled with "academic achievement," with cases of anxiety among school children dramatically increasing in the past few generations. Then, almost overnight, the American school system was turned on its head in the spring of 2020. As we look ahead to a new school year that will look like no year past, more is being asked of teachers, students and parents, such as acclimating to distance learning, collaborating with peers from afar and aiming to maintain consistency with schooling amidst general instability due to COVID.

Despite the inherent challenges, there is also an overdue opportunity to redefine success during the school year by finding fresh ways to keep students and their parents involved in the learning process.

"I always encourage my son to try at least one difficult thing every school year," says Arushi Garg, parenting blogger and mom of a 4-year-old. "This challenges him but also allows me to remind him to be optimistic! Lots of things in life are hard, and it's important we learn to be positive during difficult times. Fostering a sense of optimism allows kids to push beyond what they thought possible, like biking without training wheels or reading above their grade level."

Here are a few mantras to keep in mind this school year:

Quality learning matters more than quantifying learning

After focusing on standardized measures of academic success for so long, the learning environment this next school year may involve more independent, remote learning. Some parents are considering this an exciting opportunity for their children to assume a bigger role in what they are learning—and parents are also getting on board by supporting their children's education with engaging, positive learning materials like Highlights Magazine.

As a working mom, Garg also appreciates that Highlights Magazine can help engage her son while she's also working. She says, "He sits next to me and solves puzzles in the magazine or practices his writing from the workbook."

Keep an open mind as "school" looks different

Whether children are of preschool age or in the midst of high school, "going to school" is bound to look different this year. Naturally, this may require some adjustment as kids become accustomed to new guidelines. Although many parents may wish to shelter our kids from challenges, others believe optimism can be fostered through adversity when everyone is committed to adapting to new experiences.

"Honestly, I am yet to figure out when I will be comfortable sending [my son] back [to school]," says Garg. In the meantime, she's helping her son remain connected with friends who also read Highlights Magazine by encouraging the kids to talk about what they are learning on video calls.

Follow children's cues about what interests them

For Garg, her biggest hope for this school year is that her son will create "success" for himself by embracing new learning possibilities with positivity.

"Encouraging my son to try new things has given him a chance to prove that he can do anything," she says. "He takes his previous success as an example now and feels he can fail multiple times before he succeeds."

There's no denying that this school year will be far from the norm. But, perhaps, we can create a new, better way of defining our children's success in school because of it.

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

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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 www.comfortsforbaby.com 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.

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Chrissy Teigen/Instagram

When Chrissy Teigen announced her third pregnancy earlier this year we were so happy for her and now our hearts are with her as she is going through a pain that is unimaginable for many, but one that so many other mothers know.

Halfway through a high-risk pregnancy complicated by placenta issues, Teigen announced late Wednesday that she has suffered a pregnancy loss.

Our deepest condolences go out to Chrissy and her husband, John Legend (who has been by her side in the hospital for several days now).

In a social media post, Teigen explained she named this baby Jack.

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"We are shocked and in the kind of deep pain you only hear about, the kind of pain we've never felt before. We were never able to stop the bleeding and give our baby the fluids he needed, despite bags and bags of blood transfusions. It just wasn't enough," she wrote.

She continued: "We never decide on our babies' names until the last possible moment after they're born, just before we leave the hospital. But we, for some reason, had started to call this little guy in my belly Jack. So he will always be Jack to us. Jack worked so hard to be a part of our little family, and he will be, forever."

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