It’s the final hours of National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW) and I’ve been feeling guilty I haven’t written my own “Bust a Myth” post. There have been so many great posts and myths busted already and we all know that we need more than one week a year to grow awareness.
So, squeeking in under the wire (West coast time at least) here’s my contribution, dedicated to my husband and all the men of the world who are busting down infertility myths in their own way.
Myth: It’s only women who are breaking open infertility issues.
My husband doesn’t blog or tweet, but he’s been open about his infertility from the start. It’s made me realize how one person’s transparency can start a trend of awareness.
The day we met with the urologist and learned that Mr. T has zero sperm, I thought for sure that he would want to keep this a secret, to be vague about our reasons for needing IVF. I wouldn’t have blamed him. Fertility- especially male fertility- is so tightly woven into masculinity in our culture. Admitting you have zero sperm because your manhood doesn’t function properly, is exposing vulnerability in the bravest way.
As we started the IVF journey, I listened to him explain to friends and family again and again the details about his faulty plumbing and the reasons we couldn’t have a baby “the usual way.” It was a huge relief to me that our reasons for IVF didn’t have to be a guilty secret, but I wondered if it was hard for him.
“It is what it is,” he’d say.
At first I thought he did it to protect me, so that I didn’t feel like the “broken one.” I know he’d protect me against anything, and I’m sure that was a part of it. But I also began to realize it was important for him to talk about it, to bring it out in the open.
Recently some of our friends began their own pregnancy quests. The guys came to my husband to ask about infertility questions and spoke openly about their own low counts and struggles. That they felt comfortable talking about their infertility issues made me so proud of my husband, bravely being the first to say it’s nothing to be embarrassed about. The awareness in our group of friends has grown, and now the careless boasts about “super sperm” as a mark of their manliness is a thing of the past. Small steps, but they make a difference.
If Mr. T and I are ever fortunate enough to have a baby, our son would have a 25% chance of inheriting his dad’s infertility. After some discussion about this, Mr. T said that if he could successfully deal with his infertility, that by the time our potential son would need to take this path, science and society would make his journey a far easier one.
So men of the world: you don’t have to start a blog or post your infertility on Facebook. But being open about male infertility and showing it’s nothing to be embarrassed about will go a long way toward helping others. Maybe even your own son one day.
Thanks to everyone for all the great myth-busting posts during NIAW this week. Let’s keep the spirit alive all year long.
Update to our fertility journey for those not on Twitter: Our Beta blood tests show good numbers and are rising. (Mr. T is keeping all the numbers from me so I don’t obsess- it’s helping- though of course I still worry.) Our first scan is May 11th. Doing my best to keep my hopes up that this time will be different. Thanks for keeping us in your thoughts.