Tuesday, November 11, 2008

After "The Call"

While my poll runs it course I will go into some detail on what went through my head after getting a call from the Dr. telling me that no sperm were found.

I never anticipated that when the call came that we would be told that *I* was the problem. Honestly, I didn't think there was a problem. Sometimes it just takes time to get pregnant. But, she was certain that there was something wrong and we went through the process to find out if anything was.

My first thought when he told me that there were no sperm was "None?!" I could have more easily accepted that there were only a few, or they were not very energetic, but the none took caught me off guard. In speaking with him about this, he said that none typically means that there is a clog in the plumbing and is somewhat rare but not unheard of by them. When I asked if another test would be advised he said that it was unlikely that the results would be any different. The call was very matter of fact from his side. But, he's not a shrink.

After hanging up, I remember just kind of sitting there trying to digest this and what it meant and what the problem could be. Many moons ago, there was an incident that involved a HS girlfriend and an abortion behind my back. This told me that whatever the problem was, it has not always been there. Speaking with the Dr, he agreed that my 3 hernia repairs were a likely cause. Over the years I have had 2 on one side and 1 on the other, effectively taking out the plumbing for both boys in the process. So much for redundancy.

While I knew that she would not be mad about it, my mind wandered to how she would react. Would she decide she wanted to find someone who could give her the children she so badly wanted? Since MF infertility is just about the end of the line for our realistic chances at biological children, we would have to do some soul searching.

The conversation with her about it went about as one would expect. Both of us were stunned by it, never expecting this. I didn't immediately go into asking her if she was going to bail on me. I wanted to let things settle a bit and see how she reacted. I honestly did not expect her to do that, but you never know and it was certainly possible.

I did ask her later that evening if she was going to leave me for someone who could provide her with children and she said she was not going to. I don't know how much I believed it at the time, but there was not much I could do beyond taking her word for it.

At that point, we decided to go to the urologist and see what he had to say and explore our options from there, not really making any decisions until we had all the facts. The problem is that in this, there are little to no facts. The only real fact being that we aren't going to have kids the old fashioned way. Beyond that, it was all a numbers game, IVF, IUI, adoption were all chances.

We did start learning about adoption, what the process was and such.

The trip to the urologist did not yield any good news, basically nothing more than we already knew. All he could say was that there were no obvious problems that could be detected by physical examination. Our only option was extraction. Even that was a crap shoot. Everyone suspected that it was a plumbing problem, but could not say for sure. It was entirely possible that that was not the problem and when we did extraction they would find none.

The option of donor sperm was brought up and I flat refused it. I simply could not handle my wife being pregnant with some other mans baby. Sexual or not, that was outside my realm of comfort by a long shot. To me, if that occurs I would be forced to find the donor and shoot him for getting my wife pregnant. I know that others go this route without this issue, and thats cool. Just not the option for me. Yes, I do feel strongly enough about this to make an executive decsision regarding it and it was not something open to disucssion with her. If she wanted to go that route and forced the issue, there would be a divorce involved.

The single biggest impact of all of this was that one of the defining traits of being male was gone. While I am not a real "macho" type guy, there is a huge impact on your self image. Not being female I can't say for sure, but I suspect it is very similar to what many infertile women experience upon finding this out as well. It took some time to sink in and to not view myself as a lesser man or as "broken". But, at the end of the day, the fact is that I am broken. Like it or lump it, thats the hand I have been delt. After several months of letting this sink in, I have more or less come to terms with it. I really don't have any desire to try to fix it, because the likelyhood of success is fairly small and I just don't want the hope and likely letdown of it not fixing and enduring the procedures for basically nothing.

This will probably fall into the TMI category, but after speaking with several people about it, I think it needs clarification. While the plumbing is clogged, this does not mean that I don't ejaculate. I don't know the details about where all the components of it come from, the plumbing from the boys only supplies the sperm, the rest of it comes from somewhere else. That is why it was not obvious to us that something was not right. We thought everything was working and as far as we could tell it was.

And lastly, I know that much of the infertile community is female and that some of you have partners who have problems similar to mine. If nothing else, let them know that they are not alone and other men have the same issues. If they would like they are more than welcome to contact me if they would like.


  1. Semen comes from the seminal vesicle while sperm comes from the testes. Here's a handy illustration! Thank god for Wiki....


  2. Welcome! Great to have you amoung our ranks - elusive male.

    Looking forward to reading your perspective on live, infertility and anything else!

  3. Aw...look at Manda all commenting on your blog.
    I'm especially interested to hear your perspective because Al is so damn close-mouthed about his feelings. I asked him yesterday after reading your below post if he had done the sperm aspiration surgery just because I wanted him to. I will now take everything you say and as him about it.
    Ha. Men.

  4. I was actually the one that found out the news about my husband and that phone call and ride home will forever be etched in my memory as one of the worse days of my life. I couldn't believe I was going to have to tell him this news. It wasn't like having to tell someone they are dying, but in a way it was. At first he was pretty matter of fact about it (we suspected because he had chemo and radiation for Hodgkins as a teenager), but I could read his pain. Many times he told me he would understand if I wanted to leave him.

    I'm so glad I get to read this, while I can already see many differences in our journies a lot of the things you are saying could have been written by my husband!

  5. Thanks for writing about this, I do think it's very helpful to have the male perspective in a world (IF blogging) that's so very, uh, female. It's interesting to me that this is the case when the causes of IF are about 50/50 male/female, and I sometimes wonder what it says about men versus women (or women versus men) and our ways of dealing with things, but then, no matter whose medical condition causes it, if medical treatment is pursued it's mostly the woman who's undergoing the treatments and that, too, may be a factor in who's blogging about what. Anyway, key point: your writing is very clear and informative; thanks!

    I arrived at MF infertility differently -- via a hubby who'd had a vasectomy years ago and (after our marriage) a failed reversal. We did go the treatment route (successfully as it turned out), and I think the emotions of a planned infertility, even if one later wants to unplan it, are very different from those of an unplanned one (and mine, as opposed to his, wasn't planned exactly, but then again I at least knew some of what I was getting into -- though not all of what it would involve as things turned out -- when I married him.

    I look forward to reading more posts and wish you luck in your foster-parent journey.

  6. Thanks so much for your insights and candor. It is hard--whether you're male or female--to get over the "broken" idea. At first, I had to accept it before I could get past it and remember all the other aspects of myself that worked just great, thank you.

    I also had to struggle with the idea that my husband would leave me because having kids was proving difficult (though no one has ever given us a real, clear diagnosis), or that he would be happier with a woman who could get knocked up at the drop of a hat. That's a tough idea to get past, too. Funny how the feelings seem so similar, regardless of gender...

    Keep writing!

  7. I think you're very brave for blogging about all this. My husband once told me that he would rather be castrated than "share" about infertility. (The implication here is with people OTHER than me but from what I've seen over the last 3 years I think he pretty much meant with anyone at all.) So, anyway, I give a big fat kudos to you.