Another SNAIF – who needs sleep anyway

Hi kids. I’m feeling kinda crappy today after another SNAIF (sleepless night attributed to infertility, in case you didn’t know…and why would you, I made it up in the spirit of infertility discussions – “ensure you use as many acronyms as possible”). Problem last night was my brain wouldn’t switch off – your mom will tell you that we should just be thankful that it’s finally switched on…but lets leave her out of the conversation as punishment for being so cheeky!!

There were a few reasons I couldn’t sleep. Firstly your mother snores. You’re probably used to it after the 9 months you spent in her womb, vibrating like you’re on one of those weight-loss machines…but when she snores, it’s not those petite little cute snuffles, no, it’s foundation shaking, bed rattling, measure it on the Richter scale type snoring. After sleeping in the same bed as her for 13 years (and stop doing the maths on how long we’ve been married!), I’m fairly used to it…my hearing’s not what it used to be, but that actually helps. But there are just some nights where it keeps me awake. This wouldn’t be so bad if she didn’t have the fantastic ability to fall asleep within 28 seconds of the light being turned off!! That was one reason I couldn’t fall asleep.

Some of the other reasons is that it’s been a trying and emotional time, with lots of thoughts and ideas and decisions, which, annoyingly,  seem to come to the surface as soon as the lights go out…

I also made the mistake of answering a post on the forum just before shutting the pc down and going to bed. I suppose analysing my feelings and thoughts and trying to put them down in writing just before climbing into bed is like firing the starting pistol – not clever.

But the main reason for my SNAIF was that after dinner last night, we watched an episode of “A Child Against All Odds”, a six-part BBC series on different aspects of infertility and IVF. And the episode we watched was called “Make me a Dad”. Basically, it covered the stories of a couple of guys with fertility issues.

Now, I want to break in here and tell you about some of the threads on the forum. One of the recurring themes seems to be about the insensitive, ignorant and often hurtful things that ‘fertiles’ have said to ‘infertiles’. I’ve had some fun imagining some blistering comebacks to some of these – the more obnoxious the better! But the point is that people don’t know what to say, and invariably, in trying to say something sympathetic or encouraging, end up saying absolutely the wrong thing.

Back to the episode we were watching last night. For obvious reasons, I was feeling quite emotionally involved while watching their stories unfold – although neither of the guys had my particular fertility issue, they were obviously going through some of the same thoughts and issues that I’ve been having, so I was really rooting for them, hoping they would get their little miracles.

However…and I’m sure you knew there was a ‘however’ coming, the one scene absolutely knocked me out for the count…This guy, Tom, has got cystic fibrosis, and has to go in for a TESE (testicular sperm extraction) where they actually extract tissue directly from the testes to try and recover some sperm to enabe them to perform IVF with ICSI. This was not a nice thing for a guy to watch, had my legs firmly crossed and was wincing as the doctor injected the local anesthetic, so was really feeling for the bloke. They extract some tissue and take it next door where they check it all under the microscope, looking for those elusive swimmers…and the great news for Tom is they find some. They rush back into the room where he’s still lying there, to tell them the good news and allow the doctor to extract some more tissue to increase the harvest, so to speak…and it’s at this point that Tom says something like “well at least now I know I’m a real man”…

As you can imagine (or maybe you can’t), this rang through my head like someone shouting through a megaphone…I’m not sure I took in much of the rest of the episode…I think that both guys got their kids…but all I could think was that here was this guy who’s having fertility issues himself, and he still equates being a “real man” with the production of sperm. I just couldn’t get it out of my head…wanted to pop round and deck the bloke, cystic fibrosis or not…I felt like here was someone who should know better…but he said exactly what he was feeling and unfortunately it’s what all of us blokes feel.

This has really got me down today – I spent all night thinking about it and the feeling of betrayal from this guy who’s  actually just spoken the truth about his feelings…and about mine. Sometime in the night (probably closer to early morning), my thoughts moved on to our decision to ignore the treatment option and go straight down the sperm donor route. Was I giving up my chance to have kids that are mine, was I giving up the chance to feel like a ‘real man’…and so now I’m confused again.

Your mom must have picked up on some of this, because she emailed me this morning to send me more information about the treatment option – she’s quite perceptive for a snorer!! I’m not sure now, but I’m leaning towards giving it a try – I’ll be honest and say I don’t know if this is the ‘sensible’ thing to do, or if all it’ll accomplish is closure on the idea of fathering you guys myself…I don’t know. But I will keep you posted on our decisions, our reasons and our hopes and dreams…some people refer to dealing with infertility as a journey, I just wish we had an “infertility GPS” to help us get to the right place with as few wrong turns as possible.

And guys, remember that if you ever get to the point where you feel the whole world is against you and that nothing’s going your way, you’ll always have your mom and me on your side, in your corner, trying to be as supportive as we know how, because no matter how we get you, we are determined we will get you and we will love you unconditionally.

I’ll sign off now – this post’s a little too down-in-the-dumps, I’m sorry, I will promise to try and lighten things up tomorrow. Love ya.

~ by HopelesslyTTC on 24/08/2009.

9 Responses to “Another SNAIF – who needs sleep anyway”

  1. Hey Hopelessly TTC

    I just wanted to say that I am so sorry for what you and your wife are going through – my husband and I are going through exactly the same (well is it ever exactly the same?) he is azoospermic (I think that is the correct term) basically he has no sperm at all, never has and never will. We never knew at all and found out recently and are currently trying to make a choice with regards to a sperm donor. Your messages to your future children are beautiful and have given me some insight into what my husband may be feeling. We also watched “A Child Against All Odds – Make Me A Dad” on Sunday (isn’t it amazing how these things find you?) Anyway, I could go on forever but I just wanted to wish you both the best whatever you may decided and hope that everything falls into place for you soon

  2. Hi there,

    First, Congratulations on your new website. I like it. Added it to my favourites.

    Regarding the GPS and IF, there is a book :”Navigation through the land of IF” written by IF Queen Melissa Ford, that has a v.v. good chapter on decision making while TTC.

    Ah and another thing. Well I have a friend who did 11 IUI with donor sperm. Nothing. Then, after 2 rounds of IVF/ICSI, they got their twins. Just to say that unfortunaltely, treatments do not always work …. fast … while our Bioclocks are ticking.
    So what about your DW and yourself building your family simultanously; trying AI, IUI, IVF with d-sperm and at the same time trying the shots to produce sperm

    • Hi Sophie, Cheers for the comments. I’ll have a look at the book – could do with all the help we could get at the moment!!! I know what you’re saying about the IUI not being a cert – may be a good few cycles of that before going on to IVF, but as preliminary checks say the missus is 100%, until we find out otherwise, we will probably go with IUI. We talked about simultaneously trying AID while I go on the shots, but my feeling is (and this is my feeling…not in anyway passing judgement on others who may have gone this route) that this wouldn’t be fair on the first kid if we had one with AID and then managed to have another using my own sperm…I think sibling rivalry is always there and how much more difficult for the first kid to come to terms with it if it’s conceived using donor sperm while his brother or sister wasn’t…so we’ve decided that if we do go the donor route, that I won’t go on any meds or pursue creating/using my own sperm…but that’s our thoughts at the moment…if I’ve learnt one thing through this ordeal, it’s that your mind’s never made up until you get to the point of having to make the decision…and things can still change. Cheers HopelesslyTTC

  3. Hi Lost Girl.
    Thanks for the message. I’m really sorry to hear about your husbands infertility – I know what this feels like and don’t need to imagine what he’s going through having just found out himself. It’s devastating and humiliating but sounds like you’ve already come to terms with it if you’re looking at sperm donors. I would love to get your views on the sperm donors available – I don’t know if you’re in South Africa and if so where, and which clinic you’re using, but it doesn’t seem like there’s a huge selection…
    Always happy to chat and exchange stories/worries/thoughts with you or your hubby if you’d like. Cheers HopelesslyTTC

  4. Thanks Hopelessly TTC – it is nice not to feel so alone in all this (not that I would wish this on anyone…so hopefully you know what I mean) It really is like a whole new world with it’s own lingo and rules, which you know nothing about until you get there. We are in KZN but are using a clinic in Jhb – because things are not complicated enough 🙂 We certainly have not come to terms with it, because as you know the questions are endless and the answers very few, but we want a child desperately and like you and your wife want to experience the pregnancy and birth and donor sperm is the only way we will ever achieve that dream. The clinic that we are dealing with uses Cape Cryo and I was STUNNED at how small the selection was – but strangely enough it actually helped having a smaller list and the process of elimination was quick. Apparently there is supposed to be a “spiritual” aspect as to why you select the one you do and I think that is true. The only scary thing is that they can only have 5 successful pregnancies (good in some ways I know) and so the question of siblings just feels like a huge time game – once we have one child (God willing) will we have enough time to use the same donor again before 4 other women in the world use him and have a successful pregnancy. We so desperately would like more than one chilc and we would like them to be 100% biologically related. I guess at this stage we cannot be greedy and just have to surrender – kind of “jump and hope the net appears”. Scariest gamble ever!!!

    • Hey Lost Girl. I hear you on the lack of choice…but I suppose it’s not like walking into Pick n Pay and picking up a straw or two of cryogenically frozen sperm. Funnily enough, while checking out the California sperm bank, I read that it’s not uncommon for buyers to buy a number of straws and keep them frozen at their local clinic – with the intention if using them for child number 2 or 3…sort of stockpiling your genetic material…which makes a lot of sense, but I guess they’re not as worried about the same donor fathering more than 5 or 6 kids (and with 290 million people in the US, you could see why)…the other thing that made me laugh was when you order (we didn’t place an order but I wanted to see what was involved) they ask you how many ‘straws’ you want because their ‘popular donors sell out regularly’….yeeha capitalism!! Only other option is to find a sperm donor locally who isn’t currently ‘making deposits’ at a local bank – we’ve jokingly talked about asking some people we know….hey you fancy getting my wife pregnant…what do you think their reaction will worse, their wives reaction…! We called Cryobank in Pretoria – their list was 4 guys in the caucasian category…just 4, of which one was already ‘taken’ …and by someone on the Fertilicare forum no less (they mentioned the donor number in a post)…so three to choose from…and with the tiny bit of information they give you…it shouldn’t take long to decide…
      It’s a strange old world that’s for sure…All I can wish you is strength and that your time spent looking at fertility issues very quickly leads to time spent looking at baby clothes, car seats, schools, etc.

  5. I just wanted to introduce myself – I’m a IF blogger whose husband has azoo and who is the mother of an 18 month old little boy via donor sperm. I know you wrote this post a month ago, but I just got a chance to start reading through all your posts. This one STUNG! I can’t believe that guy said that. Well, actually I can believe it, but I would have hoped that someone facing not being able to have children would have a bit more respect. I will continue to follow your story and wish you and your wife all the best!

    • Hi Somewhat Ordinary,
      cheers for the comment. Looking back at it now, I’m still a teensy weensy bit surprised that the guy in the program said what he did, but, I think it’s what he really felt/believed and (unfortunately for some) it’s what most (if not all) guys think/feel/believe. I think that’s what makes male factor infertility such a touchy subject…it’s not so much the infertility but the perception of what makes a man a man…I’m sure women with fertility issues have similar feelings, but I don’t know if I’m biased, but it just seems worse with guys. I think that’s a huge reason why guys won’t talk about their fertility issues – we’re worried about being perceived as less than real men when we admit to have zero sperm. Saying that, I don’t think it applies to guys who have had a vasectomy- they were ‘real men’ and so fertile they had to have the snip to stop them having 28 kids (or something like that). But there aren’t many guys out there talking about their infertility…maybe it’s not as common as I thought it was…
      Anyway, cheers for reading/commenting.
      All the best and give your little one a hug – just cos you can!!

  6. I love this post – because it’s so honest and I can understand how you feel – in a girl kind of way. I used to feel that way about being a “real woman”. And my hubby actually told me he wanted to be the one with the fertility issues just so I wouldn’t suffer so much.

    It doesn’t take a real man to conceive a child. It takes a real man to be a good father. And that’s harder than it sounds. You don’t need sperm for that.

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