A bit of a different topic today…….OK a totally different topic really (only a very tenuous link to ‘swimmers’ if I’m honest)
My wife and I had been trying for a while to start a family, with no success. I am a fairly healthy male, don’t smoke, don’t drink keep myself reasonably active, there was no real reason why, it just didn’t happen for us.
Then, about 2 years ago we made an appointment with the fertility clinic and went through a serious of tests. Like I said I am reasonably fit and healthy and I reassured my wife that whatever the problems where not to worry about it, we would get through it.
The truth is I assumed the problem was on her end.
When the results came back, that my sperm count was through the roof, mobility was excellent but morphology was incredibly rubbish, I had no idea what that ment. Turns out, basically that all my swimmers were misshapen. Chances of us having a family naturally was practically zero.
Suddenly, for the 1st time in my life, I started to question my masculinity.
I felt like less of a man!
Biologically, the one thing I was supposed to do – I couldn’t.
All I wanted to do was hide. We were offered counselling, I declined – I don’t want my friends and family to know so why would I tell a total stranger!!
Gradually, the realisation that in all likelihood I would never be a father settled in. I talked to Louise about it, put on a brave face, said I was OK.
Inside I was really not
What sort of a husband couldn’t provide for his wife?
It wasnt just me that my inability for be ‘a man’ impacted on, it ment that Louise could never be a mother and it was my fault.
All nonsense of course, but that’s what it felt like.
Does not being able to reproduce impact on your feelings of masculinity?
Absolutely it does.
Slowly but surely I agreed to start talking to a few friends about it, self depreciating humour helped (typically male) and, to my surprise, not one of my friends were anything but supportive.
No one judged me, no one laughed at me, (there were a few jokes about the swim coach whose swimmers couldn’t swim. 😂) but that was it.
All the fear of being thought less of a man was in my head.
Louise and I agreed to put our names on the fertility clinic list for ICSI (regular IVF wouldn’t work for us due to my morphology) in the knowledge we couldn’t afford more than the one round on the NHS.
We agreed that if it didn’t work we would move forwards, together, enjoy more elaborate holidays, maybe a nicer car, but we would move forwards.
I slowly discovered that being a good husband, son, brother, uncle or even just a good human-being had nothing to do with my ability to reproduce.
I have always kinda paid lip service to Movember, but this year it took on a new meaning for me.
Suddenly I realised that, as a man, I don’t want to talk about what’s wrong with me, I don’t want to go to the doctors, I’m a man – Im fine.
The biggest killer of men my age is suicide!
How many men could be saved if they opened up and talked about the pressure of being a man?
No one is bullet proof, no one expects us to be able to cope with everything life throws at us and, if your friends are worth having no one will judge you.
Being tough or having a stiff upper lip isn’t what makes us manly. Men cry, men get upset, men have difficulties with pressure and fears about health.
Real men admit it and talk about it.
The last 2 years have changed me as a man, they have made me see that we don’t have to bottle things up, we can talk, we can admit we struggle and it doesn’t impact on our masculinity.
I hope that, in 2017, more men realise there is support out there for us……and using it isn’t a sign of weakness