Let’s just start this with a statement. Some people don’t want children, some people can’t have children, some have great difficulty conceiving, and some just pop them out.
You know what all four have in common? Their family plans are none of your business.
You don’t get to ask, when will you start a family? You don’t get to ask, would you like another one? You don’t get to ask, why don’t you want a child?
You wanna know why? Go read the last sentence of that second paragraph.
What often feels like an innocent question is incredibly loaded, and is likely to stir trauma in a person with fertility problems.
But you’re a dad though! What do I know about infertility? Well funny you should ask.
We tried for Winter for close to four years with zero luck. Investigations into this turned up that Tracy had PCOS. She blamed herself for our lack of conception.
For about as long as I can remember, I’ve had this weird feeling that I too might have trouble in the reproduction department. A check up on my sperm count soon discovered that my count was both low, and with low motility. Basically meaning the swimmers that were there just weren’t quick enough, or going in the wrong direction.
For anyone curious, I wasn’t given a quiet room or a selection of “inspirational” magazines as comedy films seem to suggest. I was to use a hospital toilet. Not pleasant, particularly when there’s other cubicles and some dude is relieving themselves of another bodily need (noisily).
You know what though? This diagnosis gave me comfort. Having one partner in the relationship blaming themselves is difficult, but knowing there’s a problem on both sides shares that load. Not for a second did I feel this was Tracy’s fault, but I know she did.
During our consultation with the hospital, I was asked if I’d ever sustained damage to that area of my body.
Instantly I was thrown back in time to an experience I had as a kid. A few friends and I were out playing one day. For some reason we thought it was a good idea to write the word slow on the road in chalk, to calm the traffic after noticing a few cars going a little too fast.
During the process of this, I was spotted by my uncle (actually my mum’s friend’s husband). Who proceed to call me a ‘fucking idiot’ and then kick me right in the balls before dragging me home to my mum.
I’d repressed that for the longest time, but I genuinely believe my fertility issues are linked to that event. Before I get back on track I’d like to say Fuck You to this man who saw fit to assault a child
He’s since passed away, which I appreciate is difficult for his family but I’ll be blunt, and this applies to everyone, death does not instantly make someone a good person or eliminate any ill they’ve performed in life. Good and bad are objective, but we are responsible for our own actions.
On three separate occasions, three separate doctors told us we were not likely to conceive naturally. It hurt. I’ve wanted to be a dad for more time than I could say and knowing that this was not likely to happen was a lot to bear.
Despite this, we put ourselves on the NHS waiting list for fertility treatment. The way this worked at the time was our area, Greater Glasgow and Clyde allowed for 2 attempts. Less populated regions had a higher third attempt.
We spoke at length on this, and decided we’d do all we could to give this a chance, but we wouldn’t go private for the treatment if it didn’t work out. The financial stress wasn’t worth it, and in all likelihood would make things more difficult. We decided if we didn’t conceive, we’d just sell the flat and go traveling.
We watched the diet, took our vitamins, and drank our Goji Berry Juice – I’d call it gummy berry juice. We’d follow Tracy’s ovulation cycle, have fun while trying and run out the clock. We also visited our good friend Paula of Health Rediscovered for acupuncture and moxibustion treatment.
A few months before our IVF date, we got hit by a small girl in a big car – I spoke about this HERE. The vile, venomous, villainess she is, she denied being involved in the accident. Her failure to admit fault, and her ignoring contact from the insurance company left her insurers no choice but to pay out.
With the money from this, we booked up to go to Kenya and had an amazing time. A few weeks after we returned from our holiday was our IVF date. The week before it, Tracy took a pregnancy test and it was positive!
I put our success down to the holiday giving us a chance to relax before what was due to be a series of intrusive treatments. We were blessed by good fortune.
We’re lucky, we know that. Having one child made us feel that it was possible again, so we tried, and tried, and tried but it never happened. As we had a child, we then couldn’t go for further IVF. Again we considered paying for the treatment, but we decided against chasing a child while we already have one. I didn’t want our daughter growing up in the shadow of a potential sibling.
We’ve left it to chance, with no hint of success. Would we have had another child? Circumstances permitting, yes, but our daughter is 9, my condition is worsening. and I honestly don’t think I’d manage. When all this Covid-19 nonsense is over, we hope to do some more travelling with Winter and let her see parts of the world we never got to see as kids.
That’s great, but have you ever been asked about having more kids?
Yep. At a family party a few years ago, a partner of my uncle, who I hadn’t seen in years, started talking to us about Winter, how polite she was, all the stuff parents like to hear.
‘Would you have another one?’ She asks.
‘Yeah, but we’re lucky to have her,’ I replied, ‘we’ve been trying since with no luck.’
‘You just need to keep trying!’ she urges.
‘Yeah.’ I nodded, just being polite, before changing the subject and getting out of the way.
She comes up to me again a bit later.
‘She’s lovely isn’t she?’
‘Aye,’ I reply with a smile.
‘You really should have another one.’
‘Like I was saying, the doctors have said we’re unlikely to ever conceive naturally. We’re lucky to have her.’
‘Ah but it only takes one.’
Again I nodded and change the subject, she’s upsetting us both by this point, and inside I’m screaming ‘And Winter is that one! Piss off!‘
She finds us again as we’re leaving.
‘Nice seeing you, now get up the road and get trying again.’
Despite myself I’m pleasant, but holy crap. I don’t give a damn that this woman is vaguely related to me. I communicated the boundary on this conversation, and she kept pressing it.
Firstly, it’s none of her business but this need to push and push is just disrespectful. It annoys me years on that someone, when hearing we have fertility problems keeps saying have a baby, have a baby. If it was that simple we’d be living like the bloody Waltons at this point, with our 10 bedrooms and matching dungarees.
As I’ve said, we were lucky to avoid the whole IVF process. My love and support goes to those who are doing so, or have in the past, I feel your pain and I’m always happy to talk about this if you need an ear.
For my friends who don’t want to have children, I love you too. It’s not for everyone, and this societal pressure is absolute nonsense.
I like people, in fact, some of my favourite people are people, but there are enough of us on this planet. Don’t let anyone influence your decision.
Wow, that’s a lot of words. I really could have summed this up in one phrase…
Thanks for reading!