What It’s Like To Learn Your Partner Is The Reason You Can’t Have A Baby
When all you want in the world is to have a baby, it can be devastating to learn that your own body is making that close to impossible. On the other hand, what if you’re in ideal shape to create life but your partner’s system won’t cooperate? That situation lets loose an entirely different set of emotions, and every couple going through it has a different way of coping.
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In encouraging news for couples trying to get pregnant, French researchers say they’ve found a way to create human sperm in a test tube, meaning infertile men may still be able to produce viable sperm in the near future. Of course, that’s only one of many factors that can get in a couple’s way when trying to start a family. Here, five people get real about how they moved forward when their partners couldn’t produce children.
“When my husband was born, he had cryptorchidism, otherwise known as two undescended testicles. They were corrected immediately upon birth, but it wasn’t until we were unable to get pregnant that we realized the repairs of that surgery had caused long-term effects.
"The initial diagnosis didn’t exactly change our relationship at first. We suspected something might have be ‘wrong with his plumbing,’ but by the same token, we couldn’t be sure until it was verified. Once it was, I did go through a bout of depression, thinking I would never be a mother. It took some time for me to get through that, but I never resented my husband. He didn’t have any say in what happened to him at birth, nor was he aware of how big of an issue it was when we were dating and later married. He was as blindsided as I was.
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"We both had to go through our own independent grieving processes. We had good jobs that paid well, but we were by no means rich and able to afford all the costs associated with IVF. It took a bit of time coming to terms with that, but once we did, it was simply a matter of figuring out what was next. While we both had our ups and downs during the early days of the process, we were very supportive of each other and still are today."
"Later, we learned that IVF was covered under our insurance plan, and we started that process. Our first daughter was born in June 2010. We decided when she was about 10 months old to try the process again. In the summer of 2011, we did a single frozen embryo transfer, which resulted in our second daughter, born in April 2012." —Michelle B.
“My wife had polycystic ovaries. Due to this, her periods ranged from 28 to 60 days, and she probably wasn’t producing eggs during ovulation. We were determined to continue until we tried everything. It didn’t matter whether the problem lay with her or me. The bottom line was that we as a unit needed help. I gave up drinking and cigars—I would have given up anything if it had helped us to become parents.
"In our case, trying to have a baby brought us closer together. Our only viable option was to attempt IVF, so we tried three times. The first, she got pregnant but we lost the baby. The second was just a waste of time and had no result. The third time, she got pregnant with twins. The end result was that one baby was pronounced dead after an emergency Caesarean section. My wife and the other baby were fighting for their lives in different hospitals but ended up making it through.” —Steve P.
“My husband and I both experienced our own infertility issues. I had hormonal imbalances that required extra hormonal support from the time I was a teenager. My husband at the time had low sperm count and low motility of those that were viable. We first attempted AI (artificial inseminations) before going the IVF route.
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"It changed our relationship very little. I went through some mild depression and guilt, and we were unsuccessful for almost nine years of marriage. Finally, having a solution that was mostly covered by our insurance plan at the time was a Godsend. We were very supportive of each other; there was no resentment at all, and we drew closer together and to God. My husband, who is deathly afraid of shots and needles, courageously pushed past his fears to give me all my required injections.
"We now have two daughters. Our IVF baby is now 15, and our second daughter—our natural baby—just turned 14. We are still not entirely sure why we were able to have a natural baby after going through IVF. The doctors think that it's because my hormonal issues corrected themselves after the first pregnancy. I did require extra progesterone support at the beginning of the pregnancy with my second, but other than that, we had two great pregnancies.” —Karen T.
"My wife has a genetic condition called Fragile X Syndrome (which can cause cognitive issues) and diminished ovarian reserve (or a lower number of eggs than most women have). Once we realized that we had to contend with that, we started looking into the implications of having children. We were thinking of whether or not they'd be affected by Fragile X or be carriers, and the idea of that became pretty problematic when trying to have children naturally. My wife is a very logical thinker, and we decided to find out as much as we could regarding the disease and what our options were for having children. The reproductive endocrinologist we were talking with said we could go through various tests to see what we could do but that it was really unlikely we would be able to have children using both of our genes. We tried anyway, and it was a complete failure. That was sort of traumatic for us, even though we knew it was likely.
"I’m glad my wife was so strong about it because it was rough. The only thing I could do was be supportive of her, be understanding, and also be somewhat protective when people would ask when we were going to have kids. We were a team going through this, and we were going to solve the problem one way or another. We talked a lot about what we could each do to make the other feel better.
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"We continued on with another option, which was to use a donor egg and proceed with having children. We were adamant that we were going to have kids. I'd always wanted to be a dad, and when we realized we couldn't have them together the way most people do, it made us want to be parents even more. We eventually were able to find an anonymous donor, and once we got the egg, we went through a fresh cycle, which means the embryos weren't frozen. That effort failed, though. We took a little bit of time off to try to recuperate from that. About six months later, our first frozen cycle worked and resulted in the birth of our daughter in May 2003. We were ecstatic. It was so good; we decided to get back into it right away with another frozen cycle, which led to the birth of our son in December 2004. Everybody’s healthy! With a lot of time, effort, and dollars, we did eventually get two healthy children from IVF and donor eggs. Ultimately, it drew us together.” —Chris W.