How did you feel when you learned of your infertility diagnosis?
We didn’t really have an “infertility diagnosis” per se. Granted, unexplained infertility is itself a diagnosis, but it’s not a “you’re infertile and here’s why” type situation. Maybe it’ll happen naturally, maybe it won’t. Maybe treatment will work, maybe it won’t. I just remember our doctor telling us it’s better to have no diagnosis than to have something we know we can’t overcome. We brushed it off at first, but after a while it started to make sense. It didn’t really start sinking in that it might never happen until after our 3rd or 4th failed IUI.
Were you resistant to visiting a doctor?
Totally. How embarrassing? You’re on this planet for literally one reason and you can’t do it. It took us until maybe 18 months of fruitless exercise to finally make an appointment. That initial consult was full of thoughts of embarrassing questions/procedures, cost, time investment, dealing with insurance, etc. Not exactly the romantic night with your spouse that most people envision when they start their families.
Were you open to pursuing fertility treatment?
I wasn’t against it as a whole. I resisted the idea that we would need it. See above about the embarrassment level. It turned out to be one of the best things we’ve ever done, though.
What did you know about IVF going into treatment?
I don’t want to say everything because that would make me a physician. But we knew about as much as one could possibly know from reading articles and forums. I think fertility patients are largely the best-educated patients around because there’s so much information out there. Plus, you have to wait for 6 or so months after your concerns start bubbling up to even be allowed to talk to a doctor in any real sense. All that time on your hands to just read.
Did you ever talk about this with any of your friends or family?
Not until after the first few failed attempts at an IUI did we really tell anyone, and even then it was just our parents and a close friend. It became pretty obvious with so many doctor appointments and not leaving town/being as social as we normally were. I wish we had said something earlier.
What was the hardest part of IVF for you?
Beyond figuring out the web of insurance coverage, it was watching my wife have to do all of these shots and ultrasounds, knowing there was nothing I could do to lighten the load for her. She’s a real trooper.
What support did you need to get through treatment?
We leaned on each other heavily. Since not many people knew, that’s all we had. It was really hard at the time, but now we are much stronger because of it. If going on a long road trip is like marriage boot camp, going through infertility gives you a Ph. D. in relationships. After we told people, though, it was a whole different story! There was so much support and we learned just how many of our friends and family had gone through a similar process.
How did you support your partner in this process?
I prepped the shots. And then when it came to the big progesterone in oil shots, I gave them to her. I am not sure who was more nervous for that, though; her or I. Definitely practiced a few jabs on a pot roast with olive oil in the syringe. I went to every appointment. And I largely dealt with all the insurance/billing stuff. It was the least I could do.
What would you like other men to know about IVF from the male POV?
It’s not embarrassing. Infertility is a disease. You wouldn’t be humiliated to tell people you have testicular cancer. Treat IVF as you would any treatment plan for any other disease. Both partners need support mentally, though your partner might also need physical support. It’s a draining process that is hard to describe. If you’re going through this long and difficult process: keep your head up and stay strong. It’s totally worth it. One way or another, you will know you did everything you possibly could do for your family.
For us? As luck would have it, our daughter was born on Father’s Day 2016. She came almost two weeks after the due date, and much to my wife’s chagrin, I personally think she was holding on just for me.
Also: get the collection kit that you can use at home. I totally didn’t know that was a thing until after we finished IVF. You won’t regret it.
Nick wears many hats when it comes to infertility. First (and most importantly), he and his wife Brittany are patients of Fertility Centers of Illinois. They finally brought home a healthy baby girl after several IVF attempts. He and Brittany also write their own blog, bottlesandbanter.com, where they write about many topics, but chief among them being parenting and life post-infertility treatment. Bottles & Banter’s goal is to increase awareness and acceptance of infertility treatment as a means for family building. Lastly, Nick dedicates his professional life to the fertility industry. He works in the marketing department of Fertility Centers of Illinois where he gets to be a part of many, many fertility journeys.