Just when I thought I was out, They pull me back in!

For those who don’t know the reference to the title of this post is from the Godfather Part III. I know I know I said I was leaving the community a month ago and I was never going to come back. But here’s the thing, I missed a lot of you. Even though I’m connected with some of you on Facebook, I miss interacting with you all. 
At the time last month I had a falling out with some members of the community who went to my most vulnerable place. This lead me to walk away/take a break from the community. As it turns on it was the best thing that could have happened to me at that point. I needed a break from being trapped in the community and being surrounded by people in different places than I am. It was triggering the hurt of where I was at and making me feel left behind. It wasn’t doing me any good being surrounded by it. It was bringing out the worst in me.

The break for me was a good one. I was able to reconnect to the things in my life that mattered the most to me. The things in my life that I took for granted. The things in my life that bring joy to my life. The things that stood by me at my deepest darkest time when most would have separated themselves from me. There was no way I could walk away from them at this point or ever. They aren’t things that you can ever replace.  It’s sonething that when you have it you don’t ever let go because it just feels right.

As for things going on in my life, the last month has been crazy. I’ve had four work trips in consecutive weeks. In fact this week is the first week I’m home the entire week in over a month. Though it was tiring and I hate flying I did get to go to Disney World for the first time in my life which was pretty cool. Trying to fit in my workouts and runs as I finished up training for my half marathon this up coming Sunday was challenging.

Speaking of my half marathon, I’m not sure how I feel about it. My energy level over the last month or so has been low. It’s probably due to everything going on. Plus I think my body needs a beak especially my Calves and Achilles’ tendons. I’m looking forward to being able to take time off from running as much as I love it.  

An exciting thing for me is that for the first time in 9 years the Mets are going to the playoffs after clinching the NL East division on Saturday. It was a shock, in fact I still can’t believe it two days later. I thought they would be improved this year but not nearly as good as they ended up being. And I can finally stop blaming my marriage for the Met woes. You see the night before my wedding 8 years ago the Mets were up 7.5 games on the Phillies with 17 games to play. No team had ever blown that type of lead. But starting with that night the Mets would go 5-12 and have the biggest collapse in baseball history. This season eliminates that myth which I know my wife was tired of hearing.

All in all this past month has mostly been positive with really nothing bad. I’m smiling and upbeat more so than I’ve been in a long time. I’m more of who I was before infertility. Most importantly I’m the loving husband my wife lost when I was diagnosed with non obstructive azoospermia. It’s hard to tell how much of a better place I’m in because I’m so burnt out. Perhaps in a few weeks I’ll have a better idea. I’m of the mind set that I need to expect the unexpected both good and bad. Nothing is ever certain in life.  

I’m not sure what life will look like or where I’m heading. I’m not going to try to figure that out but instead let the chips fall as they may. That’s not to say I will just sit back and do nothing but I’m done chasing things that do nothing but tear me apart inside. I’m done putting timetables on things and instead just live. I don’t want to ever go back to being that person infertility made me and I need to avoid the things and situations that brought out that person.

As for me in the community, I’m not sure that I’ll ever be as active as I once was. I’m just too fearful of going back to that place I was in. I do want to stay connected to people that have been great friends to me and support them when I can. I really hope everyone is well at whatever point you are in your journeys.

Doing what needs to be done

I’ve debated about whether or not to write this post and make a big deal out of myself because I hate being thought of as someone who does things for attention.  I actually drafted this post a little over a year ago after a similar Twitter incident to one I had today.  I decided not to publish it then.  But I think this time it needs to be said.  Please don’t take this as a pity post.  I don’t want for anyone to feel sorry for me.  I’m not a victim by any means.

When you are dealing with any type of life altering grief it changes you forever.  Your outlook on life and perspective will never be what it once was.  Even if things work out and you find some type of happiness you aren’t necessarily better off than you were before, you are just different.  I am no different when it comes to what Infertility Grief has done to me.

I hate what infertility has done to me and how it’s changed my life.  It’s not been for the better.  Grief has not made me a better person.  It’s made me a sad, frustrated and negative person.  At times I’ve let it consume my life because it is the one thing I’ve ever dealt with that I’ve been unable to overcome.  I’ve let it suck the joy out of my life and destroy my self confidence.  

I joined the infertility community to connect with others hoping it would help me and I wanted to see if I could have positive impact on others.  For almost two years both of these things did work.  But this is not the case any more.  Being here doesn’t help me any longer and I’m no longer able to have a positive impact ok others.

Let me set the record straight yes the Twitter incident earlier today did help me come to this conclusion but I’ve been leaning this way for a while.  It started back in June when I didn’t fit with the making dads theme of male infertility week.  And for those of you who don’t know about what happened, all I will say is that I had an unpopular opinon that others felt made it uncomfortable to others in the community.  I didn’t expect others to agree with me.  I would have been happy to agree to disagree and walk away.  Yet I was told I was wrong and was ganged up on by a bunch of people and made to feel like a bad person.  I know it wasn’t their intention but they didn’t care how it made me feel.  I blame myself partially for not walking away sooner but what’s done is done.

The most difficult part of it was that they went to a vulnerable place for me.  One person in particular knew it was a vulnerable place knew how it impacted me yet they still went there.  The others I give a pass too because they didn’t understand how vulnerable it is this person I can’t.  

Unlike the last time I was involved in one of these incidents where I knew I had done some things wrong this time around I was not wrong.  Having an unpopular opinon is not wrong.  I was not forcing my opinon on anyone.  I wasn’t saying my way was the only way and it was superior to others.  It’s just an opinon.  Believing those who have a privilege and a story people can learn from and being bothered that they don’t stick around is not wrong.  It maybe different than what others feel and that’s fine but it’s not wrong.  

I’ve said this in a recent post but I don’t have a success story that can give others hope.  I don’t have that privilege.  That isn’t anyone’s fault nor do I want anyone to feel bad for me, shit happens.  To be clear I don’t define becoming a parent as the only way a person can be a success story in the infertility community.  There are too many childless/free stories for me to mention all of them.  I am not one of them.  Those people can and are having a positive influence on others in the community.  I may have had a positive influence at one time but I’m not able to any more.

The time has come to walk away.  It’s for my own good (not self preservation) as well as others in the community.  Please don’t feel bad for me.  I got out of the community what I did when I needed it.  I also feel that I did my best to have a positive impact on the community when I was able to.  It worked well while it did but it doesn’t work well for me and others any longer.

I’m not disappearing off the face of the earth.  Yes, I’ve deactivated my infertility Twitter account and likely won’t blog here any longer but I won’t be off the radar.  Those of you who have my email, follow my non infertility account, connected with me on Facebook or have my email you can stay in touch with me there.

I really do wish everyone the best on their journeys.  Whether you are still trying to conceive, going through treatments, pregnant, parenting, pursuing adoption, pursuing fostering, pursuing third party reproduction, moving onto a childless/free life or living I hope you all find happiness in all aspects of your lives.  

The Emasculation of Male Infertility 

This has been a tough year.  I’m now more aware of why I feel the way I do.  The unusual part of the way I feel is that I’ve started to have feelings of being less than a man.  These aren’t feelings I had felt last year or the year before.  I’m not sure why I feel this way now when I had not felt that way before.

First let me admit that I’m not what you would consider a “manly” man.  I’m short at Five Feet Four inches (162 cm) and skinny.  I’ve never been coordinated which is why I’ve engaged in sports like swimming and running that don’t require much coordination.  When it comes to home improvements I’m completely inept. I’m what you would consider a “metrosexual” taking pride in my appearance.  I won’t go into the extent of my metrosexuality because it’s more information than you probably would be interested in, plus it’s embarrassing.  But then again the idea of not being able to conceive a child with your spouse is kinda embarrassing.

What differentiates a man from a woman genetically is the Y Chromosome.  For me I’m missing pieces of that Y Chromosome.  Specifically I am missing pieces of the Y Chromosome that is responsible for sperm production.  When you are someone who doesn’t feel manly to begin with infertility completely emasculates you.  I won’t go into the other embarrassing ways infertility has emasculated me but I will say that there are times I wish I was born a woman so the lack of sperm wasn’t an issue.

The emasculation that infertility has left me has me down on myself as a man and as a person.  The idea that “A real man wouldn’t have these issues” has entered my head.  I’m not saying that all infertile men should feel this way or that they aren’t real men.  What I am saying is how my infertility has emasculated me.  

Infertility has that impact on people.  Whatever vulnerabilities, weaknesses or wounds left from trauma earlier in a person’s life is amplified.  Not being a “manly” man to begin with left me vulnerable for me to be emasculated by infertility.  Having the parts of a male but lacking the ingredients seems kind of pointless.  It’s like the parts I have are there for decoration and serve no purpose.  

But maybe the reason I was born without the missing pieces of my Y Chromosome has something to do with me not being a “manly” man.  Who knows?  The only thing I know is that my infertility has emasculated me. 


Trying my best not to be Ungrateful 

I want to start off by apologizing to those who have done their best to support me recently  only for me to be difficult.  Those of you on social media, those of you who have emailed me and those of you in my real life who mean more to me than anything I am sorry.  I recognize that you have nothing but good intentions.  I do appreciate your efforts to help me more so than I can put into words.  This goes for even the people on social media who have unfollowed me.  I wish you nothing but the best and apologize if I’ve offended you.

Things have been really rough for me lately.  About one month ago I went on anti depressants.  I was on anti depressants as a teenager and did my best to avoid going back on them.  Part of it was me wanting to defeat depression on my own and not giving in.  But I had tried everything and I wasn’t getting better.  I’m still adjusting to it.  The first week I felt worse but now I’m feeling more level yet still down.  

What’s been really hard for me is beliving things will get better.  Since my diagnosis two and a half years ago I’ve felt more and more out of place and feeling like I’m in remedial adulthood and can’t get out.  The last of my close college friends wife gave birth on Friday night which officially made me the only childless person among the group.  I don’t think I’ll be able to get together with that group again as our lives are completely different and it’s impossible to relate.  It’s triggering to remind me of a life I’m unable to have due to my bodies indaquecy.

I don’t mean to sound ungrateful or that I’ve had it worse than anyone in the infertility community because I don’t think that one bit.  We never had to go through treatments, miscarriages or still births.  Our infertility isn’t unexplained with no answers.  I can’t imagine going through any of that.  In some way I think we’ve had it easy and feel weak for being so down when it could have been much worse.  I really feel for those who have gone through all of that.  I just feel like all of our journeys are different and saying you know how I feel isn’t completely the truth just like I don’t know how you feel.

Right now I’m not ready to feel better and that’s ok (my therapist said this is ok).  Right now I want to work through these feelings hoping they pass.  I want to get to a point where I’m not fighting feeling better and that I never feel like this again.  I’m still trying to figure out if and how I can get to that point.

Hearing it will get better is hard cause I don’t believe it right now.  I don’t want to hear what I should do or how I should be grateful for what I have or that you know someone who is childless and happy.  That’s not making me feel better if any thing it’s telling me I’m doing something wrong.  It’s making me doubt myself even more so than I already do.

What will help me more than anything is just knowing others are there.  Knowing that I’m not alone and that I have support means more than I can put into words.  At the end of the day it’s up to me to figure things out and find balance.  I know there are so many that wish they could do that for me and it comes from a place of caring but that’s not possible unfortunately.

I hope that I’m not and haven’t come across as ungrateful.  I’m truly appreciative of everyone’s support.  I again apologize if I’ve upset or offended anyone.  I hope that you can understand how I feel and what can be done to help me.

Best wishes to you all wherever you are at in your journeys.

The Value of those without Children in Society

I’m going to write this piece as politely as possible and my intention is to get everyone to think rather than offend people.  This piece also is not directed at any one person as this is a societal norm.

Until infertility came along I never fully recognized the bias society has towards those with children.  In the work place in families, in the media and everyday life people with children are given a break more so than those without children.  If you have two employees one has kids who can’t stay late because of their kids softball/baseball game and the other doesn’t have kids but has a dinner date with their spouse it’s easy to know which one will have to stay late.  Same goes for families with aging parents where the sibling without kids has to take on the responsibility of taking care of their parents rather than the sibling who has kids.  The idea is the person with kids and their time and life is more valuable than those without children.

The situation when this is at its worst is when someone tragically dies young be it from cancer or some other awful tragedy.  You’ll hear how a person died at the age of 34 and had two young kids and how awful it is.  Yes, it is awful.  Anyone whose life ends so young is an awful situation that is unfair.  However, would it have been less awful if they didn’t have two kids?  Would it have been less awful if it was just a spouse and other relatives that were grieving that person rather than adding on the kids?  I know the intention isn’t to do this but basically our society is saying that those with children have more valuable lives than those without children.  It tells me that my life is less valuable because I’m unable to have children.

Things like this can drive the so called “commodification” of children that opponents of third party reproduction and anti adoption groups talk about.  Though none of them recognize or talk about the bias against those without children nor did any of them have to make the choice that those going through infertility have to.  I’ve always taken them with a grain of salt and recognize their agendas that could care less about those going through infertility.  But they do have a point in this regard, having children has become a status symbol in our society as the difference between the socially acceptable haves and have nots.

I don’t believe that all people with children are like this.  I also don’t think they believe their life has more value than those without children.  But I believe they have the power to think about the message they are sending to their kids and society that people without children are just as important as those with children.  Next time someone tragically dies or faces some unfortunate circumstances I hope they recognize what’s happened to them regardless of whether they have kids. 

I’m Giving Up

Infertility has changed me in many ways mostly not for the better. Sure I’ve learned to become more empathetic and understanding of why I feel the way I do sometimes. I’ve also gotten back into running. But beyond that it’s changed me into a shell of what I used to be.
Prior to infertility I was a very pleasant up beat person who always believed things would find a way of working out.  I was happy enjoying many of the things in life and looked forward to what each day brought me.  It wasn’t that my life had been easy to that point but rather I had overcome the odds of people telling me I wouldn’t be able to do things I eventually was able to do. Sure I never went to Harvard like I dreamed I would at the age of 6 or became an Astronaut. But I went to a pretty good college and have established a good career that allows me to live comfortably.  

I was also a person who believed I could overcome anything that came my way. I believed I could adapt and change if I worked hard doing things differently than I imagined. Most importantly I believed I should never give up even when things seem bleak.

Now that infertility has changed me I no longer believe things will work out. I no longer believe I can do things differently but achieve a similar goal and happiness. I no longer believe it’s worth trying hard and that my hard work will pay off.

Essentially infertility has taught me that it’s not worth trying and that I should give up when things seem bleak. When I try hard all it does is lead to unmet expectations that end up disappointing me. I tried hard in 2014 to live a childless life where I made changes in search of fulfillment. I got back in shape and started running again. I became a Big Brother volunteer.  I took things one day at a time and focussed on the present.  My expectation was that these things and approach would give me what I was missing.  

Instead all it did was distract me from the feeling that I’m in the remedial Adulthood class and no matter how hard I try I’m never going to be able to get out of it. I’m never going to be able to relate to people my age who have all moved forward with their lives while I’m not able to move forward. I’ll always be a step behind in life.  There is no next Chapter to work toward. This is the Chapter I’ll live until I retire.

Rather than fight these feelings and the challenge of fulfillment I am giving up and quitting on finding that fulfillment. Just as I did with infertility that led to unmet expectations when I quit, I am going to quit on trying to get out of the remedial adulthood class and just accept this is what it is. This is not to say I don’t believe others who are childless/free who find fulfillment. I do believe them but that’s them and what worked for them, that’s not me.

Whatever is going to happen is going to happen it’s out of my control. It’s no use in fighting anymore. It’s a losing battle that is just going to leave me more disappointed and empty.

I’m Not a Success Story Nor a Hero

I hope this doesn’t come across as a feel sorry for me post (though it probably will and I just need to suck it up).  

The last two and a half years have been the most difficult of my life.  Finding out I’m not capable of producing sperm and thus not being able to ever have children has changed my life.  It’s changed my outlook on life from a perspective that hard work would eventually lead to things working out to one that now see’s no point in working hard.  It’s changed relationships from being strong to never being the same.  It has also led me to connect with many amazing people in a community I never knew existed.

The infertility community has been great to me.  I’ve learned so much by reading stories and following journey’s of others that can inspire future people going through infertility that there is light at the end of the tunnel.  Some have had their journey’s result in pregnancies and births.  Others have moved onto adopting.  There are also those who are forgotten who have moved onto Childless/free lives.  And there are those still in the trenches who are working towards moving forward in some way.  There are too many individuals to list in this blog piece.

Recently I had a discussion with some of these great people.  The discussion was around how just because one chapter in a person’s life is bad doesn’t mean the next one will be bad.   The two other people in the discussion both recently became pregnant.  For them though infertility was a bad chapter their next chapter has the potential to be something great (I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it is for them).   I don’t begrudge them for that in fact I’m extremely happy for them as it couldn’t have happened to two better people.  

My input into the discussion was how my story was having multiple bad chapters and that I had no reason to believe a good chapter to my story would be coming anytime soon.  This chapter has been worst case scenario across the board leading to a deep depression.  The feedback I received was that Hero’s always have it the worst and that they are the strongest to overcome the challenges they face.  Obviously the feedback was given with the best of intentions (and it was greatly appreciated) to encourage me to continue to fight and that things would get better even though life is not going to look the way I want it too.

But here’s the thing, I’m no hero I never was a hero nor do I have it in me to become one.  I never wanted nor am I capable of a hero’s life.  All I wanted was a simple life where I got married to someone that I would grow old with and I would raise kids with that person.  There wouldn’t be anything more than that.  I’m not capable of more than that.  I’m just a regular guy who had to work hard just to get to that level playing field.  My success story would have been that despite the odds against me I built a simple regular life together with someone special that included us raising kids together.

The infertility community is filled with success stories with and without children.  My story is not a success story.  My story didn’t result in me becoming a parent nor has it resulted in a fulfilling childless/free life.  My story is not going to inspire anyone that they can get through infertility.  I have failed at getting through infertility.  It has defeated me.

I was reminded that my story isn’t a success recently when there was a Making Dads week held to recognize men going through infertility.  Many men were included who went through infertility and are now dads.   The men who spoke are able to offer hope to others something I can’t do.  Things like this I’ll never be able to be included in the infertility community telling me I have no place here.

Recognition that I’m not a hero and that I don’t have a success story has told me that it’s time for me to step back in the community and consider walking away for good.  My life is too much of a downer and I don’t want to bring others down who need to be lifted up.  I’ll leave the lifting up to the real Hero’s who have survived infertility and had success stories.  Plus I relate to very few people here as most have moved onto the next chapters in their lives.  Unless things change in my life and some miracle happens to me that makes my story a success there’s no reason for me to be here.