Let us introduce you to Benji …
Hello, my name is Benji. Me and my wife have been trying to conceive now for 4 years and it’s tough – really tough. I haven’t spoken about the way infertility has made me feel before, but the team at IVF babble sent me some questions and asked me if I would help them understand what it is like for a guy, who is trying to conceive.
Where in the world do you live?
I live in London in a small little flat in East London with my wife Kelly and our very old cat, Jemima.
Where are you at with fertility treatment at the moment?
Me and my wife have just failed our second round of IVF. We both have “issues”. My wife has PCOS and I have “lazy sperm” shall we say. On our first round, we didn’t make one single embryo. My lazy sperm just couldn’t even find the energy to penetrate the egg. On the second round we had ICSI, and created 4 embryos, but tragically, the one we put back failed to implant. So, we are both trying to get our heads around this. We do have 3 more embryos left in the freezer, so our journey isn’t quite over yet…
When you wake up in the morning, what are some of the first things you think about, followed by the first things that you do?
The first thing I think about is my wife. She is very low at the moment, so I am trying to do everything I can to be the perfect husband. A soon as the alarm goes off, I head straight to the kitchen and make her a cup of tea. I lay the table for breakfast, put on the radio and try and do my best to not say the wrong thing.
How would you describe the way you feel when you wake up in the morning?
I wake up feeling sad and anxious most mornings. I know both myself and Kelly have infertility issues, but the fact that my sperm didn’t penetrate the egg on our first round left me feeling really useless. I felt like I had really let my wife down. Our relationship is not like it used to be – there is way less laughter and this makes me feel very low.
In addition to that, I work in advertising, surrounded by men and women who are younger than me, (I am 35). My job is stressful, and my work colleagues are the kind of people who live for their careers, I suppose a bit like I was 10 years ago. The pressure of work, combined with the pressure of hiding the sadness I am experiencing in my personal life is incredibly challenging.
What do you have for breakfast?
During treatment we had been eating so well – fertility foods were high on the agenda. So lots of scrambled eggs, tomatoes and avocado. However, since our failed round, we seem to have slipped. I had a bowl of shreddies this morning and Kelly had two digestive biscuits with her tea!
How often is conceiving your own child, on your mind?
I’d say sporadically throughout the day, every day.
What coping techniques do you have, when you are feeling so low about the fact you are still TTC?
I don’t really. I suppose I try and distract myself with work and sport. I love badminton so I play twice a week with friends. To be honest, I put all of my focus in to making sure that I try and lift Kelly when she is feeling low. If I see that she is particularly quiet or teary, I put the kettle on, grab her favourite blanket, grab the cat and put something uplifting or distracting on the TV. I spend a lot of time researching great things to watch on TV.
Do you have friends or family with whom you can be really open about the way you feel?
I do have a very supportive family, but I feel uncomfortable telling them about how I feel. Kelly is the one that I feel should get the attention and support from family. She has been through such an ordeal both emotionally and physically. I will be OK as long as Kelly is OK.
Do you know anyone in the same position as you?
No – but then most men don’t speak out about the way they are feeling, which is why I was passionate about answering these questions for IVF babble. I want more men to see that they aren’t alone.
What do you do when you are not at work?
We don’t really socialise like we used to anymore, because socialising means drinking within our circle of friends. We tend to do a lot of walking instead. We sometimes walk from Victoria Park all the way up to Camden. Sometimes we don’t talk, we just walk, and think. But we always hold hands.
When it comes to dinner time, what sort of meals do you cook?
Well as I mentioned, we were eating well, but things have slipped a little since the last failed round. We ordered a huge curry last night and washed it down with wine! It tasted sooooo good!! I have to say though, planning our meals, and eating well balanced healthy food made me feel good. My body is in the best shape it’s ever been in!
When is your happiest time of the day?
At the moment this is very hard to answer as there isn’t a time in the day that is particularly happy. Both myself and Kelly are feeling the strain. We so desperately want to start our family, but the fear that it may never happen is just so overwhelming.
Do you keep a journal?
No! Do men do this?
Have you reached out to any support groups or do you follow any male support social media accounts?
I haven’t joined any support groups but there are a few instagram accounts that I have found useful.
What makes you happy?
Seeing my wife smile. Roast beef on a Sunday. Being in a pub with my good mates. Seeing the love my parents still have for each other.
And finally, tell us about bedtime. What time do you go to bed, and how do you feel when you climb into bed?
Bedtime is a lot earlier than it used to be, namely because there isn’t much going on the evenings. I usually go to bed at 11ish having watched a lot of Netflix!. I sometimes have a late bath, (not a very hot one!) or just read.
Reading my answers back, I seem to have painted a very sorry picture of my life at the moment, but the truth is, it is very hard to be upbeat. Before I turn the lights off, I do try to remind myself that there are amazing aspects of my life – my wife, my family, my friends, my health, and of course, my beautiful old cat Jemima.
If you would like to share your typical day with us, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
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