Priscilla* got married three years ago to her boyfriend of seven years, in a beautiful ceremony well attended by family & friends. It was her expectation that she was going to take in almost immediately. After all, she had gotten pregnant twice in the course of their relationship, and needed to be careful to not fall pregnant again by mistake. It was therefore understandable that she got worried when the eleventh month came and she wasn’t pregnant. Known to wear her heart on her sleeve, she told us all about her paranoia and how she couldn’t understand why it was so easy for her to fall pregnant when she wasn’t ready for a baby, and then, unable to do so, now that she was ready. We all felt her body still needed to adjust, considering that she had gotten on the pill after terminating the second pregnancy. She had been on the pill for about four years, and we reckoned that her hormones had probably been suppressed and needed more time to recover.
Her husband thought different. He blamed their inability to get pregnant on the abortions they had done, and urged her to go see the doctor. It was possible that whoever performed the D&Cs didn’t do them right. Fear gripped Priscilla at that assumption, and she delayed going to see the doctor. The fear of being told that something was wrong with her uterus or cervix paralyzed her, as her nights were filled with nightmares of the doctor saying to her “Madam, it is medically impossible for you to carry a child”. Her husband kept urging her to go, and she kept giving one excuse or the other. They fought about it a couple of times, but Priscilla was still bent on staying prayerful and hopeful. She had already concluded that the doctor was going to have nothing but bad news for her.
Two months flew by, and her husband, who really wanted answers, finally took the matter to Priscilla’s mother, who was privy to the terminations of the pregnancies earlier on. His mother-in-law was able to intervene in the matter, and dragged a reluctant Priscilla to the doctor’s. Luckily, the examinations showed that Priscilla had no physical problem with her reproductive organs. She was, however, placed on estrogen and progesterone boosters. An elated Priscilla went home with happy news for her husband and us, her friends. It was such a relief knowing she could get pregnant after all. A few months went by, and Priscilla still hadn’t gotten pregnant. She was starting to get paranoid again and went to the hospital to test again, just to make sure. Her hormone levels were great and she had no issues with her organs. The specialist asked for her husband to get tested, and Priscilla laughed it off; “My guy is a sharp shooter nah” she told me the next day, incredulous at the mere insinuation that anything could be wrong with her husband, who had already gotten her pregnant twice before. “Maybe he should just go, just to be sure” I advised.
Felix* laughed when she mentioned it to him. First off, he was sure he had no issues, secondly, he was not ready to subject himself to the scrutiny of a doctor. “These doctors always find something, once you go for tests. Count me out please”. Priscilla found it hilarious at first, teasing her husband at being good at pushing her to the doctor’s office, when he was wary himself of diagnostics. Days later, she watched a Hollywood movie of a man who had such great sperm that he was even a sperm donor. When he did get married and wanted kids, the doctor told him he had low sperm count. That was when he informed his wife that he had been a serious sperm donor, and so there was no way he could have low sperm count. To his shock, the doctor told him that he had probably given out all his good swimmers and was now left with not-too-good ones, asides the life-styles changes and of course age, that could have influenced the health of his sperm. The comedy ended with the man going back to the sperm bank to steal his remaining good sperm, but Priscilla wasn’t laughing along anymore. It had dawned on her that it was indeed possible for a man’s sperm count to drop over time.
She told her husband about the movie, and tried convincing him to go for tests, but that only put him on the defensive. It was his turn to be scared of the results of any physical examination, and he made excuses with work. Eventually he succumbed, and went with her to the hospital. True to their suspicion, he had low sperm count and was advised to begin treatment immediately. While he was on treatment, Priscilla who was still pretty focused on herself, lamented about having to wait for him to complete treatment. “What if it takes forever? I can’t bear to wait another year before becoming a mother oh. I can’t believe I was overworking myself all along, and it was all his fault. What if he doesn’t respond well to treatment? He sometimes forget to take his drugs and I often have to remind him; I guess it’s not as important to him as it is to me my friend was really whining.
She had complained for half the time we were together, and Chidinma found herself saying “If you are like this with us, I wonder how Felix copes with you at home oh”. Priscilla hissed before saying “Is it not his fault? Abeg, he should deal with it oh. I know if it was my fault now, I wouldn’t have been able to drink and drop cup in that house. I am just frustrated really, having to wait this long for a baby. It’s not funny. Priscilla, this is not about you! It’s about Felix. Men have emotions too, and sometimes we women have to put our drama aside and be supportive. You can’t expect him to be dealing with his problem and have to cope with your drama too.” I nodded in agreement as Chidinma continued. “Most women are good at dealing with fertility issues if it’s from their end, but men are not well equipped to do so. It’s good you remind him to take his drugs, but stop reminding him he is reason for the pregnancy delay”. Priscilla was going to say something defensively when I found myself adding “Don’t kick a man when he is down, Prissy”. Eventually she accepted that she had not paid enough attention to her husband’s feelings, and even admitted noticing, that his ego was bruised after the diagnosis.
Sometimes we get so used to having all the attention and care, that we do not know how to react when the focus lens no longer beams on us. Even when the fertility issue is from our ends, we still need to be sensitive to the feelings of our spouses. Men also yearn to be fathers, and although they are better at masking emotions and handling infertility without shedding a tear, they can’t wait to carry their babies in their arms too. I dare you to take some time off and connect with your hubby. Give his support too and assure him that everything would be fine. They shouldn’t always be the ones giving us moral support, we can be givers too.
God speed to us all!
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