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Opinion I'm not genetically linked to my son or daughter but, honestly, it just doesn't matter

Dealing with my own infertility and the emotional journey that is IVF was full of anguish, but now we have our beautiful twins – and I love them so much it’s overwhelming.

AS A MAN, how it feels to be infertile is very difficult to put into words. That inability to father a child, it’s beyond your control and you can’t change it. It’s like part of you is missing, you’re without that vital part of your make-up, that which can bring about new life. It’s a heavy burden to bear when your own infertility brings disappointment, loneliness and emptiness to a relationship when there is no hope of a pregnancy occurring naturally.

To talk about it? Well, for me, I was very lucky I could talk to my wife and very openly. Later on, in the process through NISIG (The National Infertility Support and Information Group) and meeting other couples in the same situation and talking with those men helped enormously. For me that’s where the options to talk ran out. It’s not something a man can talk about freely with friends and even family can be difficult, they can distance themselves because they find it all too awkward and difficult to deal with. You need to choose carefully who you confide in.

Our journey

My wife and I were married in 2006 and our journey to conceive began in early 2007. We tried two IUI procedures and they were unsuccessful. Having considered our options and due to my own infertility we were advised to go for IVF and use donor sperm and that was our only hope of conceiving a child. I had gotten my own diagnosis of being totally infertile and, as a man, it was difficult to accept. It was devastating but when you can’t change things you have to move on and be positive.

So, we began the process of IVF. Nothing could prepare us for the emotional journey that lay ahead, the strain it would put on our marriage. It is one of the most difficult things to go through and I should say that it’s not for everyone. When you get drawn into it, you have to see it through even though you might feel like giving up. Thankfully my wife is a very determined lady and giving up was never going to be an option for her. We did two fresh cycles and two attempts from frozen embryos with no success.

The next stage of our journey brought us to Spain for treatment there. We had a fresh cycle there in October 2012 and two embryos were transferred and that did result in a pregnancy but it was lost at six weeks. That was a very difficult time and we needed time to build ourselves up and to keep going, but we had three embryos frozen and returned to Spain in July 2013 for another transfer, and one embryo didn’t survive thawing but we still had two good embryos for transfer.

The wonderful news

Finally after returning home and two weeks later we had a positive pregnancy test. We couldn’t believe it. The good news kept coming. At the first scan there were two sacks showing up, two heartbeats. Twins! They came 12 weeks early but all went well and we had a beautiful girl and boy. They were terribly anxious weeks but we’re so lucky.

In the past, before I became a father, it was difficult to get through Father’s Day. There were feelings of envy, when I’d see other fathers with their children and getting cards from them, thinking that would I ever be a dad and have the joy of getting a little homemade card with my son or daughter’s own handwriting. Now that I am a dad, I’m just looking forward to getting that special card and seeing my son and daughter’s names and spending the day with them.

Along the road, there have been strong feelings of failure, that I don’t measure up, that I haven’t got what it takes. Those feelings have to be put aside and you have to get on with life, and find another way – otherwise you become consumed by it and brought down. Even though I’m not genetically linked to my son and daughter, they are my children and I love them so much it’s overwhelming. Don’t dismiss the donor option, you’d be very surprised how it doesn’t matter in the end, all you want is a child.

Don’t give up hope

What I want to say is that, in the midst of all the devastation, loneliness, anguish and isolation of infertility treatment, there can be a happy outcome, dreams do come true. You can make it happen. For seven years we were the couple who didn’t get lucky while others did and suddenly it happened for us. You’ve got to be strong and supportive to each other. Don’t lose sight of your partner and what you had in the beginning when you first met, carry that with you and remain best friends along the way. I have such admiration for my wife and she has given me two beautiful children and she never gave up and that’s how we have them today. I’m so thankful to her.

There is always hope. Don’t give up.

The author of this article wishes to remain anonymous.

Opinion: It’s still hard to express the sadness that comes with being unable to have children

Opinion: Infertility can be utterly devastating for a man – don’t allow him to suffer in silence

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