Dealing With Infertility : A Man's Perspective
We're ending National Infertility Awareness Week with something that has never been done before. A man's perspective. My husband Roger has so kindly, decided to share his own story of experience. He delves into the thoughts that go on in a man's head & confronts some hard things that most don't ever talk about. Insecurities, pride, unworthiness. These are not only struggles that women face but men do as well in their own way. Keep reading to read his story.
"Being a man and struggling with infertility is tough. People question your manhood and ability to perform. But, being infertile and Hmong brings on even more pressure unto the man in the relationship. Why is there pressure you ask? People will say you haven’t tried hard enough or you haven’t done everything you possibly could to bear children. I’ve been asked why I haven’t chosen to remarry to someone who can 'actually' give me children. Some people even go as far as to say that I’ve probably been cursed.
One of the toughest things is how we Hmong people tend to look down on men who are infertile. We look at them like they’re not “real men” yet. We don’t think a man is worth a “npe laug” if he hasn’t had a child yet or in most cases a male child. Is it because we don’t think that they’re grown up yet? Why is it only that bearing children deem us as "man enough?" There are so many things that make up a man & why would something that is out of my control such as infertility exclude me from being a man?
Being in a Hmong community I feel, has really set my wife and I back from really seeing or feeling any hope in coming out this struggle with infertility. Many times I feel like we are in the process of healing understanding the fact that we are only in a season of barrenness. Yet it does not help at all and it hurts that the first thing we always get asked is, "Why don't you have any kids? Do you not want kids? Hurry up and have some kids." It’s funny how infertility always becomes the subject of the conversation. Do they actually care about our situation? Do they actually care how we feel? Do they actually care how much it hurts us to see how others bear children without trying as hard?
To all the people who think that by asking those who struggle with barrenness why they are infertile only make things worse for them. There’s no need to point it out to us, we live it as a reminder every day. It only makes us sink deeper into shame because we already don’t feel worthy. It hurts us. And we want you all to know that we are not defined by our struggle. Our lives are still just as meaningful and purposeful without children.
As a man, I've found it hard to speak out about my wife and our infertility because of the fear of what people would think about me but especially what they’d think about my wife. They’d see that she was flawed and “not normal.” What kind of pressure was she going to have to face? And that was something I wasn’t ready for. I also had a fear that what people would assume about my manhood would be true. I thought, "What good is a man who can’t produce?" But I think my biggest fear was having to face the fact that I may never be a father and I was going to be alone. No one would understand me. No one would understand that we’ve tried our hardest to conceive. That we’ve prayed hard and believed that God would bless us with children. They wouldn’t understand that it wasn’t in our control and that none of it was our doing.
If I had one wish, it would be to speak to every man out there struggling to see the light at the end of the longest tunnel of infertility. The light is there and it’s been there all along. It just may not be the way the world around you expects. Or maybe even what you expected. You are worthy to be called a “man.” Nothing can ever measure that, not even being without a child of your flesh and blood. There is always hope. You’re not alone in this. But it can definitely feel lonely if we fight it by ourselves in isolation. Let’s break the silence. Let's take the legs of infertility out from underneath it and share with the world that we are not defined by this.
In my struggles, I’ve found that I’ve learned to love the kids in my life more than I’ve ever thought possible. I’ve worked with kids at church, with kids at foster camps and I love my time with my own nieces and nephews. Struggling in infertility really has taught me how to love kids and cherish them. I’ve chosen to share the love that I’d hope to one day give to my own sons and daughters, with the kids that are already in my life and the ones that lack love. THAT’S BROUGHT ME JOY. No longer do I have to sit and wallow in my despair. I no longer need to prove to others of my manhood. I’ve finally “grown up.” And I don’t need fertility to do that for me. Do you feel a love for kids boiling up inside of you the longer you have to wait for your own kids to come along? Or are you going to continue to hold that love from the ones that are already here? Will you show them how great a dad you will be one day when your time comes?"