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The idea that we were struggling with Male Factor Infertility (MFI) was not only a shock, but also a really low blow to my already fragile ego and self-esteem. My entire life, I had always known I would be and planned on being a Marine. In 2008, two weeks after my 17th birthday, I made that a reality and signed my enlistment papers. I spent the next five years striving to be the absolute best I could be. I wanted to prove the world wrong. My entire life, I struggled to find my place. I was always told I couldn’t do things for one reason or another. I was told I was never going to be a Marine because in High School, I was an amazing 5ft 5in and weighed not much more than a paperweight at 126 lbs. I proved them wrong, but then people doubted my ability in the Corps because I was too young. A mere 17 and still immature. I proved them wrong too. I was happy to be a Marine. I was proud. Then at the end of my third deployment, I was told the Corps didn’t have room for me. Being an infantry Marine, my MOS was closed for re-enlistment. It felt as if my world came crashing down around me. Were all those people right?
I chose to pick up the shattered pieces and make the best out of the situation. I was going to join Law Enforcement. I started a job that would translate well to Law Enforcement. I was working 40 hrs a week and going to class 4 hrs a day to get a degree in Criminal Justice. I applied to 14 different agencies in the area. Each time it was a “We’re sorry, we are looking for someone with more direct experience,” or “We want someone with more education.” It was a hard pill to swallow. And then came the final blow to my shattered self-identity. Sorry but your semen analysis is not good. You have bad movers, and slow movers, and odd-shaped movers.
I didn’t exactly take it well. I felt ashamed, embarrassed, and demasculinized. I couldn’t give my wife the one thing she wanted most in the world: TO BE A MOM. At this point, I didn’t know any other guy going through the same problem so it was just me. If another guy was going through it, he wasn’t sharing it. I went into a downward spiral. Tensions between my wife and I grew and arguments began to spring out of nowhere. I was taking all of my frustrations out on my wife. I pretended to go about life as if nothing was wrong so I wouldn’t have to deal with the problem. I just stuffed my emotions as deep inside as I could. I drank often and, most times, way more than I should have.
I tried to hold myself together but I was in a slump. My wife and I tried to maintain our happiness. We went on a cruise and an art retreat, during both of which I picked petty arguments. My wife and I kept trying to get pregnant. We used Softcups, changed our diet, choked down countless pills, iced my testicles. Nothing seemed to be working until one day, it did. Father’s Day 2015, I was told I was going to be a dad. I was excited.
As quickly as it came, it was gone. A week later, we were in the E.R. being seen for a miscarriage. This is when I hit an emotional breaking point. I did what I could to comfort my wife. I did not know how to process my feelings or even begin to understand what I was feeling. I did very little research as to what was going on. I figured my wife had done enough for both of us. I assumed it must have been my fault. My low-quality sperm couldn’t make the right stuff. I was mortified. The drinking got worse and worse, and in a fit of blind rage, I left. I left my wife. She deserved better. I moved in with a friend and we drank, and drank, and drank. I drowned my sorrow in alcohol.
With some help, I was able to recover and begin to put my life back together. My wife took me back and we are happier than ever. I have learned to better process my feelings in a positive way. While miscarriages are still hard, I can tell you they are much harder when you are alone. Since our first miscarriage, we have had four more of them. Not a single one of them has been easy, each one hurts my soul and tugs at my heart, but my wife is my rock. She helps me process my emotions and is there for me as much as I am there for her now.
Infertility has forever changed our marriage. While our marriage may not ever be the same as those first couple of simple years, I assure you, our marriage has never been stronger. We are more in tune with each other’s emotions, physical indicators, and needs. We mourn together, we hurt together. No matter what, we are together. We have two amazing little boys who bring out the best in me. Being a parent after infertility gives me a different set of eyes to look through. Not everything is sunshine and rainbows. Everyone has struggles and more people than I would have ever thought have the same struggles I had. I am excited and proud every day I wake up because I know I have two wonderful boys. The pain and sorrow of those lost will always hold a sacred spot in my heart. This Father’s Day I am a proud dad of two boys and five angel babies.
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