by Charles Arthur
When reminiscing over some of my fondest memories as a child, Christmas always comes up
It is the most magical holiday in its truest form. It encompasses everything great about family and the love that follows with it.
It is for all those wonderful reasons and memories that we cherish why Christmas can end up becoming such a hard time to cope with mentally when you are wanting to be a parent yourself
I have been there spending Christmas upon Christmas being the ‘happy clown’, the ‘fun’ uncle to my nephews and niece……
We have all heard the saying….”Always a bridesmaid, never a bride”. Well I spent many a year feeling the “Male infertility equivalent”
Once married, as the years went by, just being the silly uncle and not the father, the excitement of Christmas, for me, started to lose its magic, except for two things … Firstly I was, and still am for that matter, lucky enough to have the most incredible wife who I wouldn’t trade any child for. Secondly, I have a wonderful family including two nephews and a niece who have given me such joy to help nurture in my own little way.
It is only now as a proud father of twins through IVF that I feel comfortable to share a story that at first felt like a rock bottom moment for me which actually ended up giving me some of the strength that I needed
I do hope this story will also give any guys trying to become a father the strength to, not only keep going, but also know that it is ok to feel vulnerable
. . . it is ok to feel sad, it is ok to feel whatever emotion you have. And most importantly, It is also essential to share your feelings and break the silence amongst men.
It’s important to remember that fatherhood is as relevant as motherhood and yet, as men, we are conditioned to show more resilience and less emotion . . .
It was Christmas 2013 and as per usual, my wife and I went to spend Christmas Day with my sister, brother-in-law and their 3 children plus our parents.
In spite of the obvious difference in our gender, together with a four year age gap, my sister and I love each other so much and were very close all the way through childhood until my late twenties, but then something changed for a while. Our paths distanced us.
I was deliberately single and living a fantastically exciting life by trial and error, and happy not always learning from my mistakes whilst my sister followed a more conventional path – married her university sweetheart, had 3 children within 4 years, lived in a country farmhouse with their dog…….. Perfect for some….. at that point in my life, it wasn’t for me.
Our relationship had become somewhat challenged and we had both started to be less tolerant of each other, which sadly resulted in less interest in resolving issues which just made our relationship more and more distant and each other less understood.
In spite of eventually finding the person I wanted to spend my life with and being happily married, my sister’s life was different and whilst not more important, for her, her life was fulfilled with being a mother, her children her world, so not being a parent myself I felt pushed out.
It is only now that I realise it wasn’t all her fault, it was as much my problem fuelled by my personal issues wanting to become a father
I was never jealous of her, in fact I was very comfortable with the life journey I had taken. It was just that I now wanted to share a child with my wife and it seemed as though this may never happen.
What changed things that Christmas Day started as a stand off between my sister and I
It was fuelled by a comment I made about Father Christmas that she thought was inappropriate with her 11 year old son in earshot. She intimated that I was thoughtless, ignorant and lacking totally in understanding children.
This hit a very raw nerve for me . . . I had spent the last 13 years investing my heart into the welfare of her children and I would do absolutely anything for them.
Eventually we both went outside to walk her dog and thrash out our differences. She continued to verbally punish me with accusations of thoughtlessness. Eventually I became defensive and fought back just as hard justifying the love my wife and I had and would always give to her children and some of the positive influences we have had on them too.
Backwards and forwards, the upset ensued and then suddenly I cried out………. “STOP……… At least you have children…….. You are so lucky….. why would you want to fight with me when you have EVERYTHING….”
My comment totally silenced both of us until my sister started crying and reached for my hands
She then went on to tell me that not just herself, but all three of her children include their wish for me to be a father in their bedtime prayers. “We all wish every day, more than anything, that you will become a father….”
At this point we both broke down and just held each other for what seemed like ages
It had been a long time since I had felt such love, empathy and warmth from my sister.
For all the right reasons, the attention naturally lies with the woman when it comes to pregnancy, but . . .
If there is anything I can say now just to help that little bit for us men – don’t hold back how you feel, especially to the people closest to you. Your family is a great place to start with being open about the journey you are going through.
Are you a guy who has felt this way? How have you dealt with a similar situation? Would you like to join our 2020 male fertility campaign by sharing your stories? We would love to hear from you on firstname.lastname@example.org