We asked Tony, aka the @thehopefulfather to tell us about a typical day in his life and dealing with infertility.
Where in the world do you live?
I am lucky enough to live in a beautiful part of London, I moved here 12 years ago from Suffolk…..but I do miss countryside living a lot.
Where are you at with fertility treatment at the moment?
We have had 2 failed ICSI cycles where we lost 4 embryos and also suffered a natural miscarriage over the last 3 years. We are currently waiting to go back to Spain for our first frozen embryo transfer after starting this cycle pre Covid in February 2020, the wait feels endless but we are keeping our fingers crossed that we can go back soon.
When you wake up in the morning, what are some of the first things you think of followed by the first things that you do?
The first thing I do in the morning is to take my wife’s temperature, we are still using an app to track her cycles in the hope that we may conceive naturally. After this its shower and get ready for work.
How would you describe the way you feel when you wake up in the morning?
I wake up quite early in the morning at 5.30am as I start work at 7.30am. It is difficult to get a good night’s quality sleep when you have to get up so early, so I am normally quite groggy when I get up in the morning and every morning is very routine driven – temperature check, shower, dress, breakfast, leave for work. At the weekends I feel much more relaxed and chilled out, looking forward to spending time with my wife.
What do you have for breakfast? Do you sit down as a family and eat together?
As my morning routine is very early during the week I normally have breakfast alone and it consists of some homemade muesli with lots of fertility boosting nuts and seeds or if I’m in a hurry some avocado on toast with red onion and red chilli. At the weekend I love to cook and create something more exciting for us that normally involves eggs, mushrooms, spinach, red onions, some salmon or maybe a cheeky chicken sausage. I also love to make some fresh fruit and vegetable juices to eat with breakfast…yum yum.
How often is conceiving your own child, on your mind?
I think about it all of the time, every day. It hurts me so much to think I have not be able provide for my wife the one thing that she truly wants and deserves, it makes me feel like less of a man. My family name is also very important to me as I lost my father nearly 20 years ago and I am the only son, so continuing the family line for me is paramount. I was absolutely devastated and heartbroken when i was first told i had infertility issues. I have ups and downs everyday when thinking about it and it has taken me to some very dark places mentally over the last few years. All I want in life is to be called daddy.
What coping techniques do you have, when you are feeling so low about the fact you are still TTC?
When I’m feeling low I tend to listen to upbeat music or go for a walk. I also started my own website, www.infertilitysucks.net, a few years ago to run alongside my Instagram page @thehopefulfather. I have found that trying to help other people and explaining my story lifted me up and helped my mental health. I will normally go onto Instagram and share a story or what I’m doing at the time and I love chatting to the ttc community on there, I have made some lovely friends. Talking about male infertility and the stigma around it is helping so many people, that’s why I want everyone to open up and to talk about it. Most of my followers are female, but they tell me their husbands read a lot of my posts and it helps them to know they’re not alone.
Do you have friends or family with whom you can be really open about the way you feel?
It was very difficult to talk to anyone when I first found out I had fertility issues, I just closed myself off completely and it started eating away at me. I told no one, not even my closest friends. In the end I opened up to an old work colleague who I had always admired, his name is Chris and I do want to give him a special mention, thank you buddy you are my rock. He took the brunt of me opening up and it felt like a massive weight was lifted off my shoulders. A few month after this I told my other friends and family and this really helped the way that I was able to deal with the feelings I was having surrounding infertility. After that I didn’t feel so weak, it made me feel stronger. I started to talk more and I was approached by a National newspaper to give an interview on male infertility, now everyone in whole world knows and I can’t hide, it feels amazing. I had people stop my around work and also strangers in the street to congratulate me in opening up and getting people talking.
Do you know anyone in the same position as you?
There are more and more guys contacting me to speak to me and explain they are in the same position, it’s good to know they are not alone and most of them just want to talk about general stuff before they open up about their fertility journey.
When it comes to dinner time, what sort of meals do you cook?
We absolutely love to cook together and my wife is an amazing chef. We try to stick to a Mediterranean style diet, but we love spicy food too so most things have some form of spices in. My favourite food is Mexican and I love Fajitas, so that is our treat every now and again. We do eat well and we are lucky that we both really enjoy fresh salads, fish, fruits and vegetables. We had a specialised fertility diet plan set out by the amazing nutritionist Melanie Brown at the start our fertility journey and we try our best to stick to it, but also believe a treat every now and again to almost a must!
When is your happiest time of the day?
The happiest time of my day is when my work day is over and I get to drive home to meet my wife at the gym to enjoy a fun session of Body Combat or Body Pump. Our instructors have been amazing and helped us lose weight and tone up to get our bodies in shape for the fertility journey. Fitness is a great way to help with your mental health and we now have an amazing group of friends at our local gym.
Do you keep a journal?
I do not keep a journal as such, but most of our journey is documented on my website and Instagram.
Have you reached out to any support groups or do you follow any male support social media accounts?
There are 2 social media accounts that I follow religiously and they have both been of great help and inspiration to me. They are @them_ancave and @bebraveuk. @them_ancave is run by a wonderful guy who is going through a fertility journey as well and his story and his motivation to get people talking about male infertility issues just astounds me. @bebraveuk is a new charity that was set up by a couple of guys I met on an outdoor boot camp day that was especially set up for guys wanting to talk about mental health. They are really pushing forward and I will be doing a sponsored running event around Silverstone race track to raise funds for them in November, so please keep an eye out for the sponsorship link on my Instagram page.
What makes you happy?
My wife and our 2 beautiful cats make me happy. My wife is my best friend and we are so lucky that we enjoy doing all of the same things. If I could be a little happier then I would be with her and the fur babies, but holding a cheeky glass of my favourite red wine or a chai latte J. I am also a big motor racing fan, so watching any kind of motorsport at the track is a pleasure of mine
And finally, tell us about bedtime. What time do you go to bed, and how do you feel when you climb into bed?
We normally climb into bed about 9.30pm and watch an episode of something before we go to sleep. I am very lucky that I am the kind of person who can go straight to sleep whatever is on my mind. I am normally shattered after a long day at work, going to the gym and then the charity work we do to help feed the local community most days of the week. But I always feel I have done as much as I can that day and emotionally that settles my mind. I turn over, kiss my wife goodnight and off to dream of our babies.
Thank you so much to Tony. You can keep up to date with Tony via his instagram account @thehopefulfather or his website www.infertilitysucks.net
You can also support Tony on his mission to raise funds for Brave UK, a new mens wellbeing and mental health charity, by clicking here.