Ryan Smith is the author of ‘FINALLY! . . . An Infertility Book for Dudes’ – a book that helps navigate infertility from the male perspective. Here, he tells us about how his own struggle with infertility lead to him writing his book
My wife, Catie, and I experienced infertility over the course of 5 years. When we started trying to conceive, I thought it would be easy. We were both about 30 years old, healthy, and from what I was taught growing up, it seemed like a few months of trying and next thing you know we would be planning the gender reveal and baby shower. Man oh man, were we wrong.
Our journey really began after about six months of unsuccessful timed intercourse. The alarm bells instantly started going off and I wondered why isn’t this working? We started with a semen analysis to make sure my swimmers were doing their job. After receiving the news that everything looked good in that department, the focus really turned to Catie.
The poking and prodding, examines in the stir ups and testing that so many women experience while going through infertility treatment began. I, as the male in the partnership with no apparent fertility concerns, was left on the sideline as I watched her calendar fill up with fertility clinic appointments.
Eventually the medication and treatment began. Early on, I didn’t do a great job as a partner
Looking back, I wasn’t involved enough in the process. This was pre-covid and it was difficult when she would have multiple appointments throughout the week over her lunch break and then return to the office. I would be busy tackling my day and forget to ask about the recent blood draw or couldn’t be present for the check in call she had that morning with the clinic. I wish I had been a better partner from the start.
We received the diagnosis, like so many others, of unexplained infertility
What does that leave you with? For me, it was originally a sense of relief. There were no glaring problems that were preventing us from conceiving. Awesome! Then, as we moved into IUIs and eventually IVF this diagnosis became more frustrating. We were pouring time, physical pain, emotions, and money into this process and not getting the result we wanted. We didn’t even know the problem we had to attack!
As we moved into our first cycle of IVF, I had a big shift in my focus. My tough “macho” wall had been broken down and I was all in. We were able to freeze 5 genetically tested healthy embryos with our first egg retrieval. Unfortunately, with these we experienced two miscarriages and a failed transfer. Between two of the frozen embryo transfer attempts, Catie underwent a laparoscopic surgery where moderate to severe endometriosis was found and removed.
After this initial failure, we did a second IVF cycle and were lucky enough to freeze four healthy embryos. The first transfer was successful, and we were lucky enough to welcome a healthy baby girl this past fall after 5 years of infertility.
Why Did I Write the Book?
Our first failed IVF cycle was one of the toughest experiences of my life. We had spent over a year (not to mention the two years of “trying” before we turned to IVF) going through the egg retrieval, transfers, miscarriages, and the endometriosis procedure/recovery during this cycle all without achieving our goal of parenthood. I couldn’t fathom that we were back starting over with another cycle. It was heartbreaking.
During this time, I began to search out resources I felt I could connect with. There were plenty for women on all types of topics from egg health and biological clocks to dealing with loss and the infertility process. For guys, there were some books on sperm health and male factor infertility but nothing about the journey I felt like I could relate to. One weekend, I began writing an outline and found it to be cathartic. It quickly became a stress reliver for me and a project I had to complete.
In the book, I share some research, insights, and advice on infertility
I talk about our experience in detail and keep it lighthearted with stories about some of the ridiculous situation’s infertility can put you in. It is a laid-back, easy to digest book that I hope helps some guys out there can relate to. My wife also supplies her reaction and feedback at the end of each chapter in a section called “Her Perspective”. My hope is that by hearing how she felt during these times, readers can get a perspective from both of us going through the experience. After all, I can’t describe what it is like to receive a progesterone in oil shot, unfortunately she is the expert on that!
What readers take away from the book will all depend on where they are in their journey. If they are new to infertility, I hope they get some tips and tricks and knowledge of what may possibly be ahead. I touch on things like the IVF attrition rate, embryo grading, strategies for supporting your partner, “performing” in the specimen collection room, being prepared financially and communication. If someone picks up a tip or strategy from the book that’s amazing. Other guys have been through way more than I have and for them I hope they find it relatable and get a few laughs. I hope they can finally find something they can connect with.
I’m no expert on infertility, but it has taken over my life for 5 years and if this book is able to help one couple, then this was all worth it!
You can buy Ryan’s book by clicking here
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