Infertility from a husband’s perspective
In this Year of St. Joseph and as we approach the Solemnity of St. Joseph, the Fruitful Hollow team have been thinking about holy husbands and the strength with which they lead their families. We spent some time thinking about how we discuss infertility with our husbands and imagining how the cross of infertility feels from a husband’s perspective. We want to help you dive deeper into conversation with your husband about how the journey has been affecting him. At the end of this piece is a list of questions you might like to draw from in your discussion. We have gone first and opened the discussion by posing these questions to the husbands of some of our creative team and writers and we found their responses touching and insightful.
Meet the husbands
Paul is a husband, father, and lover of philosophy and Theology of the Body who experienced a season of secondary infertility alongside his wife and is striving ultimately to lead his family to heaven.
Matt is a husband with a tender heart for his friends and family, especially his many nieces and nephews. He lovingly accompanies his wife through life's ups and downs.
Charlie is a computer programmer from Canada living in England, who with his wife struggles with primary infertility. He has several godchildren with whom he loves to spend his time.
Sean is a hardworking Texas boy and loving husband who is walking the road of primary infertility with his wife. He strives daily to pray, lead and support his beautiful wife on their journey to sainthood.
Andrew is a husband, uncle and coach. He and his wife have been awaiting the joy of parenthood! For almost 4 years Andrew has been leading his wife in praying for a beautiful baby they can raise in God's image.
Looking back at the journey so far
What would you say to a friend who is early on in his infertility journey?
Andrew: I would tell them that it’s okay to be confused about what is going on. I would encourage anyone to talk to their spouse about this confusion, and not to give up, especially early. The earlier that infertility is talked about, the earlier any potential barriers to conception can be addressed.
Matt: If someone tells you you’re still young and you should just wait, don’t let that stop you from looking into what could help affect change.
Sean: Be patient. I’d tell him you have to have patience. If you don’t, you will be angry all the time. Be patient with your wife too. If your wife undergoes fertility treatment, she won’t always be thinking like herself. When my wife is pumped with HCG or progesterone I have to give her more grace and have patience, knowing that she’s going through a lot and she doesn’t always have control over her emotions. On HCG she once cried because I didn’t order myself any food when we were in a drive thru (I wasn’t hungry). I have never seen that many tears come from one person for no reason!
Paul: As a man, facing infertility can definitely make you feel helpless. But the reality is that no matter what, there is hope and you’re not alone. While there are parts of this cross that we men can’t carry, something you can always do is fulfill your vocation by leading your wife in prayer, encouraging her, supporting her and communicating with her. We found through a little bit of research that our diocese actually had resources for couples struggling to conceive that we didn’t know about before; there is always support out there and God always provides.
What has been something unexpected (either positive or negative) about your infertility journey or how you’ve dealt with it?
Matt: Something I didn’t expect was the draining emotional and financial cost for so few answers.
Sean: Early on in our infertility journey when I got tested, our doctor found out that my sperm were 100% infertile due to E. Coli. That was unexpected. I had zero symptoms and we found out that if it had gone untreated it would have become a bigger issue for my overall health. My doctor was able to prescribe the correct antibiotics and the issue was resolved.
Andrew: There are times where it is easier than others. Throughout the work day and when my mind is occupied, I am pretty good at not allowing it to bring me down. However, there can be a downside to that. Oftentimes when you compartmentalize something for so long, you sort of forget it’s there. I have found myself doing this at times. For men, infertility can be an “out of sight, out of mind” type thing but I would challenge anyone (and myself) to not let it get completely out of sight.
Dealing with the lows
In the lowest moments of your own journey, what have you found helpful?
Charlie: This may seem cliché or pious but prayer helps me. There is so much in life that we cannot change, and it's only through worshipping God that the unchangeable, unmanageable or irrational parts of life start to mysteriously change or make sense. Years ago I was very impressed by some homilies I heard on the subject of St. Paul's instruction to "pray without ceasing" and the monastic tradition. Before the pandemic, I had the luxury of being able to walk to a nearby Benedictine monastery on Sunday evenings for Vespers. In winter, the chapel was very dark except for the sanctuary lamp, and the monks were hidden out of sight, singing from the transept. The Vespers I would hear them chant each week includes a psalm that has become very special to me: Psalm