Matt (UK): My Infertility Journey
Hi, I’m Matt from Guildford in the UK and this is my journey. My wife Charlie and I had just got married in August 2009 and the next step for us was to have a baby. We tried for a year with no luck; we tried all the tricks in the book but still no luck. We went to the doctor to see if they could help: they first referred my wife Charlie to the hospital for tests and just gave me vitamins to take, tips to wear baggy underwear and suggested that I do a sperm sample. I took the advice, changed my diet, took vitamins and after three months did a sperm sample.
We got called back to the doctors to go through the results; the sperm sample come back with zero count. I was in shock and did not know what to do or think. I got referred to the andrology clinic, where I had hormone and blood tests. All my LH, FSH tests etc. came back fine, but my repeat sperm sample came back with another zero count. There was a long delay with my hormones test results as they lost my first sample, but when I finally got the results back they all came back fine. I was starting to lose the will to live at this point.
Because my samples came back with a zero count, they started the paperwork for IVF and sperm retrieval. There were a lot of strict guidelines for both of us; after a year and six months with 15 cancelled appointments and plenty of stress we got accepted for funding. I was booked in for sperm retrieval on May 1st 2015, with Charlie by my side. I woke up after the operation felling unwell – my god, the pain! I never felt anything like it before. The doctor came in and delivered his findings; I had abnormal sperm and they could not retrieve any. I broke down in tears, feeling that it was all my fault, that I was the problem. After my recovery, I started thinking, ‘why me? what I have done to deserve this?’ I felt guilty for Charlie that I couldn't give her a child, and started to believe it would be best for her to find someone else. Thank God I have an amazing wife who is so supportive and understanding. We sat down and talked, cried and grieved for my child that I would never have. But we realised that if you want something that much you both have to fight for it and that’s what we did.
As the funding was for IVF with my sperm, we had to go back to the board to re-apply for funding for IVF with donor sperm, which took another six months. We secured funding again and were handed back over to the hospital to begin the process. We sat down with the nurses; they were so nice and they recommended counselling and an infertility support network, which really helped me. When we decided to go with donor sperm, I wanted it to be kept secret; how wrong I was! After talking to other people going through the same thing and watching video conferences from the donor conception network site, it clicked and I did not feel alone or afraid. We received the link to have a look round the donors; it felt strange shopping for sperm! After narrowing it down, we were happy and selected our donor. We had to pay upfront for the donor sperm to be sent to the UK and stored; our best friends helped us out with the funds to do this – they have been a rock to us and have been so supportive.
On January 29th 2016, we had our little miracle. The journey that we have been on for six years has been a rollercoaster and I know it will be hard telling him about where he came from and the journey we went through. However, I have the support of my wife and now a network of people that have gone through the same experiences. Our journey has made us appreciate him so much more and we are very lucky to have him. For myself, coming to terms with infertility has been so heart breaking, but the love and support from Charlie, our best friends Hannah & Gary, and family made it easier to cope with. If I talk openly about infertility and my journey to others I hope to inspire other men to not suffer in silence.