How Male Factor Infertility Has Made Our Marriage Stronger
By Nicki Trevino
Being a mother has been my number one goal in life since I was about 3 years old. Growing up, I never thought I would have any difficulty seeing that happen. Obviously, I was wrong. My husband, Mario, and I have been married for three years and have been trying to get pregnant for two of them. It’s weird to think that 2/3 of our marriage has been spent dealing with infertility. Sometimes I think about our wedding day and how blissfully unaware we were of all the hardships to come and how much infertility would change us.
When we first started trying to get pregnant, we naively thought it would happen right away. After a few months, I began to suspect that something was wrong. We started seeing a lot of our friends getting pregnant easily, and it just wasn’t happening for us. About nine months in, my doctor had me get some bloodwork and an ultrasound done, but everything came back normal and it just left us continuing to wonder what was wrong.
Finally, after a full year of trying, they had my husband get tested. I still remember how it felt when we read his results: abnormal motility, low sperm count, abnormal viscosity, abnormal morphology. We were shocked. We had to Google most of the terms because we had no idea what they even meant. And we, unfortunately, had no idea how common male factor infertility is. I had spent an entire year blaming myself and feeling so much shame about my body because I thought something was wrong with me. To find out that something was actually wrong with my husband’s body rocked our world.
Infertility is already such a taboo topic that is difficult to open up and talk about, and I feel it’s even harder for men who are dealing with male factor infertility. A lot of women find a safe place in infertility groups or communities on Instagram, but there seems to be very little safe space for men to talk about their own journeys with infertility. Whether it’s because of their own biological issue or because they are learning to support their wife through it, I wish my husband could find the same level of support that I have found along the way.
My husband often blames himself, and it is devastating for me to watch. I never blame him because I know these biological issues are not his fault. I also know he would never put the blame on me if the roles were reversed. Infertility has tested us in so many different ways.
I always say that infertility has the ability to make you or break you as a couple, and it honestly has broken us on some days. My husband and I are extremely different in the ways that we cope with things—I like to sit in my feelings and take time to process things, whereas he likes to be positive and distract himself to cope. Neither way is wrong, but when you are in the middle of the darkest season of your life, any little thing can start an argument. There have been many days where we have felt completely misunderstood by each other, and we usually have our biggest disagreements on treatment days, the day of the IUI or the day of the embryo transfer, just because we see the world so differently.
After two failed IUIs, one IVF cycle, a failed fresh embryo transfer, and a ton of hard work, I can honestly say that we have become stronger as a couple through our infertility journey. It’s painful, heartbreaking, and devastating all at the same time. But the closeness I feel to my husband from being able to cry in his arms at night for comfort and from walking this journey hand-in-hand together is unlike anything I have ever experienced.
I find so much comfort in knowing how deeply we love each other and how we will always fight for each other. He is the only person in this entire world who knows exactly what I am going through and can feel it completely with me. We may not be the same naïve couple that said “I do” three years ago, but we are more mature, more grounded, and more understanding of one another now than we were then.
I have had to learn that my husband is not my enemy through this just because he copes differently than I do. He is my teammate, and it takes work and time to learn how to best support each other. When other people around us announce yet another pregnancy, we can lean on each other. When we have another failed cycle and are mourning what could have been, we can lean on each other.
Infertility has already stolen so much from me—it’s not going to steal my marriage, too. Infertility is a constant battle: a battle for a child, a battle to keep going despite the odds, a battle to put on a happy face on the darkest days, a battle to try to not let insensitive comments get to you, a battle for your marriage, a battle to be vulnerable in sharing your story, and a battle to keep your joy. Anyone who has ever dealt with infertility is my hero. It’s a brutal fight—and we are all warriors at battle, waiting to finally experience our triumph.
Nicki Trevino is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who is passionate about bringing awareness to mental health, infertility, and decreasing the stigmas surrounding both. She has been married to her husband Mario for three years, and they have two adorable dogs, Jojo and PJ. They love to spend their free time traveling, hiking, eating good food, and laughing together. Nicki is also a Christian and is extremely passionate about sharing the hope she has in Jesus.