When making babies is no fun at all – one man’s experience of the agony and ecstasy of making babies

We sat down and had a D & M with “Richard” a journalist and talked about:

“When making babies is no fun at all.”

Richard’s first reflections were the way life was different for women compared to men when we are looking to start a family.

Richard: Life can be cruel; there is no doubt about that, especially to women.  You spend often the first decade of your life desperately trying not to get pregnant while you carve out a career, travel, save for a house and find a bloke who isn’t gay, an egomaniac or just lacking in backbone.  Then once you’ve done that and can finally afford to have kids, just, you start trying, desperately, to get pregnant, with already your best breeding years behind you. 

PMBA: Do you think when women are looking to start a family after carving out a career, travel and house there is pressure on men?

Richard: A lot.

PMBA:  Tell us Richard about your reflections on when you were starting your family.  What was it like for you and your wife.  What goals, dreams did you have about having children?

Richard: When my wife and I got married I was 28, she was 27 and our goal was to have our first child before she was 30.  Eighteen months into our marriage everything was going great.  We’d moved to a new city and both had good jobs.  We’d saved a nice little buffer and braced ourselves for single income Armageddon.

PMBA: Was it easy to fall pregnant once you had made all the preparations and decided to start?

Richard: It took maybe three months for me to put one through the posts, oh what fun that was and we were both stoked.  Everything seemed to be going swimmingly, we had our ultrasounds and saw our baby growing and moving and my wife’s bump was growing nicely, as was the size of my chest, I was so proud.  

PMBA: And then things didn’t go to plan?

Richard: Then came the hit that knocked the wind out of us.  We had a blood test and it came back abnormal.

PMBA: It is always challenging to receive bad news, how did your obstetrician handle it and support you both?

Richard:: Our obstetrician in hindsight, was a completely insensitive moron.  He bumbled his way through explaining what the issue was.  It became clear to me then, that some obstetricians really don’t care about you more than what your billing number is.   He really gave us no real answers and you could tell he had no recollection of who we were in his busy practice.  He said we would have to wait till after the Easter holidays to get an explanation from the biochemist.  What?! Wait a week in limbo about whether or not this human being we had created was living, or dying, or something else in between.  

PMBA:  We know that it is important to have the ‘right’ people looking out for you during this time.  Who did you turn to?

Richard: Fortunately, our GP was an obstetrician as well, so we went straight to see her. She took our blood results and started calling in favours to get us an explanation of what this unusual blood result meant. Essentially, one of my wife’s hormones was so low the biochemist questioned whether we were even pregnant.  A long story short, our baby had what was called Triploidy, a full set of extra chromosomes.  It happens when two sperm enter the egg at the same time.  It’s not uncommon, but in most cases it ends in miscarriage before the 12-week mark, we were past the 5-month mark.  So after a few very sad and sorry days we lost our baby and so began some very dark and troubling days.

PMBA:  It is obviously extremely tragic to lose a baby.  How did that affect your relationship?  

Richard: To say I was interested in my wife was an understatement, the wind would only have to change direction for me to be interested in sex, but like the wind, that quickly changed.  I can’t remember now if that happened straight away or if it was gradual.  But it definitely changed things.

PMBA: So you no longer wanted to have sex, that must have been difficult for you given you were so into one another before?

Richard: What I do remember is it eventually graduated from stress to absolute fear and loathing of procreating.  I would get stressed about that time of the month, that is ovulation time.  I came to know my wife’s cycle better than she did and every month it amplified more than the month before and after each failed cycle the crash of depression and inadequacy was overwhelming.  

PMBA: So you were feeling the pressure of having to ‘get’ her pregnant, it was your responsibility? We are guessing sex was no longer the fun time it used to be?

Richard: I felt like I wasn’t a man.  I could have sex; that was no problem, I wasn’t impotent.  I just couldn’t get there if you know what I mean.  You hear guys brag about their staying power, which is mostly all bull, but this literally turned into the marathon with no end and anything but enjoyable.  I dreaded having sex.   My wife to her credit was very patient and did everything to get my motor running, even got some pretty nice lingerie and a Brazilian.  WTF! I can’t believe women go get these done on a regular basis, I am sure history will look back on this practice as some sort of bizarre torture.

PMBA: And for you, what was the emotional impact for you?

Richard: Psychologically, I was a mess, I couldn’t look my wife in the eye, I felt I was failing her, depriving her of something she desperately needed and deserved.  I even started to have suicidal thoughts, that’s how bad it was.  It impacted my work and my relationships with everybody, because everyone else we knew was either having babies or asking us about when we were having ours.  

PMBA: It’s difficult for couples, some people are just plain nosey and others think they are being supporting but it doesn’t feel that way.

Richard: Some people really have no clue, I had friends who would literally ask me on a monthly basis if we were pregnant yet.  Fortunately, we moved states again so the embarrassment and shame we felt as failed human beings wasn’t as bad because most people in our new city hadn’t seen my wife’s growing belly.

PMBA: Moving states was obviously due to work, not to get away from prying eyes! Couples often need support through these times, did you discuss getting some help?

Richard: Eventually we decided to get some help and we got a referral for a reproductive specialist.  But literally the day before I was supposed to front up to get a sperm count done, bang, we got a blue cross on the stick.  The Brazilian must have done the trick!  My 18 months of misery and angst were over, sort of.  

PMBA: We can only imagine the relief.  What was it like once you got such great news after such a stressful period? Did the thoughts of the first pregnancy affect how you felt about this one?

Richard: It was a pretty stressful nine months. As we went to each obstetrician visit, we prepared for the worst.  But we made it, although we eventually had to be induced with an emergency C-section performed as our daughter got stuck.  

PMBA: And now?

Richard: Ten years on we have four children now, the next three I’m pretty sure were all conceived after I bumped into my wife in the hall way.   Turns out we are both physically very fertile human beings.

PMBA: So what do you think is the main thing out of this journey?
Richard: In hindsight I am sure the problem conceiving our firstborn was all down to what played out in our heads.  The pressure, the worry, the stress all took its toll.