Male Factor Infertility: When Dreams Meet Reality

What do you do when your dreams of starting a family and your reality of a male factor diagnosis are diametrically opposed? How do you move forward? TJ Peyten shares how years of infertility and a male factor diagnosis forced her to grieve her old dreams, and eventually, create new ones.

My husband and I had known each other since we were 6 years old. It wasn’t until the end of our junior year in high school that we connected. In the summer of our senior year he told me God said I would be his wife. I laughed it off, but fast forward to our early 20s, and we were married.

We were young. We had time. The plan was to have 2-3 children…our first baby by age 30, and our last baby by age 33.

After it had been over a year with no pregnancy. I went to my OBGYN to get checked. I was fine, but he suggested my husband get checked just to be sure.

It was 2013. I was working from home when the nurse called and said, “Well, uh, you see, we didn’t find anything. We didn’t find any sperm.”

I couldn’t catch my breath but could taste the salt from my tears.  I mean, how do you “kindly” tell someone that he will never father a child? How do you tell someone that something they’ve dreamed would never happen?

It seemed the nurse found a way. With one phone call, she made my dreams meet reality. I never realized they were never acquainted until that one moment in time.

Reality made me grieve the death of my dreams.

The dream: My husband and I would band together and love on one another through this time.

The reality: Infertility pushed us to the brink of divorce.

The dream: I would be able to still be a loving auntie, godmother, sister, and friend to all the nieces, nephews, and other kids in my life.

The reality: I even threw away my best friend’s baby shower invitation and cried every time I saw someone pregnant.

The dream: With hope and prayer, I would survive!

The reality: I got to a point where I cursed God almost every day.

The dream: I would be okay that my husband was the reason we couldn’t get pregnant.

The reality: I got to a point where I hated the sight of my husband.

The dream: The doctor could fix my husband’s “issue.” 

The reality: No surgery or medication could help him.

The dream: I will get pregnant… it will be a miracle!

The reality: I never felt the kick of a baby in my stomach.

I wished every day that my dreams and reality were never introduced because each day, the reality of male infertility caused a roller coaster of shoulda-woulda-couldas, why me, why him, why us, why not, I will be fine, we will be okay, this is only temporary, maybe it’s not in the plan, and to HELL with all the people pregnant who I felt were unfit to be parents.

The reality of our infertility took years to process because as Christians, we always believed that our dreams would be realized. Yet, reality took my dreams on a journey where I was forced, after 4 years, to confront the term never. It was the HARDEST thing I’ve ever had to do. But, once I got to a place where I accepted that our dream of becoming parents may never be, I let go.

It was at the end of 2017 I realized that it was okay to let go of an unmet expectation that was never really promised to me… the expectation of getting pregnant. We’d been married almost 10 years. We had to start living again. Our lives had purpose; we just had to discover what it was.

What’s funny about dreams and reality is that sometimes what we dreamed can still become our reality, just not in the way we planned. Just like a phone call seemed to snatch our dream of parenting away, one phone call made the dream of becoming parents a reality.

At the beginning of 2018, my husband and I decided we’d do a home study just in case a baby ever came in the picture. Yet, we were resolved that we could live childfree and be okay. About 2 weeks after we finished our home study, a friend who had adopted called us and said, “My attorney has a client who’s pregnant and looking to give her daughter up for adoption.”

Long story short, I’m a mom, my husband’s a dad and our daughter is a reality.

While I wished that dreams and reality never met, I’m glad that male infertility brought them together. Reality forced us to LIVE in the midst of our circumstance and accept that whatever path life takes us on (even if it’s not what we dreamed) it would be purposeful.

But, for me, had I never met reality; I would have never met my dream.

To hear more of TJ Peyten’s story, check out her book “Semen Secrets: Truths and Confessions of a Wife’s Journey Through Male Infertility.”

TJ Peyten is a Georgia native with a mission to raise awareness about male factor infertility. TJ's infertility journey started in 2013, when, after five years of marriage, it was discovered that her husband was the factor in their inability to conceive. TJ finally got the courage to share her story with the world through her book, "Semen Secrets: Truths and Confessions of a Wife's Journey Through Male Infertility."

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