Beli Path to Pregnancy is an interview series highlighting conception stories from real couples, brought to you by Beli Men Vitality Male Prenatal Vitamin.
Hi, Alex! Thanks for talking with us today. And congrats on welcoming your beautiful baby daughter into the world. What’s dad life like?
It’s awesome! Honestly. I have loved every second of the last four months. It took us a long time to get here. There were a lot of bad days, and very low lows through infertility, but looking back, it has all been worth it.
In your photos she’s looking at you with these big adoring eyes. What is she up to at four months old?
Thank you. She is great! My daughter can roll over both ways, she’s talking a lot, she sleeps through the night, she holds her head up well. She’s at a fun age where she’s noticing a lot of things. She’s really curious and attentive.
I love this happy ending to your journey. Lots of folks are surprised to learn that male factor infertility is very common, and that it explains up to 40% of infertility diagnoses. Sperm counts and quality have been on the decline population-wide, but it doesn’t seem like this gets a lot of air time. Before you started trying to conceive, were you aware of male fertility factors?
Absolutely not. Male factor infertility surprises a lot of people. I was one of them for sure! When we got our infertility diagnosis, I thought that I didn’t know anyone who had also gone through it, but it turns out that wasn’t true.
We were lucky to find other people going through the same thing we were. One of the hardest things about male factor infertility is, not only are you dealing with all the grief and emotions of infertility, but you’re also dealing with loneliness. Men need to tell our stories so people realize how common this is.
Speaking of conception stories, I think yours will resonate with our community. When did you decide to become a parent, and what led up to having your daughter?
My wife and I have both always wanted to have kids, and we were married young, so we took a few years to travel and enjoy just being married. We decided to start trying for a baby, and a year went by with nothing happening. Every passing month without a pregnancy was increasingly frustrating. Trying to conceive became more and more clinical and less and less fun. Around the one year mark, my wife was checked out by her OBGYN. Nothing indicated infertility for her. It was time for me to get tested.
I had my first semen analysis, and that’s where we discovered that I had azoospermia. Zero sperm. We started seeing a urologist who specializes in male factor infertility. I had a surgery to repair a varicocele that the urologist thought may improve my fertility. I needed to wait six months to see the results of that. When I was retested, there was no change. The urologist brought up another surgery, microTESE, to go in and surgically extract sperm if they could find any. He was not overly optimistic that it would be possible for me. The surgery was our only remaining option if we wanted me to be a biological parent.
We sat on that for a while. We grieved and processed and weighed our options. Ultimately, we decided that using donor sperm was going to be the best option for us. In early 2019, we decided to make that leap. In June of 2019 we had our second IUI (intrauterine insemination), which was successful. Our baby girl was born in February of this year on my 32nd birthday.
What a gift! And what a happy thing to share birthdays.
My 50th will be her 18th! We’ll have to do something big that year.
There’s a lot of public health information to support women’s fertility and prenatal health. But we don’t necessarily counsel men about the way their preconception health can influence the health of their whole family.
We could do a much better job of talking to men about fertility health. In our case, my infertility diagnosis wasn’t one that lifestyle and supplementation was going to improve. But I am incredibly passionate about taking care of myself to make sure that I can show up for my family. I was a teenager when I lost my dad at 44. He died of a sudden heart attack. That’s my worst nightmare. I want to do everything that I can to take care of myself so that I can be here, and be at my best for my family.
I know you're going to start taking Beli vitamins and I'm excited to hear how they improve your energy levels. Now that you are a parent, is there anything you wish you could go back in time and tell yourself?
Of course, if I were able to give myself the crystal ball to look at now, I would tell myself that it’s all going to be okay. I think the hard part about infertility is that you just can’t ever know that. Nobody wants to hear: It’ll happen when the time is right! or Just relax!, because you don’t know if you’re ever going to be successful. I think sometimes we get so wrapped up in the end goal to become a parent that it becomes difficult to enjoy life in the interim. If I could, I would probably just tell myself to take a deep breath. Try to enjoy the good bits of life as it stands right now. Anything else will be extra.