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Richard's story

Richard and Claire had two unsuccessful cycles of ICSI before deciding to move on from treatment. Here’s Richard’s story:

Claire told me fairly early on in our relationship that she’d had her fallopian tubes removed and would only be able to have children with fertility treatment.

To be honest it didn’t bother me. I’d had mumps in the past which can affect your sperm count so I knew there was the possibility I would need fertility treatment anyway, plus I loved her. We went through two unsuccessful cycles of ICSI and during that time I found it really hard giving Claire enough support. There are only so many times you can say “are you alright?” before the words become a bit redundant. I tried to cheer her up and stay positive but it’s so difficult, especially because at times Claire felt like less of a woman because she couldn’t have a family.

I also didn’t realise just how invasive treatment would be for her. As a woman you get no privacy because you have people doing all sorts to your body and that’s not something I experienced or could necessarily relate to.

Couple holding hands in the street

I felt like I had to put my grief aside to be there for Claire

We found out we were pregnant on my birthday, December 18th and then two days before Christmas we lost the baby. I felt like I had to put my grief aside in order to be there for Claire and look after our practical day-to-day lives. In retrospect that was a bad idea as I ended up breaking down at work, unable to focus on anything.

I really wish there was more support available for partners. I bottled up my feelings for a long time before I was able to open up to a couple of close friends. It feels like the whole fertility process is so focused on the woman that partners end up getting sidelined a bit. Women were happy to talk to Claire about their experiences but they wouldn’t feel as comfortable talking about it in front of me. Even though I understand why that could feel quite isolating.

Talking to other partners anonymously would have really helped

It would be great if there was an anonymous forum where partners could talk to each other. There were things I really needed to talk about but couldn’t say to Claire because she was already hurting so much and I didn’t want to hurt her any more. Just having someone else say “yeah, I’ve been there too” would help.  

We’re now looking into adopting and that’s been a bit of an eye opener. I was on a website and a banner flashed up saying “there are 30 babies in your area that need adopting.” I was so shocked and disgusted, it felt like some kind of auction. I hope we will be able to adopt though as Claire is such a generous, loving person – she always puts others first. I know she’s going to be a fantastic mum.

Read Claire's story

Review date: 9 November 2020