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When I found out that I was infertile, I felt empty and that my life had no meaning. In my eyes, men are put on the this planet to procreate. My reproductive system had denied me the opportunity to pass my genes on the next generation.
My infertility diagnosis was followed by several difficult weeks of depression and despair. I felt alone and without any direction in life. It was a shock to my system and I felt that I had reached rock bottom. After a few weeks I realised that I could not fall any further and the only way up. I accepted my situation and made a conscious decision to change my life.
Instead of dwelling on my unfortunate circumstances, I decided to take control and look to the future. Deep down, I had not accepted defeat and embraced the lessons that I was learning. In hindsight, my infertility was a blessing and it gave me a new start in life.
Unbeknownst to me, I had adapted a mindset discussed in Victor Frankl’s best seller Mans search for meaning. His fascinating memoir depicts his lessons for spiritual survival in a Nazi concentration camp.
Frankl’s experiences and those of his patients argue that we cannot avoid suffering but we can chose how we react to it, find meaning in it and move forward. I did not read the book while going through IVF treatment but I wish I had. The lessons for survival during times of suffering make the book a must read for everybody.
At the heart of his theory, known as logotherapy, is a conviction that the primary human drive is not the search for pleasure but the pursuit of what we find meaningful. Finding meaning in infertility is a way to manage the pain.
“Logotherapy, is a conviction that the primary human drive is not the search for pleasure but the pursuit of what we find meaningful”
Men who find out that they are infertile react in one of two ways; they either become apathetic, depressed and lose hope, or they accept they their situation and do everything in their power to have a family. I started in pit of depression but decided to change my mindset and appreciate the challenge in front of me.
Infertility became a gift that I used for spiritual growth and an opportunity to develop strength in the face of adversity. My struggles taught me to understand that everybody suffers and we can control how we react to suffering.
Finding meaning in fertility and working hard to overcome it will help you to develop a strong character. During our IVF treatment, I devoted myself 100% to my wife and our future family. Infertility forced me to change nearly every area of my life. My so called “weakness” has made me a healthier and more rounded person.
During the years of infertility treatment I was not naive. When dealing with infertility you need to be realistic and accept that you may not have a family. I spent time visualising adoption, foster children and the possibility of a life without kids. IVF treatment would either give me a family or teach me valuable lessons about suffering that I could use for the rest of my life.
Time heals all wounds and I knew that if everything failed I could still be happy. I know now that in every difficult situation, I can accept my faith and use the suffering to learn and improve.
I have two beautiful twins and I’m grateful to have them in my life. The miracle of having twins has turned out to be my next struggle. Raising twins has presented Olivia and I with a whole new host of unexpected challenges. There are times when the sleep deprivation and stress can be overwhelming.
When times get tough, I use the lessons that I learned from infertility to get me through. Infertility, thought me how to cope with loss, stress and how to love unconditionally. The meaning that I found infertility was having a family. The desire to have children gave me something to work for. This focus on the future gave me strength.
Now that I have my family, I live each day with love and meaning. When I am exhausted from balancing a full time job, twins and a blog I remind myself that I am lucky to have a family. My family is my meaning. Every decision that I make is made with them in mind.
The lessons in this book are not only helpful for infertile couples. If you are struggling with anything in life and feel like giving up then search for meaning in your situation. We all suffer, it is part of being human. Strength and growth come from choosing how we react to the hardships that life often brings us.
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