Infertility is incredibly challenging. The medical treatments are gruelling. The waiting is excruciating. The outcomes are often heartbreaking. Due to all of that, you may mistakenly assume that while you are going through this difficult trying to conceive process, you are somehow weak… but actually you are super human. In this fertility blog, we hear from Jon and Laura. They are a couple based in Melbourne who have been trying to conceive for three years. Jon has azoospermia (lack of sperm), after a testicular cancer diagnosis ten years ago. They have done fifteen IVF cycles and two micro-TESE surgeries in their quest to have a family. They encourage people who are faced with the huge challenge of infertility to find humour and build resilience through their YouTube channel and social media, as Infertility Man and the IVF Warrior.
Over to Jon and Laura…
www.infertilityman.com | @infertilityman
1. Their Identity May Be Secret
A superhero or superheroine is a character that possesses abilities beyond those of ordinary people. They typically use their powers to help the world become a better place, and/or to achieve an important mission. What greater mission than the desire to be a parent and to bring life into the world?
Often the true identity of a superhero is secret. They walk amongst us in plain clothes and look like regular people in offices and on the streets. Under their outer clothing, there may be a superhero costume… or a collection of bruises from their fertility treatment. Usually, very few people know the identities of superheroes. This is to protect them from unwanted attention and to protect their hearts from the wider community, who often don’t understand what they’re going through.
However, if you look closely, you’ll see the secret signs of these superheroes. It might be a white bandage on their elbow from a recent blood test, it might be that they suddenly disappear at the strangest moments, or you may just see a look on their face, or perhaps the smudge of a tear on their cheek from their most recent battle.
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2. They Are Courageous
Just like superheroes, Fertility Warriors face their fears on a daily basis. A superhero is a person who does heroic deeds and has the ability to do them in a way that a normal person couldn’t. Whilst facing infertility, a person develops a particular resilience and the ability to do things they never thought possible, because what they are striving towards is the thing they so desperately want. This becomes greater than their fear. This is how they build their special powers and abilities. In order to have a true superhero story, there must be a super villain and a super challenge – infertility is certainly that.
3. They Are Tolerant To Pain
Superheroes often experience physical discomfort while they are saving the world. They see it as part of the job. Fertility Warriors have a high pain threshold too, that they have developed through a lot of practice. Many of them endure daily physical pain through injections, swollen ovaries, numerous surgeries and medical procedures. They learn to be tough and to face the pain head on. They know that their mission is more important to them than the avoidance of pain, so they bravely step up every day and get the job done.
A good ice pack, heat pack and lots of band aids help too.
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4. They Do Strange Things With Underpants
Superman wears his underwear on the outside. That’s a little strange, but it is just part of being a superhero. Fertility Warriors do strange things with underwear too, they often wear nothing on their bottom half in doctor’s offices and fertility clinics and they can make their underwear disappear in a split second, just before the sonographer enters the room.
5. They May Have A Sidekick Or May Act Alone
Some superheros have sidekicks, like Batman and Robin. Some superheros act alone and save the world by themselves. Whether it’s a wife, a husband, a partner, a friend, a mother or mother-in-law, a Fertility Warrior may have a companion in their superhero adventures. Together they form a unit that is very powerful. Each member of the duo has times when they are the one saving the day and times when they are the one who needs saving. Their mission is difficult, so they do their best to support their sidekick through it all. A sidekick can double as the designated driver of the bat-mobile and maybe even administer an injection or two.
Very special superheroes act alone and these are the bravest and strongest of all. These lone warriors shoulder a huge amount of responsibility and have extra amounts of courage. They are at their best when they are able to complete their mission on their own and they choose this course of action wholeheartedly.
6. They May Use Advanced Technology And Medicine To Achieve Their Superhero Status
Some superheroes (for example Batman and Iron Man) derive their status from advanced technology, while others (such as Superman and Spider-Man) possess non-human or superhuman biology. Fertility Warriors have a team of fertility specialists that help them to achieve their super human status. While the medications they take are, first and foremost, to help them conceive, they also help them to gain superhuman strength, courage, speed, and agility.
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7. They Are Challenged By Things That Don’t Impact Normal People
Just like Superman and Kryptonite, they may be momentarily weakened by things that are generally harmless to other humans. A baby shower can leave them breathless, a pregnancy announcement can cause them to cry in their car, an insensitive comment can create great distress. These things may challenge them in a way that doesn’t affect regular humans, and it is because they are being called to be so much stronger in so many areas of their lives…yet they always find a way to keep going.
8. They Are Able To Complete Superhero Business In Any Private Space
Just like Superman, who changed his clothes in telephone booths, storage rooms, doorways, closets, revolving doors and alleys, Fertility Warriors are able quickly and efficiently to give themselves an injection in a public bathroom, car seat or an abandoned office. They can insert a pessary as fast as a speeding bullet. They can run across town and provide a sperm sample in a tiny windowless room. They then return to their desk or whatever else they were doing as if nothing every happened, and no one is the wiser.
9. They Have A Sense Of Humour
Whether it’s a witty one-liner or clumsy fall, superheroes and fertility warriors have the ability to see the lighter side of a tough situation. They have to find ways to laugh or their situation might make them miserable. So, they crack jokes, point out the ridiculousness of what they are experiencing and make their medical team smile.
Related Article – Forever ‘The Infertile?’ This is Meirav’s Story
10. How They Manage Their Money (Or A Job) Is Unclear, But They Find A Way
Despite their occasional disappearances to fight crime or go to fertility appointments, superheroes and fertility warriors manage to hold down jobs, somehow saving the world and then rushing back to the office to meet their deadlines. Being a superhero isn’t cheap (and neither is fertility treatment), but they somehow manage to make it work. Juggling work and finances while going through infertility is very difficult, so that is why it takes a superhero to do it.
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11. They Can Be Any Gender, Age, Race Or Sexual Orientation
Superheroes come from a wide array of different backgrounds and origins. Their origin story is part of who they are and it informs how they fight their battles. Fertility Warriors also come from many walks of life, and as many of them keep their true identities secret, you can never be sure when you are facing a true fertility hero, regardless of how they look on the outside.
12. They Have A Mission. They Are Driven By Love
Every superhero has to believe in something and want to fight for it. If Fertility Warriors didn’t believe in their dream of growing a family, they would have already given up. They are driven by love. Superheroes can’t always win, but they never stop fighting until their story reaches the final destination. They might change their plan, or create an alternative ending, and they take breaks when they need to recharge their strength, but they keep going until they reach the end of their story.
If you are in the middle of your own trying to conceive journey, please hold your head high and give yourself credit, because you are incredible. Next time you walk into a fertility clinic, a baby shower or any place in your Gotham City, walk tall and proud reminding yourself that YOU ARE AMAZING. You are a superhero.
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