HuffPost UK is running a month-long focus around masculinity in the 21st Century, and the pressures men face around identity. To address some of the issues at hand, Building Modern Men presents a snapshot of life for men, from bringing up young boys to the importance of mentors, the challenges between speaking out and 'manning up' as well as a look at male violence, body image, LGBT identity, lad culture, sports, male friendship and mental illness.
Before my wife and I got married in June 2012, we decided to start trying for a baby and didn't ever imagine that this would be an issue. The wedding came and went and, after trying for about nine months without falling pregnant, I encouraged my wife Debbie to go to the doctor to check that everything was okay. At that point I didn't for one minute think there would be a problem with me so supported her while she underwent numerous tests to try and find out what might be wrong. When we got the tests results back, it was clear that nothing was wrong with Debbie, that she was healthy and able to have children. After all of that time, it was only then that the doctor suggested I got checked out too - it wasn't something that I had thought about up until that point.
I had a number of tests which came back showing that I had a low sperm count. I felt devastated that this was happening to us and we had no control over it. We were told we would not be able to have children and advised to go down the donor route. We were referred to a consultant with a very long waiting list so Debbie started researching and found the same consultant was also working at Nuffield Health Glasgow Hospital's specialist fertility unit. We decided that we didn't want to wait any longer, so, in October 2013, we sought private treatment at the hospital.
With the help of the staff at the hospital we decided that I would have an operation done to extract my sperm, and, with this simple operation, it was possible to have children. The operation was followed by an intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) where an embryologist selected one of the sperm and injected it directly into the egg. Sadly this didn't work for us on this occasion. After a few months, in February 2014, we decided to try again and on this occasion were delighted to be told that the treatment was successful. My wife gave birth to our son Deacon in November last year.
As we approach his first birthday, we feel so blessed to have him with us and we thank everyone every day for helping us get the child we always longed for. It took us longer than we imagined to get to this point, and it wasn't the way that we imagined we would have children, but we would do it all again without a second thought as being able to have Deacon has been such a blessing.
I used to be an extremely shy person and would always keep myself to myself. Going through everything we went through to get Deacon has made me much more open and I am more than happy to talk about male fertility and would always encourage others to do the same. Male infertility is a real issue and something all men need to be comfortable addressing. If I had have thought about it in the first place, it wouldn't have taken us as long as it did to get where we are today but I'm just grateful that we got there in the end.