I am at work, when suddenly I come over all strange. I feel dizzy. The room starts to spin. My guts ache and I have to grip the desk to compose myself. Sadness has run headfirst into my stomach. It isn’t the depth of the story I am editing, about a little girl who loses her pet frog, that brings tears to my eyes, it’s the thoughts that rush up from my subconscious. Will I ever watch this show with a child of my own? Will I ever actually be a dad?
I rush to the Gents, sit on the pan and let the tears come.
Great big watery tears. Buckets of them.
I never cry. I can’t even remember the last time I cried.
I cry for me. I cry for Nyla. I cry for us. I cry for my useless sperm. And then I start crying because I am crying. I am a man with dodgy sperm and I cry.
What kind of man am I? I bet my dad wouldn’t cry. I am not a man at all.
Once I start I can’t stop. At first I try to hold it in. But I think its best to just let it all flow. Holding it in will only make it worse, like diarrhea, it’s best to just let it all come out. And anyway no one can see me.
I don’t just cry tears, I physically sob. It is embarrassing. I hope to God no one can hear me.
Then after what must have been a good ten minutes, it stops. I wipe away my tears. I feel drained. But in a strange way I feel good. Cleansed.
For a long time I just I sit pondering my existence. If you can’t father a baby what is life for?
It’s a big question and not best suited for a men’s toilet cubicle on the third floor of a seventies office block in West London. So I look around me and wonder instead what compels men to draw knobs on lavatory walls.
I am not a man like other men. I am infertile. All I can think about is my semen lost at sea.
I don’t want to go to work. I don’t know if I have the strength to battle the commute. I don’t have a cold but I feel worse than if I had the worst possible man flu. I have “not-fertile enough-to-be-a-man” flu. I wish I could phone work and announce that I had picked up a bad dose of infertility and that there was no way I would be able to do my job today. But I look fine. There are no immediate clues to infertility. From the outside, you can’t see the damage within. Like the banks in the financial meltdown, you have no idea how badly things aren’t working the way they are meant to.
The doctor shoves what looks like a rather large vibrator up a place where no man except her boyfriend should be allowed to go. Fuckin’ hell. I have to admit I wasn’t really expecting that.
My first reaction is to turn away and study the certificates on the wall.
‘Darling what are you doing?’ asks Nyla.
‘I just want to check that this man has the qualifications to do that to you’ I say.
He then moves the instrument around inside here while looking at her ovaries on a black and white TV screen. You know the NHS is in trouble when they can’t even fork out for a colour TV.
Maybe it has always been there. Lurking in the back of my mind. Maybe they are thoughts I have carried around since childhood. Maybe it’s the result of genetic imprinting. I don’t know. What I do know is that more and more it’s all I think about. It has became an obsession. I’ve tried to push it the back of my mind. Tried telling myself men shouldn’t think like this, but then I see kids playing in a park or walk past a school and my urges come to the forefront. Its instinctual, a deep down primal urge.
There’s a hole in my life – I’ve tried filling it with sex and drugs and electronic dance music. With TV and movies and football and beer. But that hole is the size of a small child.
I want to be called a daddy. I want to have a purpose. I want to give life meaning.
For years, my sperm were not put to work. They spent their days slobbing on a couch, reading the papers, watching the footie, drinking beer, and playing computer games. Only getting excited with one night stands who insisted on catching them in rubber. My sperm were not gainfully employed. They were sperm on benefits. Now, when they do finally have a job, they seem reluctant to take the opportunity gifted to them.
Nyla is now doing daily temperature readings. She is employing all her power point skills to plot graphs and pie charts. Last week, after dinner, she did a 10 minute fertility presentation using her charts to project our chances of success. She told me about her “fertile window”. She told me that within the average menstrual cycle there are six days when a woman can fall pregnant. Five days before ovulation and the day of ovulation itself. She told me that by taking her basal temperature readings and regularly checking her cervical mucus she could tell when this is.
‘So,’ she concluded ‘when my mucus is creamy and slightly stretchy we have to fuck. And when it is the consistency of egg white we need to fuck like crazy.’
Egg whites made me think of meringues.
We have a definite target. And there is an action plan. Devised by Nyla, it consists of ‘lets have sex when I tell you to.’ Today is one of those meringue days.
It should be erotic but somehow it isn’t. I’m starting to feel like a performing monkey.
It’s sex night. I’m going to get some hot action. It’s sex night and my woman is at home ready and waiting. It’s sex night and I’m not looking forward to it one little bit.
I am dreading it. I’ve got a horrible tense knot in my stomach. I know what I’ve got to do and I am worried. The pressure to perform is immense.
Sex is not fun anymore. It’s serious.
I’ve always defined my masculinity in terms of sex.
Always needed it.
Sometimes got it.
Always enjoyed it.
Until now. Not now that we are trying to make a baby. Not now that I am trying to become a dad.