Martin, 40

My colleague and I share a secret.

I’m childless through circumstance. My first wife was certain that motherhood wasn’t for her. That broke my heart and eventually our marriage. I don’t know when I thought it was over and why we just hadn’t talked about it before, but there it was.

At 30, I thought I’d never meet anyone who’d want me. Then I fell in love with Maria. I knew her through friends and we moved in together six months after our first date. Fast forward three years and despite all our efforts, we were yet to conceive. When we started to look at Chinese herbs, we came to our senses and saw our GP. We were almost instantly referred to IVF and none of the three cycles worked. On paper we’re perfect. We have to be to get through the restrictions placed on couples. We’re both the right BMI and neither of us smoke or drink a lot of booze.

We’re both 40 and our hopes of becoming parents are fading. Surprisingly we’re okay with it. The pain of IVF letting us down is worse than finding our feet in a new future. We’ve managed to buy ourselves a small house because we can afford two bedrooms better than 3 or 4. We have amazing holidays and we’re talking about setting up a business together. The future is different but not any less exciting.

In the meantime I’m working in a huge company with my best mate. His name is David and his wife almost lost her life last year when she miscarried their baby. We sit together and seen as the departmental ‘lads’, always up for a pub quiz and sponsored events. To you and most of our colleagues, we’re happy chaps. Like me, little stuff affects him. A bloke in our team brought in cake when his wife got past their 12 week scan and neither of us could swallow a bite.

I’m sure we’re meant to be stronger, at least that’s what society wants. I’ve seen David in tears, broken hearted and unable to speak. Today he found me kicking boxes after we went to a book launch at work and they wanted parents to take home a book for their kids. Little stuff screws you up even if the future is actually okay.