Christmas often finds me at work. I'm a fireman and if there's work going I'd take it and any extra shifts I could to avoid anything festive.
I am infertile. I found out after my wife and I went for investigations. We tried to save up for IVF as the PCT doesn't offer it here and in any case she already has a daughter so we wouldn't have qualified. She was a teacher and neither of us earned enough really. We scraped enough for one cycle of ICSI but we lost the pregnancy a week before Christmas, five years ago at 13 weeks. A year later our marriage had ended even though we had been through therapy so you can only guess how I felt about Christmas.
Two years ago I struggled after a house fire. A baby died and I went to pieces, more than I should. The parents had been smoking and it made me unspeakably angry. That's when it all came out. To be fair when I told my boss and went on sick leave for a bit, I felt braver for doing it. I told the rest of the station why and they've been amazing, I thought I'd get called a jaffa but they don't. Nobody did. I'm still Spike but they're a bit more sensitive around me when it comes to kids and it's good to have someone tap me on the shoulder and check I'm okay. One of them, Jim mentioned that he volunteers at a homeless shelter over Christmas. So I went with him that year and realised that there are lots of people out there who have been disowned by their families. It's so heartbreaking but I came away feeling rewarded and exhausted. I went last year and ended up setting up a footie team!
This year, three of us are going including Jenny who is Jim's sister. We started dating in the summer and yes, she knows all about me and assures me that it's okay. I told her really early on so she can make a choice and she has chosen to stay with me. I hope that sharing my story will help other men to speak out and get support. It's worse to bottle it up.