Chris Popp: More Thoughts on Fertility and Fatherhood

After doing a QA with Sher on reflections on his first Father’s Day, Chris Popp share a few more thoughts with us, that we thought we’d share. Chris and his wife Jen were winners of I Believe 2012 (watch their video), and through the help of Sher St. Louis, and not too long after winning the IVF cycle, welcomed their son, Leo, to the world.

Thoughts from Chris

If you had asked me my thoughts on Father’s Day two years ago I would’ve broken your nose. Okay, I would have just given you an evil glare and pouted about it for a while. My wife Jen and I had just decided that, after five years of struggling against infertility, it was not worth the cost to our marriage. We’d exhausted our finances and our emotions on an IVF cycle that failed, I was unemployed and we didn’t even talk much anymore. Infertility had become the only topic of conversation and we just couldn’t bear talking about it anymore. (I mostly channeled my frustration at paper towel commercials. “I don’t care how absorbent your brand is; you don’t let a two year old carry an open two liter bottle of soda. AND STOP SMILING ABOUT IT!!!”) We decided to hit the reset button on our marriage and move on.

For that reason, I was nervous when Jen came to me with the idea to enter the “I Believe Video Journal Project.” We had just gotten back to asking about the other person’s day and caring about the answer. She asked me to consider it and said if I wasn’t 100% on board we wouldn’t do it. She seemed different this time. She was refreshed and reenergized. So I was thinking about it while listening to The White Stripes when I noticed the dozens of pictures of our nieces, framed all over our house. It didn’t make me sad any more. I thought, “Let’s exploit some children for our own personal gain.”

We spent the next few days making a video. It was cathartic to be working together again. We finally remembered why we had wanted to have kids in the first place. After we submitted our video, Jen ran a very organized and ambitious Facebook campaign. Winning took a lot of the pressure off and we were able to enjoy the process –if that is at all possible.

We had our scary moments. We spent last Father’s Day weekend in the ER after Jen had started bleeding during dinner. The heartbeat was still there and all my years of looking at ultrasounds helped me see it on the screen before the technician could say anything. (The universe was no longer out to get us for slandering Bounty paper towels.)

We had always said that ideally one of us would stay home with him for a little while. Jen is ambitious and enjoys her job. I have a severe problem with authority that makes me virtually unemployable. We are a natural fit. Now I’m a stay at home dad to a four month old. Leo astonishes me at least six times a day. I truly enjoy the opportunity to see him progress a little bit every day. I even enjoy his maniacal laugh when I’m changing a full diaper. It would be unfair of me to say that because of our struggles I appreciate him more than a “Breeder.” I think I do take more time to be amazed by how he got here.

This Father’s Day I expect to be a lot like a typical Mother’s Day. It will be a full day of pampering where I end up doing the dishes. Jen tells me I’m redefining gender roles. She doesn’t know I call it “my kitchen” not because I cook and clean in there. It’s “my kitchen” because I remodeled it. So, I’ll get a bit of a break on Sunday, but Monday it’s back to bottles and spit up and dirty diapers. I may have a problem with authority but I don’t mind taking crap from him. Then again, he’s only four months old. Maybe you should ask me again next Father’s Day.

The Popp Family won Sher's I Believe 2013 free IVF contests

Chris and baby Leo