Some may think that you are thin-skinned when faced with fertility issues. Some may think that you are too sensitive. They privately say get over it and move on with your life. I ask them have you ever wanted something that you always thought you would have and many other people have it but for you it seems out of reach. Have you wanted something so bad it hurt you and tightened your chest just to think about yearning for it? You feel like you are on the Island of Misfit Toys and Rudolph is nowhere to be seen. Everything you hear has a little more sting and is a little more personal.
People will test you and not know it. There are some things you should be ready to hear and know that it may be an innocent question. Sex is often a subject those that do not understand the emotions of infertility will bring up. I am going to approach the sex question from the fertility challenged male side. They may say that you at least get the fun of trying. Sex is fun no doubt and an outstanding way to express the deep emotions you feel for one another but after a while fertility sex can seem clinical. You are happy to get the chance to do it but in the middle of passion your mind wanders astray. You ask yourself if you are having baby making sex right. Sex for the sake of sex is easy and fun with a goal of you and your partner feeling good. Baby making sex has long-term goals. When my wife and I were trying to beat infertility we were suppose to have intercourse at a certain time and my Mother In Law told us to go have sex. AWKWARD!!! My friends would tell me they would fill in if I couldn’t get the job and needed help. It sounds like typical guy ribbing but it also cuts to the quick. It makes you feel like less of a man.
This next question that people ask you is a pretty unisex occurrence. People say why not adopt? If the person asking you this already has kids try to figure out a diplomatic way to ask them if they could imagine any child other than their own being their child. If the person does not have a child keep in mind they are in no place to judge because they have nothing to compare it to. They have no voice in your desires.
Here is a great one. “You guys just need to relax and it will happen”. Did you know the cure to most deadly diseases is to relax? Mr. Thornhill you have a deadly case of inverted nipples but if you just relax those suckers will pop back out and you will live. Really? While I am sure it is true that relaxing will sometimes increase the chances of getting pregnant the person making this comment has not had walked your path. That person has not dealt with the series if needle pricks, the blood draws, the worries of whether an implant was going to take or not. The pressure builds.
I once had a friend tell me it was God’s plan. This one bothers me the most. If God created everything I would have to think he or she has better things to do than sit on a heavenly couch and play with my family’s life. We think way too much of ourselves to think God with have that kind of time or interest. Does the person that makes this inane statement to you think that we are reality TV for God. Hell God is still trying to figure out Lost like the rest of us.
People will say all kinds of things to you when you are going through the road to fertility. At the end of the day they do not understand and they rarely mean harm. As hard as it is to do you must put these types of things behind you as best you can. You are amazing already and what your friends do not understand does not define you. Stay strong, you have my love, and good luck.
Has this ever happened to you? You are having lunch with a friend and you are discussing your fertility issues. You explain to your friend the things you have been through so far. You tell them you have had a hand full of tests done and maybe gone the less expensive route of IUI but no luck having a child. You may even talk about a pregnancy you lost. You are sharing very intimate parts of yourself and you are extremely vulnerable. You mention that your journey may be over because you cannot afford to do IVF and you are either scared to get a loan or cannot get a loan for the procedure. Your friend takes all of this in and says, “Sweetie, if you cannot afford IVF how will you afford a child?” In your head, you get up from your seat at the table, pick up the pie your friend is eating, and smash it directly between their eyes. Twist it a little so it gets in their eyes. Now let’s get back to reality and the fact that the pie option is not really an option. I have the opinion that when someone tells you this they do so for several reasons. The first reason is that they don’t know what to say to you about your plight because they do not have a point of reference. Maybe they do not have kids and have no desire to have them. Maybe they are not the open book you are and they are going through the same thing without your knowledge and in a moment of frustration they blurt out the comment. The main thing is that they just do not understand. It is very difficult to not take this statement personal but the facts are pretty simple because you are not comparing eggplants to eggplants. Our IVF cost us approximately $16,000. We had tried IVF and IUI previously but it was mostly covered by insurance. The IVF cycle that gave us our daughter was on our dime. IVF and most anything medical much less infertility related is expensive but then again so is a car. Many people do not have that kind of money lying around but are they less worthy of a child? Would they be a better parent if the money was at hand for IVF? Money does not equate to being a good parent and quite honestly it does not guarantee a better life. Money is security, maybe. If you do not have a child and develop a disease of some sort but cannot afford the procedure that could make you better are you no longer qualified to live? Because you cannot afford IVF does not make you poor. You may have great credit, always make your bills, and have a great job but a loan with no collateral is a tough get. When we went through our last cycle I was more frightened than ever. I knew the toll this had taken on my wife but I knew that if we had a failed IVF and lost our own money that would be a double whammy she may not bounce back from. We got lucky. I am lucky for her. The fact that you may not be able to fund IVF is not a reflection on your abilities to afford a child. My daughter is three. She is a Dr. Robin IVF miracle. In the three years we have had her there has not been a $16,000 bill. Things are tighter because of baby supplies and clothing and feeding another mouth but that is manageable to most people. People raise children on shoestring budgets everyday and the kids come out fine. A $16,000 bill can hit someone at any time of their life. There is a difference between an all at once bill and living expenses. Never ever let the you cannot afford IVF so you cannot afford a child argument bother you. That same person that you are having lunch with may not be able to afford an expensive medical procedure for their loved one but you would not say to them maybe that relative needs to check out of this world then? Most everyone is one series of disasters away from financial ruin. Do not let your lunch dates comment bother you. It is not a reminder of what you cannot accomplish. It is a statement of what they cannot understand. Always keep in mind that your friend means no harm either. Maybe your conversations have gravitated to your issues for such a while that your friend has not had the opportunity to share some problem they are having. If you ever feel your support system is wearing down then you should visit one of several support groups on the web or maybe even in town. Talk to your fertility clinic about support groups. Go to WordPress and search “Infertility”. Fertility Freak is a great WordPress Page. You will find many women expressing the same fears you have. Go to Facebook and visit Attain Fertility, Resolve, or 999 Reasons To Laugh at Infertility and you will find people you can talk to. Like they said in Close Encounters of the Third Kind…”we are not alone”. I love you all and keep hope. ABOUT THE AUTHOR: I live in Virginia Beach with my wife and daughter. We went through a five-year journey with fertility treatments before our daughter was born as a result of IVF. I published an EBOOK for the Nook (Barnes and Noble) and Kindle (Amazon) titled “The Longest Love Letter”. The book tells the story of my wife’s amazing strength during that difficult time of our life. It is me speaking directly to my daughter telling her the story of unconventional way she came to be born. “The Longest Love Letter” Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Longest-Love-Letter-EBOOK/193438320685453
God made the decision a long time ago that I am not worthy to be a mother. Society is aware how God feels about me because when I tell them I have fertility issues or that I lost a pregnancy they are quick to tell me, “It’s God’s plan!?!” My wife questioned everything about herself when we walked through the firestorm of fertility issues. Today instead of telling you what happened to us or what to expect as you make your journey I want you to consider this self-affirmation. I want you to remind yourself why you are already an amazing person.
If you watch the news or watch people you work with you may notice that people are sometimes very self-absorbed. Everyday I see people who care about themself and not what they can give the world. It sometimes seems rare to meet someone who wants to reach out to you or someone else and make them smile. 9-11 is a great example. How many people realize that the tenth anniversary is this year and give a thought to the fact that we are in a war as a result of that event today. Yes they know we are at war but rarely do they give it any real thought but they damn sure make it public knowledge that they have the expensive car or are somehow better than you. This is an extreme example but I make it for a reason. People that take the fertility journey do so out of love. They want to give back to the world by having a child that could stop the next major world disaster. Women, in particular, often want a child because they want to give back. Women have so much love to give that they feel an internal need to share it. Some women not only want to have a child so they can pay it forward they want to give their husbands the opportunity to give a child love and guidance as well. Trust me, on average, the inability to have a child weighs a ton more on a woman than a man. The last sentence seems obvious because women are the vessel to life but the truth is that most men do not give infertility all that much thought. We (men) overall are built differently. This does not make men callous (there are exceptions) it just means it does not hit us as hard because we are not that vessel. There is still real pain there for men as well. I want you to take one thing from this blog. You are an incredible person for having the willingness to take the journey in the first place. You may be judged for your choice. You will have doubt. You will struggle but know that the best things are worth the fight and no one has the right to judge and those that do are likely the self-absorbed and not confident. Do you feel you have no confidence? Vanquish that thought because by taking the challenge presented by infertility you are more confident than you know. Good luck and you have my love and best wishes.
I read about strangers journey through the emotionally challenging infertility rollercoaster and it makes me weak. Everyone has a tragic and painful journey. While everyone’s story is different they are still the same. People try to have a baby naturally, they strike out trying, go to a clinic, trust a doctor, try the suggested course of treatment, treatments fail, new treatments same results, doubt becomes fear and then self loathing, wash-rinse-repeat. Sometimes it goes on for years and sometimes a child is never born. Everyone in the infertility community knows this story. Each time you think you have heard the worse story someone tops it. It is a game of one-upmanship nobody wants to win. I want to pull you all up men and women alike, hug you, and reverse your present fortune. If only I could. I only have my words and experience. I am a painfully tenacious positive person. I will find the silver lining of the cloud if I have to destroy it to do it.
When do you give up on the baby dream and pack away your needles and fertility meds up for good? There is not an easy answer to that but it must be a well thought out choice. You must accept that the journey will be hard but the juice is worth the squeeze. Everything you are about to read is my opinion and only based on personal experience. You are trying to build a family but keep a couple of things in mind. First of all family is what you make of it. If you have a loving spouse and loving extended family you already have more than most. I realize this is not enough in this situation but my point is to not forget what you already have during the process. That is very easy to do and when you forget what you have you may lose yourself. The next thing to keep in mind is that any family strength is based on a strong foundation. If the love you share with your partner is strong and communication is open then you will go further and weather more. You should consistently let out your emotion and talk with ones closest to you. You do not need advice as much as you need to be heard sometimes. Communication is everything. Your husband wants to know where you stand and what you are thinking in most cases. Most of us men spend our lives wondering what you are thinking and it can consume some men who create their own conclusions without investigating your mind and heart. These are the times you should share the most. He should ask questions not only of you but your doctors as well. If he is the medical cause of the fertility woes I would suggest trying to make sure he understands the issue does not define his manhood and that many other men have issues the same or similar to his. Make sure he knows you love him no less than you do the day you fell in love (he should do the same for you. Now the communication is up and open but the fertility journeys pelts you with bad news time and time again. Your communication and love will keep you going but when does it reach the point of being unhealthy to carry on? If the relationship is in jeopardy and worth having that may be a sign to stop the journey. When the money and insurance has run out and finances are pushed to a point where you may not recover it is definitely time to consider stopping. These are easy indicators of when to quit. If the stress is unbearable it is not a bad idea to skip a cycle or two and recover emotionally and physically. That is what we did. We stepped away and I was thinking we were done with fertility clinics but my wife regained her strength and put us on the road one last time. There are two times I would consider throwing in the towel. If you are sure you have done all you can and taken every route possible but had no luck it could be time. Things could always change later (age always is a reason) and you could try again. But the truth is that if you have done all you can and explored everything you can afford to explore then you should not sacrifice your life and love on a journey that does not define you. Your ability to have a child is part of you and may affect you but you are already amazing for taking the journey. The other reason I would suggest giving in is when you are no longer sure of why you are doing it in the first place. Are you being persistent because you don’t like living not being able to do something others can or because your spouse wants a child and you are not sure where you stand on the issue. If you commit to the infertility journey then you must want the baby and not a challenge to bested. Do it for you. Do not be afraid of the journey. Do not be afraid to love. Do not be afraid to fail but know your limits and what you can afford emotionally and financially. I hope you never give up if possible but I hope you are happy and healthy first. I love you and hope you get all you want.
I am a glass is half full kind of guy. It makes my wife crazy. I look for humor in dark places because on some days it is the only way to get by. When my wife and I went through fertility treatments I was no different. Some of the following might be distasteful to some so I ask you to stop here if there is nothing you can find humorous about fertility treatments. A man’s side of infertility is sometimes immature because at heart many men are still teenage boys at heart. I have said many times that there is inequity in what a women goes through and a man goes through when the fertility rollercoaster begins. These are a couple of my stories. Please keep in mind I take everything associated with infertility serious but sometimes the only way to deal with a struggle is to laugh at it.
The unfairness of it all begins with the fact that most men only have to do one thing during the process of fertility treatments. Most are well versed at the activity and need little direction, motivation, or inspiration. I am speaking of the art of self-love. Most men (and likely women) do not discuss self-love as if it is the eighth deadly sin. When I was first asked to give a sample I was nervous. No one should know you ever practiced the dark art. When I went to the first clinic I was given a list of instructions on how to handle this very personal process. I was given a sterile cup and a wipe. You are directed to clean yourself thoroughly before beginning your 120 second session to create a specimen. It made me think that maybe all I needed to do was introduce a wipe into the bedroom and my wife and I would increase our odds at becoming parents. The clinics I went to give you a private room stocked with naughty magazines and in at least one case; movies. I imagine some of these amazing fertility doctors spending years in college and interning in clinics to give families miracles of life sitting in front of their computer ordering magazines and movies for their clinics. Nobody told them there would be days like these. One clinic had a boom box in it. I had to see what CD was in the boom box. It was the soundtrack to the movie Rocky. I asked the nurse how many times she had walked by the “boom boom room” and could hear the Rocky theme blaring on the other side of the door or maybe a patient who made a little racket when he was doing his personal specimen retrieval technique. At one clinic they had a knee-high table in front of the toilet to hold your inspirational materials. I guess it is for the guys lucky enough to need both hands. My wife asked me about the inspirational materials and I told her I did not touch them because they were naughty dirty girls ( I used coarser language) because every guy that came in there touched “those” magazine nymphs. I did however consider suing Playmate Holly Madison for paternity because her image was in the room during the successful round that gave us our daughter. She was in the room dammit so she needs to help support the baby. I guess my mother in law would fit into Ms. Madison’s lawsuit as well. No my mother in law was not in the room and yes she is from West Virginia and that combination has the makings of the greatest West Virginia joke but it was close. On our last cycle my mother in law and I were in the front waiting room of our clinic waiting to be called back to produce a specimen. I was waiting not my Mother In Law. My mother in law and I have a great relationship. As I walked back to the “boom boom room” with the nurse I looked back at my mother in law and said her face was the last one I saw before my manual labor would begin. The “boom boom room” was next to the waiting room where my mother in law was waiting. I knocked on the wall to let her know I was there. Like I said I look for funny in dark places.
So here is where the balance of fairness tips against women. While I am literally and figuratively handling my business, my wife is in another room being sedated. She is preparing to undergo a surgery to have her eggs retrieved. She would at least once have a vagal response and nearly pass out before being sedated. She was by herself in the room alone with her thoughts. “Will it work this time?” “What’s he thinking?” “Why am I a broken person?” She will eventually have several medical staff looking between her naked thighs while they extract the eggs. While the doctors are doing their thing they hit a snag. They cannot reach all the eggs and they ask me to scrub in literally so they can explain the situation to me while my wife is unconscience on a bed. Several medical staff are looking at me as the doctor explains that if they try to get more eggs they could lance my wives intestines or liver so they want to know what I want to do. I want some of my money back is what I want if I have to be part of surgery time decision-making. We retrieved only a fraction of the eggs that she had produced that cycle and had none to freeze. All the numbers and odds were against us but God blinked and our daughter was born from that seemingly doomed cycle. There was some humor to be found in my wifes retrieval process though.
While my wife was out and they were pushing on her stomach in a failed attempt to move her intestines and reach more eggs my wife kept moaning under her drug induced haze, “Get off me Junior!!”. The doctors and nurses were baffled as my name is Andy and I have no nick-names. After the retrieval the doctor brought us to her office to discuss the issues we ran into. The doctor asked who Junior was because my wife kept asking him to get off of her. My wife explained that Junior (who has since passed) was our very heavy lap cat. The doctor laughed because she said everyone like me and they just could not figure out who Junior was. The doctor was more than willing to throw my wife under the bus if Junior was my wifes secret lover. More inequity ladies; jokes about infidelity.
Try to find the light side and even your darkest days can be more easily endured. I love you all and best of luck.
When I was younger I use to dream of being a Dad. I had the standard fare of Daddywannabe day dreams. I saw my son scoring touchdowns, hitting home runs, and being an all around world changer. I saw me taking him to pro ball games and concerts and having heart to heart guy talks. Being a Dad also meant I would make sure I gave my son the things I never had. In my brain I was following my son from T-Ball to the World Series and it would culminate with him doing some ESPN interview where he praised me as his inspiration and spiritual guide to super stardom. I thought these things would be easy to meet after I was married to a woman who wanted to have a baby. Take the condom off forgo the pill and after a few minutes of lovin’ it would be baby city. I was wrong. After we had our first miscarriage and I realized sometimes a dream is just that, a dream.
To me a child was similar to putting a message in a bottle and throwing it out into the middle of the ocean and never knowing where the message would go or how it would affect the people who find it. A child is a man’s legacy and long after he is gone their child and everything he taught them goes into the world and hopefully makes it a better place. A Dad can only hope he gave their child all they need to make it in the real world.
Shortly after we lost our first child, we started going to a fertility clinic and began doing all the tests needed to make a sound decision on what direction we may need to go in to have a baby. I will never forget our first appointment. A male doctor gave my wife a pelvic in my presence. She was the one being violated but I felt like I was too. This is my wife he was prodding. The entire process of fertility treatment was a huge assault and insult to my ego. I could not help my wife. I could not fix our problem. I could not say anything to make it better. I could not fix myself. Where was my inner Bob Vila or Tim Allen “Tool Time” now? I was at a loss. My dreams were dreams and my testosterone was no match for complex human physiology.
When June would roll around it brought a spectre with it, Fathers Day. Most of us have a living Father we love so it isn’t like Valentines Day and you can just skip it (only kidding don’t skip V-Day) because you have to call your father to call . You have to face this day head on. This day could be a reminder of what you don’t have or you could turn the tables on it. I didn’t like going to eat on Father’s Day because I felt like the other Fathers were parading their children in front of me and taunting my inadequacies in my part to conceive a child. I would get angry at myself. I reminded myself of something my Mom use to say. When faced with adversity and problems she would tell me to rank the issues and fix what I could first while working my way toward the major problem at hand. I decided that Fathers Day would serve as inspiration to move forward with the fertility process and not a reason to start a fight with myself. I began to see things differently. I saw kids taking Dad to dinner on Fathers Day as a reason to move forward with fertility treatments. It fueled me to be even more supportive of my wife and to listen more closely at our doctors appointment as to what was happening and what we had to do. It is very important to turn Fathers Day lemons into lemonade. You cannot control some things but if you give into worry and doubt your perception will become your reality. The truth is that if you can deal with Fathers Day while taking the hard road through fertility hell and use it to motivate you and not weaken you then you are going to be an amazing parent once the journey is through. I wish all of you Fathers in waiting the best. I have love and prayers for you and your spouses.
I was lucky because after five long years we had a daughter. There will be no World Series or Super Bowl but I love picking her out dresses. I know your pain and what worked for me may not work for you but I pray you find your way. Remember there cannot be a Super Bowl if you do not fight through the long hard season with all of its ups and downs. Hang in there and love each other.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
I live in Virginia Beach with my wife and daughter. We went through a five-year journey with fertility treatments before our daughter was born as a result of IVF. I published an EBOOK for the Nook (Barnes and Noble) and Kindle (Amazon) titled “The Longest Love Letter”. The book tells the story of my wife’s amazing strength during that difficult time of our life. It is me speaking directly to my daughter telling her the story of unconventional way she came to be born.
I am thankful for my good fortune but I believe that just because you got what you want you do not forget about your peers in the community still dealing with fertility issues. I will forever support others who take the challenge and journey. I hope that my words can helpful and I hope you get what you want and need from “the process”. I can be reached at my WordPress Blog “The Tao of Pig Pen” and my Facebook page for “The Longest Love Letter EBOOK”. The links are below.
“The Longest Love Letter” Facebook:
“The Tao of Pig Pen” @ WordPress: