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.