Part 3 of A Guys guide to Infertility…

So the appointment’s booked. You’re about to head off to meet your FS – your Fertility Specialist. You’re going to see this important fertility god who, if you think about it, is a bit like those ancient priests of the Aztec’s or Inca’s – they’re gonna make each of you undress at various stages and then fiddle with your bits, they’ll require you to make regular blood sacrifices, talk mumbo-jumbo and expect you to understand. They’ll force you to endure embarrassment, discomfort and perform all sorts of weird and wonderful acts, all in the hope of assisting you to have your prayers answered (hopefully, though, in this case there is no requirement for your still-beating heart to be cut from your chest with a blunt stone – although there may be times it might feel like this is exactly what’s happening to you). I don’t know what these ancient priests charged for their interventions, but, adjusting for inflation over the last 500 years, it was probably as frightening to those poor suckers, as it is to you now.

You may go to this first appointment with nothing to do before hand (other than worry), or they may ask your better half to have a series of blood tests done before this first appointment. The second option is a bonus. It means you already feel like things are happening before you’ve even set foot in the clinic. If she does need to supply blood for the preliminary tests, the peeling off of the sellotape with the cotton wool a few hours after they’ve taken the blood, is just the first pin prick of the pain you two are about to endure. These blood tests will be the starting point for the FS to begin to delve into the conundrum of your infertility…But, much more importantly, it is a very useful bench-marking point for you … if she makes a fuss about the needles when they take the blood or she squeals when removing the sellotaped cotton wool from her inner elbow or complains about the bruise afterwards, you’re in trouble. No doubt about it. BIG TROUBLE and you are about to become acquainted. This is the tiniest glimpse of what the future holds for you both, and if she’s struggling at this stage when she’s still excited and eager about the first FS appointment, your life is going to be a living hell when she’s pumped full of enough hormones to stop a bull in its tracks, has ovaries the size of basketballs, is bloated and uncomfortable, has had countless sleepless nights, and is up at some ungodly hour of the night in order to give herself the little bastard of a stinging trigger shot. Because, if she’s complaining now, god help you then.

If you get to this bench-marking point and she doesn’t take it in her stride without a whimper…you’re quite simply fucked.

I don’t have any fool-proof, tried-and-tested, guaranteed-to-work advice for you I’m afraid. That being said, at this point, if I was you, I’d start making some very serious and detailed plans of your own…

I’d ensure the spare bedroom has a comfortable bed and a door that locks from the inside! Maybe start ensuring all sharp object are behind lock and key (tell her you’re ‘baby-proofing’ the house in anticipation of the pitter patter of little feet – this gets her buy-in and stops her becoming suspicious)! I’d start stocking up on aromatherapy oils, bubble baths and scented candles. A sound system for the bathroom may be a very wise investment, along with a good selection of calming music. You may need to test-drive some if this music beforehand – you don’t want to perform a flawless SAAP (Spousal Attitude Adjustment Plan), only to discover that the recording of sperm whales humping in the pacific ocean is winding her up instead of calming her down! It’s good to know before it’s a matter of life and death whether she finds the pan-pipes a fantastic accompaniment to a relaxing bubble bath, or whether they remind her of the time she caught one of her flatmates in bed with her boyfriend…because these little details could be the difference between a scene from Gone with the Wind or one from Fatal Attraction.

I’d become good friends with the local florist – you may be seeing a bit of him over the next few months! I’d ensure I can throw together a good wholesome meal from any 4 ingredients that commonly inhabit your fridge. If you’re not a natural listener, find somewhere where you can take lessons (I’ve found listening to test cricket on the radio the perfect teaching aid – if you can listen to 5 days of that without falling asleep, you’ll be able to stay awake through the sleepless nights heading your way, without being repeatedly woken by a flying elbow when she’s discovered you’ve nodded off again while she’s baring her soul to you).

Even if she takes the blood tests in her stride, now has come the time for you to spring into action.

The first thing you’re gonna have to do is learn to speak fluent infertileese…I don’t care if you’re not good with languages…over the next few months, you’re gonna be having some pretty important conversations. And there’s no time in these conversations for your missus or the FS to stop in mid sentence when they notice the vacant expression on your face. There’s not time to explain what they meant with whatever acronym they just causally threw into the sentence…you need to know this stuff better than anything you’re ever studied in your life. You thought the 3 times table would be useful, it’s nothing compared to the importance of being able to explain the difference between ZIFT/GIFT/ICSI/IUI/FSH/PICSI/EWCM without the need to refer to your crib notes.

So spend a bit of time learning all about these things. It’s not essential to get a bachelor of science degree in this stuff  (although it helps), because, chances are your other half has already got her PhD in it…but you do need some idea of what’s involved.

The second thing you’re going to need to start doing is understanding yourself. You need to spend some time on deep introspection…you will need to start understanding how you actually really and truly feel about each little aspect of starting a family, and dealing with the tough choices you may need to face because of your infertility. You don’t need to be 100% certain (because your mind will change over time as you guys experience things), but you do need to be able to vocalise a few of your feelings and hold a decent conversation about them – because when you’re discussing things with your missus, you need to be able to make a positive contribution to the conversation…You might be wanting to sit quietly and think it out, but you won’t have time…she can’t sit quietly for half an hour between sentences so that you can compose a reply. So give it some thought before hand – that way she won’t think you’re resistant/hesitant/uncommunicative…because that’s not going to help matters. If all else fails, you can use the fall-back phrase ‘I don’t now how I feel about this. Give me some time to think about it.’ will work once or twice, but you will have to come back with an answer sooner or later and overusing this phrase can also end you up in hot water.


…you arrive at the clinic on Appointment Day.

First things first…a good shower/bath before hand for both of you is a good idea – there’s no telling how this meeting is going to pan out…your other half will have been careful to put on her best knickers – not the sexy ones, but the ones with no holes or frayed seams (because, for some reason, mothers seems to instil the idea that their daughters should always have prefect undies on in case they get knocked over and have to go to hospital – maybe if they spent more time teaching their daughters how to cross the road instead of how to dress, this would be less of a problem…)…and it’s worthwhile doing the same. And the fact that you have to worry about the cleanliness of your bits, as well as the presentableness of your small-clothes tells you all you need to know about this appointment…it could be a simple straightforward consultation with your new doctor on one side of his desk and you and your wife on the other…or it could end up with you standing up with your pants round your ankles while your nuts are being fondled by a middle-aged man in a white coat…you just never know.

You’ll walk hesitantly into the reception area, desperately hoping the waiting area will be empty…and hoping even more that if there are people there, that you won’t recognise any of them…last thing in the world you’ll want is to see your buddy from the tennis club, or horror of horrors – someone from work. Your missus will take the lead at this point – no matter what your relationship and personalities are normally like, it’s at this point that you’ll become the wilting flower afraid to make a move and she’ll become the one to walk up to the receptionists and tell them your names and that you have an appointment. They’ll give you a wad of forms to fill out, a wad that’ll roughly equate to the same number of pages you had to complete when buying your house. You’ll sit quietly in the waiting room while your missus completes the forms, occasionally asking you inane questions that only a mother would know. If there’s anyone else in the waiting room, you’ll furiously avoid eye-contact…but you’ll still try and check them out…like the shop assistant who can calculate the cost of your entire wardrobe, extrapolate your likely income levels, shopping habits and the exact likelihood of you purchasing anything of worth from their shop – all in a split second glance at you. You’ll be surreptitiously studying everyone else there, calculating their age, their economic status, sexual orientation, health, weight, virility, all whilst pretending to flip through the most diabolical collection of crappy health magazines the world has ever seen.

It’s at this point that you’ll notice something strange…you’ll notice that you wince every time anyone says your name out loud…it’ll feel like the world hushes the moment anyone within 100 feet of the clinic says your name…some fluke of acoustics will make your name resonate and echo, getting louder and louder with every repetition – your anonymity is well and truly blown – get used to it.

Your wife will finish the paperwork, hand it to the receptionists, who will again say your name a few more times in a booming and resonating way. Then you’ll sit there…like you’re in some kind of purgatory…desperately trying to do the impossible. You’ll be trying to support your wife by holding her hand, giving it regular pats and squeezes, flashing her reassuring smiles, making small talk, showing her how much you care while also trying to impress everyone else in the waiting room (especially any other men there) with your masculine virility and strength. You want them to know that any fertility problem you guys have is definitely with your other half, because you’re such a man, you could father an entire nation, given sufficient resources. You want them to know that you’re 120% man – the successor to the Camel man, or was it the Gunston man – whichever one was more rugged and manly. You want them to think you’re the kind of guy that rides a big harley when he’s not driving the Porsche to his corner office in the fortune 500 company he’s built single-handedly in the last 4 months after sailing round the world in a boat you made yourself, eating nothing but sharks you caught by hand.

I’m not sure how you portray this to anyone watching whilst sitting on a couch, but it probably doesn’t include holding hands, winking and talking about what could be wrong with you…

So, you’re gonna have to make a choice…either you’re the supporting, loving, doting husband, or you’re the tough, virile, no-nonsense stud who doesn’t do feelings, housework or doctors… and I’ve got news for you…if you’re sitting in that waiting room, you’re the former, so stop trying to make everyone else think you’re the latter…you’re not and they all know it.

Then they’ll call your name out (with what seems like a megaphone), and it’s time to walk through to the back and meet your fertility god – you sheepishly follow your wife, casting a last haunted glance at the other guys in the waiting room who watch you with wide-eyed fear and pity…like a lamb to the slaughter…feet dragging as you follow your suddenly chipper and excited wife through to HIS office…hoping against hope that he hasn’t got one of those sacrificial altars in the corner next to the bookshelf!!

~ by HopelesslyTTC on 02/08/2010.

3 Responses to “Part 3 of A Guys guide to Infertility…”

  1. That is too true! Especially the part about not knowing if you(the guy) will end up with your pants around your ankles getting felt up by a middle aged guy. HA. Amazing how this whole process could be US also..down to the last glance out to the other guys.

  2. Once you have got Jed & Jade and your life has calmed down a bit (!?) You really have to get around to approaching a publisher and getting your blogs in print – quality, entertaining reading, I know its based on real human emotion, and that that aint so funny all the time but my goodness you have me smiling alot of the time! x

  3. I’m loving this series of blogs posts. Great insight – told in a funny way – just about perfect!

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