After all the excitement…

Well, it’s been an interesting and stressful couple of days!!

Coming out of the closet about your infertility is one thing, but doing it on television is something a little different.

I couldn’t believe how nervous I was straight after we got the phone call saying the preview had gone out on Sunday night…and the nerves just seemed to escalate, ratcheting up steadily until about 2 minutes into the episode…I spent half of Monday wondering if a heart-attack was imminent!

I spent some time trying to figure out just why I was so nervous. Sure, coming out the closet about MFI isn’t easy at the best of times, but this was ridiculous. And the conclusion I came to was this…

Normally, when you tell people about your infertility, you have some control. You can’t control how people are going to react, but you can control when you tell someone, you can control exactly what you tell them, how you phrase things, how much detail you go into, how much emotion you will show. And, ordinarily, you have a feedback loop – you can see the person’s face, judge their reaction, their comfort levels with what you’re telling them, their interest, their level of understanding, and adjust your message accordingly.  And, maybe most importantly, who you tell.

When thinking about agreeing to be interviewed, I never really appreciated what a difference that all makes to the whole experience.

The thing that had me in cold sweats was that this interview was going to be aired without me having seen it first. I had no idea what the finished product looked like. I had little idea of the angle they were taking, the slant, the point they were trying to get across. I had no idea what our doctor had said to them. I had no idea of what they were including and what they were cutting.

And I was also having difficulty in remembering exactly what I’d said during filming…

So I was feeling stressed. Seriously stressed.

But, by far the biggest concern to me, was the fact that without being able to view the finished product first, I had no way of knowing if there were mistakes in the programme. I, maybe somewhat melodramatically, felt that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity to connect to people who may be experiencing infertility and feeling those sensations we all feel at some stage – feeling alone and confused, frustrated and embarrassed, ashamed and clueless. This was an opportunity to talk to them directly, make them realise they’re not alone, make them realise you can talk to people about it, you can find support and information, you can be infertile and still be a man. And the last thing I wanted, was to waste or dilute this opportunity, by being in a segment that was factually incorrect, overly emotional, or made us look like fruitcakes. Because then nobody watching (and particularly none of the guys watching who have MFI) would take it seriously. They wouldn’t be inclined to talk about it. They would dismiss it. It would have been an opportunity totally wasted.

I think we can all agree that Infertility is a pretty complex and involved issue. Besides all the emotional, financial, relationship and psychological intricacies, there is an unbelievable amount of technical complexity. There’s a host of complex procedures, aimed at circumventing a plethora of medical issues resulting from a gargantuanly complex group of biological parts, organs, chemicals and systems. Knowing your ICSI from your IMSI and your FSH from your LH or AMH, knowing the difference between a varicocele and a vas deferens is not something for the uninitiated. And that’s exactly what the producer was – someone being thrown into the very deep end of an emotionally charged, technically challenging and jargon filled subject.  The potential to mix things up was immense. I’ve been living with my diagnosis for almost 20 years and I still sometimes feel like I could do with crib-notes.

It was while trying to get all our information across to Angus, the producer, that is suddenly dawned on me that this was a herculean task. For someone who hasn’t been intimately involved in IF, producing a 100% technically correct segment for television is a tall order. And this is what was bothering me so badly…the potential for factual errors that could invalidate the entire piece.

They obviously have a fairly tight time frame to produce these segments. There clearly isn’t time to get everyone involved to preview the segment before it is sent to the Carte Blanche studios. It would also be impossible giving everyone a preview as the natural tendency would be for them to want to provide feedback and suggestions, wanting to tweak the segment to each individuals own view…so it doesn’t happen.

And I know that if I had been producing it, it would have been very very different.

But, having watched it now a couple of times and having discussed it with a few people, I realise that what I would have produced would not have been any good.

It’s a big topic, and you cannot possibly cover it properly and in-depth in an 8 minute segment. You can’t begin to deal with the strain MFI puts on you, your relationships, your bank account and your life. You can’t begin to explain the depths to which it changes your life when your wife is in constant pain and you are the cause. You cannot even scratch the surface of the way it affects your perceptions and feelings. There’s no way you can deal with the myriad of potential reasons for MFI, the treatment options for each of them and the prognosis for these treatment options.

So, all that’s left is for you to pick a story, tell the basics, back it up with knowledgeable experts and focus on getting one or two messages across.

And I think that’s what they did. So I’m happy.

I’m also very chuffed at the importance shown of the Fertilicare forum. How valuable it is to have a safe place to talk to other infertiles, to get support and advice. Them showing us on the laptop browsing the forum, including the links to the forum on the MNet webpage and mentioning the forum in the voice-over was great…the kind of thing that might just encourage infertiles watching to get online and have a look. And I really believe that this could make the difference…Because, by logging on and having a look, those people will have started doing something about their infertility, acknowledged they have a problem and that sitting back isn’t going to solve it, that reading and (hopefully someday) posting on the forum may be the first steps in overcoming their infertility.

And if nothing else, hopefully it’s got the message out there that yes, MFI is embarrassing, but it’s a medical condition that is not our fault and it’s nothing to be ashamed about.

So maybe, just maybe, some guys out there will stop and think. They may not be ready to talk to friends and family, they might not be chomping at the bit to share their story with anyone and everyone, but maybe they will look over at their wives/girlfriends and start the process by talking to them…and if that happens, all the stress will have been worth it.

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~ by HopelesslyTTC on 13/10/2010.

10 Responses to “After all the excitement…”

  1. You did an awesome job and I firmly believe you got the message across and spoke to many couples battling MFI & IF! I feel the segmant was well put together and gave a great insight into the two of you – all the photos, home interview etc, it makes one feel that it’s more ‘normal’… I agree you cannot cover EVERYTHING in the 8 minutes they had, it’s too mammoth a task and it would take WEEKS to cover the entire topic – of which I think might be over kill. The main thing is that your interview started the ball rolling with educating people that infertility happens to many many people. It gave those who are super fertile a look into our world and perhaps gave them some food for thought. My main concern is that there’s not enough education out there regarding IF and you guys are part of the ‘ambassodors’ educating the public. Well done for being so brave!!!!!
    As for FC it’s helped me so much with dealing with my IF and helped me to come out of the closet and ‘cope’ in those down times. I was desperately needed a forum like that and wouldn’t have found it if I didn’t stumble across it during a google session. So I think it’s awesome that they included FC in the interview and those IF’s out there will now know where to go and that there is a support group! So I thought that was great.

    So you’ve done our IF community very proud 🙂

  2. I thought it was a a great segment. I am sure you must have frustrations in that it is such a huge topic but you are right it could never all be covered in 8 minutes and I thought they did a fabulous job with the time they had. You both spoke so beautifully and did an awesome job of representing and reaching out to all the infertile couples out there. Once again I must say how brave I think you both are and what awesome parents you will eventually be!

  3. Awesome! I didn’t see the segment but I’m sure it was great. Thanks for spreading the infertile word!

  4. Hi HTTC,

    Thanks for the update re: the TV segment! I really appreciated your explanations for why you were feeling so anxious and stressed about the airing of this episode. You sure are an emotionally-aware and intuitive guy! I absolutely agree with you that the ultimate value and importance of filming this episode lies in opening up the communication lines between men with MFI and their significant others, and slowly lessening the shame and embarrassment associated with infertility…

    KUDOS again to you and your wife, for your courage in sharing your story with the general public!

  5. I’m glad you’re not unhappy with the result! And I’m proud to ‘know’ someone brave enough to be so open about it all. I hope you’re getting positive feedback from family and friends. I’m disappointed I haven’t found it to view on their website, but I’ll keep checking back.

  6. I just clicked over from Mel’s blog to tell you that I think you’re amazing for doing this. Good for you.

  7. You both did a great job. There is so much misinformation out there, and it is good to get the word out. I particularly loved the statement you made that you have done nothing wrong, you suffer from a medical condition. All of us infertiles, men and women probably feel as if we have failed in some way at something that comes so easily to others. We feel guilty, ashamed, and as if we are being punished for soemthing. Yet it is a medical condition. So people should not hide it but confront it as sometimes all that is needed is a little medical help, sometimes a lot, and sometimes, like us, you need to go the adoption route, etc.
    Again, well done!

  8. I can’t seem to get my browser to play the segment- but I am going to try on my other computer later.
    I thank you for stepping out and speaking out for IF and MFI. I know how torn my hsuband is with the want to raise awareness, and the feelings of shame.
    You rock!

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