Close call…

•02/10/2010 • 5 Comments

Hey Kids.

Been a while again since I last chatted with you…and a lot has gone on in that time.

I’ve written a few tongue-in-cheek guides for other guys going through Infertility – hoping that it may help to talk about what I’ve been going through, what I’ve been feeling, what I’ve been experiencing. And maybe by talking about my experiences, it’ll help other guys out there to analyse their own feelings and experiences, to be prepared for what’s coming.  There’s also the potential that it may help other women out there to better understand their men, maybe gain a little understanding of what they may be feeling because us guys are not known for talking about these things – which makes it a little hard on our significant others.

In the same vein, I agreed to be interviewed by Carte Blanche Medical for a segment they wanted to do on MFI. This was a big step, from being practically in the closet about our Infertility and treatments to appearing on national television talking about my testicles…it’s more than a big step…it’s a giant leap…it’s two giant leaps.

And, to top it all off, we’re in the middle of our second IVF. In fact, I’m sitting in the ward at this very moment, typing away as your mom sleeps off the effects of the sedative used during retrieval. I could tell you about the scans, the injections, the crushing disappointment we’re feeling at this moment in only getting two eggs… but I’ll leave that to your mom to tell you about – it sometimes feels like the actual IVF is all about her – very little input required from me…

So, with all that going on, what you may wonder am I going to talk to you about…

I thought I’d talk about something that seems to be ignored or slightly taboo in the Infertility community – like the black sheep of the family, or the dreaded illness that no-one wants to acknowledge, something that when mentioned, is mentioned in whispers and hushed voices. The big hairy wart on your nose that everyone knows is there, but refuses to comment on…and I’m pretty sure it’s something that many many infertiles go through at some stage in the journey…and it’s summed up by one word…”Doubt”.

For many years, I decided I didn’t want kids…I’m sure that any psychologist will tell me that this was almost 100% as a result of being told I couldn’t have any – the way I overcame the depression that hit me when the reality of my diagnosis finally really sank in. So, it was 14 odd years of telling myself I didn’t want kids. Then, we started on this journey 20 months ago, after your mom broke down and told me how loud and persistent her biological clock was ticking…how there was this almost physical need for a child, this ache to be pregnant. I agreed to go to the doctor, knowing full well that it was the thin end of the wedge. Knowing that the doctor would lead to the Fertility Specialist, which ultimately led to multiple weekly injections. But the thing was, in those first few months, I was just going along with it all to make your mom happy.

But a strange thing happened…as I slowly opened myself up to the idea of trying to have kids, the more medication I took, the more doctors visits we sat through, and as a result of the growing number of conversations we had about having children, I slowly shed this protective cloak of ‘not wanting childreness’ and let the truth finally see the light of day – I do want kids. I want everything that goes with having children – the good the bad and the downright messy – warts and all. This feeling grew, until there were times where I almost felt like I could also feel some physical biological need – like having phantom pregnancy symptoms, I was having phantom biological clock ticking symptoms. It was in one of these periods that I started imagining you guys into existence, imagining names and personalities. It then seemed like a natural extension to start talking to you (maybe a sign of too many years working from home alone!!), and so started blogging.

But, it’s a long journey. It’s a 24/7/365 kinda thing this Infertility. There’s no time off, no escape, no vacation from the sensation that there’s some missing part of your lives. And it’s tiring. Like any prolonged experience, you go through phases, there’s a natural ebb and flow to Infertility. There are days when it’s like you’re missing an arm, and then there are days, when it seems like such a huge over-reaction. There are times when you’re positive, and times when it seems like the lights have been turned off. There are moments when it feels like a mountain on your back, and yet you can go for days where it’s as light as a feather. And sometimes, these peaks and troughs are a few seconds and other times it’s weeks. But it’s always there…

And this is one of the reasons I haven’t talked to you guys for a while again. I can make excuses about being very busy with work, the whole Carte Blanche thingy (which seemed to take up an awful lot of my time, considering the filming only took two hours!!), a short-notice drive to Namibia and back in a 36 hour period. But these would all be excuses…because the truth is, a couple of weeks after our failed first IVF cycle (and I purposely haven’t called it our ‘first failed IVF cycle’), I had that big hairy wart staring me in the face. That black sheep of the family was sitting across my desk from me, that dreaded illness was in the air all around me – I was having doubts.

Not doubts about whether we were on the right medication, whether I wanted one or two kids or even three, whether I wanted boys or girls. Not doubting that my sperm count and quality was going to continue to improve, nor that our FS is fabulous, nor doubting about the decision to come out the closet about our Infertility…Nope, I was having the BIG CAHUNA of IF doubts – I was doubting whether I do really want kids.

Now I’m pretty sure this may have been a strong and natural reaction to the failed IVF cycle. The extreme disappointment of that negative after transferring two superb embryo’s and an ‘okay’ embryo. A natural reaction to doing the banking and adding up the costs of the cycle that gave us zero ‘return on investment’.

It was the understandable result of holding your mom as she fell asleep crying, of laying there waiting to be sure she was fast asleep before allowing myself the luxury of shedding my own tears. It was that strange feeling I’ve only had a few times in my life – that otherworldly sensation I’ve only experienced before after someone reasonably close has passed away (which might say a lot about how one really feels about a failed cycle) – it’s a strange realisation, an intense surprise that the rest of the world is carrying on as normal, even though this unnatural thing has occurred. It’s like the world should be different, but for everyone else, it isn’t. Nothing’s changed…

A couple of weeks after our negative, I started adding up the costs, both emotional and financial of this journey so far. I started obsessing over all the things we’re sacrificing to the ravenous beast that is Infertility. And it wasn’t just the big things Infertility was stealing from us. Yes, I imagined all the holidays we could have with the money we’ve already spent, the camera equipment I could buy, the things we could experience, the places we could go, or even just the potential improvement in our bond statement. There was also this ever-growing list of little things it devours. All of a sudden you worry about opening Facebook, you have complications with family get togethers, stress over kiddies parties, dreading pregnancy announcements from anyone ‘that’ age. There’s that inescapable feeling that there are certain times or occasions where everyone who knows about your Infertility is watching you out of the corner of their eye to see how you’re going to react. This feeling of being eternally hunted or stalked, that Infertility can jump out at you and ruin your day when you least expect it…movies that suddenly have Infertility sub-plots (I still cannot get over how the Pixar movie UP blind-sided us so totally!!).

And so, the debits column in this mental Infertility accounting equation seemed almost endless. And it didn’t make sense to me. Why were we doing this to ourselves. We’ve been married for over 12 years, and for the first 10 of them, we were extremely satisfied to be a family of two. We didn’t feel incomplete or that anything was missing. I love your mom more than I can express in words. She is my everything, my raison d’être – my reason for existence. I didn’t need anyone or anything else…so what had possibly changed to make this worthwhile?

A few years back, we bought a big-ass 4×4 truck and started prepping it for a 5 year drive from London to South Africa. We handed in notice in our jobs, sold our home, packed everything up, moved in with friends while planning our grand trip and getting the vehicle ready. But, your mom’s company kept trying to convince her to stay. At the time, it felt like it should have been an incredibly difficult decision – giving up a lifelong dream to really travel Africa in style – and giving it up to remain in grey dreary London…but I realised then that the decision was easy – that your mother meant more to me than realising this dream…that she means more to me than anything. So, if she wanted to stay, that’s what we’d do.

It may sound melodramatic, but the times in my life I’ve been happiest are those times we’ve been travelling…the open road, a full tank of petrol in a suitable vehicle and your mom in the passenger seat. I love the open road, I worship gravel travel, I’m in love with the bush, I find sitting with my camera watching wildlife and trying to capture ‘that’ image an almost religious experience. It’s sitting alone outside the tent as the first rays of the sun turns the world from monotones to multi-hued, with the kettle boiling away on the gas stove for that first cup of coffee, your breath steaming in front of you as you soak in the tranquillity and splendour….that’s what floats my boat. Those are the moments that take my breath away.

When we came back to South Africa, we knew that we were giving up international travel…we knew all travelling from then on was likely to be in the form of 4×4 driving and camping holidays in southern Africa…but that was fine. Because I could give up diving the Red Sea or doing the Inca Trail, if it means spending time in the African bush. The nature of being consultants means that most December/January periods, we’re forced into 3-4 weeks off anyway…so we’d be able to hit the road for that period, we’d be able to explore the incredible sights of southern Africa, those special places. So far, we’ve only managed it once in the soon to be four years back.

And suddenly, just a short while after the failed IVF, when these doubts were at their worst,  this mental arithmetic did the worst possible calculation (like it was on auto-accountant mode)…for the money we’re spending on treatment, we could afford to go on a 2 week overseas holiday as well as a 1 month holiday EVERY YEAR. And that’s just to conceive…!

I started imagining our lives without kids. I remembered our lives from just two years ago…and imagined those same two people but with more time and disposable income, with no sadness and depression wrought by the IF demon. My thoughts became a sad holiday brochure-type montage of your mom and I flitting around the world, laughing and enjoying ourselves, carefree and childfree. And this naturally led on to wondering whether I really wanted children…and if I still did, why?

And this was a difficult thing to face up to. When you’ve spent so long totally focused on trying to have kids, when you’ve been through what Infertility does to you, when you seem to have spent every waking hour for far too long obsessing about something, it’s hard to admit that maybe it’s all been wasted. When you sit back and consider all that the Infertility beast has consumed…and then that maybe it was unnecessary and you’ve tortured yourselves for no reason…it’s not an easy thing to contemplate.

It’s an incredibly hard thing to admit to these feelings to yourself, and it’s even harder trying to talk about it with your other half. It’s not something you can carelessly throw into conversation: “Do you think I’ve put too much white wine in the mushroom stroganoff this evening? Oh, and by the way, I’m having serious doubts about having children. Can you pass the salt?”

But we managed to broach the subject. Your mom and I talked about these feelings, the IF debits and credits list. What our lives could be like without kids, and what they might be like with kids. We managed to talk about it without getting too emotional, but somehow also without being too detached and clinical.

And the strange thing is, talking about not having kids brought us back to being certain we did want them. Like there’s some strange ‘kid constant’ that sits on the credits side of the IF account, and that the value of this constant seems to miraculously adapt to ensure that the result is always that the credits slightly outweigh the debits…that no matter what you’ve invested in terms of time, energy, emotional capital, pain and suffering, it’ll all be worth it when the time comes to collect on your investment…that the kid constant will have made it all worth while.

So, we moved through the wobbly patch, squashed those doubts, and booked our next IVF cycle, feeling positive and content with our decision. And it even means that I can comfortably chat to you guys again without it feeling false or contrived…because we’re back to agreeing unequivocally that we want you in our lives.

But kids, (and here’s the warning)…don’t ever forget that we almost exchanged you for a few holidays and a nice car…so be nice to your mom and me!! I think we’ve earned it.

Smile for the camera…

•16/09/2010 • 13 Comments

I know there’s been a bit of a break between posts…bad blogger me!

Just thought I’d pop a quick post in to fill you in on the exciting morning I’ve just had…we’ve just been filmed for a Carte Blanche segment on MFI. For all you dodgey foreigners out there who may not know, Carte Blanche is a current affairs investigative series and is the longest-running show currently on South African television. At the beginning of this year, they created two spin-off series, one of which is Carte Blanche Medical. It was for this show that HopefullyTCC and I were interviewed this morning.

A couple of weeks ago, Kitty8218 on the Fertilicare forum posted that when watching the CB Medical show, they’d made an appeal at the end of the show for guys suffering with MFI to please contact them, as they wanted to do a segment on this issue. Hopefully & I thought about it, discussed the pros and cons of coming out the IF closet on national television, and then decided “what the hell” – more good could possibly come from it than bad…and I’ve been complaining for long enough about infertiles who complain that fertiles are insensitive, when these same infertiles haven’t told anyone – how can someone be sensitive or insensitive when they have no idea you’re struggling with something?!? So, time to practise what I preach and come dashing out the closet – with bells, whistles and a marching bad!

I submitted my story, and, to cut a long story short, Bongani Bingwa, Angus the producer I’d been talking to, and Greg the cameraman, arrived at our place at 08:30 this morning to interview us about our IF journey.

I must be honest (as always) and say I was nervous.

A tiny bit nervous about coming out the closet in such a way, but that wasn’t the main thing. The thing that kept me awake at nights was the thought of having this opportunity to explain MFI to fertiles, the chance to reach out to other guys facing similar problems and making them feel a little less ashamed of their fertility issues, the potential to start the debate hopefully encouraging more guys to speak up…to have this once in a lifetime chance to make a small difference in the lives of infertiles, and to cock it up – that’s what scared me the most.

I’m big enough and ugly enough to handle any comments that might be thrown around after this segment is aired – it’s not that they won’t hurt or cause me pain or embarrassment, but I think I can stand up for myself and take those comments from whence they may come – ignorant peasants mostly! The most important people in my life have known about my infertility for some time now, and have all been incredibly supportive. Anyone else who isn’t gonna be supportive can take a long walk off a short pier as far as I’m concerned.

I just hope against hope that the segment does make it to air, that I didn’t sound like a loony, or pathetic, and that I haven’t made a complete arse of myself. Having my large backside being jabbed with meds on video in the public domain makes this a distinct possibility.

But most of all, I just hope something we’ve said this morning will make it onto national television and make a little difference… for fertiles and infertiles out there who may see it. Because if it does in some small way make a difference in other peoples lives, then this shitty journey I’ve been on since being told 19 years ago that I’d never have children, may well have been worth it.

The Semen Analysis (The ‘take-out’ option) – A Guys guide to IF – part 5

•17/08/2010 • 8 Comments

If you are a guy, and you and your partner are infertile, you will be experiencing the bitter-sweet joy of a semen analysis some time or other. There’s no escaping it. You can cry like a little girl, moan and whinge all you like, there is no avoiding it…you will be required to jerk off into a sterile container, and hand it over to someone in a lab coat.

For many guys, this will be the sum total of their required involvement in the infertility-to-pregnancy process. Other guys end up having to provide their sample in a more painful and uncomfortable way – via sperm extraction or aspiration. But (fortunately or unfortunately – depending on your viewpoint) I can’t tell you anything about this first hand…and selfishly hope never to gain the experience through intimate personal experience! The idea of a scalpel within 2 metres of my testicles results in me magically obtaining a second pair of tonsils – there’s some automatic and unconscious bodily reaction that results from the mention of ‘scalpel’ and ‘testicles’ in the same sentence… without any conscious thought on my part, my testicles retract up into my body at the speed of light with an accompanying shlurping sound (like a testicular sonic boom)! If I ever need to undergo one of these procedures, they’re going to have to hatch a cunning plan… like they used to do on The A Team when they had to get B.A. on an airplane… they’re going to have to find a way of administering the sedatives long before I get anywhere near the vicinity of the clinic, without me being even aware of it… otherwise the doc is going to have to go in via my mouth to find my testicles for the extraction!

But SA’s I can tell you about… been there, done that… a good few times!

In that time, I’ve discovered some very important tips and advice for guys and SA’s…hope you find them useful. Obviously, by the very nature of this subject matter, the information and wisdom I am about to depart is graphic. It’s way way too much information for anyone other than a guy anticipating a TWOS (The Walk Of Shame – what I lovingly named the SA experience after the first couple of times I had to walk anywhere with my no-longer-sterile container transporting my hot-of-the-press sample). It’s so far over the line that it’s practically back at the line again – it’s circumnavigated good taste and passed over-share a while back…but, it’s the kind of subject that guys may need some help with – I’m no clinically trained expert (although I may get many credits for recognition of prior learning and experience)…it’s what I’ve discovered and it’s what I absolutely know without a shadow of a doubt, no-one else is ever going to tell you…so pull your chair closer, glance over your shoulder to make sure no-one’s watching and don’t bother taking notes – you don’t ever want someone to see notes on this subject in your own handwriting!

The first thing to know about an SA is that there is absolutely no way, no hope, not even a smidgen of a chance that you will retain your dignity during the experience…it’s a non starter. So, get over it and move on. Try have some fun with it…you may not succeed, but it’ll make life a little easier if you do.

The advice I have for you is broken down into two main groups, depending on your chosen delivery plan…are you ‘eating in’, or is it strictly ‘take-out’ for you. My first ever SA was ordered by my GP a while back, before we were referred to the FS. The pathology lab the GP used was 5 minutes drive from home, so the logical choice was a ‘take-out’ option…you know, ‘provide the sample’ at home and then deliver it to the lab. This only works if you’re within half an hour of the lab and can keep the sample at body temperature while transporting. Because all of my remaining SA’s were being managed by our FS clinic, and they’re an hour away, they were all using the ‘eating in’ approach.

There’s too much to cover in one section, so I’ll share my pearls of wisdom in two parts. Today I’ll start off with the ‘take-out’ option (or ‘home delivery’ if you want to refer to it in a suitably ‘pregnancy/birth’ kinda way). I’ll cover the do’s and don’t’s of “eating in” in another post.

Here’s what I learned during my only take-out SA…It’s a damn site more comfortable masturbating at home.

It’s nothing you haven’t done a million times before, it’s nothing new, its old hat. There’s a certain comfort level with this option, but there are some catches (literally) – Normally, (assuming you’re a bathroom wanker) you don’t have to worry too much about accuracy…it’s like an AMRAAM or Slammer Missile – it’s strictly fire and forget. So, the first difference is that you have to aim…and if you’re one of those guys whose wife is still telling you to sit down when peeing, you know your accuracy isn’t great at the best of times, never mind when your eyeballs are rolling around in your head! So, that’s the first complication. The second complication is that for the first time in the 8 years you’ve been married (in fact it’ll probably be the first time since your third date), your wife will want to ‘help’. This sounded like a great idea at the time…but let me make a suggestion…unless your wife can shake a ketchup bottle for 8 minutes flat without tiring, needing to swap hands, or sticking her tongue out and screwing her face up like she’s undergoing open-heart surgery without anaesthetics, it’s not going to work…because even if you’re normally a ‘three strokes and you’re out’ kinda guy, this time it’s gonna take a little longer…the pressure will affect your performance…so you’re gonna want to take matters in your own hands, you need to go with the most efficient, most experienced campaigner – you don’t play the world cup finals and leave Ronaldo on the bench!

So, if she offers, I suggest one of two approaches…The first option (and by far the better one) is to fob her off by giving her something else to do. My suggestion is to make her responsible for minimising potential transportation delays. Tell her you need her to have the car running out on the road – like the get-away driver in a movie bank heist, revving the car, ready for you to dive into the back seat at speed with the loot safely tucked under your arm, her flooring the accelerator before you’ve even closed your door, screeching away in a cloud of tyre smoke.

The second option is for her to play a strictly hands-off part…like a virtual fluffer…inspiration without the interference. It’s up to you whether this should be a speaking role, or whether this should be a purely walk-on part – depending on your own preferences of course. There is however, a certain risk with this option…she may well be performing a credible re-enactment of your favourite scenes from Striptease or 9½ Weeks, but there is a downside…and it comes in the form of a predatory glint in her eye. She may be parading around in her sexiest lingerie, she may be doing the ‘When Harry met Sally’ thing, but, there will still be that look in her eye, the kind of pent-up excitement and anticipation that makes you feel like the goat staked out to attract the lions…the kind of look that’s going to put you off your stroke as you glance around nervously…and, at the critical moment, you’ll be awed by her moving at superhuman speed to investigate your deposit, before you’re even aware it’s done. She’ll grab that little container out of your sweaty little hands and peer at it with great intensity, before (although this could have just been my experience) saying something like “is that it…?”

The look of disappointment will take you back to your first failed test at school, or, if your memory is particularly good, the time your potty training let you down in pre-school – the disappointed disapproving look, the arched eyebrow, the little shake of the head while making tutting sounds, and finally the pursed lips as she looks at you with that ‘is that the best you can do…did you really try your hardest…you really should put more effort in’ look. That look. The one that has your lips quivering and your puppy dog eyes watering in shame. And you’ll lay there wondering if you did put your all into it, did you try your hardest, have you let the team down, please let her give you another try, you’ll do better next time. And while you’re still vulnerable, feeling completely inadequate, she’ll be shooing you along to get dressed so that you can take your miserable half-arsed sample to the lab…if it’s even worth it.

So, flying solo is best – less pressure, fewer distractions, and no judgement! Keep her involvement to a strictly ‘logistical support’ role.

But, when all’s said and done, it’s a lot easier at home. It’s a breeze, little or no fuss (unless you didn’t succeed in keeping your missus out of the room).

That is until you get to the lab and the pretty receptionist will ask you to hand over your sample. Which you do. She’ll ask you to fill out the lab form that’s written in a font size so small that you need an electron microscope to read it. But you avoid squinting at all costs – they warned you at school that doing THAT would make you blind…and the pretty receptionist knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that you’ve just done THAT! If you even suggest a squint she’s gonna know that you slap more salami than the owner of the local italian deli.

Then she smiles sweetly at you and asks you when the sample was produced…it was at this time that I had the overwhelming temptation to stick out my hand and say something like…”very very recently. Feel, my palm is still warm”.

I had this horrible vision when rushing my first and only ‘take-out’ sample through to the lab, of being involved in a car accident en route…and the paramedics attending me at the scene wondering why I was covered in sperm, of my insurance company refusing to pay out because I was obviously involved in some obscene act at the time of the accident.

As comfortable as home delivery is, I’m not a fan of this approach. Maybe it’s because our issue is Male Factor Infertility. I want to rule out every potential cause for there being little or no sperm…and if time and temperature fluctuations can have an effect, I’m opting for producing my samples in the little room next door to the lab…literally only a few meters between it seeing the light of day, and it being stuck in the incubator…no time wasting, no temperature fluctuations, no delay = no risk. I don’t want the time delay as I negotiate the rush hour traffic or the road works to have an impact on my SA scorecard. I want the minimum delay, the minimum risk…hell I’d deliver my sample straight onto the microscope slide right in the lab if it would make a difference!

So, now we come to the graphic hints and suggestions…this is strictly x-rated and you should be over 25 years of age before reading this (and ideally be a guy struggling with infertility and not be someone I’ll ever meet and need to make eye contact with). Here are a few things I’ve learnt…

  • Your missus helping may not always be a help. Somewhere on this journey, I heard a story of a woman handing in her husband’s sample and being asked if she assisted in a certain way…because apparently saliva is not good for sperm and they need to take that into account. I’m not sure how true this is – I think this is typical female propaganda…I’ve always believed that saliva is very good for sperm, it’s certainly very good for sperm extraction…but in the pursuit of the best SA result possible (especially if you have reason to believe you’re borderline), it’s a no-no… Some woman have hostile cervical mucus, it attacks those little swimmers like it’s clubbing seals, so, unless you’ve ruled that out, you may need to limit ‘assistance’ even further…Which pretty much leaves the helping hand…and unless your significant other is well practised, that’s probably counter-productive too. So, you’re left with nothing else other than the visual aid approach…but like I’ve said, be warned that this could also have it’s down-sides, unless you like the idea of having your sample critically evaluated just micro-seconds after you’ve produced it.
  • Other visual aids can be a handful. Avoid magazines with the folding pull-out centre-fold – between your joystick and the sterile container, your hands are going to be pretty full already – and you definitely don’t want spillage! It’s going to require herculean levels of concentration to get your aim right and worrying about a 5 page spread could have potentially devastating results – imagine telling your missus you’re going to have to try again in a couple of days time because you missed the target while trying to turn the page…it’ll go down like a french kiss at a family reunion…not good. On the plus side, if your missus would normally frown disapprovingly at you having a porno mag in the home, now’s your chance to get one and browse it openly without her giving you a hard time…you are after all only doing it because you have to…it’s not like you want to read it…you’re taking one for the team, you’re being thorough and dedicated to the cause, you’re leaving no stone unturned in your pursuit of a good SA result – well done you.
  • Take the lid off the sterile container before-hand. This should be self-explanatory, but would hate for you to be ill prepared…I don’t think the clinic will be chuffed if the sample is all over the container instead of inside the container.
  • Ambidextrous is the ticket. If you’re not very coordinated, the juggling act with the sterile container can lead to some hairy moments. Missing the target or dropping the container is the absolute worst possible outcome – you need to avoid this at all costs! If your one hand has a reputation for dropping things, knocking things over or just generally being useless, now’s the time to put it to use. Practise masturbating with your off hand – you’ll want to use the best hand for holding the container, both during capture and afterwards, and swapping hands is a big risk – don’t do it. Not until you’ve got that lid screwed on nice and tight! Obviously, if you’re a big fan of internet porn, you’ve been visiting a lot of those left-hand websites, so you’ve already perfected ambidextrous multitasking, but remember that a mouse and a sterile container are different! Furiously double-clicking your sterile container is probably only going to result in you dropping it at the crucial moment!
  • Gravity is your friend. Do the five knuckle shuffle standing up – it makes getting everything into the little container a helluva lot easier. Let gravity work for you, rather than having to fight it. It makes aiming a lot easier! And it takes variable velocity out of the aiming equation!
  • Being a whole man has its advantages. If you haven’t been circumcised, you have a few more options. You don’t have to stand up to safely deliver your sample, because you have your own in-built stop-cock. Grip the tip of your foreskin tight at the critical moment, and nothing will escape…this allows you time to retrieve your container and perform a controlled release at your leisure.
  • Get the truth straight from your specialist. Don’t let your other half relay the information…she lies! It was only recently, when I asked him, that our specialist informed me that I should be ejaculating A LOT up to 48 hours before the sample is required. He actually said “lots of sex or ejaculating”, but I knew what that would translate into without needing to even look in my missus’s direction. He said in my case (and I’m assuming that this is probably true for many MFI cases), the optimal is a lot of action up till 48 hours before, then abstinence till the actual sample is delivered. In the past, my missus convinced me that I needed to abstain for longer periods before the sample…cruel and unusual punishment I thought! So don’t trust her…ask the specialist yourself…and if at all possible, get it in writing (unless the news is bad and he wants to inflict longer periods of abstinence…then contact me and I’ll get my specialist to email you a ‘second opinion’ saying lots of sex and 48 hours abstinence max).

So, in summary, it might seem onerous, but there is a lot to recommend the ‘take-out’ option semen analysis…because, ‘eating in’ has its own rather large draw backs…and I’ll tell you what they are next time.

A Guys guide to IF – Part 4 – the sexist truth

•04/08/2010 • 12 Comments

So you’re here…you’re sitting in front of your designated fertility god. You and your missus are finally meeting him face to face and you’re desperately relieved to find he doesn’t look the slightest bit Latin American, he’s not wearing a necklace made from the wrinkled genitalia of past patients…there’s no blood drenched altar in the corner of his consulting room…there’s no sign whatsoever of gruesome and inhuman acts…he’s just a normal, kind looking gent in a white coat who really wants to help you achieve your dream…phew.

It’s at this point that it becomes difficult for me to tell you how things are going to progress…there are too many variables, too many potential issues that you, your other half, or both of you could be experiencing for me to tell you how things will proceed from this point….so, instead of trying to do that, I’ll tell you some things that I do know…

Remember the first instalment of this guide…the post where I told you that the reason infertility was such an issue was all down to the female biological clock and their programmed need to have children? That if it wasn’t for this instinctual behaviour programmed into their psyche, that you wouldn’t be infertile – you’d just be childless. I told you it was all her fault that this is now the single biggest issue in your life – and will remain so until a suitable resolution is achieved…

Well, I’ve got news for you…not only is it the fault of the female in your life, the fact that it is now totally controlling every aspect of your life means nothing.

You’re not gonna get any sympathy, you’re not gonna get supportive messages from friends, family and colleagues who know about your situation. The chances are you’re not going to join a support group, join an infertility forum, start meeting other men struggling with IF on a regular basis for coffee and a chat. There’s this feeling that women suffer infertility and should get treatment, support and sympathy, but if it’s the guys fault, well, he’s just not man enough.

Because, not only is it their fault…everyone thinks it’s their issue…it’s a woman only problem…it’s like breast cancer…not many guys out there getting support for enduring that disease.

Now I know if you’re reading this and you’re a women, your eyes will be large saucer shapes displaying your horror at what I’ve just written, you’ll be taking in deep breathes in shock at the politically in-correctness of my claim, you’re preparing to flame me with unending angry messages, preparing to write to whoever you need to write to in order to have my blog taken down…but hear me out.

Firstly, this is a guys guide…so I’m talking to your other half…

Secondly…argue with this…

When women tell people they’re suffering with infertility, 9 times out of 10 they’ll get sympathy, a hug, a gentle pat on the back, sad bambi eyes as the person says something like “shame, that’s terrible, tell me all about it”…guys will get silence. The guy they’re telling will suddenly be unable to make eye contact, will fidget, and after about 10 seconds of excruciatingly uncomfortable silence, promptly start waffling on about their favourite sports team’s dismal performance this year. And that’s if they’re lucky!! If they’re unlucky, there’ll be comments about not being man enough, not doing it right, there’ll be offers from some bastard that he’ll take your wife somewhere and get her knocked up for you, but whatever happens, guys will look at him as if he’s somehow less of a man.

Joined any infertility forums? Many guys on there? The Cigar Room (or whatever they’ve named their guy zone – if they even have one) burning up the bandwidth with thousands of posts a day? Read many blogs? Found many guys out there talking about their battle with infertility? Nope, didn’t think so.

But that all pales into insignificance with the differences between the male and female experience when you get to talking about tests and treatment…

What do you think the general reaction would be if I suggested women actually enjoy having internal scans? They call it the ‘dildo cam’ after all…not many women own a dildo for something other than pleasure. How do you think it would go down if I asked someone on the forum if they enjoyed their examination, if they were looking forward to the stirrups? Not very well I’m sure…

But these same people who would be so horrified, will think nothing of asking the same question of a guy and his semen analysis. There’s nods and winks all round – even the nurses will have a joke. As if MSM (medically sanctioned masturbation) is somehow exciting and fun…like it’s nothing to be apprehensive about, nothing to be shy of, nothing to dread. There are snickers and smirks…next time your missus has a scan, as she comes out of the changing room afterwards, give her a nudge, and with a twinkle in your eye, ask her if she enjoyed that…and see what reaction you’ll get.

I bet it’s not a good one!

Ok, I hear some of you saying that at least with an SA, you’re generally alone, it’s just you and the sterile container, there’s no doctor prodding or poking you with phallic objects…and I get that…but that doesn’t mean us guys are looking forward to the next instalment of ‘shoot to win’.

I think a lot of women forget that for a guy to ejaculate, he has to be aroused…he has to be ‘up’ to the task at hand…The problem with this is that arousal is 90% mental and 10% blood flow…and I don’t know if any of them have been in the local andrology room of their clinic, but my experience is they’re hardly inspiring. Hell, one of the clinics in our town doesn’t even have a designated room – they make their male patients use the unisex toilet!!

Add to this the pressure of knowing what’s at stake, and that you’re going to be handing your not-so-sterile-anymore container over to someone who is then going to analyse the contents in minute detail…and then report back on their findings…like some dreadful school assignment that’s just destined to end in tears…and, if your wife is on a forum or writes a blog, she’s gonna be shouting the results from the roof top…and you just know if your count is good, your morphology will be bad, if your motility is high your quantity will be lacking…there’s bound to be something below par…because what you really need is another blow to your self-esteem!!

It’s like when you have to give your GP or nurse a urine sample…they’ve given you the container, but you’re never sure how much to hand back…you don’t want to have just a little slopping round the bottom, but will they look at you strangely if it’s filled to the brim, and what if it’s a really strong pee and smells…handing over your semen sample is like that, but amplified a million times. You take a look at the container before you unlock the door of the andrology room, desperately wishing sperm cells were big enough to be counted with the naked eye: are they deformed, are they moving, is there enough…I’m sure there was more in the container last time…damn, hope that’s not a bad sign…

Then you hand it over to the lab technician, desperately hoping they’re not going to hold it up to the light, peer in and say ‘is that all’ or something equally embarrassing.

And this is all before we get to any of the procedures…somehow no-one seems to consider any form of sperm extraction or aspiration or varicocele correction as a particularly big deal…it’s shrugged of with a snigger or two, some comment about walking like John Wayne while stifling a laugh…but any mention of the women procedures and there is sympathetic grimaces, descriptions of the correct uses of a heated beanbag, the best pain medication and well wishes for a speedy recovery.

And maybe this is all out fault. Maybe us guys have brought this down on ourselves…

As I’ve said previously, we have the sex drive and they have the mothering instinct…we are the unfeeling rocks and they are the ones with emotions. They’re the sensitive souls and we’re just insensitive.

Maybe this is why no one credits the concept that a guy might want kids just as much as his wife does. Very little thought is given to the emotional toll infertility may be taking on us. No one seems to think about the stress and the strain we may be going through…it’s like just because we’re not advertising it, it’s not there…and that’s why they can laugh at what we have to endure…hell, all we have to do is jerk off every now and again…and we probably even enjoy it…

Maybe this is why infertility is all about the woman…she’s the customer and you’re just a supplier in this equation…

We don’t talk about our feelings, our worries and concerns and as a result it’s like they’re not actually there. Maybe if we told them how scared we are of not having kids, of having a bad SA result, of the way the thought of a BFN keeps us awake at night, how seeing them in pain causes us more pain than the rest put together, then maybe, just maybe, everyone might start acknowledging that us guys are battling this infertility too.

Maybe if we spent a little less time keeping everything bottled up to protect our loved ones, they’d be able to see that we sometimes need support and encouragement too. If we were a little more open they might better understand that we have our good day’s and our bad day’s too, and that sometimes when we’re acting difficult, it’s because we’re also exhausted from being in the trenches fighting this battle, and it may help if we didn’t feel like we’re second class citizens in this sexist land of infertility.

Part 3 of A Guys guide to Infertility…

•02/08/2010 • 3 Comments

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.

Anyway…

…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!!

A Guys guide to Infertility continued…

•31/07/2010 • 5 Comments

Ok. So, to recap, we know it’s her fault that not having children is now the single biggest problem in your life.

It’s like the Armageddon movie…you can continue doing what you’ve always done, but know that there’s this asteroid the size of Texas headed in your direction and there’s no way you’re going to escape it’s destructive force by doing nothing…Hiding your head in the sand is not the solution…action is called for.

So you agree during one of the many tearful conversations you’ve been having over the last few weeks that it’s time to do something other than having sex at the right time. This in itself is a sign of the difference between guys and girls…most guys struggle to admit that there might be a ‘wrong time’ for sex, which automatically makes it hard for us to understand the concept that there’s a ‘right time’…any time is a ‘right time’, right? Wrong.  Believe me when I tell you that she’s done the research. She now has a PhD in the science of conception. She’s delved into the mysteries of the human reproductive systems and and has an indisputable god-like knowledge of what needs to be done…so shut up, nod and do as you’re told…”yes dear”.

No matter how you got to this point, you’re here now…get with the program.

Stop worrying about the fact that you finally understand why, for the last year, she’s had a headache for 26 days out of every 28, but made up for it in those two days by ravaging you like a 2-bit porn star. Stop thinking about all the other pennies that have just dropped – that’s why she’s been laying with her feet in the air for an hour after ever ‘session’, that explains the little pile of baby-grows in the bottom drawer in the spare room that has been steadily growing over the last year, and yes, that’s why she’s been doing funny things in the toilet – peeing on a little stick that every now and again show’s a smiley face…not sure what the hell that face meant, but you always had a matching one half an hour later… Maybe you now realise what was going on when your missus came home from work in a foul and dangerous mood and didn’t want to discuss it, oh and coincidentally did you see the 5 announcements on Facebook today of friends who are now pregnant. This explains why when doing the grocery shopping your wife pitches the tampons into the trolley like she’s a major league baseball pitcher standing on the mound looking at a batter she wants to put into hospital.  And no, the tears running down her face the last few times she’s announced her period was here, wasn’t caused by overwhelming disappointment because she fancied a good seeing to today, but decided the ‘cleanup operation’ wasn’t going to be worth it. She’s been trying to fall pregnant for a year you dopey git…close your mouth and catch up, we need to move on.

Maybe this wasn’t your route to this point, maybe you guys agreed before you started trying. Maybe you discussed it at length, had your investment broker in before she went off the pill to ensure you guys could afford the resulting demands from a successful conception on your resources. Maybe you had a colour-coded, cross-referenced 12 point plan for family making, with all tasks assigned and scheduled progress reports and feedback loops. Maybe you’ve picked out names, schools, decorated the nursery, bought the hand cuffs and lingerie to ensure you’re always in the mood during ovulation, whatever. Maybe you consulted the family psychic or sent off to that astrologer in the sunday newspapers to find out when the best month to conceive would be. Possibly you’ve decided on a code word to alert each other that you need to copulate now dammit…the window of opportunity is cracked open and time is of the essence – even if it meant having sex in a public toilet, on the boardroom table or worst of worst, when visiting her folks for a long weekend.

Whatever your route to this point, you’ve been trying (whether you knew it or not) for a year…the magical time limit, that unmovable barrier like a Sci-Fi force-field, that doom-laden point in the conception calendar…you’ve been trying unsuccessfully for 12 months…12 cycles…

That’s if you’re lucky.

If you’ve very unlucky, you’ve got to this point in just six months… now, on the face of it, that might not make a lot of sense, but if you’re here after just 6 months, you’ve got a HUGE issue…your wife is obviously over 35.

Ordinarily, 35 is only just approaching middle age. But, unfortunately for you, the fact is, in the infertility world, 35 years old for a woman is more ‘life’s over’ than ‘mid-life’. After 35, a woman’s years are like dog years…and so the pressure is amplified exponentially…because, not only haven’t you conceived yet, but TIME IS RUNNING OUT!!!!

The fact is, you’re now officially labelled – you’re infertile. Scrap that…you’re officially Infertile…actually you’re undoubtedly INFERTILE.

This means action is called for…the current plan hasn’t worked…time to see a specialist.

Now the first thing you need to know is that the costs have just moved up a to a whole new level.

You thought you were spending a lot up till now. The money you’ve spent over the last year on ovulation predictor kits, pee-on-a-stick home pregnancy tests, tissues for the regular week-long tearful episodes, the increased internet usage as your other half consulted Dr Google and researched her thesis on what’s potentially going wrong, the crockery you’ve had to replace when she returned from every baby-shower…these have all been small fry to what’s coming. If you thought it was stressful up to now…hold on to your horses, cos it’s gonna be just as bad, but with financial stress added to the camel’s back you’ve developed.

Your significant other will tell you that she’s made an appointment with So-and-so fertility god at the local clinic (or if you’re spectacularly unlucky, the clinic is a few hundred miles away which will add a few more straws to your double-humped shoulders). It’s in a month and a half’s time (because these guys are more heavily booked up than the drug dealers at a Amy Winehouse concert).

Strangely, she’ll moan about this delay, but will start doing better emotionally from the minute the appointment’s booked – there’s a plan, there’s forward movement, things are happening (even if the only things that’s happening is that you’re waiting – go figure).

As you approach the appointment, she’s gonna start getting stressed…there are going to be even more discussions about what-if’s, you’ll start receiving calendar appointments for 5 hour strategic planning sessions, so you can map out your responses to every conceivable scenario (and after the 43 trillion hours spent on Google, she’s come up with quite an alarming array of scenario’s). She’s gonna have sleepless nights, struggle to concentrate on anything else and be a little touchy.

A word of advice for you guys…now is not the time to point out that she has bags under her eyes, or that her hair looks like she goes to the same hair-dresser as Worzle Gummidge, or, even worse, that you’ve found a grey one lurking in there. Probably not a good idea to tell her she’s put on some weight and as a result that the dress she’s wearing looks like a relief map of the Andes. Unless of course, you fancy running around the house with a knife-wielding lunatic chasing you. Tell her you fancy her best-friend and think she should invite her round for a threesome if you want a good beating…but whatever you do, do not ask her if she’s sure she wants kids!!

Don’t list the things you’d be giving up if you had children, because, at this point, she’d gladly give up every one of those things to be pregnant. She would sell your house and your cars and every valuable you own if it meant she could have a baby. She’d happily sell most of her friends and every last one of yours into slavery if it would buy her an emplanted embryo.

She’d donate both of your bodies to medical science for the chance of getting those two lines on the pregnancy test kit…and, this is practically what she’s doing…because you’re about to meet the fertility specialist, and he’s gonna put you through more tests than the space shuttles pre-launch sequence…so prepare yourself.

A Guys guide to Infertility…part 1 of 4,856,782

•30/07/2010 • 6 Comments

Hi Kids,

for the second post in a row, I’m afraid I’m posting for any and all other people out there rather than to you two…unless of course our MFI is hereditary, in which case this post is to you too Jed. (That’s a thought actually…I better find out whether Secondary Hypogonadism is hereditary…hmm)

HopefullyTCC/Mommy-In-Waiting (depending in where you know her from) & I have been talking for some time about writing some posts on the things people don’t tell you with regards infertility and treatment. I don’t know if people are shy, don’t think it’s worth sharing, or haven’t come across these issues/experiences, but we’ve not really found much out there on the gory details, the things that scare the shit out of you at the time and would have been so much better if you were fore-warned.

My dear wife has already got the ball rolling with her first post on the subject…The Best friends Guide to IVF…and I think she’s planning on putting it on a separate permanent page, adding to it as time goes by and as other people comment and give her more content to add.

So, I better do some catch up and start my posting on the subject. Also, anyone out there reading this who has some things to add, please do so, and maybe I’ll do the same – stick it on a permanent page making it easier for other guys to find…

I figured I’d try and tackle this subject logically – it’s a large subject, because rather than just focussing on IVF, I want to tackle this whole Infertility fiasco (well as much as I can based on my own experiences). I warn you now (and anyone who’s read my blog knows this), I’m not going to hide anything, no euphemisms, sugar-coating or ducking the embarrassing bits…there’s no room for any of that with infertility…sensitive or delicate dispositions aren’t allowed – they don’t last 5 minutes in the IF world. And besides which, us guys need things spelled out in small words with lots of pictures – metaphors and subtlety just won’t work…it’s a balls to the wall exposé, a no-holds-barred guide to dealing with this insidious and damaging condition….as I’ve said before…YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!!! Read on at your peril…

The first things guys need to know about infertility is that it’s all women’s fault.

Yup, they’re to blame. It’s because of them that this is such a big issue. It’s because of the woman in your life that you’ll be routinely embarrassed, it’s because of your little snugglepuss that you’re going to be miserable, it’s because of your soul mate that this issue eats away at you like a carnivorous cancer.

For starters, if it was left up to guys, there would be no kids. The human race would have died out long ago. Yes, the Creator/Nature (depending on your beliefs) instilled the stronger sexual urges in the male of the species. But It also instilled the mothering instinct in the female of the species. Guys just want sex. We don’t care when, how, why – as long as we get it. Women on the other hand, want children. And sex is just the means to the end (unless they’re infertile, but we’ll get to that later). OK, ok, this is a sweeping generalisation, a bit tongue in cheek, but, the honest truth is that without this programmed NEED to be a mother, infertility wouldn’t be such a big thing.

Take our example as a case in point. I told Hopefully 16 odd years ago that I couldn’t have kids. We weren’t dating or anything. I told her because she was my flatmate and we were really good friends (‘good’ in respect to the fact that we spent all day sitting and talking, and ‘bad’ because it meant we never went to classes = 2x university dropouts). So she knew this before we realised we fancied each other, before we had our first kiss. And, as far as I was concerned, that was it – no doubts, no maybe’s no if’s or buts…me = never having kids.

We hooked up, we got married, we built a life together, we travelled the world for a year, we got jobs, we bought and sold houses and cars, we moved back to South Africa, we bought a house, more cars, started a business, celebrated 10 wedding anniversaries….all without kids in the picture. Hell, almost without kids being mentioned.

Then, just over 18 months ago, this little ticking sound…tick tick tick…the female biological clock…tick tick tick…time’s awasting…tick tick tick…

And here’s the thing gents…they can’t control it. It’s not something they decide one day when walking through the shopping centre…suddenly looking round and wondering where the kiddies shop is, cos they fancy popping in and getting one. It’s not a conspiracy that they’ve been hiding from you for 12 years, and they’re now springing it on you because they’ve assessed your resistance is low. It’s not something they chat about at book club, and decide that what the hell, life isn’t tough enough for us, our marriages, our financial position – lets throw something disruptive into the mix, lets shake things up a bit. It’s not a passing phase, like wanting a tamagochi, a rubik’s cube, a belly-button piercing or whatever this season’s must have accessory is – like ugg boots… They’re not going to forget it if you just ignore it for a while. It’s not going to go away… because, if anything, the longer it goes, the louder that clock ticks…and the louder that clock ticks the more miserable your life will become.

Because if there’s one thing I’ve learnt in this life, the most important rule EVER, if you want your life to be happy and relatively care-free, then you better make damn sure that the woman in your life is happy!

Cos, Danté got it wrong, there aren’t nine levels of hell, and if there are, they pale into insignificance besides what your life becomes when your woman isn’t happy.

In summary…infertility is all her fault, but she can’t help it, so move on from casting blame and figure out how you’re gonna be part of the solution…for your own sake as well as hers.