Friday, March 29, 2013

boys will be boys? cycle 4, day 18

Until today, I hadn’t realized the kind of distance C had from this whole infertility bonanza. He’s been nothing but supportive, sweet and generally happy to endure/speak sarcastically of my, let’s say, ebbing moods – even when I have bluntly told him that I am having a very hard time liking him that I need some alone time. But C doesn’t have to get poked and prodded four times in six days; he doesn’t have Chinese hamster ovary injected into his gut; and he’s not ravenously eating for nine during “birth-control-week.”[1] Simply put: C is not the patient and it turns out, he didn’t quite know how to be.

This morning we went in for our first IUI[2], which means that after a romantic morning of must-ejaculate-into-this-small-plastic-cup-immediately, we headed over to the fertility clinic to drop off the sample, one hour in advance of the procedure. Because, holy shit how on earth are we running late C went up first while I parked. Then, as I was riding the elevator, a frantic text “What do I do? All the women are staring at me.”

When I met him in the clinic lobby, he looked like a deer in headlights. What was he supposed to sign/where was he supposed to go/what is the meaning of life/etc. The questions were coming fast and furious.

Now, it should be said – C has accompanied me to the clinic several times. He’s even given a sample once before, at the beginning of this whole mis-adventure. But never has he been the patient, per se. Now. C is one of the smartest people I know – doctor, builder of kayaks, maker of sarcastic quips. And so it was a surprise, and somewhat baffling, to see him so unhinged. So while I personally may have indulged ever-so-briefly in his panic-stricken-face, I wasn’t really so keen on the entire waiting room and nursing staff thinking that he was some sort of aloof proto-male who isn’t comfortable talking about reproduction, let alone dropping off his sperm in a brown paper lunch bag. Because: feminist! liberated man! Etc[3].

 Which is why, when the nurse gave me a knowing glance and remarked, Why is it always so hard for the men to participate?, I found it rather irksome. I mumbled something like, he’s just nervous and then smiled at her because for some god forsaken reason I have a complex that compels me to make sure nurses, grocery store employees and sales people like me.

Anyway, I swear the deep insights are forthcoming! I guess what I’m saying is that while C has been riding this derailed train right along side me, I think that until today, he wasn’t really taking in the scenery[4].

After we dropped off the sample, we ducked out for breakfast at a coffee shop around the corner. Being that the fertility clinic is located just inside a kind of upper class suburban jungle, the coffee shop was packed with mamas and their toddling kin – one inexplicably screaming “RO-BOT! RO-BOT!” while another held a stuffed animal lamb in a death grip and a third covered her face in blueberry scone. As I pointed out the cute babies, I could see that C was growing a bit angsty. We sat down and he took my hands, close to tears now, whispering something about how seeing babies made him emotional. Boy, you have NEVER been on my wavelength more than right this moment! I think pretty soon he’ll be experiencing bump envy.

There was just something about the entire experience for him – one that we in the estrogen-set tolerate with disturbing regularity and, usually, even-tempered I-guess-I-just-have-to-endure-this­-ness – that really magnified for him the struggle, uncertainty and absence of control inherent in all of this.

After a few croissants deep breaths, we returned to the clinic – to the saccharin daytime talk show playing on TV, to the pairs of similarly anxious-but-trying-to-look-bucolic, work-skipping couples. When my name was called[5], C went into the exam room with me. His sperm-stats were looking good[6] and although the actual procedure was rather more unpleasant than I imagined – not worse than a pap smear is a boldface lie – we made it through, C holding my hand and looking like he might very nearly pass out, at any moment.

And just like that, so begins another two-week wait. Thankfully, we’re hitting the road this weekend, heading west to the mountains, putting all the catheters and speculums and sperm counts behind us (temporarily at least).

But what about you guys and your guys[7], how do they handle all this included-but-not-exactly-included-ness when it comes to infertility?

[1] It’s like shark week. But with less megalodon sharks and their hydraulic jaws.
[2] Five minutes of utter terror/the animation I will force on my future petri-dish children when they ask to hear their “birth story.” You’ve been warned – all of you. Also, if my sperm has a bow in her (it’s?) hair, then I insist on a refund.
[3] Dennis Duffy probably said it best. Dear Liz Lemon: While other women have bigger boobs than you, no other woman has as big a heart. When I saw you getting ready to go out and get nailed by a bunch of guys last night, I knew for sure it was over between us, and for the first time since the '86 World Series, I cried... if it was up to me, we'd be together forever. But there's a new thing called "women's liberation", which gives you women the right to choose and you have chosen to abort me, and that I must live with. So tonight, when you arrive home, I'll be gone. I officially renounce my squatter's rights.
[4] This might be the worst metaphor yet. amiright?
[5] Seriously, do you know how many well-meaning parents named their child Sarah? Let’s just say there were a lot of false starts. Oh, you mean her. Well, then, yes, thank you, I’ll just wait here. Then I smiled. Because, you know, it’s imperative that the nurse who knows me as just-one-in-a-thousand frequent flyer infertiles, likes me.
[6] 23 million after the wash, which anonymous robot hacks on Yahoo Answers assure me is a good number. (Tell me that video – and the accompanying sound – isn’t sort of like ooh, ahh, miracle of life! terrifying?)
[7] And gals. As the good folks at Reclaiming Wife would say, Remember the Lesbians! Also, HUGE week at the Supreme Court. So, you know, let’s not get all hetero-normative, shall we.


  1. Good luck with your two week wait!

    My husband doesn't really react to any of this stuff. It's rather annoying.

  2. Other than procrastinating his semen analysis for several months, Mr. Turtle seems to be OK with the whole ART thing. He assures me he really knows a lot since he took reproductive biology and genetics and things like that in university. But other than testing we haven't had to do any Procedures, so it's still pretty theoretical. I've warned him there will be a Reading List to review before I stick any needles in myself. But for now I'm letting him do whatever he needs to get used to the idea. We talk about it every now and then, too, just to touch base on what the other is thinking.

  3. It took R. a while before he was able to really participate as my partner in this whole IF adventure. Given that it's not his body and he didn't really know much about cycles beyond that they happen and they're ookie, I think it was easier for him to stay in denial for a lot longer than I did. He has come around a lot, although I honestly don't think he'll ever be able to really get what all this does to me. It's not his body being put through all this mess, and guys don't have the same experience that we do with social expectations of starting a family.

  4. We're thinking of skipping our 3rd and last round of letrazole only and going straight to IUI. I'm super on the fence. This month's timing would actually be pretty bad, so we may just wait. But if two rounds of letrazole hasn't worked, I have a hard time believing that we're not just wasting our time with a third.

    The Artsy Engineer has some ups and downs in his level of emotional involvement in the process. I think that mostly he's able to keep thoughts of infertility at bay (except for the fact that I continually remind him of it). He has moments, especially around babies, when I think he feels what I feel. But it isn't constant. We were actually just talking about this the other day. He said that it is so much easier for him to be emotionally removed, because he feels as though he has even less control than I do - his body isn't the environment where everything is (or should be) taking place and he doesn't have anything he really had to DO on a daily (or even weekly) basis.

    Lots of good vibes from me, friend. Have a lovely time in the mountains. They'd be a hugely effective distraction for me!

    1. thanks, Lentil! I think you guys - you invisible but oh-so-wonderful commenters - are right. It's really about the lack of control which at once allows for a feeling of being removed, living in denial, and feeling helpless. And because of it, it takes them a little longer to plug in.

    2. and p.s. heading over to your blog to share thoughts on IUI...

  5. For us, there have been many twists and turns of divergence and coming together again in this journey. For a long time my husband distanced himself, and it made me furious. Until I realised that a lot of the reason was his fear, particularly fear of another loss. Also, I have sympathy for them because, while they're not the ones who have to go through most of the physical intrusions, well...they're not the ones who go through the physical intrusions, and therefore I guess they can feel pretty helpless. I know H does, and it makes him extra nervous.

    But recently, precisely because we both realized that this ttc stuff was putting such tension on our relationship, (and also, let's be honest, because I screamed at him to do so..Ha), he's become much more active. H is a planner by nature, next to my disorganized character, so now he does most of the research on treatment options, as well as all the counting/strategizing cycle day stuff. Not as wierd as it sounds, and more relaxing for me. He's also started to get to a place where he can daydream about having an actual living child, what we'll call it, what games we'll play with it, which is so nice to hear, espeically on days when I'm feeling hopeless. He's much more optimistic than me on these things.

    I have everything crossed that this'll be it for you guys! Hope you have fun in the mountains.

    1. Agreed - I think C has felt at once helpless (not his body, etc.) and also consistently more optimistic than me. It's nice to have the optimism - as long as it doesn't reach a point of overly-earnest-boy-scout-type fervor. Also, I love that your husband does all the counting and cycle planning. Sometimes I feel like I need a personal assistant to manage that aspect...

  6. I also just did my first IUI (on 3/31, cycle day 18). Fingers crossed for both of us!

    1. Glad I wasn't the only one slow to get ready - I worried that day 18 was too late but assured by the doctor I was still in the clear. Hopefully this is a lucky month for us both! Good luck.