Appreciating the Man... Husband... Guy... Whoever

To Wind Up This Month of "Let's Here it for the Boys... & their Boys"...

In the past few weeks, I've had guest posts from James who told his story about going from dealing with a surly infertility doctor to having twins and Philip who's still going through his long bout with infertility and treatments-- both as the patient and as the support person to his wife. But I haven't written anything about my husband who was there during every step of my infertility adventure. And when I say "he was there", I don't necessarily mean he hugged and comforted me the whole time. I mean more like... well... he didn't move out.

My husband went to all of the doctor appointments with me and jabbed me in the butt every night. It's true that the fertility issues were all mine- which shows you how unfair nature is since my infertility was age-related and he's exactly nine days older than I am.  My husband's participation was pretty much limited to a 10 minute date with a plastic cup and the aforementioned nightly ass-jab. But while his physical participation was limited, his emotional participation was vital. As many of you know firsthand, if you don't become a wreck just from the stress of trying to get pregnant month after month, the hormones will help you along. Not only do they help you get pregnant, they also help you on your path to becoming a nut case. Like I alluded to a paragraph or so ago, I'm not married to an: "Oh Honey, let me put my arm around you and tell you everything's going to be okay" kind of guy. I'm married to more of an "I have no idea what to do or say, so I'll just leave the room now" kind of guy. While I was frustrated at the time, I can tell you in retrospect that that was probably the smarter way to go. A conversation with me at that juncture would likely have resulted in this repartee:

Him: "Maybe you should..."

Me: "What do you know about what I should do?! You're not the one taking all these pills and shoving things up your woo-hoo and injecting yourself subcutaneously and giving blood every two days!"

For all I know, if I'd let him finish the sentence it would have been: "Maybe you should have an apple."

I also have to thank him for my writing. Really... I was in such a state of overwhelm at the time, a lot of what happened to me during fertility treatments is a total blank. He once said to me:

"Remember what Dr. Walker first told us? That first you should try the Gonal-F, and it was hard to gauge how much was coming out of the vial and you started with a moderate dose, and then he saw that the follicles were growing and you took a lower dose, and then the follicles seemed to be growing fine on their own..." and I was like:

"Who's Dr. Walker?"

"What do you mean: 'Who's Dr. Walker?' That was the doctor at the first clinic we went to."

(This dialogueless space indicates my blank stare.)

Husband: "We went to him for the first five months."

(Still haven't blinked.)

Husband: "You had three IUIs with him."

(Nope.... I mean, I know I had IUIs. Just couldn't be sure where.)

Husband: "Tall, thin, guy. Had an accent..."

Me: "Oh, wait. Was he the one on the fifth floor?"

Husband: "Yeees! Now you remember?"

Me: "Sort of. I remember getting into an elevator."

So my husband wasn't rubbing my feet or my back or my neck. And he wasn't telling me how wonderful he thought it was that I was going through all this to try to have his child like the husband would in a Hallmark TV movie or anything... but he did walk behind me the whole time with his Dustbuster, picking up the remnants of my mind... and for that, I'm forever grateful.

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Men,Men,Men,Men,Manly,Men,Men,Men (Tuesday)

(Start with "Monday" if you can.  This whole week is dedicated to the "Y" chromosome, all grown-up, married to us and keeping us company during the entire infertility debacle.) So, what were we talking about? Oh right. Men and how they fit into the whole female infertility journey.   

As I'm sure most of you are aware, infertility can be attributed to the female partner about 1/3 of the time, the male partner 1/3 of the time and a combination of the two 1/3 of the time... and of course there's also the endlessly frustrating "anybody's guess" column somewhere in the mix.

No matter who gets diagnosed with what: Forget "fault". Neither of you is at fault. Somebody's body' is not working properly.  No fault. You didn't cause a car accident. If you became infertile because you were texting during sex, then forget what I said: Screw you, you are at fault. Otherwise, let blame,guilt, fault, all of that crap go.   

And let's say right here: If you're the one who's deemed to be the "infertile one" in the relationship... you have the absolute right to be a little jealous of your husband/wife, spouse, lover, best-you-could-do-under-the-circumstances, better-than-being-alone-or-so-I- thought-at-the-time, significant or insignificant other.

I know that 's not a nice thing to say. We're all supposed to support our partners unconditionally. Thick, thin; Sickness, health; Richer, poorer. Death, part. (Our marriage vows were in Hebrew. Gd only knows what we promised. The rabbi could show up anytime and take our car. "Look, during the ceremony, you said I could have it.")

But I think feeling a twinge of jealousy is normal.

When my husband and I first walked into a fertility clinic, as I've mentioned about a million times before, I was a month away from turning forty-one. They may have sent both of us for preliminary tests to be polite but let's face it: They had their suspicions.

I'm sure all the medical professionals saw was this handsome man graying at the temples with his deteriorated wife who had a flashing red light, red neon flags and a siren over her head. I guarantee more than one staff member gazed down the hallway to see who kept opening the emergency exit.  

So they looked in my husband's direction for about a minute and a half and then came up with this determination: "Mr. Fox, your sperm is the best we've seen in 20 years of practicing medicine. May we replace the tropical fish in our waiting room aquarium with your specimen?... As for the elderly lady with the shriveled ovaries you shlepped in here..."   

So why would I be a little jealous?

Okay, so let's make sure I have this straight: I'll be instructed to insert suppositories, take pills and inject nightly hormones into my person for several weeks, months or years and you'll be instructed to watch "The Real House Whores of Bootyville" and take liquid notes.

Wait wait, let me make sure I have this straight once more...

I'll be enduring hormone shots (nothing, I imagine, like Jello shots) and anesthesia, and egg retrievals, and pregnancy tests over the next several weeks, months, or years and you'll be cozying up to a Hooters' calendar on your lunch break.

Listen, I gotta go. I have to brush up on my Hebrew and replay our wedding video. I really need my car.

If you can, take a glance over at this week's Health Experts article by Ian Claxton: "Ways to Boost Male Fertility". It's a real page-turner, I assure you.

I'll talk with ya again tomorrow.