Happy: 'Thank You for not Being a Schmuck' Day

homer simpsonI want to thank Bianca Smith for putting this post of mine on her wonderful "Where's My Stork?" blog.   If you missed it there, here it is here. 

My father lived by himself in a retirement community in Florida among a lot of couples. I noticed that just about all of the people he was friends with were women. I asked him about it once: "Well," he said. "...the wives are all very nice... but their husbands are a bunch of schmucks."

So this week, while we may not be in a position to, or at all interested in, celebrating Father's Day this year, I propose an alternate holiday:

Happy: 'Thank You for Not Being a Schmuck' Day -and the "day" runs all week. (Feel free to run it all year if you like.)

Your spouse/partner/husband--whatever he is-- probably does some things that irritate you. That's normal, of course. And yet, even with those small annoyances, minor aggravations and colossal pet peeves that drive you up a fkn wall... He's the one, the only one, you've hand-picked to have calendar-induced copulation with and to sire your future children. You know you wouldn't have your eggs in a freezer, snuggling together for warmth with anyone else's sperm.

So he's not perfect...

I would have to say that all of the stereotypical bad habits that we accuse most men of having... well, that's pretty much me.

I watch every ballgame I can and argue every play with the TV. I have road rage. I easily fit curse words in as nouns, verbs or adjectives in any sentence. I scratch whatever itches no matter where I am or who is looking.

Some couples have problems in the bedroom. We have problems in the kitchen.

He doesn't like the way I rinse stuff off. I rinse it off so it looks fine to me... but not to him. Then if I rinse it off enough, I shouldn't have left it in the sink. Clearly, it should have been transferred into the dishwasher. If the dishwasher has clean dishes in it, apparently that's my cue to empty it out. I'm aware that we usually have clean dishes in the cabinets. I just never knew how they got there.

If I empty a can of tuna, I was instructed a long time ago, that proper etiquette dictates that I wash out the can and leave it in the sink until it's taken out to the recycle bin in the garage by the Recycle Fairy (closely related to the Dishwasher Fairy, I suspect.) Months ago, my husband alerted me that obviously putting water in the empty tuna can was ineffective if there wasn't also dish soap floating in there while it was in the sink waiting to be taken out to the recycle bin in the garage. Then, about a month ago, I was advised that the protocol had yet again been amended without my knowledge or consent as my husband stood over me and the sink and exhaled loudly on the back of my neck: "Why are you even soaking the can in the sink? Can't you just take it outside and throw it into the recycle bin in the garage?"

And we have further issues in the kitchen: There's the peanut butter issue. A common breakfast for me includes sticking a teaspoon into the peanut butter and eating it...and repeating this action... three times. It's not my fault: A serving size is a tablespoon. Three teaspoons equal a tablespoon. Sure I could dip one tablespoon once instead of one teaspoon three times, but I'm trying to fool myself into thinking I'm having a bigger breakfast. I've been doing this for ages. All of a sudden, after twelve years of marriage, he's going to tell me he thinks that's really disgusting? Of all the things of his I've put into my mouth in those twelve years, he thinks peanut butter is the most disgusting?

So maybe "Thank You for Not Being a Schmuck" isn't quite right. I mean, we're all schmucks sometimes. Maybe: "Thank You for not Being a Total Schmuck" is better.

Lori Shandle-Fox is a humor writer, (former stand-up comic) and infertility survivor. Her eBook: Laughing IS Conceivable: One Woman's Extremely Funny Peek into the Extremely Unfunny World of Infertility has been downloaded by thousands of infertility sufferers, their partners,  families & medical teams and reviewed on Bianca Smith's "Where's My Stork?"

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But Are You Infertile ENOUGH?

I recently read a post by a poor woman who was ousted from an online infertility support group. Okay, I've been unceremoniously told to not return to a few myself. (You know that sound of a door opening when one of your friends logs on to AOL? Think of someone yelling: "Screw off!" and slamming the door shut. It was kind of like that.) Of course I might occasionally say something offensive, thus encouraging the "screw off" order in my direction.

But this poor woman, as she tells it anyway (of course there are always twelve sides to every argument but enough about Real Housewives of Wherever) was told to leave an infertility support group because she has a child.

I'm not sure how long she's been trying to conceive this go 'round but she's apparently infertile. I mean what lunatic would spend their days kvetching about their infertility to a bunch of other stressed and depressed infertile strangers online if they weren't really infertile?

I'm not thinking there are dozens of fertile women just clamoring to get into one of those groups. It's not something you're likely to put on your resume as a group you belong to, to impress a future employer and it's definitely not as exciting as hanging with the Kardashians.  

Geez, I know people go to extremes to fit in to cliques but who the hell would be dying to get into this miserable sisterhood enough to fake being infertile? I mean, I've met literally hundreds of phenomenal women via this road, but to be perfectly honest, I'd just as soon as met each and every one of them somewhere totally different.

So I don't think anybody doubts this woman who was banished is infertile. It's just that she has a child. So apparently she's not infertile enough.  Maybe if she agreed to ship off her daughter to be raised by relatives in another state, to show how serious she was about joining, she could be let back in the group.

We all get how hard it is when you're dealing with infertility to hear about kids, so maybe we SHOULD have standardized guidelines that all infertility forums should adhere to.

In order to be eligible to join any online infertility forum: 

1) You must never have been pregnant. (Chemical pregnancies DO count!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

(Okay, that lets out probably 90% of us right there.)

2) You may not have any children of any kind living in your house.

(This includes step-children, adopted children, your younger siblings, foster children, exchange students,  your neighbor's kids that you babysit at your house twice a week while she's at work, to help pay for your fertility treatments, or excessive trick-or-treaters .)  

3) Your husband's sperm count must be no greater than 1/2 of a tank full at any given time.

4) If you are over thirty-five, you must have gone through menopause. (Please provide proof that there's not even one stray egg rattling  around in there)         

5) You must be having unprotected sex at least five times a week (wow!) for a minimum of 6 months before you are eligible to join a group.

Let's face it: The whole thing is ridiculous. As long as you're legitimately a self-declared infertile person and not just someone trying to infiltrate an infertility forum so that you can get women to buy your new invention: The Egg GPS that tracks the egg on the way down your fallopian tube ("Continue South 1.3 millimeters. Make a slight right to stay in the fallopian tube. Your destination will be...Nevermind. Just stay where you are and let  that swarm of squiggly guys with lust in their eyes find you.")

I am also ready to give the woman who banned her from the group the benefit of the doubt. Once the infertility hormones, anger, stress, and frustration set in, I like to think we're no longer responsible for either our actions or our foul mouths.   

So either "fertility brain" is the culprit or it's like what my father used to say about the pesky 80 year old security guy at the senior facility in Florida where he lived: "See Lori: This is what happens when you give a moron a little authority."

If you'd like more Laughing IS Conceivable, please do subscribe to this blog. Also check out my latest at Fertility Authority: Some info about surviving Halloween followed by my post "The Season of My Infertility"

We Too Shall Overcome Someday, I Do Believe (Friday)

(Start with "Tuesday" if you can now that we're entering the sign of Aquarius. Wow, that is deep, man.) So, what were we talking about? Oh right. Honoring the venerable Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., an incredible man of peace, courage, and vision by bitching about the laundry list of bs that infertile people had better get their ass in gear and overcome.

What Do We Want? To Overcome the Dopes Around Us! When Do We Want it? Now?? ... I Mean... Now!!

Okay, so many times on this blog we've discussed the insufferable people who don't get what we're going through, probably will never get what we're going through, only half-care what we're going through, and give ridiculous advice about what we're going through. But somehow, we still let them get to us. And we have to overcome that.When I was trying to get pregnant I took my cat to the vet. (That's unrelated, by the way. I don't want you to think that in my crazed hormonal fog, I thought I found a loophole and perhaps an animal doctor might give me more affordable treatments:

"Hi, Doc. Do you take Cigna? I'm looking to get some fertility treatments. What do you do for dogs when they can't get pregnant? I mean, I know that there's a high risk of multiples anyway with fertility treatments, that's okay, I mean like twins or something, but I really don't want to have seven or eight like a german shepherd if possible. And I've been having these mood swings, so maybe you could throw in a distemper shot."

So anyway, as I was saying before I rudely interrupted myself: I started talking to this vet about my conception woes. Of course back then I would pour my heart, soul, and spleen out to anybody--I can't even say anybody who would listen--it was more like anybody who would stand right there instead of running as fast as they could in the opposite direction. Fast food cashiers were always a captive audience. They're paid to stand right there. "Hi, may I take your order?"

"I'll have a number two value meal, but boy, you just don't know. If I could order what I really want, I would be able to be done with these shots. They are such a pain in the butt. Literally. That was a funny joke, but I could see why you wouldn't get it. But, boy, if you had to go run to the doctor three times a week, and give blood, and then wait those agonizing hours for the nurse to hopefully not forget to call you to tell you what dose to take... I don't know. I guess you haven't been there...You're like, what? In eighth grade?"

"Would you like apple pie with that ma'am for a dollar more?"

So this veterinarian, that I mentioned about an hour ago, gave me the ol': "I couldn't get pregnant right away either. You need to get away. Go on a vacation. That's what we did"  bit of bs advice.

And I listened. And I responded. And I listened. And I processed..... Now I ask myself politely: WHY????

What I should have done was said: "I'm forty-one now.  My infertility issues are age-related. So if I go on vacation and come back two weeks older, how is that helping?" What I really should have said was: "Fk you, give me my cat back!"

This is the problem that we really need to overcome: It's not so much about not being disappointed in how people respond to our fertility issues--- It's about not sharing our fertility issues with the whole world in the first place!  That rule alone would eliminate a lot of the craziness and confusion we feel from idiotic responses.

When you finally decide on a select few to blab too, feel them out....Don't expect that just because they're good shopping buddies and confidantes that this will be an issue they'll be helpful with. I remember the actor George Hamilton saying once that he dated different women because one was great to go skiing, but when he took her to parties, she was a dial tone.

Okay, so, forget about the "womanizing" message. My cousin once told me the same thing when I was single: "There's no man who's going to give you every single thing you need." And the same goes with friends.

Listen, I gotta go. It's Friday...need I say more?

I'll talk with ya again on Monday.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Infertility Support Forum (Thursday)

(Start with "Monday" if you can. Please. It would do great things to my self-esteem to know somebody actually listened to me for once. Even if it's only a cyber-stranger.) So, what were we talking about?  Oh right. Baby dust that everyone keeps throwing at each other on the infertility support sites. I'm not sure whether or not you can tell by my picture up there on top, but I really don't have the hair for it.  

Baby dust is on a very long list of things that would probably live on happily in my hair for at least a decade: Along with cigar smoke, incense, the smell of rear-view mirror air-freshener trees, airborn fast-food grease,  and Lysol.  

I mentioned yesterday that I had this image of exasperated webmasters who at the end of each night had to clean up all that baby dust.

I'm not positive those people exist. I am pretty sure that, however, while most moderators are wonderful, caring, conscientious people, there are a few pissed-off ones out there also.     

I totally understand and respect that support group creators and moderators are protective of those who really need the site and don't want people selling them crap or saying nasty or inappropriate things.

I just find it, shall we say, counter-productive when you're already a raw nerve from all of the infertility stuff and... here you are turning to one of these sites for comfort, and, right off the bat, get this:

"Hi. Welcome to 'Infertility has Ruined My Life'" We are a caring, loving, nurturing group for those going through the rigors of infertility.*

*"If you haven't gone through treatments in the last three months or thought about going through treatments in the last six months, you are not eligible to join. In addition, you must tell us in 600 words or more why you want to be part of this group.

For the first three years, I will be moderating all of your posts and will either prove or disapprove. If I disapprove, you will be banned from the site for life.

If you plan to leave the group, please be courteous and give us two months notice in writing. It is extremely rude to just move on with your life without getting our approval first.

If you are posting a new topic, please be considerate and write 'New Topic...Hello...New topic...Are you guys paying attention?' in the subject line.

No profanity, insults or discussions about sex, drugs or rock and roll will be tolerated. Examples of unacceptable language would be words such as, but not limited to: Infertility, Clomid, aspirin, follicles,Viagra, hip-hop, IVF, IUI, bedroom, husband, wife, gay, straight, Dancing with the Stars, sperm, donor, sex, drugs, and rock and roll.

And please don't insult our intelligence by trying to slip a nickname like 'follies' in for 'follicles' when you know full well that it is not a permissible term. If you think something might in some way be offensive to someone, you are right! So don't bother posting it! It will be rejected! And you will be banned! 

After you complete the five screen registration form, you will be sent via email a nine page profile form that you have three minutes to fill out. If you do not complete and submit it within 8 days along with a statement from your doctor confirming that you are indeed an infertile, your registration will be canceled and you will have to re-register but will not be permitted to do so for six days.

Taxes may apply. Down payment due at signing. License and registration not included. Penalties for early withdrawal. Do not drink alcohol to excess while on this site. Common side effects from this site are mild to moderate annoyance, dry mouth, dizziness and a pounding headache.

You should not drive or operate heavy machinery while on this site until you know if you have any negative side effects from this site. 

Notify the webmaster if you have an erection lasting more than four hours while posting on this site, as this can lead to more serious side effects.   

Hope you enjoy the group! Have fun with it!

Listen I gotta go. Now I got myself all riled up. I'd better go for a five mile run.  Or sit at my dining room table with a bowl of chips, a Cherry Coke and People magazine.

I'll talk to ya again tomorrow.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Infertility Support Forum (Wednesday)

(Start with "Monday" if you can. Who knows? One day I might win the Nobel Prize for blogging and you'll want to say you were a part of every single word of it. Okay, I probably won't. Definitely. But I think you'll enjoy the posts anyway.) So what were we talking about? Oh right. The goings-on at these support forums. I didn't have a moment yesterday to mention baby dust. And I feel I must.

If you happen not to frequent these online infertility chats: Baby dust (geez like 5 times I almost wrote "angel dust" which is something totally different. I don't think anyone ever snorted baby dust. Though if it there were a .00001 % chance it could get you pregnant we'd probably all be on our hands and knees in the ladies room doing a couple of parallel lines worth.)

Anyway...Baby dust is what women on these sites are always hurling at each other in hopes that it will get their online buddies pregnant. They usually end a post with something to the effect of: "Sending all of you lots of baby dust!"

I think this is an incredibly sweet gesture of sisterly love and a great testament to the heart-felt bonds that grow on these sites between women in their true time of need. But a few things worry me about this baby dust.

1) What is it actually? Is it like pollen? Or second-hand smoke? How do we know we're not well-wishing someone straight into a full-blown asthma attack?  

2) Is it like candy corn? "Oh GD. Not another bag of baby dust. What am I going to do with all of it? Now some fell on the floor. Great! Now I'll never get rid of it... like glitter." 

3) Who's responsible for sweeping the baby dust up at the end of the day?

I have images similar to one New Year's Eve when I walked through a deserted, confetti infested Times Square at 12:05 A.M.  

Are there hundreds of pissed-off webmasters, hunched over with dust-busters  late into the night, mumbling to themselves?: "Throwing baby dust. That's all these women do. Nobody cares that I have to clean this crap up.  I need a union."     

No, I don't think there really are a lot of webmasters pissed-off at the baby dust. I do however think a few of these sites have pissed off people running them. So, what are they so angry about?  Ah... a topic for tomorrow. tomorrow? 

Listen I gotta go. I loved loved loved watching "Chopped Masters" on Tuesday nights. It ended last week. And I'm  not doing well. Not well at all. I may have to check myself into an in-patient facility.

I'll talk with ya again tomorrow.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Infertility Support Forum (Tuesday)

So, what were we talking about? Oh right. The good, the bad, and the ugly of infertility support forums. At the heart of these forums are our posts. And when we post, we all sound nuts. There's a great comraderie among the insane... at least among the stressed-out, hormoned to the max, all-you-can-ride $20,000-a-ticket emotional roller coaster temporarily insane insane.

One of the common chants on these forums is: "Nobody understands what I'm going through!" Right. That's why these forums were invented: Because there are 7.3 million infertile people out there. And nobody understands what any one of them is going through.

So you can try telling your sister with her three kids,  for the umteenth time: "The holidays are just impossible for me. Why can't you be more sensitive and hide your kids in the closet behind the broken Christmas ornaments until they're over?!"   

Or you can pick one of a thousand forums and have dozens of instant friends from all over the world tell you you're 100% right, send you a big juicy cyberspace hug, and offer to punch your sister in the face.

So choice number 1 is: In the middle of your supermarket shopping, start bawling out the Swiss Miss on the hot chocolate package: "What the hell are you smiling at?! You don't know what it's like! I bet you've never had irregular periods! I bet you've never even heard of Clomid!"

(You get to that point. Where just looking at a package of a caffeinated drink puts you over the already shaky edge.)  

Then security is called. And there he comes. All five foot six, 103 pounds of him. He spends ten minutes peeling you finger by finger off of the Swiss Miss's bony throat.  Then he gets on the loud speaker:  "I need a clean up. There's a total mess in aisle 9... And it ain't the cocoa!"

So then, after a brief detainment in the supermarket break room that ironically, smells of rotten eggs which of course you can't let go and accuse the whole supermarket chain of mocking you, you do the smart thing and go home,  and opt for choice #2: Go online and be among your peoples.

I smile when a woman prefaces her support room rant with: "I'm sorry to sound so angry" or "I don't mean to vent but..."

Please. Have you by chance read the other 30 posts before yours?

Each one of us sounds a little more nuts than the one before. Almost every comment sounds like it was written from a ledge. Every one who answers a post should start with: "Come back in here. I want to talk to you."

Listen, I gotta go. I must read this new British tabloid I bought. The "Father of IVF", Professor Robert Edwards just won the Nobel Prize for medicine and it seems the first "test-tube" baby, Louise Brown, is suing him for half of his Nobel Prize money for 32 years back child support.  

I'll talk with ya again tomorrow.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Infertility Support Forum (Monday)

I always encourage people going through infertility to check out some of the infertility support forums out there. You just never know what you might find in them. Some of the discussions are moderated by medical professionals so you can get questions answered and fears allayed. But a lot of them are just wonderful kvetchfests.

We all know that infertility can torment you daily, monthly, annually, and sometimes....hourly.... and now and then we all need to talk, kvetch, vent, whine, point fingers of blame...

So instead of us sucking the life out of our spouses, relatives or poor strangers who just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, these forums allow us to mutually suck the life out of each other.

They give us the unparalleled opportunity to catch each other seconds before we crumble into our own cold, dank, unfinished emotional basements.

Have you ever played the trust game? Where someone you may or may not know well stands behind you and you fall backwards, trusting that they'll catch you? That's largely what these support forums are like.  

And in them, you stumble upon some strange things:

Abbreviations. Lots and lots of abbreviations. Abbreviations for specialists and spouses, treatments and ailments. I've perused these sites for a year or so now... And I still don't know what any of the abbreviations mean.

People post in some sort of code. And moments later, others respond. So I'm apparently the only idiot who hasn't memorized the initials and has no idea what they're talking about. (Or the only fool who hasn't noticed there's a glossary at the bottom of the page.)

So everyone's chatting away and I'm googling my ass off: "What does DH mean?"

Sometimes I just think the abbreviations are subliminal messages planted in these forums by pharmaceutical companies. CWG! BM! (Clomid works great! Buy more!)

Some sites have odd rules they insist members follow or confusing pages where I (maybe only me) can't figure out how to post a message. Or I think I posted, but I'm not really sure  if it went through or not.

Some have moderators who, on the "Welcome!" page sound like they're pissed at everyone. 

Like they got booted out of mandatory anger management classes for being a threat to the other students and decided to show society by starting a chat room for infertile people.

If you haven't guessed it, those support forums will be the topic of conversation this week at Laughing IS Conceivable. And during the week, I'll mention some by name if anyone could use them. 

Listen, I gotta go. The State Fair's in a week and a half. I have to start dieting and exercising now,  before it starts, so by the time it's over, I'll have only a dozen or so pounds to lose to get back to where I am right now.        

I'll talk with ya again tomorrow.