When Daamini and the team at Conceive asked us to participate in this project, to chronicle our experiences and share our “journey”, I didn’t realize how apt a choice of words that would prove to be. Looking at it now, far along, perhaps ahead of you a few steps but by no means at the journey’s end, I see it quite clearly now as a voyage made in explicit stages.
From the heady and happy first couplings to the head-scratching thoughts of “ummm… nothing’s happening” it can be a bit of a shock how quickly you can move from joy or anticipation to uncertainty and worry, and thence to a steady drumbeat of measurements, temperatures, calendars and planning.
First, love-making becomes something you book on the schedule, when every joining is fraught with “will it work this time?” and weeks must pass between the timely attempt and knowing the result. If you’re here at Conceive, you may already know this stage too well. For us, that was followed by the eventual realization that the “old fashioned way” just wasn’t going to get the job done.
So next came research, then learning – who are the best doctors? What are the metrics? What do they mean? Then the tests, a stage in their own right. Getting the results? Another distinct step in and of themselves. Deciding on a treatment plan, and preparing for it, paying for it, living through it, sometimes many times.
There are days of good news, filled with relief and anticipation. There are days of bad news filled with questioning and mourning and loss. All distinct experiences with unexpected facets and unintended consequences. And all along the way, scheduling and disruption, uncomfortable, often embarrassing procedures, thermometers and pharmaceuticals, little needles in the belly and big needles in the backside.
For my part in this discussion, I’ll explore each of these experiences in turn, and offer my perspective in hopes that it may help. To help start the conversation, for now I’d like to leave you with the first, biggest thing I learned through the emotional part of the journey, the first thing I want to address, the thing I want you to know because this blog is here to help you deal with this more than any other single thing. Ready?
NO ONE TALKS ABOUT IT.
Infertility is awkward. It’s “icky”. You have to go to the doctor, so obviously there’s “something wrong” with you. Something in your man or lady parts. Eeeewwww. Oh, and of course it’s directly related to having sex, which means a large percentage of most societies doesn’t want to talk about it on that basis alone. Not exactly helpful when you’re already feeling broken, misunderstood, inadequate, isolated and/or ashamed, all of which you can, and should, anticipate feeling at some point in the process.
It’s ok. We did. So have many others. (Gentlemen, you will, by the way, feel a whole host of things that are distinct from your wives’ experience, and we’ll talk about that in future posts.) For now, here’s the first big takeaway:
You’re not alone.
Your families may not understand, your friends may not know what to say, or you may not even feel safe speaking of it at all. You can come here. For me at least, open discussion and candor, however awkward, uncomfortable and embarrassing was a relief and a comfort compared to the feeling that no one out there understood, or could relate to what we were going through. If we hadn’t found several friends who had also been through infertility, (which we didn’t even know until we brought it up – why? because NO ONE TALKS ABOUT IT!) I don’t know how we could have made it this far.
Got a question you’re too embarrassed to ask? Need to rant, rave and cry at the unfairness of it all? Have to vent about the stupid, insensitive and hurtful things your well-meaning friends keep saying that make you want to tear your hair out? Come on by the blog. We’ve been there, we won’t judge, and maybe just maybe, by taking the journey together, we can help make the trip a little easier.
I’ll see you at the next stop. Welcome aboard…