What I Wrote:
Everything that Lisa and I have ever wanted, we worked for hand in hand, side by side. In New York City we worked odd jobs so Lisa could model, and I could audition for shows on Broadway. When I was in college trying to finish my degree, Lisa worked odd shifts at a drug rehab clinic so I could take extra classes to finish my degree earlier. Yet I’ve spent much of my time recently pissing and moaning about having to pay the medical bills and whack off into a cup.
What kind of man have I become? As a kid in junior high I’d spent many days in detention after defending the honor of some girl who’d had her hair spit in by some jackass. Now as an alleged man, I am letting fertility bullies beat the hell out of my wife. A shot here in the stomach, a shot in the butt, and then the emotional knockout punch of “sorry it didn’t work, try again next month,” while I’m brooding at Lisa for “forcing” me to try to make a child from our own biology.
No one has ever said the only words I think Lisa really wants to hear to validate her loss: “I’m sorry your babies died.”
Lisa is the Joan of Arc of our parenthood quest. The least I can do is be the faithful soldier shielding her from the onslaught of enemies that threaten to destroy her emotional energy.
My shield must be ready to fend off the insensitive spears hurled in the form of statements like “If you adopt, you’ll get pregnant,” or “You just need to take the focus off of it.” I will do battle with the rude, overworked nurses who are shocked about being questioned about anything. Insurance people will feel the point of my verbal spears if they choose to argue with me over what our insurance policy will and won’t cover. I will boldly attack the accounting offices of the fertility clinics that seem to purposefully double bill in the hopes that in our sorrow over our failures, they can get us to cut the same check for items we’ve already fully paid for. I will raise my sword and be prepared to cut down any participation in events that cause Lisa undue pain like children’s birthday parties, holiday get-togethers, and baby showers.
I will learn the language of battle, the acronyms and protocols so that Lisa can focus on what she has to do emotionally and physically to prepare for each coming battle.
Why I Wrote It
It is a shame to me that once the diagnosis of infertility hits, that the experience of trying to have a baby becomes just a woman’s battle.
It is not hard to see why.
Medical science by necessity has to focus on ensuring that the baby has the best chance of growing in a woman’s womb, so the man’s contribution, once a fertility diagnosis is confirmed, becomes fairly insignificant beyond filling that little plastic cup.
Even after our fifth or sixth year of infertility I felt like an intruder in the exam room during appointments with a reproductive endocrinologists. Nurses treated me like I was in the way, and wondered why I wasn’t in the room with all the other guys, with one foot out the door the minute their wives got out of the exam room.
The epiphany I had in the excerpt above didn’t happen until Lisa completely emotionally unraveled.
That never should have happened.
But I was so ego bruised by having my vision of a romantic night of love making replaced by a medical doctor having to give my lazy, poor swimming sperm an extra boost of fertility welfare assistance that I detached from any intimate connection to creating a child.
Until Lisa melted into my arms, and I felt the desperate desire she had to have a child.
But not just A child.
Hopefully every guy reading this will read and understand long before I did, how important it is to be a force of support in what should be a couples’–rather than just a woman’s– battle through infertility in the quest for child bearing victory.