Thursday, November 08, 2007

A man's point of view.

One of the unfortunate things about infertility (as if there weren't enough) is that you seldom get to hear from the guys. This blog post from AceOfSpuds captures the male point of view. Captures it exactly, according to my husband, who says that AceOfSpuds put into words precisely what he has often felt, but could not express.

But AceOfSpuds doesn't just get what the men are going through. He also manages to portray the no-(wo)man's-land of secondary infertility:

I'll let you in on something that very few people really understand. Having a baby is every infertile couple's dream come true, no question. But the baby doesn't make the infertility go away. Infertility and childlessness are not the same thing, and it's really the infertility--not the childlessness--which causes most of the grieving. Which is one reason that "You could just adopt..." is a really insensitive response.

Here's the passage that really got to me:
And even if that one child is exactly the right number for your family, you still will never forget the pain of the struggle. Even when you gaze every night at that angelic, sleeping face, you are still an infertile couple. Even when you're awakened every morning by that little bouncy creature snuggling up in your bed and telling you he loves you, you are still an infertile couple. Even when you are unequivocally welcomed into the fraternity of parenthood by playgroups, schools and other rites of passage, you are still an infertile couple. All of the joys of parenthood cannot completely make the years of infertility recede into blessed forgetfulness.
Of course, as AceOfSpuds rightly points out, that's not always such a bad thing. Sometimes the memory of what you've gone through is a "wise counselor." Like when your toddler is having the Mother of all Tantrums.

I "met" AceOfSpuds by chance. Sort of. It turns out we work at the same large company, and belong to the same childcare email list. I've always been impressed by his eloquent, even-keeled responses to some of the more "interesting" messages on this list, and have had some very nice email conversations with him. So when he wanted to add me as a friend on Facebook, I glad accepted (usually I don't add anyone I haven't met in person).

Well, of all the things to have in common, AceofSpuds and I have this. He's been much more open with the world about his struggles, as he describes here. "We need to do something about the shame that surrounds infertility," he says. Yes. We do. Again: he gets it. I think most men going through this do, but they don't know how to say it.

Last night, my husband and I watched the episode of HBO's uncomfortably accurate "Tell Me You Love Me" where Palek tells a roomful of friends (two of whom have just announced that they're pregnant with their third child) that he and Carolyn are trying to have a baby as well, and have been for a year. Awkward silence all around, followed by an argument between Carolyn and Palek on the drive home, followed by a fight that ends in graphic and aggressive make-up sex. All generated by two very different points of view about whether infertility is a source of shame, or a fact of life, a medical condition, that should be shared with friends.

If you have cancer, it's generally OK to tell people. But if you have infertility--and studies show that infertility patients suffer depression on the same level as cancer or HIV patients--you keep quiet. Why?

1 comment:

Rich said...

So, I have to confess: the friend request was an accident. I let Facebook import my contacts, and then I went through and unchecked the people I didn't know personally...but somehow your address ended up going through.

Some things are meant to be, I guess.