Me: Do you need me to do the laundry?
Wife (crying): But you had to do it last week and I didn’t help at all.
Me (lying): No. We took it down there together.
Wife (some moaning with morning sickness pains now): I’m the worst wife ever.
Me: No, you’re not. You’re the best. Read more…
As if the early tinges of morning sickness weren’t enough, my wife came down with a particularly bad case of the flu a couple weeks ago. She started feeling sick about nine days ago and is just coming out of the woods now. She was working a double-shift when she started to feel a little scratching in her throat.
She came home thinking that she might be coming down with a little bit of a healed cold and that she was just exhausted from working such long hours. And maybe there was a little bit of early pregnancy sickness thrown in there as well. She had two days off during which she’d be able to take it easy and recover. No dice. It quickly became apparent that this was something much more serious and that there’d be no day-off galavanting. No running errands. No hanging out with friends. Just hours and hours of sleep followed by hours and hours of sitting on the couch and staring into the abyss.
And what makes it even better is that pregnant women aren’t really supposed to take most medications. There are some that have been deemed safe and tons that are not recommended since their effects have never been studied in humans (good luck getting funding for that we-want-to-see-how-many-Sudafed-babies-are-born-with-defects study). Ironically, one of the few medical interventions recommended for pregnant women is the flu shot. Well, it’s only been out for a couple weeks and my wife’s work hadn’t scheduled to give it to employees for another month or so.
And then by the time that we decided that it was probably the flu, it was too late for me to go get a shot.
So my wife missed work for an entire week. Now she’s coming out of the woods and trying to sort out which symptoms she can expect to linger through her first trimester and which ones were related to the flu. I’m pressing on through a bizarre haze of congestion, sore throats, hacking coughs and all the Sudafed my liver can take.
Hopefully this is the last sickness her body has to handle while it also attempts to grow a human being.
Last Saturday, my wife started feeling the light cramping that typically comes a day or two before her period. If her cycle lasted exactly four weeks (which it typically does give or take about two days), she would be in the thick of her period on Tuesday. Her birthday would be the day of six or seven extra-thick pads. That would be the glorious day of cowering in pain and a terrible husband who JUST DOESN’T UNDERSTAND so HAD BETTER SHUTUP AND LEAVE [HER] ALONE.
My wife wasn’t happy about the idea of starting her period during her weekend at work. But it was pretty obvious that was what was going to happen. When she got up for work in the early morning on Sunday, she saw that she had been spotting. It wasn’t a lot of blood. But it was just the right amount to indicate to her that she would probably be starting her period in a few hours or tomorrow at the latest.
Consigned to the sad reality that we had failed once again, she decided to take a pregnancy test that morning. She could see the negative, grieve for a moment and move on with her life.
Except when she peed on the stick, she saw that we hadn’t failed. The test came up positive. And so did the next. And the next. (Has anyone ever taken the word of a single ninety-plus-percent-accurate-pregnancy-test?) Read more…
I guess that I can’t avoid writing this chapter of our history any longer.
I realize that I am still in that awkward stage of blogging when past and present have a tendency to mingle a little more than they should. But a meaningful understanding of everything that happens to my wife and I from here on out will depend on some kind of context. Anecdotes don’t mean all that much on their own. A story without a backstory is spineless.
So, here it is. Up to this point, one event looms as the clear dramatic climax of our struggles with infertility. It is not a particularly unique or objectively-fascinating tale, but it is our story and I must share it if this blog is to be of anything approaching honesty.
The first week in April 2011 was the best week of my life.
It is the week I was going to be a father.
“Was going to be.”
Like I said: the worst week of my life.
(Disclaimer: I am a man writing ignorantly about menstruation. Proceed with caution and enjoy making fun of the way I describe things in the comments section. I’m not intimately familiar with the controlled vocabulary that women use to discuss this topic and will likely make more than a couple laughable blunders.)
It looks like my wife’s first period since the inception of this blog is going to be upon us shortly. I share this with a little hesitation. Infertility is our shared struggle, but the decision to share it with a world of strangers was my decision. I conceived (if you’ll pardon the pun) of this blog largely as a place for my own expression and experiences. While I try to be intensely supportive of my wife, a period is an intensely personal experience.
So I will resist the urge to share too much or to over-interpret my wife’s emotions here. But since my wife’s menstrual cycle has a lot to do with our reproductive health, it’s really an unavoidable topic.
My wife has extremely painful periods. I know women who are largely unaffected by the pain associated with their periods. Neither of my sisters experience cramps that are painful enough to make day-to-day functioning unreasonable. Both of them typically take some form of pain medication to help them get through it and uncomfortably go about their business with a little more dampness than usual. Obviously, they don’t welcome the pain. But the pain doesn’t sideline them.
This is not the case for my sweet (and though-as-nails) wife. When she has her period, she routinely passes multiple blood clots the size of golfballs. The pain is incapacitating. In spite of doses of ibuprofen far exceeding recommended daily usage, she cannot even come close to managing the pain. When her period comes, she can count on the worst pain to make any kind of functioning next-to-impossible for at least a couple of hours.
I feel like a poser and a voyeur. Over the last several days, I’ve been scouring the internets and reading other people’s infertility blogs. I know that in that time I’ve barely scraped the surface. There are thousands of blogs like this one but better and written by people who are vastly more interesting than I am, know exponentially more than I know and have been struggling with infertility both on a more intimate scale and for a longer time.
In the time that I beat around the infertility blogosphere, I didn’t come across another blog written by a man. I’m sure that I’m not one-of-a-kind, but I just haven’t come across another man’s blog yet. I hope that none of the women who are writing blogs about infertility feel like I’m crashing their party. Depressing as the party may be, it’s never polite to come in uninvited. If I make a comment on your blog at any point and it makes you uncomfortable, feel free to ask me to leave. I will happily oblige. I understand that reproductive health is an intensely personal thing (which is why this and so many other blogs are anonymous to varying degrees). Perhaps the only man you’re comfortable sharing the experience with is your husband or partner. I hope that I’m not too much of a bother or annoyance to all members of these wonderful online communities in which I’m interested in participating. I welcome any and all to my site — to both read and participate. I’m happy to write this blog even if no one ever reads it.
But it’s not even what’s in between my legs that makes me most apprehensive about writing this blog. It’s what’s in my mind. Read more…