Sunday, April 15, 2007

Warning: I am about to sound like a giant bitch.

So, if you don't like hearing bitchy musings, stop reading now. I just read a post over at Carrie's blog about her husband's response to IVF. Now, I do want to say D has been great for the most part, most of the time. To say infertility puts stress on your relationship is the understatement of the century. So, this isn't a complaint about him as it is a ranting diatribe on how hard treatments are on a woman's body. That's something I don't see talked about often, or maybe I'm just not looking in the right places.

Let's think about this. We are told by a doctor in a very clinical, cold and impersonal setting (sometimes whilst on our backs with our legs spread, business open to the world) that the only way to biological children will be administering sythetic horomones to ourselves whose safety is yet unproven. This is usually because there is something wrong with our reproductive systems anyway - things that already put us at a greater risk for cancer (endo and pcos). So to me, adding synthetic horomones to the mix is like adding fuel to the fire, right? Well, my RE assures me, no, this is not true. I remain hesitant at best. It's not his body after all - really - what does he care if I end up with cancer later in life? He won't know know unless I tell him, assuming he's still around.

Then, if the treatment is IVF, we continue this regimen of horomones for several days, during which our lives are completely disrupted by attending countless monitoring appointments, always scheduled at some ludicrously early hour of the morning so we may make it to work relatively on time, blood draws, and trying to take update calls at work in the afternoons. During this, we are bloated, tired, anxious, on edge, emotional, as our estrogen levels are pushed to some out of control limits. That can't be good. Oh, what's that? You exercise to relieve stress? Well, you can forget about that too. All of this while we still at least attempt to continue working, maintaining the house, attending to the needs of friends and family, and nuturing the marriage. Becuase if you're like me, getting the "It's a Woman's Job" manual at the onset of puberty, all of these things, are, in fact, a Woman's Job. Even if she is sick. Even if she is tired. Even if she is having a nervous breakdown. Even if.

If after all of this you are lucky enough to produce a good number of eggs, then it's time for the Retrieval. During this lovely procedure, a long needle is inserted through your cervix, into your uterus, where a hole is punctured in the uterine wall so they may aspirate the follicles sitting atop your ovaries to retrieve your eggs. Don't worry, you will be asleep. Hopefully, this will happen over the weekend, so you won't be missing any work. But don't count on it. You have no control, you are at the mercy of your reproductive organs that have betrayed you many times before. Not reliable. So plan on missing a couple of days.

After all of this, you hope for some mature eggs. Some that will fertilize. With ICSI? Without ICSI? You may or may not know. What is your husband's one contribution? Jacking off in a cup. Yep. That's right. You've put your body through hell, your life has been turned upside down, and your husband has to masturbate. Have an orgasm.* Something you haven't been able to do, and won't be able to do for at least 2 more weeks if not several more months. If you are "lucky".

Now, you are ready for the Big Day. The Transfer. It's not too bad, really, the transfer. You are filled with hope as the tiny blastocysts are placed inside. You think, maybe this is it. Or if you're like me, This better damn well be it. Now, you are the lucky recepient of PIO in your ass for the next two weeks, and maybe longer if you're pregnant. I hope you like painful bruising.
Oh, and it has to be administered 2x a day, so make sure you can work it out with your schedule.

Finally the wait is up. Are you or aren't you? Either prospect seems equally terrifying, and you may be wondering what the hell you just did to yourself. Are you REALLY ready for this, be it another round of IVF or a pregnancy? If you are pregnant, how many are in there? Will it/they make it? Will you make it?

And then, some well meaning, albeit completely emotionally stupid soul asks, "why don't you just adopt?"

*I know it's hard on men too. I get that they are torn emotionally between wanting to "fix it" and being supportive and detatching themselves from time to time because it's just too damn painful. I know that masturbating in a doctor's office while looking at well used porn is far from ideal. This is just me being well, just annoyed/pissed off/downright angry with how one sided fertility treatments tend to be. And I'm not man bashing here. I like them fine.


Nicole said...

You don't sound like a bitch at all to me. You got it right as far as I can tell. Love your term, "emotionally stupid soul". Perfect!

Bumble said...

Nope, no bitchiness. Its just the truth after all. We know there's not much for them to do, and I'm sure my hubby actually appreciates being able to look at porn without me giving him hell for it. What a hard job. (Oh yes, he also has to play doctor and give me the injections coz I'm too scared to do it myself...) As long as he supports me and treats me like a queen during the cycle, I'm happy :-)

decemberbaby said...

What you're describing was the cause of a huge fight between me and Mr. December last cycle. We've finally straightened it out... but yeah, that was a huge strain on us.

You're not a bitch. Sadly, infertility treatment is terribly unbalanced. It fucking sucks.

And if your husband doesn't get that, send him my way. I'll try to talk some sense into him.

dmarie said...

You don't sound like a bitch to me either. You wrote the truth.

Erin said...

You don't sound like a bitch at all. You sound like someone who's expressing all the shit that most of us infertiles are thinking all the time.

Do you think all the advances in IF treatment could possibly have occurred if the treatments had to be administered to men? I kinda doubt it.

Carrie said...

That's no bitching, it's just the way it is.
I have to say, in defence of my husband, he WOULD take the physical effects if he could. In fact I truly think he wishes he could. He hates me going through this and him powerless. But he can't and he is.
The part that really gets to me is the lack of emotional involvement. I'm not saying he is skipping through but he certainly isn't losing sleep, ordering books by the truckload and trying to have a plan ready for each possible outcome at every turn. Nope he's just ambling through. I'm SURE he's bored of talking about it all but I'm not. Thank goodness for this Blog world. I can't imagine how isolated I would feel without it.

Sarah said...

yep, so true. my husband said something once about how we didn't really have to do as much stuff for ivf as he thought and i nearly strangled him.

Sticky Bun said...

Yup, echoing everybody else, you are totally not a bitch. It does seem spectacularly unfair how unbalanced it all is. Even before the treatments, really. We can't escape cycling--we're aware of every twinge, every step. Whereas they get breaks all the time and can detach when they've had it. But, I agree with Bumble, as long as they treat us like gold during everything... :-)

Anonymous said...


You said it like it is. I only wish my part in this was an orgasm.

megan said...

you don't sound like a bitch at all. the reality of IF treatment is that regardless of what factor is the primary issue, it's the ladies who have to deal with 99% of the treatment. i'm having an issue right now with Husband not getting it, and it *is* a huge strain on the relationship -- and we're not even at the IVF stage yet!

Christina said...

sing it sister. like most things in life, and ESPECIALLY with IF, men have it easier.
grrrr. maybe one day we'll be so advanced that the men will be able to go trhu IVF and carry the bean...WON'T THAT BE THE DAY. actually, it probably wouldn't be a good thing...b/c then IVF wouldn't exist!

serenity said...

Dude, you are SO not a bitch about this. It's the truth - and J didn't really "get" how hard this process is on me until he saw me try and recover from a retrieval, OHSS, and a septum resection, and then another cycle discomfort which ultimately netted us nothing because it was cancelled. Needles. doctor's appointments. More people between my legs than he ever thought he'd bear witness.

All in our quest to have a baby.

And now that we're looking towards yet another cycle, and I'm starting to balk a little, he has SO come around. The other night he even told me that he'd be ok if we gave up ART altogether so we can focus on adoption if it was what I wanted - because he knows how hard each cycle is on me.

It just took him the better part of a year to really get it.

Men. Gotta love them.

Hey also - saw your comment on my blog today - we can totally be gym buddies! I'll look for a daily blog updates (or emails, whichever you prefer) if you do it! :)