Monday, February 2, 2009

A small MFI vent

Yesterday I got an email from a college friend/ former roommate letting me know she was thinking about me. She had heard from a mutual friend that we were experiencing infertility and said that although she is not TTC yet, she was diagnosed with PCOS in college and already has a lot of fears about TTC. I was really touched by her email, thoughts, and prayers.

In her email she shared a lot of her story and asked some questions about mine. Now, here's the deal. DH and I have decided that we are relatively open about our infertility in a general way. If people ask, it comes up, or we just feel like telling someone we have given each other permission to talk about it. However, DH doesn't want everyone knowing about his sperm. It's embarrassing to him that it's MFI. Really, compared with many MFI men I have read about I still think he is fairly open (a handful of friends do know), but understandably there is this stigma out there that emasculates men if their guys "can't do the job."

This email exchange with my friend brought my frustrations about this to the surface. I felt like I had to be so vague...which makes me feel like what could be an encouraging, helpful email ended up just skimming the surface.

The funny thing is I am not upset with DH about this. Overall I think he truly is handling the MF diagnosis very well and is not letting himself feel less of a man. I just hate our culture's attitude towards MFI that makes him feel embarrassed. Apparently, there's a book out there for men who's wives are expecting that explains pregnancy entitled, My Boys Can Swim!. I think that title says a lot. So...what about the guys who can't say that? (However, if I ever get pg maybe I should give the book to my DH as a big joke! lol Plus, it really is a much catchier title than something like You're Going to Be a Dad)

I think I just want to defend my DH to the world. He is very manly -- how dare you, fertile America, imply that he's not! :)


April said...

i can't imagine feeling "proud" of B's SA. I was happy that it came back better than it had been, but that is still so bad. i feel like this country/society always needs someone to "blame". why cant we just be sad that one of our friends or loved ones can't get pregnant easily? why do we have to know who's fault it is?

having said all of that, i am glad to have PCOS and anovulatory cycles...that way it can be mostly my fault and i can protect him somewhat.

Caroline said...

Hi Hillary,

Thanks for your blog. I think that I have been one of the guilty ones as I guess I never thought about MFI. It has always been a problem with me (endo) rather than him.

I'm sorry if I offended you, and I will be more careful.


Caroline said...


I just wanted to let you know that i've changed my blog now to exclude DH's SA. I am so sorry I offended you. I guess that DH and I use humor a lot to try and get through IF, but I realise to someone that is suffering from MFI that it isn't very funny.

Hugs to you.

Find joy in every journey said...

I can understand how hard this can be for you. One thing that DH and I have been saying to each other when one of us gets a case of the blues about IF (whether it is bad news about one of us) is that it takes 2 to make a baby. One of us can't do it on his or her own, we need each other!

Fallopian 'Tudes said...

Oh your poor wonderful guy. I know what you mean. Back at around month 7 when I hadn't get conceived I was talking with a friend about the possibility of getting a SA done after one year, but how my husband isn't exactly "thrilled" with the idea. She asked why, and I answered that it was just an awkward thing for a guy to have to do I suppose, sort of a blow to the male ego. Her response? She scoffed and said "Well he's already not getting his wife pregnant. How much worse could it get."
I will admit I laughed timidly but I wish I could go back and SAY something right then and there, because it really hurt my feelings for some reason. I never told him what she said either. You're so right about society's view on the male factor...

Sara Scissors said...

How sweet of you to stick up for him! I just wrote a post yesterday about how lucky I am to be going through all this IF craziness with my DH. I can't imagine staying sane with any one else! I think your DH's attitude of being OK with his MFI has a lot to do with the love you share with him. His little cheerleader... :)

Rebekah said...

I agree! It can be so hard for these men dealing with MFI to actually admit it and say it outloud. Nobody wants to say, "I have a problem," especially of this sort. We joke about's our way of dealing, and only a few people know the real deal of why we are seeking fertility treatments. It shouldn't be that way :(

oLiVe said...

I understand why you feel like you need to protect him. Unfortunatly its so much easier for us to admit that we have a problem, whether it be infertility or something else, then it is for a men as they feel they will be seen as weak if they admit or are discovered not to be of the 'norm'. Its a shame that this world puts so much pressure on men to be so openly 'manly'. No wonder most of them have trouble talking through their feelings in the first place. {{{hugs to you both}}}

Somewhat Ordinary said...

Stopping over from Lost & Found. My husband has azoospermia so talk about a stigma. You are so not alone in feeling like this. I think even a lot of women going through female factor make light of their husband's not having an issue and I do think it is sad because I would never joke or make light that I was actually the fertile partner in our couple.

My husband was actually ok with being open about the azoospermia, but as soon as we chose donor sperm over TESE/IVF/ICSI he became very hesitant towards talking about it. We're still dealing with that issue right now and he is coming around. That is why my blog is PWP!

It is a sad state when society thinks it is ok to prove a guys manhood by how well he can father a child!

Thinking of you!

TeamWinks said...

My mother in-law sent that stupid book to my husband. I am the one with premature ovarian failure, had a septum in my uterus, anovulatory, PCOS, etc. So, while the book is extremely hurtful to the men who swimmers may need a bit of assistance, it's also a sucker punch for the infertile woman whose husband receives the book.

I remember saying to myself, "That's right your damn sperm can swim, and my eggs suck. La te freakin' da." I just might burn the damn thing.

itsazooaroundhere said...

Here from Stirrup Queens, a fellow MFI lady. I completely understand this. It caused huge problems for me, because for the first two years I couldn't share my story with anyone, because my husband was embarrassed. He finally decided I could tell select friends/family when his parents started disliking me, thinking I didn't want to start a family!

As I told one of my friends, she said "oh, does that mean he's shooting blanks?" So many hurtful examples in TV, movies, locker-room jokes, etc. I hate that our wonderful guys have to be ashamed!

Thanks for the post. Take care!

ultimatejourney said...

I, too, dealt with MFI. I now have a daughter by donor sperm b/c my husband doesn't make a single sperm. (We did the fancy surgery...nada.)

I feel like I need to protect him by not telling the whole world what we went through. But part of me wants to shout from the rooftops that this baby didn't come as easily as it might appear. (I myself am hesitant to even mention IF for fear that someone will probe.) Our family and close friends know, but everyone else probably assumes we got pregnant easily.

My DH has been amazing about everything, but society is so frustrating sometimes.

PJ said...

I felt terrible for my husband when he found out he had MFI.

It also annoys me that people just assumed it was me.

I think, just in general, people are ignorant and perhaps prefer to remain that way, when it comes to infertility.