Earlier today I mentioned a brief run in with Playboy magazine a couple years ago. I thought I would explain my cryptic comment. Although the story below is not graphic in any way, if you are at all squeamish about the details of fertility treatment stop reading now.
My wife and I went through all manner of fertility treatment up to, but not including, in vitro fertilization. The passing of time numbs me to the length of time we were poked, prodded, and tapped. I think from beginning to end it was 2-2 ½ years.
All of this is by way of background, not for sympathy – don’t need it we got what we were looking for – babies. If you have sympathy to spare, please use it to give an approving nod or loving hug the next time a couple you know says they are in fertility treatment. But… don’t say ANTHING else!!! No stories about someone you knew who had a baby at 44, or someone who finally got pregnant after 7 IVF treatments. Trust me on this – your support and prayers will mean more to them than ANY story you can tell them. They get stories from everyone else they talk to. They will smile and nod approvingly, but inside they’re just waiting for it to be over.
Anyone who embarks on the fertility treatment process has to have faith. It can take such an agonizingly long time, that as a couple you have way too much time to wonder: Is it going to work, can we have babies, am I too old, etc. As someone who has been through the process I want to make it totally clear that the male has it easy in the humiliating positions department compared to the female of the couple.
As the man in the fertility ritual I have but one duty: Show up, rise to the occasion, and deliver. The majority of people reading this will say, “So what’s so hard about that?” Good question, and one that is best answered via example.
Example: Wakeup tomorrow morning, drive to Denny’s and have the Grand Slam breakfast. After eating excuse yourself to the restroom. Since the restaurant is nearly empty and the bathroom is a single person style bathroom you will be alone in the bathroom. Drop your pants, sit down on the toilet, and then have an orgasm. If you’re a male make sure your “stuff” all makes it in a plastic cup. Not a terribly appealing prospect, is it?
That is what is expected of the male in the fertility treatment ritual. It is fortunate that as a gender, males are well versed in self pleasure, but even the most accomplished of masturbators usually like to have a comfortable environment in which to ply their wares.
During the phase of our treatment that involved “insemination” (IUI), I became a Fodor’s Guide to the local Northern Virginia “watering holes”. I rated sites on comfort, entertainment selection (periodical and video), privacy, and humiliation factor. Fortunately at that time I did not have a blog to report my findings in.
As I progressed up the food chain of “watering holes” from testing lab to specialists offices, I did encounter one location where it was particularly difficult to
“seal the deal” “take care of business”.
I arrived at my very first testing location completely unprepared, and by unprepared I do mean in the pornographic sense. I mistakenly assumed that since they invited me to this location to make such a special deposit they would have luxury appointments befitting such an occasion. I could not have been more mistaken. I arrived and was lead to the aforementioned Denny’s style restroom where I was handed a plastic cup and told to return it to the front desk. I was in a sterile hospital style bathroom with no Playboy, Penthouse, or Hustler for 10 miles in any direction. Add to that the fact that previous months worth of intercourse on demand (hers, not mine) had erased any need for self gratification and I was essentially a deer caught in the headlights. I managed to rise to the occasion, but the specifics of how that was accomplished will follow me to the grave.
I spent the rest of my twice monthly “sessions” in accommodations more befitting the act, with leather chairs, VCR’s and magazine libraries. But from that first session until I learned of our pregnancy, I never traveled anywhere without a copy of Playboy, just in case duty called.
And yes, I did manage to read the articles…