Walking Contradiction

I’m still reading the book I started on the plane to DC, not because I’m that slow a reader, but because I’ve been busy reading and catching up on blogs instead of books.  Stoner is the story of a man–from the time he leaves his family farm to enter college, through his academic career, to his death–for whom life never quite seems to work out the way he’d planned.  There are brief, shining moments of happiness, which only make the other times, the rest of his life, really, seem all the more bleak.

What I find particularly interesting about the book, though, is John Williams’s writing style.  The novel is peppered with oxymorons, phrases like “frail strength,” “muffled loudness,” and “curious mixture of fondness and contempt.”  And Stoner himself seems to be a walking contradiction, longing for happiness, for passion, yet facing the world around him with either sadness or ambivalence:

“He felt at times that he was a kind of vegetable, and he longed for something–even pain–to pierce him, to bring him alive.” (p. 179)

I know the feeling.  I have felt myself become numbed throughout this process.  I know there are a few out there who can relate to the particular brand of infertility Hubby and I are experiencing.  But it’s only a few.  One of the first blogs I found and devoured was Mommy-in-Waiting (now Mommy-at-Last).  Her story was (almost) my story.  Our husbands had the same diagnosis and (if we ever got around to it) would receive the same treatment.  I hoped for the same outcome.  At the time, about a year ago, she was pregnant with twins, who are now becoming little people with distinct personalities.

Recently, I’ve also discovered alloallo (or did she discover me?) at The Question Now Becomes…, whose husband was also diagnosed as a teenager (not with the same diagnosis as Hubby, though).  They’re now six years into “knowing” but just beginning their journey toward parenthood using donor sperm.

It’s been nearly nine years since I learned of Hubby’s diagnosis.  That’s nine years of knowing this would not be easy, of saving everything we could in anticipation of spending thousands of dollars on treatments.

And speaking of treatments, we’re now 10 months in, and we have yet to undergo a single procedure that could actually result in pregnancy.  MFI is slow, a “cycle” of sperm taking about 72 days from start to finish.  We waited more than six months to go from zero to 19 sperm.  And now we’re just waiting, in limbo, for that count to continue to rise or to feel settled enough to pursue our first round of IVF.

I know I should be happy we’re finally doing something.  But it doesn’t make each month that passes, the arrival of each period, any easier.  I go through my own cycle within each cycle:  methodically planning intimate moments with my husband, anxiety and hopefulness over the next two weeks, inventing pregnancy symptoms, and eventually overcome with sadness at the first signs of blood.  And I feel like William Stoner, feigning indifference until I become numbed by it.

So here I am, a walking contradiction.  Feeling, after this many years, like I should be an infertility veteran, but in reality, a novice when it comes to undergoing treatment myself.  And another thing:  I claim to have started this blog for the support I would receive, but when I need it the most, I bottle up my feelings and become silent, reverting to the stoicism of my father.  This week has been hard.  Yesterday I began spotting, as I do before every period, after convincing myself that we had timed things just right, that maybe Hubby’s count had suddenly skyrocketed, that just maybe….

But that’s never the way my life works out.

Don’t look ahead, there’s stormy weather 
Another roadblock in our way 
But if we go, we go together 
Our hands are tied here if we stay 

Oh, we said our dreams would carry us 
And if they don’t fly we will run
Now we push right past to find out 
Oh how to win what they all lost

Oh ah, oh ah 
We know now we want more
Oh ah, oh ah 
A life worth fighting for 
Oh ah, oh ah 
We know now we want more
Oh ah, oh ah 
A life worth fighting for 

So let them say we can’t do better 
Lay out the rules that we can’t break 
They wanna sit and watch you wither 
Their legacy’s too hard to take 

Oh, we said our dreams would carry us 
And if they don’t fly we will run
Now we push right past to find out 
Oh how to win what they all lost

Oh ah, oh ah 
We know now we want more
Oh ah, oh ah 
A life worth fighting for 
Oh ah, oh ah 
We know now we want more
Oh ah, oh ah 
A life worth fighting for


22 thoughts on “Walking Contradiction

  1. I’m so sorry for how hard this has to be. No matter what “brand” of infertility you’re facing, it’s not easy and it hurts. I know that what we’re dealing with is different from what you and your hubby are facing, but getting a period is always hard when TTC. I so understand what it’s like to hope that THIS is the month, despite the odds, only to have that hope dashed a few days later. Just know I’m sorry, and I’m here for you.

    P.S. And I love the song — thanks for sharing!

    • I know all infertility is hard, it just seems like MFI moves so slowly. I’m getting really impatient! Thanks for your kind words, and know that I’m here for you, too, even if I don’t always comment on your blog–I’m still thinking of you!

  2. I understand what it’s like to feel alone in the sea of infertiles. And nine years is a LONG time to contemplate this journey, even if actual treatments have just more recently begun. I would say you have definitely earned the title of veteran….and I am sincerely sorry for that. IF vet isn’t something most of us are proud of, ya know? We also have MFI, though not to the degree that you do, and we’re just recently (as in last month) given options for treating that, after ten years ttc and five years of treatment, including four IVF cycles and three miscarriages. And now –now that I am getting older and my eggs are going to shit– NOW they claim they can help improve hubby’s counts and we could possibly have that miracle natural pregnancy? Yes, even with low counts, the possibility always hangs over your head. The cycle sucks, and I am so sorry you are here.

    • I’m frustrated for you that it took so long to diagnose your husband’s sperm issues! I hate that any of us is here, but so thankful for the support. I hope your story is a few male cycles away from a happy ending.

  3. MFI is a tough diagnosis. Tough because it takes time, tough because it affects the guy so deeply. I know a couple who was in a similar boat. What initially amazed me was how lackadazical the husband seemed about the whole situation. It wasn’t until later that I learned it was his way of delaying with all the emotions around his diagnosis (he was azoospermic). They were able to conceive through IVF, but I know he still struggles daily.

    Sending hugs.

    • Hubby is actually much more optimistic about this whole thing than I am. Maybe because he’s known about it his whole adult life, he’s never let it affect his feelings of masculinity or his ego. I know it’s hard for a lot of men, though. Thanks for the hugs. I really needed them today.

  4. I say this realizing we are lucky that hubby’s hormone treatments have worked as well as they have….you mentioned that you feel like you should be an infertility veteran but are really just a novice. It’s been nearly 3 years for us, and while we do finally have enough sperm to make things happen, we are still just starting this whole mess because then my body started to act retarded.And the whole time he had zero sperm, and only a handful of sperm I did the same planning and hoping for some miracle that never happened. It can be so disheartening. All of it is. Fingers crossed you get to REALLY begin this soon – and that the journey is short!

    • Thank you! Azoospermia sucks. Waiting sucks. I keep reminding myself to focus on the positive–that we are actually making progress–but it’s hard. I know you know how it feels, and I hope your upcoming IVF goes beautifully.

  5. I’m really glad we found each other too! It feels like a really unusual and hard position to be in – worrying about infertility but having so much of it be entirely out of your control. Sometimes when I’ve read your blog I’ll admit I’ve felt a little jealous – even though I know it’s incredibly hard for you – at the same time there’s even something potential that you and your hubs can *do* about the situation. Sadly, we are not in the same boat. So I feel a sense of loss that there’s not even some treatment we can try, or hope that could be given.

    At the same time, I feel really glad to be moving forward even if it is with a donor. We have basically fast-forwarded to the very worst diagnosis without any of the treatments (the conclusion was foregone), and as absolutely devastating as it is there’s a huge part of me that is just relieved to be getting on and doing something – the limbo was the hardest part (I say, not having any idea how many harder parts there may yet be to come).

    • We are incredibly lucky that we have a diagnosis that can be treated. And so far Hubby is responding to the treatment incredibly well. The loss that you and your husband are feeling now has to be so difficult. But I’m so happy that you’re able to move forward.

      That’s the crazy thing–that it’s all so hard, and we haven’t even really started yet. I don’t even want to think about what could happen once we do get to move forward–and I don’t want you to think about it, either. Only positive thoughts! Or, at least, attempts at positive thoughts. 😉

  6. Oh Honey, I remember those days. I also felt like we should be hardened veterans having lived with the diagnosis for so many years, but you are right until you start tretments yourself you are in a no mans land that seems so much harder than if you are doing something and it may or may not be working, but it is DOING something.

    I hope that our story can continue to provide you with hope and that it gives you something to get through the darkest of days. But I also recall how on those darkest of days the other people’s story of hope just seemed like the story I wasn’t getting to live. It is very hard being in a waiting place.

    I send you hugs and strength.

    • Thank you so much! I definitely feel better when we’re doing something. Your story is so similar to ours that I can’t help but feel hopeful that we’ll have the same happy ending someday! I continue to follow your journey and love watching your Hope Babies grow up.

  7. I’m sorry. I know your journey is different from some, but we understand the pain of waiting and we’re here to support you. Take care.

    • Yes, different, but I know it’s not harder than anyone else’s. There are just days I feel it more than others. I appreciate the support.

  8. You have a really tough journey and a tough diagnosis and from what I’m able to see you handle it incredibly well. Its hard no matter how you slice it. As the old person in this group I see you bravely face each month and I admire your strength and grace.

    I also know that something has to give, and that you need a really solid outlet to voice your anger and frustration and I haven’t always understood that about you in particular, but you are always in my mind, and in my thoughts and I am always hoping for you. That something changes and you begin to feel less stuck.

    My journey is similar to yours in that its taking for freaking ever. And that month after month its frustrating to get closer and have it yanked away. So while our diagnosis are very different I definitely get the impatience.

    I am here to support you.

    • I’m sure there’s no easy way to get out of this–for either of us–but a little bit faster would be nice! I so appreciate all the supportive readers I have–those who comment and those who don’t–but when things get really difficult, I have a tendency to hold it all in, until after the fact, when I may or may not write about it here. I perhaps appear as less of a basket-case here than I am in person! 😉

  9. I had to come and read your blog after seeing that we had the same name and spelling, which is so unusual for me! IF is such a hard journey, and it really is filled with peaks and troughs (and a lot of waiting inbetween). We suffered from unexplained IF and after 5 IUI’s and 4 ICSI we are finally the proud parents of a beautiful 3 year old boy. Don’t give up on the dream, and hold on as tight as you can when things are at their worst and in your darkest moments. I wish you and your DH all the best in your journey to parenthood. I look forward to sharing it with you.

    • Hi Daryl! I actually stole the name from Daryl Hannah–it was a nickname given to me in college. But I still love it–and the spelling.

      I’m so happy for you and your little family. Thanks for you kind words and support!

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