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LFCA Latest Issue: Friday, September 25, 2009.

Latest Post on BlogHer: Parenting after Infertility.

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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Twenty Questions--Part Two

Hope everyone who celebrates Christmas had a wonderful holiday. To be honest, I'm dreading getting in the car in a few minutes and hearing the normal easy-listening music on our Christmas station. It's as if my best friend has split town in the middle of the night, barely even mentioning that she was leaving.

But a question for you from my notebook that Teamwinks actually addressed this week too:

Here's karma coming back to bite me in the ass (karma in the misused western sense of the word and not in the actual, Hindu sense of the word): In an already iffy relationship, the straw that broke the camel's back was the chance of infertility. A month or two after he told me, I broke up with the boy because he casually mentioned that his doctor once told him that he may have difficulty conceiving since he only had one testicle. I knew from a month or two into the relationship that he was never going to become my husband due to a complete lack of chemistry, but hearing that he might impact my ability to easily have a child hastened the break-up.

Well, you get what you deserve, perhaps.

Since I am the infertile one in my marriage.

And based on something I just read in a book about divorce rates and infertility, would you continue dating someone you intended to marry if you knew that they were infertile? At what point would you want to be told about the person's infertility? Early on (or could that backfire if the person wasn't yet committed and that clouded their judgment)? Later (or could that open hurt because the other person felt like it should have been on the table earlier, even if it wasn't going to affect how the person felt)? Should it come up when you begin speaking about having children? And would it be somewhat easier emotionally to jump into treatments from point one (as Lance Armstrong's exwife did--she knew she would be doing IVF before they ever tried to conceive) or is it a non-issue: even if you know beforehand, it's still the same level of emotional pain expended during treatments?

All things to consider if Josh were ever to leave me...

Since it would be me doing the telling this time.

Western-karma really bites.



Anonymous said...

Lots of dilemmas here - Try mine on for size: I have two dd from a prior marriage and my fiance, who is younger than me has none. Since I am 38 we've been ttc since last June - apparently I now have "age related secondary infertility" or whatever you want to call it. Now I feel guilty. While I really want to have a dc with my fiance, I don't want it badly enough to put myself through all kinds of hell to accomplish it. The irony is that it's probably my "fault" but at the end of the day, he's the childless one. (Sigh). I'm drawing the line at three IVFs - which my insurer will cover. I will not do DE or adoption. I feel so guilty that sometimes I think I should call off our wedding so that he can be with a younger woman who'll be able to give him his own child. I feel so guilty about this now.

The Town Criers said...

Anonymous--I hear the guilt (though it's not guilt, it's not guilt, I am still trying to come up with the right word and perhaps it is Teendoc's suggestion of shame) as the infertile one--you think you need to take every chance to its ends. I think that guilt comes massively into play since you are the one who will ultimately carry the child. He can't have a child without you.


He isn't marrying your uterus. He is marrying you. I could never say that procreation is "not as urgent" since you have children he can parent--the heart wants what the heart wants. And I think it's very hard to step off the trying to conceive path once you step on.

Have you ever spoken about this with him? He may have better words that could set your mind at ease. Which is rich coming from me since I have a ton of guilt and the only thing my husband does is reassure...

Anonymous said...

Yes, I would continue dating someone that might be infertile because I did and I married him.

I started dating my husband about a year after he was diagnosed with Hodgkins. He told me very early on that the possibility was there. We weren't even discussing children or marriage even at that point (we were 17 and 18), but he just wanted it out there.

I have wanted to be a mother since I was a toddler (seriously), but it didn't matter to me. We had been friends for years at that point and I knew he was the one. I also knew if we were faced with it we would just cross that bridge when we got there.

Well, we're there and I don't regret staying with him for a minute. We'll be parents eventually we're just having to take a different route.

As for your question about the emotional pain-I'm not really sure if it is expanded during treatments. We haven't started treatments yet, but I can say I don't think the diagnosis was as devastating as it would hae been if I had no idea. I had years to digest this and prepare for it, so I think the pain has been a little easier to manage.

Anonymous Infertile said...

I can honestly say that I don't know what I would have done. I hope that if I was in love with the person and then I would have stayed with them. I don't think it is something one needs to know up front but if my husband had told me after I had made up in my mind that this was the man that I was going to marry than I would have stuck by him.

Prior to us getting married I told my husband that it would probably take me a while to get pregnant b/c I just had that feeling that there was something wrong. I honestly don't know if he believed me but I was right.

Along these same lines of the recent topics that have been here, my husband and I were at a pizza place for lunch and were joking around that we needed to get working on getting ourselves a kid (like we're not trying!). So, I turned to my husband and jokingly said to him that I know that he isn't trying hard enough and that I blame him. He then seriously turned back to me and told me that he wished that I would blame him or blame anyone else but myself. It's just so strange to me because I know that I would never blame him (even if it was his issue - then it would just be ours), nor will I blame anyone else, but I can't stop blaming my self. Interesting...

ps.... I don't think that karma is biting you in the ass. This is another way for you to blame yourself. I look for little reasons like this to explain why I was cursed with infertility -- what did I do to make myself infertile? If the relationship was iffy to begin with, it would have ended anyway. And say you two did stay together and then did have trouble conceiving, would you have had a strong enough relationship to make it through infertility?

Anonymous said...

I think, knowing that you are infertile in advance of a marital relationship is less common than for those of us that it comes up and whacks us on the back of the head with a 2x4, after the required 12 months of trying.

I don't think it would have mattered to me whether my soul mate had infertility issues, any more than it would bother me if he was bald. All of us have "faults" that must be forgiven or at least accepted by those who love us.

Anonymous said...

i definitely know that i would still go for it given that all the other elements were the same...i.e. that sariel and i met at the stage in life that we did and that we are talking about him as the 'potential' partner....i had been single for a looooonnnnggggg time...during that time i had considered having a child on my own and also had explored co-parenting with a friend of mine (who ultimately moved to israel so it's probably a good thing we didn't do that!)...the guy i dated before sariel was committment phobic..about women and kids (he had a 13 y.o. d'ter)...and after years of singledom and dating someone who didn't want more kids, i think i had suppressed my desires quite a was only in falling in love with sariel and thinking about parenting together and seeing him with his daughter that the fires were kindled yet again....we were together for a year before we decided we REALLY wanted to have a child, long story, but i'm pretty sure that we still would have hooked up...and would have found a way to have our child OR deal with not having a child together....heck, that's kind of where we are right now anyway....this guy is my beshert, as corny as that may sound, and G-d put us together for a reason....infertility is part of who we are....

great topic....


Anonymous said...

I struggle a lot with a similar dilemma, since we're dealing with Male Factor (NOA) and attempting IVF/ICSI, which would likely mean that any male offspring would be infertile as well...I don't know if it's fair to engage in an act that may thrust IF onto someone else...I worry that if I had a son who was sterile, his IF might destroy his own marriage someday -- or prevent him from marrying in the first place.

When I brought up this concern to my dh, he asked me if I thought his life was not worth living. That one comment silenced me. I love him as much as one human being can love another. How could I ever make him feel like it would be a bad thing for his son to be just like dear old dad -- even if it's in a less-than-desirable way?

We're forging ahead with ICSI.

Anonymous said...

I go for men who are honest and will be a good father. The good father has nothing to do, for me, with whether he will be a likely sperm donor.

Anonymous said...

Oh, good one.

I'd like to think that knowing about infertility going into a relationship wouldn't matter to me. My husband knew that my system was all kinds of messed up before we were really serious. Honestly, we've always kind of joked about it. Granted, I don't think either of us were prepared for the realization of actual infertility (is anyone?). He's one to stand behind me and take all the falls along with me, so I hope that I'm the kind of person that would do the same.

I like how you put it, Mel. And I'm sure as hell glad he married me and not my uterus.

TeamWinks said...

I told from the get go. I dind't know exactly that I was infertile, but had a really good idea. I thought it all boiled down to honesty. I want to be accepted and cherished as I am.

I don't believe a man's ability to reproduce would play into my deciding whether or not to be with him. HOWEVER, his acceptance of adoption and treatments would definitely play into my decision!

Anonymous said...

When Max found out he had Klinefelters Syndrome therefore azoospermia, he was very emotional and during that emotional state he told me that I should just leave him and go and find a man that could give me a child.
There was no way in hell I was going to do that, this is the man I fell in love with whether fertile or not. This is the man I want to spend the rest of my life with.
We just chose another way to build our family, now proving that I may not be as fertile either.

So imagine if I left Max to find a fertile man only to find out later that I have problems too. How could I possibly live with that ?

We are on this journey together, we walk it hand in hand.

sara said...

I have known about my infertility from the age of 16 and was quite clear about it with my husband whom I met when I was 17. He has always been fine with it, and we only came to find out much later in the game that on top of my major issues he has severe oligospermia, which for me, as awful as it sounds was a sigh of relief, that it wasn't only me. I felt guilty constantly never because he made me feel that way, but its human nature. His parents on the other hand, chastised me from the time I was young, they tried to convince him not to marry me and once we did marry they even went as far as to tell me that in the torah it says a man has the right to leave an infertile woman. Once they found out about his problems their entire attitude changed, and they became extrememly supportive. I have not forgotten how they treated me, the scars are still there. So to answer, yes I would tell, I mourned my infertlity well before I even started trying to become pregnant and I couldn't have done that without the support of my husband (then boyfriend). Would I tell the rest of the family, in hindsight absolutely not!

Anonymous said...

This is interesting. It haunts me. Warning - long comment coming up.

I am, it goes without saying, madly in love and I have never so much as dreamt of leaving Mr Bea for a fertile man (why swap to another man when I can keep mine and order donor sperm, if necessary? Oh - donor conception issues? Fair point, but Mr Bea's a mighty good man, I don't think it's worth making the trade-off.)


I wonder at what point I got "hooked" enough to love him despite his infertility?

You see, I am (his words) the least romantic person ever. I have what I will call a ruthlessly practical side. I could choose many examples, but I'll stick with this one:

One of the questions at our pre-marriage counselling was whether we believed there was one person we were "destined" to be with. Mr Bea, filling in his sheet in the next room, said yes! Locked in my room, I put no.

We discussed our answers afterwards with the minister and I shrugged and said, with brutal honesty, that if we hadn't chanced to meet I was confident someone else would have come along, sooner or later, who I could love just as much. Or in the words of The Whitlams (Australian band) "(S)he's one in a million - so there's five more just in New South Wales."

Mr Bea looked deflated, but since he already knew I was the least romantic person ever (and since the minister said that, interestingly, my attitude was more conducive to long-term marital stability) he got over his disappointment and we moved on.

(If you'll excuse my tangent - I met someone about four years later and, for only the second time in my life, fell for him, but our marriage was never in danger because I simply thought - huh, there's the person I would have married and been just as happy with as I am now, except Mr Bea came along first. Besides, he was almost exactly like Mr Bea and I already had one of those. Sometimes practical is good.)


I always wonder if, at some point, my practical self who believed there was another bus coming sooner or later would have packed up and moved on if I'd known about the infertility from the start. I don't know. I'll never know. And it haunts me.

But I definitely would have left if I'd felt deceived.


Anonymous said...

Great topic!

I don't think that fertility issues need to be brought up on a first date. There are all kinds of things (crazy parents, third nipples, secret fondnesses for e.g. show tunes) that we don't necessarily lead with when we're first getting to know someone, lest they a) take fright and leave, or b) decide that we're a complete neurotic mess for turning a date into a confession. I think that the natural time to talk about this is when you have a conversation about having children, IF the relationship is moving along quickly. However, I probably would feel betrayed if I was dating someone for years, and only when the topic of marriage came up did they mention their infertility.

I am certain that I would still have married my beloved even if he HAD told me on the first date that he was infertile. In fact, when we first discovered that we were infertile as a couple, I was convinced that it was a male factor (because he grew up on a farm where chemicals were used in a not-so-safe manner). I was more nervous during his semen analysis than any of our other tests. My fear wasn't so much that we would find a problem, but that finding a problem would crush his soul. However, it turns out that his swimmers are great. Our only known factors are mild endo on my part, and now advanced maternal age, also me.

I WOULD have rejected out of hand someone who said that they didn't WANT children. In fact, around the time that I met my hubby, I was very attracted to another man, and was considering getting involved with him, when he mentioned that he didn't want kids. That ended the attraction for me immediately. I think that it's important to have the same dreams, but I would never blame my hubby for infertility, and sincerely hopes that he never blames me.

As an old fart (37), I do worry that I'm cheating my young (28) hubby out of his big chance. However, ultimately, I am as determined to become a parent for my own sake as for his.