Back in the day when Demetri and I were dating, getting serious, and thinking about the M-word, we talked about having kids. Demetri said, “I want 7 kids.” Note the quotes. Note the lack of sarcasm. My response came in two parts: 1) laughing in his face and 2) “You better find a new wife!” Before we got married I talked him down to “one, maybe two kids”. Early on we had talked about adoption and both agreed it was something we were interested in. Our goal was to have a child — how that child came to us wasn’t so important. In all of these conversations we assumed that both adoption and having a biological child would come easily to us. So we got married and eventually “got busy” (nudge, nudge, wink, wink). We were ‘busy’ for many many months. In fact, we were so busy that both of us got to the point where we never wanted to be busy again. Ever. We both felt like failures. And one of us frequently threw herself on the bed in tears sniffling about Not being a real woman and being Bro-oh-oh-ken. I have a very patient and kind husband.
So we went to the doctor. We saw many (supposedly) knowledgeable professionals — specialists, regular OB/GYNs, acupuncturists, nurse practitioners, etc. They all told us that the first and easiest test that should be performed was checking out Demetri’s swimmers. After all, no invasive procedures were required. It only involved Demetri having a little ‘special time’ at home and then me taking a vial of his sacred fluid to the lab. No prob. Then we both met with my OB/GYN for the results.
It turns out that my husband has perfect sperm. In all 4 ways possible: count, shape, appearance, and mobility. Do you know how I know this? Because every single professional told us. Multiple times. Often, Demetri was given a pat on the back or a genial slug on the shoulder. At the very least, the doctor (or whoever) would become a bobble head and nod vigorously while looking over our charts. Dr. Whoever would then do something scholarly, like take off her glasses or grip her chin between her thumb and index finger, and I knew it was coming: “The male fertility factor looks great! Perfect even!” Pause for another, nod, wink, or fist bump. “But the female factor, I just don’t know. . .”
For the record, I have perfectly clear tubes. And a nicely shaped uterus. But did I get any love from the doctors? Nope. I have spent literal hours in stirrups and not even a pat on the shoulder. No wink. Nothing. Demetri spends 5 minutes in the bathroom with a cup and is Super Sperm Guy. Please. Like it’s so hard to make sperm.
But anyway. Instead of the praise I clearly deserved, Dr. Whoever would look directly at me and say something like, “I guess it’s just Unexplained Infertility.” The doctor would often then attempt to share a commiserating look with Demetri as if to say Sorry, dude. What a waste of perfectly good sperm. My husband had the good grace to look humiliated.
By the time we did our first round of IUI I was bitter and on the sperm defensive. The nurse brought out a tiny vial filled with ‘stuff’ and asked me to identify it as my husband’s. I looked at her in shock thinking, Really? You expect me to identify it by sight? Are you asking my husband to identify my uterus by sight? Huh? Huh? Are you? The nurse then pointed out a tiny, typed name tag stuck to the bottom of the tube. Uh, yeah. Yeah, that’s his name.
The IUI was expensive. It was vaguely humiliating. And it didn’t ‘take’. Finally, after months and months, I was ready to say out loud what I had been feeling for a long time. Enough.
(Thanks to Demetri for his support and willingness to share this very personal part of the story)
Back in the day