Thursday, June 20, 2013

Lighter Grey: What infertility took from me... and what it gave

Hi All,

It's been awhile I know. I've been meaning to write to you, but have been overwhelmed with the ten-thousand details of my ordinary work and home life, with the blur of pre-Twinsanity (however, compared to infertility, I call this f*****g ice cream with butterscotch syrup).

Heads up: This post gets a little nasty. If you've been through a lot recently, just skip it. It will be here later. Check in with yourself, then read on. Otherwise, go kiss your partner in life and know that you will resolve one day.

Here we go with the me, me, me. Infertility came at a vulnerable time for me (not that it comes at any particularly convenient time for any of us). Family was scattered (not that this item has changed) and there were unending issues. My professional life was cracking. What seemed like limitless prospects a few years before became almost equal dead-ends and embarrassing failures (like a gold miner coming up with rocks and donkey s**t). From a guy's point of view (ok, I'm a bit of a fossil, gender roles aside, this guy's point of view), this was failing his family.

The neighborhood, our investment into the American Dream, went to crap. I could go into extensive detail, but it's ugly. One tale: while I had to go on a work trip to the other coast, there was an arsonist running loose in our neighborhood. They are finally, now 4 years later, rebuilding the shops this lunatic (yes, they got him, he is a lunatic) destroyed. Commence teeth grinding. Mmmm. Yeah, chip those molars, such a constructive habit (yes, I had one repaired recently).

Then my beloved wife lead the emotional charge into infertility, me waiting behind, not even with my shoes on (huh...what??? whaddya mean infertile???, nah...couldn't possibly be...we're from prolific low class breeder stock, infertility is a rich person's problem...yeah, I actually said stuff like that). I was angry at her that she had no sympathy for what was happening to me (oh, poor me) and it took too long to catch up and realize that more dear things were at stake. I had been worrying about failing a family that wasn't happening itself.

The grey hairs in my beard came to mark the passage of it not happening in any timely fashion. I wrote these off. But they kept coming. We're not above the medical time threshold, but still they marked the time. A man getting older, a wife angry, a professional fizzle, no children. Yuck. I'd turn my back on me. Back then. When my head was full of sh**. Before infertility's gift.

Infertility's gift came one profoundly painful day in the form of an envisioned granite stone. The day I finally mourned. After the losses. This couldn't happen. This couldn't possibly ever happen. THIS HAPPENS TO OTHER PEOPLE! But it did and to us. It was a material reality. And like has been said, sometimes life hits you with a f*****g brick. There is the macho interpretation of this. This is incorrect. Then there is the please-let-the-pain-stop interpretation of this. The second is what is really meant.

I had named them in my heart. I saw their tiny headstones. Like those I have seen in children's graveyards. Except cuter and far more painful to me at the same time. I know horror mixed with innocence on a first name basis.

I think I've written about this before. I don't want to go into it, but I've known chronic, physical pain that goes on for years. When it briefly visits to check in now it's "hello darkness my old friend" (macho style, our culture so values physical pain as a sign of masculinity). I've always hated you, but you remind me of when I was younger, and at the time I thought tougher, before infertility undermined what little I certainty I had in the world. The depression and grief of infertility was its match in magnitude away from normality in opposite directions. Seeing a white hot flare vs seeing blackness. But unlike the senseless physical pain I knew before (of unclear cause), this pain of infertility taught me some very clear things, things tied intimately with that which is good in life.

I will not forget the pain of the loss so dear. It is too clear. I will never forget who was lost. I still want to cry when I play their song. This is an old song that I cannot share with you, I'm sure you understand, it's for them.

I will never forget the grinding, to be followed by the yelling at, then the fear with and crying alongside my partner in life. We were destroyed.

This is infertility's gift of pain. It taught me clearly what was precious, what was missing. It grabbed me by the balls and said: "Understand yet? Good."

I will not burden the Beats with this. This is our burden. We may tell them of our story, but some details are for our interpretation.

Our twins are on the way. I'm working to prepare. We toured the hospital today. There are material concerns, emotional concerns, health concerns. Some very limited professional success since those past days met with greater uncertainty today. But I know what I work for now. I don't want to die anymore. I want to live, I want to work, I want to fight. More importantly, I want to cultivate for our babies. I can and will fall short sometimes. But I can't quit.

And for my beloved wife: I'm sorry I wasn't with you in those early days. I hope you agree I've caught up and I'm here now. We have since suffered together.

For those readers who still suffer, you will resolve one day. If you want to be a parent, you will be. I am not condescending you. I am not minimizing your pain. I did not see the Beats coming, as much as I hoped. As I love these two, I see my friends who have resolved in vastly different ways, equally full of love and life. The clouds will lift one day.


  1. Aw I love reading this, it's really great to hear the male perspective. Bravo to you! Beautifully, heartbreakingly written.

  2. What a beautiful post Grey, as always. There is nothing easy about any of this. I echo so many of your feelings - that any sadness existing from the years of loss and pain are for my husband and I to bear and that we must protect our children from this sadness; that resolve WILL come to everyone, even though the journey is wrought with pain; that I haven't always been there for my partner in all of this either.

    I couldn't be happier for you and Cristy - you've been through so much. The sweetness of these little babes will never erase the bitterness of the past years, but the bitterness will allow you to savour in the sweetness of the moments to come.

  3. Thank you for writing your perspective. It's always refreshing to hear from the hubbies. Those little miracles are on the way and I for one can NOT wait to meet them.

  4. Thank you so much for posting this. It is always so great and refreshing to read the guy's perspective. It's a very brave thing to do. Thanks again.


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