Monday, June 3, 2013

The male perspective on ALI

Happy Monday, everyone! Quick note: as anyone who has tried to comment has learned, I enabled Captcha. I promise this will only be for a short while, but my inbox was quickly being filled with comments from spammers and after deleting 50 such comments on day I figured a week of captcha would deter them. Still, I know how much of a bummer captcha is (especially for those on smartphones), so I throughly apologize for the inconvenience.

The sun is finally shining in the Pacific Northwest and everyone and their mother is playing hookie. Lots of thoughts have been circulating in my mushy brain since my last post, with a great post from a blogger I just recently discovered. Go check out her blog, as this one literally had me spinning afterward. Hence I need to process, but we'll pick up with all of that soon.

For the moment, though, I want to segway into an area that is still underrepresented in the ALI community: the male perspective on infertility/loss. It's not to say that guy's don't have a viewpoint about living with this trauma (in fact, they are usually filled with thoughts, opinions and wisdom), it just seems that blogging isn't the forum they take to share their insight. Yet when the men of this community do take to the internet, their words are often profound.

Recently, Jessie brought such a blog post to my attention. She notes that this is one of two posts from the author, with the one on parenting being widely circulated following being reprinted on HuffingPost. The second one, though apparently not quite as popular, is a gem. Certainly one that I plan on asking Grey for his opinion about. And yet, as Jessie pointed out in her post, it's likely this isn't  something that will become dinner conversation for many couples. Mainly because not only is it taboo to talk about infertility/loss, but it's even more taboo if you're a guy.

3 years ago following our diagnosis of unexplained infertility, Grey and I found ourselves at a weird disagreement. While I was openly an emotional mess, I found him pulling back, putting on a facade of optimism and strength. It wasn't until years later that I fully understood why he was doing this, but what I can tell you is that all my pushing for him to process the continual trauma of failed treatments the way I was wasn't helping. Through counseling and a lot of reflection, I finally learned why Grey felt the need to be the "strong one." Reflecting on those conversations still break my heart. And it was only when he felt like he was safe to express himself and that he didn't need to be the one holding us together that he began to open up to how deeply infertility, failed treatment and our losses had been affecting me.

Because of this, in the fall of 2012 I made the bold decision to give Grey my password to this blog and told him he was free to use this space to write it out. I mentioned it a total of 2 times and then made a very conscious chose to bite my tongue and not nag. As much as I wanted him to write it out, I also knew pushing him to do so would defeat the purpose. He had gotten the message. It was to my delight that he took me up on my offer for the anniversary post. But I had no idea about the second one until the following morning when I started getting the links to the comments. With both posts, I not only learned more about my partner, but also gained some insight into the male perspective of infertility/loss. Just as I have from other posts from the male perspective.

What I've learned over the years, especially in those moments where men in the ALI community are able to talk about candidly is that infertility affects so many from all walks of life, but it does so differently. As time has gone on, I listened to Grey talk openly about our experience with colleagues, friends and even respected mentors. In a most recent interaction with one of these mentors lead to him sharing his own fertility struggles years ago, back when IVF was still relatively new. That type of conversation never would have happened between myself and this mentor and yet hearing about it filled me both with hope and pride.

So, in addition to write out your anger, fear and despair about infertility, I'd love to hear more about the male perspective of ALI. Even if getting your guy near your blog is the farthest thing from reality, I still love hearing about their thoughts and insights. And, as I told Jessie, circulate the blog post from AP. It's not to say that his words on parenting are any less important, but this deserves some attention too.


  1. I often felt isolated from my husband during our IF journey because he just didn't seem to "care" as much - it was hard for me to see that he was just trying to be the strong one. He has since admitted that he really didn't think we'd have any kids, and he just wanted me to be happy either way (even though it made him sad as well to think of not having children).

    Loved that post by Grey!

    Do you have anonymous comments disabled on your blog? I had a pretty big following on my old blogger blog, as once i DISabled anon comments, I had no issues with spammers, even without catchpa.

    1. I felt really isolated from my (now-ex)husband too, but in that case some of it was him trying to be the strong one and some of it was ambivalence between not wanting to hurt me and not wanting to go through the process of IVF. It drove me up a wall, though, that he wouldn't deal with it by talking about it, not even with other guy friends who had been there and done that. But it meant that I felt like I couldn't talk to him about it and that he didn't want to hear it and he was very separate from the process and the decision-making. Christy, you may remember last spring when I was trying to decide whether to wait one month or three to cycle. My ex tried to be supportive by telling me he couldn't make the choice for me and I had to do what was best for me. But that didn't help me make the decision. And I didn't feel like I could talk it out with him. I had to go to my best friend to be able to talk it out and be asked the questions I needed to hear to figure out what I needed.

      PS. Christy, I replied to you on mine

  2. This is so random, but I actually watched a new show tonight "Mistresses" (watched it solely because Alyssa Milano was in it) and they approached male factor infertility, which I think may be the first time I have seen that on a primetime show. I'm interested to see how they handle it.

    Also, the spammers are out in full force. I was getting bombarded in the 200+ range, and finally had to have my web designer install something. Totally crazy!

  3. Aw that's so sweet, your hubby guest posted! :D

    Oh and I've nominated you for a little award on my blog :)

  4. This is an important topic and I'm sure there are many men out there struggling to be heard, or don't feel like they can talk openly about it. We can only hope that they find these kind of blogs/links if they search for it.

  5. You may have seen this,, but it's in this weeks Washington Post magazine, and I thought you might be interested to read it. Not ground breaking, but it certainly raises this very issue in front of a large audience. I'm still ruminating on the article, my only complaint being both couples were pregnant. Overall I thought it accurately reflected how difficult the process can be. I'm lucky and my husband is fairly open about what he's feeling.

    Also, on an unrelated note, I grew up in Tacoma and went to college in Minnesota (Carleton) so I enjoy your place references greatly. I'm so, so glad all is well with the Beats

  6. This is such a good topic, one that we as women can only delve so far into, so I love that your husband posted here a couple of times. What a brave guy!


Design by Small Bird Studios | All Rights Reserved