If you’ve been around these parts for awhile, you know that MJ and I very much want to have a second child. And we’ve been trying for roughly three years now with no luck. Actually, no luck would be an overwhelming improvement. We’ve actually had bad, rotten, atrocious luck — three times. One time notoriously featured on YouTube for the world to see. So we finally caved and went to see a specialist. And while things aren’t quite settled on that front (not to mention MJ and I are still weighing how we feel about letting everyone in on that part of our lives), I at least wanted to share a preliminary story that highlights the weird crap that I had to reconcile when starting down the IVF road.
“You need to submit a sample.”
Those were the words from my wife that sparked instant panic somewhere deep within me. The first thing I did was get defensive. How dare someone question the potency — the very essence — of my manhood! To even suggest that something could be wrong with my little swimmers, I mean…it was just lunacy. I already have a kid dammit. My sperm are proven leaders. A verifiable commodity. The semen by which all other semen should be measured. I suddenly pictured carrying Will — my strapping evidence of reproduction — into that doctor’s office and holding him up like Simba from the Lion King, shouting “Behold what I have brought forth from my loins!!”
Before I could even utter any of these insane and ridiculous things, MJ saved me (as she always does) and assured me it’s standard operating procedure and that I should just shut up and do it. Unfortunately, it wasn’t going to be that easy.
You see, I’ve never done that. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about the act itself. C’mon now, get serious. But actually providing a sample? That’s a new one on me. And I’m not a fan. Not one bit. For me, the thought of walking into a strange building and entering a room for the express purpose of depositing my future children into a cup is unacceptable. Mainly because all I can think about is the inordinate number of guys who came (pun very much intended) before me and did the same thing. And with that thought in my head, I don’t think there’s any way in hell I could’ve — ahem — finished the task at hand.
So we set it up in a way I’d be able to do it at home. When MJ told me instructions would be coming in the mail, I thought she was kidding. I mean, instructions? For this?? I may not know how to put together IKEA furniture or change a tire, but if there’s anything I can figure out on my own, it’s this. Yet when I opened the envelope, I was met with a list of requirements I had to follow to the letter, including:
- Only use the sterilized container provided (as if I was going to use MJ’s tupperware)
- Put name & date of birth with permanent marker on cup
- Report to Suite xxx with the sample & a photo ID (I don’t even need ID to vote!)
- Bring the sample to the lab within 1 hour of collection
- Keep sample away from heat & light
- Keep sample at body temperature, under your arm or between your legs while driving to the center
Now, I won’t go into the mindfuck that is trying to produce said sample. But you should know the office is 40 minutes from our house without traffic, and I had to have it turned in in 1 hour or less. So I literally had to do the deed and hop in the car with MJ and Will to drop it off. Now picture trying to get the job done by locking yourself in the bathroom while your wife is downstairs knowing exactly what you’re doing and your 4.5-year-old is screaming from the living room because he wants to know what you’re doing in there.
I don’t care how hard you try to picture yourself with the Swedish Bikini Team, it’s a lot to overcome. But I muddled through it and jumped in the car, wincing hard when Will asked if I had a treat for him in the paper bag of shame I was carrying.
But then came the car ride.
The instructions specifically said I had to keep the sample at body temperature. But it was hot that day and Will needed the AC on in the car, so I had to come up with something. And that’s why I spent the 45-minute ride to the doctor’s office sitting on my own spunk and keeping it warm like a giant Emperor Penguin. Yup. Let that image sink in for a minute. Sweet dreams.
Not to mention I thought the andrologist who took the sample and my paperwork had a bit of an attitude, and so I had a little fun with him when he asked me when my last “omission” was. I knew he meant emission, but he clearly said omission. So I told him my last omission was the time I lied to my wife about cleaning up an emission with one of her discarded socks.
I still don’t know much about andrologists, but I can confirm they lack a sense of humor.
I know some of you are having a TMI (Too Much Information) moment right now. And the rest of you are wondering why someone would intentionally volunteer this information on the permanent Internet where anyone can see it. But you know what, this is the stuff of which blogging is made. This has never been a place where parenting/marriage is whitewashed and pretty and sparkling. Sometimes things just suck. But occasionally there’s a little room for laughter and levity, even when you’re struggling mightily.
And I know for a fact that there are other guys going through this, and it isn’t easy. So if I can make someone laugh or empathize during a shitty time, mission accomplished.
My only advice for anyone in a similar situation is to go to the office. It’s just not worth the hassle from home. Take it from an Emperor penguin who knows.