The CAN Principle

The post was reprinted with permission from Our Misconception

Anybody else still doing some holiday shopping? No … well you are all much better than we are. A while ago, we were in Hallmark looking for some Christmas gifts. Invariably, we were drawn to all of the “First Christmas” and “My First Christmas” ornaments. Maybe we are just sadists and love torturing ourselves, but for some reason, we are instinctively drawn to them in the hopes that some day, we will have them on our Christmas tree. When I picked one up, I was surprised by all of the different emotions that went crazy through my mind. Have you experienced something similar or are you afraid to even approach things like the “First Christmas” ornaments or the infants section at Target? It was until later that I pieced my reactions together into what I have deemed the C.A.N. principle. (Should I trademark that or something?) So, without further adieu here it is:

C: Cry

When I grabbed that ornament, I realized how sad I felt that for the last 6 Christmases, I had no reason to put that on my tree. The very next feeling I had, shame. I was standing in Hallmark thinking, what the hell man, Why are you being such a baby? Sure, it has been tough, but you can’t be showing any emotions. That is a surefire way to get your man card taken! You know what though, I think I can own my sorrow. I think I am allowed to CRY! I think after almost seven years of trying to start our family, I can look at that little glass ornament, recognize all of the hardship and pain that our infertility has brought into our lives and allow myself to really FEEL sad. In that moment, I was accepting the fact that I wished I had been able to buy that ornament so many years ago.

A: Acknowledge.

As we were standing in the store, with ornament in hand, I ACKNOWLEDGED the fact that Candace and I where in full control of how we were going to work towards having a family. I truly believe that it is in God’s will for us to have a family and that is what I pray for. Although I cannot control when we will have a family, I can control the path that we pursue to have that family. By acknowledging that this decision is in our control, it was empowering. Finally! Something that I do have control over. This was especially poignant in our current situation with our hopes of starting a family fully invested in surrogacy. We have pursued nearly all avenues and the beauty of this is … there is no wrong answer. Whether you are thinking of talking to your OB-GYN for the first time about starting your family, getting ready for your umpteenth IVF attempt, planning to adopt, or even making the decision to pursue a child-free lifestyle, the decision is absolutely fine so long as it is truly what is in your heart and your significant other feels the same.

N: Now.

As in Now keep moving forward. Now realize all that you do have. Now get ready to take that next brave step. I put the ornament back on the rack with a bit of sorrow but also a bit of hope. I knew that one day, I would be back. I would buy that Damn ornament. I would put that on my tree and turn around and see Candace’s smile and probably a drooling, I could care less baby. What a tremendous moment that will be. Although I do not know when that day will come, I know that I C.A.N. keep walking towards my family until it does.

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Swim Team Try-Outs

Reprinted with permission from Our Misconception 

Chris

Uh-oh, I hope nobody saw that. I looked around before sneakily reaching down and ‘adjusting myself.’ Glance around a few more times, and slowly walk back into the isle that Candace is shopping in. Let’s be honest, for supposedly being the tougher of the two sexes, we definitely do not have a lot of public confidence. What’s more, our ego is possibly the most fragile substance on Earth. Far more fragile than eggs and look at how carefully packaged those are. Well, our egos don’t get such luxuries. They are out there, in the raw, exposed. Oh we try to make sure that they are untouchable. We are tough, nothing is getting past all the psychological and social barriers we put between the outside and our breakable, endangered ego. So, when we hear from the RE (reproductive endocrinologist) that we could be to blame, we go through the 5 stages of what I would call Man-Cope.

Stage 1: Feign Ignorance– wait, what do you mean there could be an issue with the number of my sperm, how they are shaped, how they swim? I never heard of that before. That doesn’t even make sense.

Stage 2: Dismission– okay so that is not a word, but it seemed like it fit for this clinical speak. We dismiss the issue. They haven’t even done a sperm analysis yet and there is no true evidence that your issues with having a family lie in your court, but still you dismiss even the most remote possibility that the issues is with you. You are not insinuating that it is your significant other; that would be selfish. You are too big of a man, your heart is too big to allow yourself to even remotely put the blame on her. But still, it can’t be you.

Stage 3: Explain Away– even if it is a little off, let’s say my sperm count is a little low, or my sperm are a little near-sighted, we have had plenty of sex. There is no way that it can be me. I have a billion million sperm each time. We don’t need to test me. There is no way.

Stage 4: Procrastinate– maybe I will get to it when we have checked everything else out with my significant other. Let’s make sure that there can be no faults with her. Maybe they should check her hormone levels again.

Stage 5: Protect– I will consider doing this, but I will not, ever, ever, let my ego get threatened. I will tell NO ONE. I will act like it is a last resort, like every other option has been tried and I could be the key that solves the problem. Hey, I kind of like the sound of that. I saved the day. Man card renewed. But, damn, there is no way this news can get out. That I had to submit my manliness to testing is ego-threatening enough.

Guys, here is the thing. You have to remember that to make a family, you both have to go ‘all-in.’ That means, putting that fragile ego out there. You know what, if you put it out there, own that you are exposing it, it makes it stronger. I have submitted my Chris-lympic swim team to testing several times. Guess what, my numbers are low, my motility is not great, I think the morphology is fine. Whew, 1 out of 3 anyway. But it’s out there. We have had trouble conceiving and part of it is my fault. So be it. That doesn’t mean we will try any less and we have more information in our arsenal to attack this infertility monster with. Sounds kind of manly to me. Guys, submit your sperm samples, get it tested, and move on to hopefully the next stage, family building. I got your back.

Candace:

I only have a few words on this. It is pretty sucky being on the receiving end of all of the objects that has been in your lady’s hoo-ha while spread eagle in a stirrups. For the guys, it is not about the pain I suppose more the vulnerablity of exposing yourself. (This is also talking about the same sex that makes fart sounds with their armpits, but I get it.)
I hear the clinics offer a fluffy sterile couch, some tasteful yet captivating movies and some light reading for the guys to help them along in the process. Point is, making a baby takes two people, two contributions of bio-matter and more importantly two people to commit to wanting a family. It’s like this, you can’t get a touch down pass, without your quarterback throwing it to you. Personally for me, there is nothing more sexy than a man who is brave enough to expose himself in order to commit to a family.