Just Super

We had some people over for the Super Bowl this afternoon/evening. Couldn’t really have cared less about the Packers or the Steelers…but I like football in general, and hey, any excuse to put on a spread of hot wings and chili, right? We had two other couples over – one couple some of our closest friends, some of only a vanishingly small handful of people we’ve told about the root cause of our fertility woes in real life. The other couple are also really wonderful people, great people, but they were not in the know, as it were.

Until this afternoon.

Somehow, improbably, against all sense or reason, as the Packers and Steelers battled their way up and down the field, the conversation turned to our infertility troubles and ultimately, somehow, improbably, against all sense or reason, to my balls and how poorly they function.

It was weird.

It was uncomfortable.

It was embarrassing.

I didn’t like it one bit.

Fortunately, there was a commercial break (I’m one of those weirdos who genuinely cares about the game and for the most part couldn’t give a rip about the commercials), and I was able to flee to the kitchen to work on the chili for a few minutes.

And when I returned to the living room, I was presented with a stark reminder of just why we don’t tell many people a lot of details about what’s going on, beyond the fact that there aren’t many people I know in the real world with whom I feel all that comfortable discussing my balls.

Having stirred and tasted the chili, I walked back in to what could have served as a commercial for K-Tel’s Greatest Hits of Just Having Found Out a Couple is Infertile:

“Have you tried different positions?”

“It might help if you lose some weight, no offense.”

“You should switch to boxers!”

“I believe that if you want anything enough, it’ll happen.”

“Have you thought about adoption?”

It was weird.

It was uncomfortable.

It was embarrassing.

I didn’t like it one bit.

And since I had just emerged from the kitchen and couldn’t really flee right back there again, and because the game was back on and I was actually interested in watching it, there wasn’t much I could do. I clammed up tight and tried to tune out the whole conversation as much as possible.

It was all I could do because these people are good friends and people who genuinely mean well and weren’t actively trying to hurt feelings or be insensitive, and I’d like them to continue being our friends. So as much as I wanted to scream, “Oh, different positions? Really? Different positions? You mean there’s MORE THAN ONE?! I HAD NO IDEA! Why, you’re a GODDAMN GENIUS, coming up with a brilliant idea like that! Why didn’t the doctors we’ve seen mention that idea? Hey, tell you what, why don’t you come in the bedroom with us and take a look so you can tell me whether or not I’m sticking it in the right hole, since you’re in such a mood to be so goddamn helpful?” I didn’t do that. I clammed up, stared as hard as I could at Aaron Rodgers hurling the prolate spheroid pigskin down the field. It was the only time I can think of that I was actually trying to pay attention to Joe Buck and tune out other noise, rather than vice-versa.

It’s so hard sometimes, because people do mean well. They want to say something helpful, and that they botch the effort at doing so like Christina Aguilera botched the Star-Spangled Banner does not negate their good intentions. And my problems are not their problems, no matter how much they wish to be sympathetic. Sometimes the easiest thing when your friend is explaining why he’s “in general” against IVF is to just nod and smile and not make it into A Thing and try to change the subject (“Hey, look at that, will.i.am looks like he stole a robot’s toupee!”).

To their credit, they realized they may have gone too far and offered sincere apologies for any offense they may have caused. Because they’re good people and obviously not without empathy or self-awareness.

But if I could offer just one bit of helpful advice to anyone out there who has discovered that a couple you know is dealing with infertility, it’s this: don’t try to offer any helpful advice. We really, really don’t need it, and it can be weird and uncomfortable and embarrassing. Sympathy is lovely and appreciated. Saying, “Oh, well, you guys just need to try the Rusty Bike Pump, that’ll do the trick!” is maybe not so much.

And on the plus side, it was a good game, and the wings and chili both came out great.

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2 responses to “Just Super

  1. Sounds like you handled the situation well, all things considered.

    It sucks that people can mean well, yet still say things that are so hurtful and offensive. If I’ve learned one thing on this journey it has been to value compassion.

    take care, foxy

  2. Yuk. It’s just a big pain, and even though you can’t blame them for not getting it, it doesn’t make it any easier. Glad you enjoyed the rest of the game, and I’m glad that they realized that they went too far.

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