IVF for Guys, Part I: Controlling what you can control
Hello everyone. I am Hot Nuts. Let this post serve as my official introduction to the BB community. As long as you can acknowledge that I was the original (honorary) BB, we should get along just fine.
With that out of the way, I want to use my first post here as a chance to help other guys/men/partners in this situation who want to help their wives and remain a supportive, active part of the process, but maybe aren't always sure of the best way to actually show it and do it. I think that a good first step is to establish some Absolute Truths, told in first-person:
- It is absolutely true that I recognize my IVF role as being far less complicated, far less painful, and decidedly less complicated than that of my wife.
- It is absolutely true that I know she will be experiencing (sometimes extreme) discomfort during many parts of this process.
- It is absolutely true that I want to help alleviate every single bit of discomfort, and I will do whatever I can do accomplish such.
- It is absolutely true that I can simultaneously have trouble comprehending the full emotional toll taken by IVF while wanting to be helpful in navigating it and helping to foster a supportive, positive emotional environment at all times.
In other words, I know Betty will be in pain and facing an uphill mental battle. I have also felt pain, and I want to help decrease and eliminate pain. But I also have no idea what it is like to go through this specific pain and stress. It is a helpless feeling to watch the person you love suffer, understanding fully that you understand little about the specific discomfort. Offering tea or a heating pad probably comes off as a half-assed effort, but it also isn't evidence of a husband giving in to the inevitable suffering. I always want to help, and want to find more ways to help, but I ultimately know that there is a general experience gap that I will never be able to completely close.
But as BB and I pass through the opening stages of the IVF process, I have have come to at least one major realization regarding my own role in IVF: I need to control what I can control. And what, exactly, can I control? While I cannot control all of the discomfort or suffering BB must go through, I can at least control the environment in which it takes place.
This environment is not just the room Betty is staying in, but the entire care climate: everything from the food and drinks she has available, to the entertainment that is readily accessible, to the air that she is breathing.
Betty has the entire Netflix and Apple TV galaxies at her fingertips, so she will be entertained. That one can be checked off.
But cooking and cleaning? I try to help and learn new skills, but I have always been more of an egg eater than an egg beater - more of a beer-man than a keep-the-window-sills-clear-man. I don't know how to create very many dishes, and my deep-cleaning knowledge (i.e. anything past dishes, trash, sweeping, etc.) is not robust.
One of the great things about a crash course in cooking and cleaning, however, is that this is not like an exam one studies for before taking the test and then clearing out all the knowledge. Obviously, these will be valuable skills for years to come. I'll be able to more confidently cook dinner or handle a plethora of domestic duties as our household hopefully grows in the near future.
Doing more to create comfort for Betty not only helps improve her experience, but also at least begins to lessen my guilt about her circumstances. For guys in an IVF marriage, it's important to not surrender to the fact that you cannot control your wife's suffering. While the pain is inherent to the process, you do have control over some of the parameters. There are probably many things you already do - or many skills that you already have - that can truly help your wife through the process. You might just have to take these skills or chores to a new level for their affects to make a difference. Keep things cleaner. Cook better meals more often. Continue to offer tea and heating pads. Most importantly, I will ask her how she feels about the stress of it all and listen.
In the interest of walking the walk, I will end each of my posts with an easy recipe and a quick cleaning tip for guys. This is not the place to worry about things like "portion sizes" or "correct spices" or "efficient preparation." This is where I help educate the men of the BB community to help them make simple, good food and take easy steps to help optimize the IVF environment. Not every chore or step of the IVF process will be simple, but also do not confuse simplicity with inessential.
Dish: Quick Chicken Tikka Masala
What you need:
- 1.5 pounds of chicken
- A jar of tikka masala sauce (make sure you get a brand that has a good-looking label, as they otherwise seem to taste the same)
- Baking dish
What you do:
- Line the baking dish with oil and put it on the stove. Set the heat to medium (never go above halfway if you have a hot oven)
- As the dish heats up, cut 1.5 pounds of thick chicken breast into what you consider to be bitesize pieces
- Once the dish is hot, put the chicken in the dish
- Allow the chicken to cook, stirring it around as needed
- Add salt
- Add pepper
- Add the entire jar of sauce
- Let the chicken simmer in the sauce for 20 minutes
That's it! Serve this over rice or with naan and you're done.
Cleaning Tip: Air Quality Control
- Vacuum more often
- Dust more often
- Replace the air filters more regularly
That's it! You won't notice better air quality, but this is easy preventative maintenance that can at least help eliminate the threat of a bonus headache on top of other suffering.
See you next time,