My name is Colin. I belong to the talented, beautiful, brave woman that runs things around here.
You know her as Aubrey.
I know her as the love of my life, my best friend, my partner-in-crime (isn’t it funny that the hyphens there make you read that faster? Like partnerincrime?), and the best part of any of my days. While you get to address her by her name, I get the pleasure of using varied monikers that have sentimental attachment to them, such as babe, honey, sweetness, sexy lady, wifey, my love… you get the picture. In fact, those names are so commonplace that when I call her Aubrey, she responds with a confused face, and then proclaims, “That sounds weird. Don’t call me that.” I do this when I need to get her attention away from things like the supernaturally good looks of the Winchester brothers.
She is exceedingly sneaky (read: buys gifts as if trained by ninjas), kind, joyful, generous, considerate, witty, sympathetic, sweet, selfless, smells nice… She’s an amazing cook, and she’s always whipping up some delicious baked good; the entirety of which she intends for me (or our bachelor coworkers) to eat.
We were talking the other day, and she couldn’t remember the last time she thought of what she, alone, wanted. Which is not to say that she doesn’t know what she wants, but she takes everyone else’s desires into account before she thinks of her own.
Aubrey has been an adult for a long time. Her parents and siblings depended on her a lot when she was younger and living at home. They all still depend on her, but it’s less practical (chauffeuring, helping mom and dad manage the kids), and more emotional. She is an elder of sorts within her family, with her sisters, brother, and even her parents coming to her to talk things out, get advice, and make decisions. Basically, she’s the Dalai Lama of her clan.
If Aubrey is anything, she is a nurturer. A caregiver. She is as self-sacrificial a lady as I have ever known. She is a tremendous source of confidence, reassurance, and encouragement. I am sublimely fortunate to bask in the warming glow of her limitless, effortless, unconditional love.
There is one word to encapsulate all of these traits.
But because of the events of the last two years, even writing that word feels like a slap across the face. Worse, it feels like slapping Aubrey across the face. Because she IS a mother. Born and bred, she’s a mother. The fact that we haven’t had kids doesn’t change that. That would be like saying that Superman isn’t Superman when he’s not wearing his costume.
It’s a ridiculous premise, because a) he’s ALWAYS wearing his costume under his Clark Kent garb, and b) the costume is not what makes him Superman.
I’ve derailed a bit.
Aubrey has been asking me to write a guest post for as long as she’s had this blog, because she says that of the many women out there that have PCOS, there are only a small portion that write about what it’s like to experience it.
Trench Journalism of PCOS, as it were.
Of the few women that do write about it, she hasn’t seen any accounts from the men’s side. At first, focusing on how PCOS affects the man seemed equivalent to asking how British mice felt during the Blitz.
Yes, things did suck for those mice. But when compared to the roughly 40,000 civilian lives that were lost during that operation, the fate of actively exterminated pests probably wasn’t very high on anyone’s checklist.
But how we mice and men feel, and how these trials impact us is interesting and important to Aubrey.
Again, here she is, dealing with some of the weightiest issues she’s ever had… thinking about others.
I have been reticent to divulge my feelings on this whole ordeal, if for no other reason than I don’t want to compound the hopelessness that rears its ugly head every time another month falls off the calendar with no measurable progress. Aubrey explained that without any feedback from my end, positive or negative, it makes her feel like she’s in this by herself.
Which is absolutely inexcusable.
She’s not in this by herself. We face everything else as a couple, a pair, a team; why wouldn’t we face this extremely intimate issue together?
So here I am, to discuss PCOS from the male side. Or at least, my side.
First of all, I feel guilt. I don’t know why. I’m not Dr. Doom, and I didn’t point any kind of radioactive/genetically altered/cosmic ray-filled weapon at my wife. But I still feel responsible in some way. Like maybe I could have done something to prevent this.
Then I realize, no. No. There’s nothing you could have done to prevent this. There have been complications with her cycles, hormones, and insulin resistance for a long time. Nobody did this on purpose, sometimes crappy things just happen. Then I feel helpless.
Helpless is where I live.
If PCOS were a state, Helpless would be my city. I would live on Helpless Avenue, read the Helpless Times, and drink milk from the Helpless Dairy.
During one discussion with Aubrey, to describe how I felt, I used the term “impotent.” She looked at me and said, “Well, at least you’re not actually impotent,” implying that she was. I think I died a little when that happened. Not because I felt like it was a dig at me, or even thought she was mad at me. It pained me to see her reaction to that word. That reaction taught me precisely how much she blames herself for our situation.
To be clear, I do not blame my wife at all.
That’s why it is so hard to watch her blame herself. That’s where part of the helplessness seeps in. There’s not anything I can do or say to make her stop feeling the way she feels. To ease the burden that she heaps upon herself. When she’s low, the best I feel like I can do is hold her and tell her I love her.
So by this point, I feel useless on two levels: 1) I can’t do anything to change the state of her physical condition, and 2) I can’t do anything to change the state of her emotional condition.
Okay. Let’s see… Guilt, helplessness… Oh yeah. The pure frustration of the process.
The first doctor we saw was, in my opinion, disinterested and not very forthcoming with information. There were tests that have only recently taken place that we should have had performed at the onset of our consultations.
There was the Metformin, which is supposed to help women that suffer from PCOS, and it helped Aubrey in some ways, but not the ways we were hoping for. There were also side effects (or maybe just effects) that were unpleasant. This was also when blood draws were almost weekly. If you haven’t caught this from previous entries of hers, Aubrey no likey needles. So that became a struggle all by itself.
Then there was what I’ll refer to as The Progesterone Tribulation.
Heavy doses of hormones to help Aubrey’s ovulation. This isn’t a widely-used or effectively proven process, but we were hopeful. There were a lot of doses. Each took a bigger toll than the last. It was bad enough at one point that we both considered scrapping this whole deal. If it was this bad, and ineffective, maybe we didn’t want to continue down this road to the possible horrors that awaited us.
When Dr. #1 left the practice suddenly, our second doctor lent some credence to our misgivings about her. The second doctor was much more direct with information, which was important to Aubrey, and put me at ease. However, our time with her was cut short, when after prescribing the highest amount of Clomid she was comfortable with, there was no change. She referred us to the specialist we’re currently seeing at Vanderbilt, and we both liked this guy right off the bat.
And although we like this new doc, and we remain hopeful that we’ll see progress, this makes the third doctor we’ve seen. I realize as I type this that three doctors in two years doesn’t sound like a lot, and it probably isn’t, but as we eliminate possibilities, the road we travel is getting narrower and narrower. And in a way, it seems like we revisit the same things. Which makes me feel like Sisyphus, wondering if we’ll have to keep pushing this same boulder up this same hill over, and over, and over.
Frustration. Helplessness. Guilt. All feeding on each other, running a rut in my mind.
We have talked about how this will all be worth it to hold our baby in our arms, and see our ridiculously curly hair mashed together on that poor child’s head. How I will melt and give my daughter whatever she wants. How Aubrey will want our boys to get in trouble, get dirty, get dangerous.
We’ve also talked about how it’s possible that we may never have biological children. We decided we will try to adopt, foster, and if those don’t work out, we’ll jut spoil the crap out of the kids that are already in our lives. Our nephews, nieces, and friends’ kids that we love to pieces.
Hey, that rhymed. I am a poet and did not realize.
Ultimately, I married my wife because I love her, I can’t live without her, and I want to grow old with her. Yes, this has been a trying time in our life, and we’ve each had our own hardest moments. But we’re still here. We still laugh, we still enjoy hearing good news about others that have struggled with fertility issues, and we still try.
Children would be awesome, but being with my wife is already awesome. There’s not a day that goes by that I’m not thrilled and grateful to be married to the amazing woman who said “I do” almost five years ago, children or no children.
Things will be hard.
Things will hurt.
Things will go on.
You still live.
You still love.
You still hope.