Living: Infertility · Thinking

A Different Perspective on IVF

Plot twist!

As I’m sure many of you have noticed, the Kurtz household has submitted itself to some supreme levels of stress over the last couple months. Neither of us has been immune to this. We’ve given, taken, and really asked a lot of each other.

The result is after several months of keeping up this blog, Candace needs a rest. I’m more than happy to oblige.

It’s me, Sean!

Week in, week out, Candace asks that I give of my time (picture taking) to help keep that sweet blog material flowing. There’s a reason I play along, which I can explain. I also want to share about how husbands can help diffuse some of the stress IVF causes.

To any husband who reads this, please keep in mind your mileage may vary. This is our story, not yours. Obviously, you’re married to your wife, not mine.

So, here’s a quick recap of our last five years:

– I love my wife
– I go to car races
– We can’t have children naturally
– IVF is tough on both of us
– I maybe go to some races. Maybe.

And here is some abbreviated context, before I continue:

I was happy to live the first couple years with Candace, just the two of us. We figured out how to live together, where to settle down, what to name our dog. She was perfect to me. As a recent college graduate, marrying Candace and settling down was a dream come true, and the satisfaction of knowing I wasn’t “looking” anymore was unbelievable. So much relief. It’s very much worth noting she still is perfect to me.

A few years later we had a fantastic idea – maybe (no, definitely) a baby Kurtz was a thing the world needed. As God would have it, that wasn’t in the cards, yet.

Three years of trying yielded no children, which surprisingly disappointed everyone around us. I wasn’t quite ready for that. There’s no class in college to tell you how to deal with clients who are curious. Constantly being asked, “Why you aren’t expecting yet!?”

You know what…I can’t bring myself to type the responses I had in my head those days.

As much as it hurt my wife, it made me angry. Angry at people who were friends, family, people whose opinions I had valued…not having a child was an affront to them.

One hundred percent, act that way zero times toward me in the future. Thx.

It was completely incomprehensible to them that God had written a story which included no children until I was at least 31. (For the non-abbreviated version, Candace has written about this time in our lives here, and here again.)

As the rest of those years were teh suck, let’s fast forward to this year, and get into the “how can a husband help with IVF” part.

Candace and I made the first actual steps toward IVF early in 2018. Like me, Candace is a researcher and likes to know what to expect before embarking on a process, to begin mental preparations. We heard tons of advice that Candace would absolutely lose her mind and go crazy. You know what? Fine. Let’s prepare for that.

Oh, It’ll cost more than anything I’ve ever driven to work? Yes. I want in.

There were a few principles I had in mind as we looked at the medication/shots/Dr. appointment schedules. Mainly, it’s crucial to understand your role in marriage. To do that, it’s crucial to understand what marriage means.

Marriage is a picture of what Christ is to the church. It’s not a 1:1 ratio, it’s a picture. I’m not here to provide Candace’s faith and salvation, just a picture of it. Candace isn’t here to provide me Christ’s love and compassion, just a picture of it.

 It boils down to really giving of yourself when it matters most.

Also, when it matters least.

Also, all of the time.

All of yourself, all of the time.

Christ gave himself for his bride in an unbelievable way that I won’t fully get into now. No, I’m not saying that skipping a race event/ [your ideal weekend here] is on par to Christ dying on the cross for the church.

I’m saying if your wife knows how important something is to you – be super quick to let her know she is more important than that.

“This is the most I can do to try to show you I’m putting you first and making a sacrifice for you – and Christ made an infinitely bigger sacrifice.” Pointing your wife to Christ is an incredible honor and makes the decisions in the upcoming months super easy. Not painless, but easy. Ephesians 5 and Colossians 3 give a few insights into what I’m on about – check those out.

So, how does an IVF husband act through this process? What do you actually do? What does giving of yourself really look like? Principles are nice, but principles aren’t that important at 11pm. That’s bedtime. Past bedtime. Like, maybe I’ll wake up around 11pm, after sleeping for two hours, and get a glass of water.

And then it comes: “Can you get me [literally anything in the world]?”

Now, IVF has not been solely responsible for random requests. I’ve done quite well at training Candace to ask anything of me whenever she so desires. And that’s proven quite important in the run up to IVF to help show her that she’s not alone and I want every part in this I can take. I don’t have to have procedures done to me, give blood samples all the freaking time, get crampy, and literally take 60+ shots.

Side note: Everyone is different, but there are a few standard aspects of IVF. Lots of shots, apparently lots of craziness, your wife basically feels like she’s on a 2 month long period, egg retrieval, severe lack of patience, and then finally the transfer of a happy embryo to a happy uterus. Wait. The transfer doesn’t work, freeze the embryos, more lack (more lack?)- more lack of patience, more shots, more appointments, more blood tests, more procedures, and then hopefully O. Kurtz makes it through thawing. (As a Floridian, I’m skeptical of that part.)

So, how do I show my wife that I’m in this too? What do I do, as a husband going through IVF with my wife?

What I’ve learned is that even though IVF is absolutely possible without me (you get yourself some sperm, and you can probably get yourself pregnant through IVF), I’m determined to not let Candace figure that out. I’m essential, as the husband, to my wife.

I’m at every Dr. appointment, sharing in my wife’s frustration at traffic. I’m present for shots if I’m in town. I feel a need to share my affection for the “blob” embryo, whose picture is hanging on our fridge.

The most I can really do is just be there for my wife. My presence is all I can offer aside from the whole sperm side of things.

Practical advice #1: Physically and mentally – be there.

You, as the husband, should play a part, if even just a supporting role. To be that supporting role, the husband needs to buy into the effort in the weeks and months to come.

Yeah, sure, you may want a child just as much as your wife. But it’s easy to think “Candace is the one taking the shots so she should probably handle knowing what shots, when, and how much.” (Luckily, I’ve been able to take my personality strengths and incorporate them into the process. I.e. I’m an accountant and love spreadsheets, organization, and so on)

With many aspects of the process being quick visits for blood work and ultrasounds, it’s easy to think, “I’m going to the office an hour late for that? That could have been a phone call.” But, that’s the quick and easy way out for the husband. You need to show, not just tell, that you want to be by your wife’s side at all times.

Now, with regard to medications…

One day, I looked up and realized we were pretty stocked with tons of needles and
patches and alcohol prep pads and pretty much anything I would need to perform medium to heavy surgeries. “Right. This is definitely happening now,” I thought.

I’ve never given a shot to a living being before, and needles are few and far between for me. I wasn’t squeamish at the thought of puncturing another human’s skin, but I wasn’t exactly banging down doors to see 30+ micro-stabbings.

I’m sure Candace’s brain was a terrifying place to be compared to mine. However, that made it so much more vital that I shared my relatively calm thought patterns with her so I could maybe potentially bring her down a notch if needed.

Here’s practical advice #2: I’m a detailed oriented accountant by day, and car nerd by night. Numbers are my game…luckily numbers are relevant in the medical world (so I’ve been told). I saw that I could insert (bit of a needle joke) myself into the process as the one who would draw the medicine into the needle and general equipment gathering.

Neat and orderly, and everything has its place.

I always offer to give the injection with the goal that Candace gets options for what will be most comfortable/least awful for her. Sometimes she takes me up on it, but most times she’ll stick herself. I don’t care either way, I’m just trying to communicate “I’m here.”

(I will say that it was mandatory for me to administer the pre-egg retrieval butt shot. I can’t remember what genus/species that shot consisted of, and it was like stabbing someone with a jumbo paper clip. And you know what? I liked it. I started looking for more people to stab with jumbo paper clips.)

Candace and I were told many times by many people that she could expect some mood swings. I feel like we’ve dodged a bullet on that one as Candace has remained pretty level headed over the last few months. I’ve got no advice there, you’re totally on your own. Godspeed.

What perhaps has changed slightly is her readily available energy. This is another area for you to shine, and I’m sure an ice cream cone can see where this is going.

Remember what I said earlier about “training” Candace to know she can request anything, anytime? It shouldn’t be limited to just IVF, since if that’s successful, I’m told by popular culture and randos in my travels that I need to be ready for 3am Sea Salt Caramel Halo Top runs.

Now, I always try to gently steer situations toward mild efficiency. But, I’ve gotten up off the couch five times during dinner to acquiesce requests. (To be completely honest and fair, one of those times was to stab someone with a jumbo paper clip. But, Candace didn’t know that, because it happened outside and I made sure she knew I loved her as I came back inside and brought her a fresh La Croix.)

Practical advice #3: Life, in general, is a good time to train your wife that you’ll do anything for her to give her peace of mind that she isn’t a burden
during IVF (and then IVF is when you train her that you’ll do anything for her to give her peace of mind that she isn’t a burden during pregnancy.).

Circling back to Christ and his Church, husbands need to be willing to sacrifice themselves for their wives at cost to themselves. You may not appreciate ditching your race day plans to get home 6 hours earlier from an out of town trip so you can make it in time for an injection. However, your sacrifice is that much louder to her the more it costs you.

That’s your privilege, to show her in any way how Christ loves her infinitely and more purely than you ever can.

It’s not about a glass of milk here or there, or cancelling an entire weekend to be present just in case that’s when they schedule the transfer. It’s about you both understanding that one day she will be presented to Christ white as snow, because of his sacrifice for

I have no idea what IVF and our upcoming frozen embryo transfer holds for us. But hopefully my wife knows I’ll be there for her, next to her, and emotionally on board.

Practical advice #4: Most importantly, if she builds a stronger affection for Christ, I’ll count that as my greatest contribution to IVF.


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