I’ve found what I consider the perfect gift for an infertile.
Give your fellow infertile the gift of a bottle of Roller Coaster Wine. Each sip of the wine brings with it a different flavor. Travel the twist and turns from a Syrah to a Petite Sirah. The hills and valleys from Merlot to Cabernet Sauvignon. Feel the rush traveling through Zinfandel, Cabernet Franc, Barbera, Petit Verdot, Carignane, then finish off through the corkscrew of a Malbec and Grenache!
Produced by Meeker Vineyard’s, every sip is like a trip to the doctor’s office. You never know if the next sip will be one you’ll enjoy, or one you’ll regret, but you keep drinking anyway.
Soon you’ll be suffering the 2 minute wait while your partner takes their time finishing their own glass. Then you test to find out if the bottle can fill the glasses again for the ride to continue, or if the bottle is empty causing the ride to abruptly end.
With 14.6% alcohol, this wine has the power to have you flying on top of the world one moment, then knock you flat on your ass the next. Leaving you writhing in pain wondering if when you get past the agony is it worth opening another bottle, or is it time to just throw in the towel.
This bottle of wine wraps up nicely how the year 2012 was for me. Full of joy, wonder, hope, pain and agony, but opening the bottle was still well worth it.
The challenge for this week is to write about a moment when our lives changed in an instant. Couples struggling with infertility are all too familiar with these life changing moments. For the infertility journey isn’t a single instance, but a series of life changing instances.
We start with a dream, built into our instinctual biological fiber, to procreate so a form of our DNA will live on. To have a family of offspring to raise and guide into adulthood hoping they too will continue the process. Thus allowing our DNA to survive our own mortality. A need shared by all living creatures.
After a year of attempting to naturally fulfill this dream, I was asked to submit a semen sample for analysis. The results started the train of life changing moments. Finding out I have a “very low” sperm count and I was the reason behind our struggle to start a family was truly a shocking moment. This left me dazed and confused about my own masculinity, but there was still hope. Hope the problem could be fixed.
This hope led me to a Urologist and was my rookie experience with the infertility waiting game. No longer were these life changing moments a surprise, I knew they were coming. There was a time and place on the calender advertising the event. “Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst” became my motto. There was nothing to prepare me for the utter devastation I felt with the news my Urologist couldn’t find anything correctable. I was left picking up the pieces of a shattered dream and told to take them to a Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE).
I never knew anyone who had tried IVF before. I had little experience with the procedures available to help infertile couples get pregnant. My high school health class was about how the reproductive system worked, nothing about what must be done if it’s not working. The internet was a scary place of confusing abbreviations and high ticket prices to even play the IVF game. My wife and I carried our shattered dream to our RE. With my low expectations, the RE pieced together our dream with information on procedures where men like me could still become a father. He then presented a price list with rates we could reasonably afford despite our lack of insurance coverage for IVF treatments.
We agreed to give IVF a try. Our hopes now rested with a team of doctors to get my wife pregnant, with a backup plan of a few frozen embryos remaining to be used in a second attempt if needed. For 12 days I administered injections into my wife’s lower back, tricking her body into produce more eggs than nature designed it. When the day arrived to collect the eggs, we were so happy to have 9 mature eggs harvested. Followed 2 days later with the terrifying news only 6 fertilized and none of them were growing as expected. The elation the next morning when we arrived for our early transfer and discovered one of the embryos grew to be a top grade, making our RE very positive about our chances.
For 3 days we waited, hoping the remaining 4 embryos would continue to grow to the point they could be frozen and stored. Hearing zero embryos would be frozen guillotined our back up plan, leaving us with our one hope. The date marked on the calender said September 17, 2012 and it would be our moment of truth. The day blood would be drawn to see if my wife was pregnant or not, and it was still 10 days away. Friends and family were reading my blog looking for the latest news. I promised I would update it with the information as soon as we heard from the RE. If the news was good, the writing would come easy. However, a negative result…there was no way I could bring myself to write anything afterwards. I began writing the poem A Dream Lost, pouring all the emotions I thought I would be feeling, but still hoping it wouldn’t be necessary.
The day finally arrived, blood was drawn for testing, and my wife and I sat impatiently by the phone. It barely had a chance to ring when I answered and heard, “We received the results and I’m sorry……….” I hung up, then looked at my wife shaking my head. I held my emotions together long enough to sign in and press “publish” before snapping the lid closed allowing grief to consume me.
The dream was lost.
Relatives offered to pay for another IVF attempt, but the news from the RE was my sperm just isn’t healthy enough to keep embryos growing after the 3rd day. I’ll never have a biological child. Fatherhood may still be in my future, and I will of course raise it as my own. Right now I just need time. Time to grieve my loss. Time to accept my fate. Time to open my heart to other possibilities.
INT KITCHEN – CITY APARTMENT – MORNING
CLOSE UP – WALL CLOCK
We see the second hand move to the 12 position with a LOUD CLOCK TICK. It’s exactly 7 a.m.
ANGLE ON STOVE
A MOTHER in her bathrobe is fixing scrabbled eggs and bacon for her family. Her hair is still wet from the shower. She looks up at the clock.
(Shouts at the doorway.)
The FATHER stumbles in, followed by their SON (age 7) and DAUGHTER (age 4). All three sit down at the table.
We leave in two hours…and I want pictures before we go.
(Mother places a cup of coffee in front of her husband.)
(While serving breakfast.)
(Waits for both kids to look at her.)
I need your help this morning…please do as you’re told so I can get ready.
Can you do that for Mommy?
JOHNNY AND LUCY (Together)
Sweetheart…must I shave my beard? It’s finally looking great.
(She disagrees. Tries gentle approach.)
I know Dear…but I don’t think it’s a good look with a jacket and tie.
He starts to protest. She gets authoritative.
No beard! Start growing a new one tomorrow.
I’m not sure I even remember how to tie one.
I’ll tie it for you…
(She quickly calms herself. Looks lovingly in his
eyes as she fondles his beard.)
Please do this for me.
It’s the kids first family reunion.
(With his look of resignation she smiles.
She then notices Johnny is not eating.)
Eat your eggs.
But I don’t like eggs.
You eat eggs all the time.
Ricky’s Uncle said eating eggs is worse than eating a chick.
Baby chicks are cute…can I have one for a pet?
Father chokes on his eggs while Mother tries to hide her shock.
Why don’t you and Ricky play over here from now on.
(Glancing at the clock she gives in.)
What will you eat?
(Checking the fridge, her patience is running thin.)
We’re out of Eggo’s.
How about a Pop Tart?
She pulls the box of Pop Tarts off the shelf immediately opening it. Father stands up and exits the room.
While she opens the bag.
(Looks up from her now empty plate excited.)
I want a Pop Tart!
You’ve already eaten.
I want a Pop Tart!
Calm down! I’ll make you one too.
Mother proceeds fixing two Pop Tarts. The toaster rings and she starts serving.
Here. When you’re done go watch cartoons while I get ready.
(With a mouth full of Pop Tart)
Mother exits the kitchen.
MASTER BEDROOM WITH BATHROOM DOOR ON REAR WALL
C.U. – DIGITAL ALARM CLOCK
The time is now 7:45 a.m.
ANGLE ON BEDROOM DOOR
We hear WATER RUNNING on the other side of the door. Mother walks into the bedroom carrying shoe polish, a shoe brush and a rag…heading for a bench at the foot of the bed where a pair of dull black dress shoes rest. Her makeup is halfway complete with eye shadow on only one eye.
(To the closed door while
placing the items on the bench.)
I brought some polish for your shoes…they’re looking pretty dull.
While she walks to the bedroom vanity plugging in her curling iron and begins brushing eye shadow on her other eye.
(Now shouting at the door.)
Steven did you hear me!
The door opens. Freshly showered, we see Steven with a towel around his waist. Razor in hand with part of his beard now missing.
Janet I heard you! Just calm down…everything will be fine…
CRASH! (O.S.) Steven retreats shutting the door. Janet leaps to investigate.
(Rushing out the door.)
Lucy is on a chair reaching for a bag of cookies. A broken flour canister on the floor. Flour dust still lingers in the air.
What are you doing?
Getting a cookie.
Janet gets two clean towels out of a drawer. Walks towards Lucy while protecting her hair with the first towel.
You just ate two breakfasts! No cookie!
Lucy jumps off the chair and exits screaming leaving a trail of flour footprints. Janet grabs a broom and begins sweeping.
All I asked for was a little cooperation…
C.U. KITCHEN CLOCK
The time is 7:55, LOUD CLOCK TICK, the time jumps to 8:10.
The bathroom door is shut. Johnny is sitting on the bench trying to put polish on Steven’s shoes, but somehow it also ended up on his hands and face.
(Entering the room holding a towel
wiping the flour that covers her face)
Steven…Can you please give Lucy a quick bath…
Janet sees Johnny and screams.
Look Mom! I’m helping Daddy!
I see that. Why aren’t you watching cartoons?
The bathroom door opens, Steven stumbles out clean shaven, looking uncomfortable.
Janet points at Johnny.
Honey I’m sorry! I was on the toilet…he knocked saying he was bored…
I..I wasn’t thinking.
Just go find Lucy.
(Looks over at the clock,
then directs Johnny towards the bathroom.)
They’ll have to bathe together.
Steven exits. Through the open door we see Janet starting a bath then stripping Johnny’s shirt off.
C.U. MAN’S WATCH ON DRESSER
Time is 8:15. LOUD CLOCK TICK time jumps to 8:22.
ANGLE ON OPEN BATHROOM DOOR
Side view of Janet on her knees washing Johnny (Just O.S.). She looks frustratingly out the door and we see her makeup has been washed off along with the flour.
ANGLE ON BEDROOM DOOR.
Steven enters leading Lucy by the hand.
C.U. LUCY’S FEET STILL LEAVING A TRAIL OF FLOUR.
ANGLE ON OPEN BATHROOM DOOR
Steven lifts Lucy into the tub (o.s), then removes her nightgown tossing aside.
In the tub kiddo.
What took so long?
Couldn’t find her.
Couldn’t you follow the trail?
With loathing frustration, Janet stands up and starts to exit the bathroom.
Please finish this….I need to curl my hair.
Janet sits down at her vanity and begins using the curling iron.
A minute later Steven enters from the bathroom.
They’re playing in the tub…I’ll get dressed.
Janet nods continuing to curl her hair. Steven starts getting dressed and Janet glances at her watch.
C.U. JANET’S WATCH ON VANITY
Time is 8:27. LOUD CLOCK TICK time jumps to 8:35.
Janet unplugs the curling iron and opens her foundation. Steven is now fully dressed. He approaches Janet holding his necktie.
Janet rushes in. Johnny is out of the tub wrapped in a towel. Lucy covered in bubbles is giggling.
Why did you poop in the tub?
I was making bubbles like Johnny.
Go dress your son.
(To Janet looking disgusted)
Mom! I need another bath.
Did it touch you?
Steven and Johnny exit. Janet drains the tub then wraps a towel around Lucy and carries her into the bedroom.
Lets get your dress on.
C.U. ALARM CLOCK
Time is 8:43. LOUD CLOCK TICK time jumps to 8:50.
Janet is now wearing an unzipped dress. Lucy sits on the bed wearing her dress and gloves while Janet struggles putting Lucy’s stockings on. Johnny enters wearing his jacket, black socks and shorts.
Can I wear shorts?
It’s the middle of January…you can’t wear shorts.
Lucy is wearing a dress?
Well she must learn to suffer for beauty…besides…she is wearing stockings.
What is wrong with your pants?
Why didn’t you tell me this two days ago?
Tough! Put your pants on!
Johnny exits. Lucy lays on the bed. Janet starts throwing makeup from her vanity into a bag.
Steven enters looking uncomfortable.
Babe we’ve got to go…you’re not even…
Janet gives Steven her “If looks could kill” stare.
I’ll put my makeup on in the car!
Is Johnny dressed?
Yes…Do we have anything for constipation?
Are you kidding me? You couldn’t have said something earlier?
Well you were busy and I didn’t want to bother you.
We have a two hour drive to the reception hall…we’re not stopping half-way for you! I have some Ex-Lax in my purse…you can take it when we arrive.
Bring me your tie and zip up my dress!
Janet ties the necktie then Steven zips her dress.
Grab the camera. I at least want a picture of the kids.
Janet looks at the watch on her wrist.
C.U. JANET’S WATCH
The time is 9:00
OUT – FRONT OF APARTMENT BUILDING – MORNING
Outside the kids stand next to each other while Steven tries to take their picture. Janet tries directing the kids for the picture she is hoping for. Johnny is digging for gold. Lucy is obviously cold.
Johnny quit picking your nose!
Stop fidgeting and stand still.
(Sweet Motherly voice.)
I know baby, just a couple pictures and we will be on our way.
Hold your sister’s hand.
Steven will you get in there so I can get a picture?
Why can’t you? I’m…
We are reminded Janet isn’t wearing makeup yet.
Steven hands her the camera then stands in the middle of the children and holds their hands.
Janet raises the camera to take a picture.
No one bothers as Janet takes the picture. She looks at the screen to see the result.
C.U. ON THIS PICTURE…
ANGLE ON JANET
Screw it! Everyone just get in the car!
Johnny goes to wipe a booger on Lucy’s dress
Don’t you dare!
Johnny wipes it on his jacket.
This weeks writing challenge is to finish the sentence, “I wish I were…”
I wish I were fertile dammit!
That’s the obvious answer. Wishing for fertility won’t make it happen and will only cause me more grief. But I came to another realization this weekend while baking brownies…from scratch…
I wish more people were aware brownies needn’t come in a box.
My Mother instilled in me a joy for baking. About once a week she would bake some sort of treat for the family. Cookies, cakes, pies for the holidays, she had a variety of recipes to choose from that could be made with staple ingredients she always had on hand. Once in a while she would use a box mix for cakes, but never brownies. Her brownies were always made from scratch. A recipe she knew by heart that was passed down from her Grandmother. One that she’s been practicing since she was a little girl.
Being the first born, I was Mom’s little helper in the kitchen when it came time to bake.
My first responsibility was Mixing Bowl and Beater Clean-up. She would hand me the bowl and beaters after the batter was in the oven and expect me to lick up all the excess batter remaining. I loved that job. Hunting for every scrap of gooey goodness before placing the bowl in the sink and filling it with soap and water. A job I resisted sharing with my sister when she grew old enough to help too.
I then graduated to mixing pie crusts. There were no frozen pie crusts in the freezer section of the store, we had to make it. Mom would place the shortening and flour in a bowl, then hand me a fork. I would sit there mixing until all the flour changed color and the clumps were as small as possible. She loved how flaky her crust would turn out whenever I mixed the batch, making it my permanent job whenever she baked a pie. A fact I took great pride in.
Holiday cookies were always so much fun. Rolling the little balls to make “snowball” cookies. Cutting out the sugar cookies and decorating them. Hand cranking the nut grinder for any recipe requiring chopped nuts. Tasting the first warm cookies to make sure they turned out well. Plus there was always a bowl or beater in need of cleaning!
I’ll always remember those times spent in the kitchen with my Mother. Fond memories relived whenever I get in the mood to bake something.
This last weekend when my wife was craving chocolate, I thought “brownies” and wanted to surprise her. I found a recipe for brownies on the Internet matching the ingredients in my kitchen and went to work. (I was missing a couple ingredients for my Mother’s recipe.) I started measuring, mixing, chopping and even tasting just as I always did with my Mother.
My wife had never made brownies from scratch, and questioned how I could make brownies without a box mix. I wonder how many others think the recipe for brownies starts with buying a box mix from a store? Needless to say she loved the brownies and they satisfied her chocolate craving at a time when the only chocolate in the house was chocolate powder.
I wish I were able to share the joys of baking with my child. Establishing wonderful memories that will last their lifetime. But since I won’t be able to…I sincerely wish you will with yours!
Edit: My Mother was happy to share her recipe.
Mom’s Homemade Brownies (not out of a box)
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
2/3 cup shortening
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped nuts
Heat oven to 350*. Grease baking pan. 13x9x2 inches. Melt chocolate and shortening in a large saucepan over low heat (can now be done in microwave) Remove from heat. Let slightly cool. Mix in sugar, eggs and vanilla. Stir in remaining ingredients. Spread in pan. Bake 30 minutes or until brownies start to pull away from sides of pan. Do not overbake. Cool slightly. Cut into bars. About 2×1-1/2 inches. Makes approximately 32 cookies
For this weeks challenge, we are being asked to write about a controversial topic. And the question for the chosen topic is…
How do you feel about children in adult-oriented places?
No, not strip clubs and titty bars. Of course not those places you perv. We’re talking about fancy restaurants, art museums, symphonies or plays at a theater. The root of the question is: “How do you feel about children in locations where adult behavior is expected?” And that my friends is where the question falls flat on its face.
I’ve met some very well behaved children that I would have no problem sitting nearby while I ate my $60 steak. Are these kids perfect…of course not, they’re just kids. They act up, the parents correct them, and the evening continues. If that isn’t enough, the parents will remove the child until the child calms down. More than likely those types of parents would hire a sitter next time and try again when the child is a little older.
I’ve also been embarrassed by adults that should really know better. Climbing on a statue for a photograph when there is even a sign posted, “Please do not climb on statue.” Or the time some jerk threw a whole bale of hay into the bonfire almost burning the party host’s house down. I can’t help but wonder if they would behave better as adults, if their parents actually taught them etiquette by including them in activities where proper behavior was expected.
I say if you are wanting to teach your children how to behave like an adult, you should expose them to situations requiring that behavior. If you have no interest in your child’s behavior, then please get a sitter; but more than likely you’re going to be annoying me anyway with phone beeps while texting with your friends all evening.
For me, restricting children from these events depends on if the child is ready to learn these lessons, and each child is different. This happens to be one of those lessons I had tucked away for my child. I was willing to risk leaving a pleasant evening early over a misbehaved child to teach lessons that would be beneficial for the rest of their lives. Just as my parents did with me.
Now if we could just ban idiots. In my Venn Diagram parents who don’t watch their children are already included.
Green with IVF
By Matthew Wanner
Green is the money spent on a wish,
for a child to call our own.
Purple are the bruises on my wife’s back,
just inside each hipbone.
White are my knuckles as I readied each shot,
frightened I am causing her pain.
Red is the love I feel for my wife,
for a resolve that never did wane.
Green are my wife’s beautiful eyes,
I once hoped a child would share.
Brown would be fine, just like mine,
eye color I no longer did care.
Yellow is the road of our hopes and dreams,
wondering what it’s gender might be.
Blue are the tears, hopes replaced by fears,
for a child we never would see.
Green I am with envy,
watching coworkers ask off to give birth.
Black is my shame for feeling that way,
tying fertility to my own self-worth.
Orange will be tomorrow’s sky at dawn,
certain the sun will rise.
What color comes next is anyones guess,
waiting on life’s next surprise.
This weeks challenge is to add a splash of color to your blog.