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Normal People Don’t Talk About This

a blog by Julie Monacelli, September 5, 2013

I work in a primarily male dominated profession. I am a paramedic in an urban area. I have to be able to hang with the guys, which means I have to be able to swear like a drunken sailor, hold my own in a fist fight and carry the same amount of weight up and down a couple flights of stairs, because believe me chivalry is dead. Watch an episode of “Rescue Me” when the men talk about bedding a woman and that’s the world I live in. I can listen to them talk about the breasts on a woman, her backside, or her vagina for hours. Mindless banter about sex can go on and on all shift long. Heck, I can keep up with them and one up them, but want to see me clear out a room? I will bring up my infertility treatments. I’m talking about the medical treatment of the aforementioned body parts, and bam! Everyone has something to do. Anything, other than stick around and talk to me. Vaginas are for sex apparently, and there are no alternatives to this in the male mind.

During my very first cycle, I remember asking my boss for one day off, to switch with another employee. He asked why, and I told him for a medical procedure. He persisted. I told him I was doing in vitro fertilization (IVF) and I needed the day off for egg retrieval. He said that was fine, went into his office. A few minutes later he returned, asking if that meant I just needed the day off to stay home and have sex all day. Since my boss was the quintessential prude, I so very desperately just wanted to say “yes” and be done with the conversation. I knew that would end it with him blushing, my request being approved and us never speaking of this again. Any future requests would be summarily approved for fear of having this same conversation again. However, I took the time to try to educate him on the in vitro process, including the medical aspect involved, the time and money invested into this, and the emotional toll being taken. I went over eggs & sperm, petri dishes, labs in cities that would hold my future children, etc. I gave him a primer in embryo development. My conversation went nowhere. In the end, it boiled down to if there were magazines in the room where the semen sample was collected. Score one for testosterone driven thinking, and for him returning my attempts at procreation into a seedy romp in a spank tank.

I spend over 40 hours a week in an ambulance with the same person. No topics are off limits, and inside the ambulance is our version of Vegas. What happens there stays there. My work partner is male; in fact, the last two have been male. While they have both been supportive, in their own unique ways, I do my best to avoid talking about my treatments. Two partners ago showed his support by continuously asking “Are you knocked up yet?” Some might be offended by this, please don’t be. It was genuinely his way of showing concern, without giving up his “man card” that keeps him securely in the gentleman’s club. My most recent partner actually gets a glassy look when I talk about infertility. It’s as if he doesn’t want to admit that the vagina is anything more than, well, for fun.

When it comes to infertility, I have learned that normal people don’t talk about this. Not if you don’t want to clear out a room, or lose your friends to the 50 mile stare. People just can’t relate. They have no idea what I am going through, and after a year, I have learned that I can’t expect them to. So, for all of you out there that DO know what I am going through, it’s time to take my lovenox… and put my progesterone suppository in. And, if I am correct, tomorrow, I will get yet another negative beta and I will have no one to talk to except all of you online that understand me.


Comments (11)

what a great post Julie. I really enjoyed true what happens when ppl cannot relate to ur experiences...keep us posted! best wishes to you on ur journey.

Hi there! Followed you over here from FT. Love how you write! I laughed through this whole thing (even though I know this is hardly a funny subject. I do find it odd that your boss, being in the medical field, would be asking such strange questions. I guess we can't assume there's any kind of cross-pollination in the medical field whatsoever. Case in point--how my own PCP had *no* idea about whether scarring would occur from repeated IM injection. And how my RE is the one who referred me to her because he too had no idea. How can they not know? Isn't it their jobs to know? Sigh.

I had to chuckle about your comment. I had a similar interaction one time with an emergency room doctor that was treating me for migraines. I explained that I was doing infertility treatments to get pregnant, and the birth control pills were giving me migraines. I knew immediately he didn't believe my story because who in their right mind is on birth control pills to get pregnant. Oxymoron? Yes.

Thanks for the feedback Hoping!

I totally agree with this - it is impossible to talk to friends and people close. Even moms who have had some problems getting pregnant in the past don't want to listen!

Totally get where you are coming from I feel that everyone should be educated on infertility its just like any other disease its always been a hush subject for some reason I tell everyone around me my story and now everyone asks how we are doing and after every bfn we get that sad look and I always say we just keep pushing forward from here. Love your blog Julie

Great post and it's true! Having an online family, like the ones at or wherever yours might be, can make the difference and provide the support we need during this journey. I also find a lot of men are really turned off by anything medical... man card or not. :)

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