Sunday, September 16, 2007

Tell Me You Love Me: Episode 02

Okay, here's my weekly rundown for my non-HBO peeps and for those who watched tonight.

In the beginning of the episode, Carolyn pees on an OPK and she's surging. She yells down to Palek, who is watching a football game and eating, basically telling him he needs to perform. He continues to watch the game and eat while she waits in the bedroom impatiently. Eventually, he comes up and they DTD but you could tell he wasn't really into it. I think we've all experienced "going through the motions". We want a baby so badly that sometimes the intimacy subsides temporarily for the physical need for sperm.

Next, they meet with Carolyn's sister for brunch. While they are eating, a baby cries in the restaurant and the sister says, "can't they take that out of here?" She casually says maybe she should "pop one out". As the sister excuses herself, Carolyn tells Palek that if her sister gets pregnant before she does, she is going to kill herself. Palek consoles her and says he understands. God knows I've been in this position more than I care to admit. I still feel that way about some of my family and friends. Tell me I'm not the only one.

They are back in therapy. The therapist asked if they tried again this month and Palek says they try every month. They try to convince the therapist that their intimacy has not been damaged but eventually, Palek admits that he has problems performing at the drop of a hat and that he feels they are "connecting over something that doesn't exist". The therapist suggests they go to testing but he doesn't feel ready. He did say he didn't want them to keep it a secret anymore because he doesn't want to feel ashamed about their struggle. Carolyn argues she'd rather keep it private since it is a personal issue. She walks out and admits to Palek that she's had testing done. She says she was afraid something was wrong with her and that she was hurt he could say all this stuff to the therapist but not to her. She eventually apologizes with a nice dinner. He is hesitant but eventually accepts. How do you feel about this scene? Do you feel that when you are having sex on demand that you are connecting over something that is intangible? I admit I feel this way sometimes. I miss just being the two of us, when we want to instead of when we have to. Instead, I feel there are all these different parties involved in our lovemaking. It gets tiresome.

Do you share your infertility struggle with family and friends or keep it a secret to shield yourself from hurtful comments or tips? DH and I decided to come out of the IF closet after we began testing. However, there are times when I wish we hadn't.

Later on, in bed, Palek expresses concern over whether it is him that is the problem. He asks Carolyn what would happen if it actually was him and she says she doesn't know (even though in the last episode, she asked the RE about the donor sperm process). He got the sense that she wanted it to be him and although she dismissed him, we all know it is sorta true. I personally think it was easier for me to accept that it was me with the problem. I've never wished my husband to have the diagnosis. However, when you are unexplained, often you will probably do anything just to have an answer. I know that with our unexplained losses, I don't care who the problem lies with - I just want to know what it is. It isn't about placing the blame on someone. It's about knowing what is wrong so you can find a solution.

I believe that this show is more about what is unsaid than the spoken word. The acting is really good IMO. And it feels real to me. Intimacy is so much more than just the act of sex. It is built on the foundation of what we do day by day. I think this show, despite its graphic content, really gets to the core of that. Some people may feel it is boring because it isn't glitzy, glamorous or action packed. But I think it accurately portrays real life. Lasting relationships aren't always fun and sex isn't always enjoyable as much as we'd like to be. I'm liking it more after seeing it again. I wonder if one of the writers has firsthand experience with IF to know this stuff?

ETA: On the HBO website today, there are videos of how other couples responded to the episode. I thought some of the feedback was poignant (others I wanted to smack). You can also submit your own video to HBO, which is pretty cool. I wonder if DH would be up for it...


LeRoy Dissing said...

Sounds like the show does bring out the struggles couples face with infertility in a realistic way. I am fairly certain they are consulting with folks who are actually experiencing or have experienced infertility otherwise the show would not resonnate with people like yourself.

I honestly don't know how I would react if we had been infertile. There is a part of me that would not want the world to know until it could be resolved. I think it is a private matter that only the individual couples can decide. I don't believe there is a right or wrong answer and I would like to believe that whatever a couple decides - no one will ever pass judgement on them.

I do agree with you about not fixing blame on one or the other for the infertility. I see nothing productive about doing that and everything counter-productive in it. No solution is ever found by blaming someone for a problem they had no control over IMO.

You are so right about intimacy. Intimacy is sharing thoughts and feelings more so than one's body via sex. And I think intimacy takes time to develop and maintain...and to me, its more about the little things one says/does that show consideration and respect. Those things create the atmosphere for intimacy to florish, again in my opinion.

I don't get HBO but enjoy your description of the progam - enough so I can comment on.

Carrie said...

It sounds like someone has been here or, at least, researched well.

It would be interesting to know what someone who hasn't suffered IF might think. Would they think the character was over reacting? or does it help inform people?

I don't think I understood beforehand, I hope this might just help someone understand.

Baby Steps to Baby Shoes said...

I am convinced that one of the writers has gone through infertility and may even be part of the IF blogosphere due to that comment about not wanting advice from everyone and her aunt. I am convinced it was an "Aunt Jane" reference.

Ann said...

I often talk flippantly about my "defective body." My husband hates it when I say things like that, but I assure him that I'm not all self-loathing; I sort of wear it as a badge of honor that I have a problem with an actual name. Part of that is because I've known all my life that something was wrong with me (a couple of periods a year is a BIG clue). It's nice to be able to specifically explain what is wrong with me to other people.

With guys it's different, I think. Sperm count is seen as a sign of manliness.

Barb said...

First off - No you aren't the only one. My friend is now on her 3rd... was pg with her 2nd while we were on our first, and man am i jealous. I feel like she shoved me in line or something.

Secondly - Sometimes the sex life suffers for us, and sometimes it's better. There are times when it feels more meaningful b/c of what we're doing. There's also the fun "no protection" part. I also never cycled well, and have realized that sex during fertile times is much, much better.

As for whom we've told? I've told some family members and friends as the topic has come up. Some surprised me with amazingly supportive reactions and down to earth thoughts. Others, I wish I had never told because now they won't leave me alone. On the bright side.. I didn't want to tell the MIL b/c she's so pushy, but when DH finally told her, she never bothers me at ALL anymore.

(Ann - I have had the EXACT same thoughts/problems with my body!)
Thanks for your recap!

Leah said...

First off, let me compliment you on your gorgeous haircut from the last post. I love it!!

I've never seen this show, and don't have HBO so I suppose I won't see it. But I definitely relate to how much it sucks to have sex when you really don't feel like it. I just can't shake that feeling of "this is NOT how it's supposed to be!"

Of course now that we practically aren't even in the same room when most of the babymaking stuff is going on (thanks to IUIs and IVFs), that only further underscores how disconnected our passion is from sex. So, so sad.

In the beginning, we told everyone we could find about our IF stuggles and the details of our treatments and cycles. Then it just got old, I felt like the traveling library van or something -- constantly dispensing information out. Plus when I didn't want to talk about things, I felt guilty like I was going to be labeled as having a bad attitude.

So, for our last 2 cycles, we haven't told a soul (except my sister and 1 close friend). I definitely prefer it that way, but in reality it's sort of a best of both worlds scenario. Because of prior history, everyone knows we struggle with infertility so they are keenly aware of (most of) their comments. However, no one has asked us recently what's going on because they assume we aren't cycling.

jessica said...

I'm going to have to watch this show sometime. I used to tell everyone about our cycles, full details, family and friends. But, I have noticed the emotional affect I was having when I had to say "Nope, not pregnant this time!" I would become depressed and it just wasn't healthy for me. So, this is the first cycle we are doing without telling anyone anything. We're going to keep it between us. Therefore, if we do not end up pregnant, we won't be so upset about it!

We try to joke about everything, even having to have timed intercourse every month. Seriously, you have to have a sense of humor when it comes to infertility.

Wordgirl said...

Honestly I JUST blogged about this show -- though I watched on my On Demand feature and so was a little behind the times...I completely think this show catches alot of the undercurrents...I never had a problem telling people our struggle...but variations of the other things -- the increasing clinical nature of it all, the forced intimacy etc...

chicklet said...

I'm happy the show's addressing it and I think they must've done some research to be able to cover it the way they have, but I find her not telling him about her appointments unbelievable. The husband and I have talked all of this to death and I can't imagine not sharing that with him. Maybe they're going off 'crazy ladies who want to be pregnant" but that part bugs me - it's too much that she didn't tell him. However, the way they argue/talk/screw/can't screw, that seems real to me.

Baby Steps to Baby Shoes said...

I watched those videos and am so ANGRY! They couldn't get even one infertile couple to comment?!!!! The couple that was most sympathetic was the lesbian couple. and not one heterosexual couple identified most with the infertile couple. Ugh!

Elizabeth said...

This post made me think about a lot of different things... I'm about to fall asleep right now though, so I'll save it for another day. But I wanted to say I love the haircut!!

Trish said...

You've already seen my comments on the episode on my blog, so you know I'm mostly happy with the emotional aspects and not happy with the details.
I don't really like how they've painted her to be such a harpy. Yes, sometimes I can be a raging bitch.. but it's usually to mask my pain. We haven't yet seen the softer side of her. I hope we get to it, soon.

As for how it affects our sex life.. well.. it was awful for a while. God forbid he be tired. One night.. oh lord.. One night I think we went at it for 3 hours because he just couldn't finish. All over the house, ever position you can think of. It SOUNDS hot, but it SO wasn't. It was a chore. "Is this working? No. How 'bout this? Better? No? Let's try this." Awful.
It's honestly gotten a lot better since we've started the IUIs. It really takes the pressure off. I feel a little bit weird that both of our lost babies were conceived in a clinic somewhere, but honestly, that's totally worth it to not be angry because he couldn't perform.. Hell, now if I'M not in the mood, I don't feel like I just have to.
There were many days we'd have sex and I'd get up and run to the bathroom (after the required feet up period, of course.) and just cry. It was empty sex. Which I never expected to have with my husband. I don't expect us to have slow love making, but appointment sex. Well, I'm glad those days are behind us.

You mention the scene from the first episode where she's looking at his semen. I didn't take it as "analyzing" it in a professional way. We have male factor and honestly.. I do look. When the opportunity arises that I get a look at what he's produced, I'm guaging it for volume.. how thick is it.. thing he's had a problem with it. Plus there is a fascination with it.. That is what I need.. and there it is. The stuff I avoided for how many years and now it's all I want out of life. Such a twisted fairy tale.

As for sharing with family & friends- I joke that we're so out of the closet we're not in the house anymore. It's true. Everyone knows.
When I first came out, I talked about it to anyone who would listen. Now, though.. it's not really this thing that has happened to us. It's a way of life. So while I don't shy away from mentioning it, I don't go out of my way, either. Sometimes when I mention a procedure or something, people look at me curiously and ask if we're still trying. I always say we've never stopped.

Having them know has been mostly good. It's stopped all the "when are you guys going to..." questions, which is nice. Though sometimes I do get unwelcome (and often erroneous) advice fairly frequently. Usually I just take that opportunity to clear up any misconceptions and thank them for thinking of me. (Then immediately go to a forum for IFs somewhere and bitch about it.)

I do want to talk about the resentment, though. I have some mild ovulatory issues, and the husband has pretty moderate male factor issues. You'd think there would be no blame because it's both of us. But there is. And there were times when he couldn't do what needed to be done (before IUIs) that I was so angry.. it was HIS fault we weren't pregnant that month. And even he expressed the same feelings. I always tried to reassure him that it was fine and we'd try again, but it was false. Inside I was often thinking "YES. YES IT IS!" I was so angry at our circumstances that I would lash out at him. Never TO him because I never wanted to hurt him, but I had very dark thoughts.
And I have them about myself. It's likely the miscarriages are because my eggs suck. Or because I'm fat or a million things that basically are ME. And I feel so much guilt about it.. wondering if my body killed our babies.
And I resent my circumstances.. my body.. my inability to be a normal sized person.. It's a lot.
Sometimes it's better, sometimes it's worse. The last few months I've been more accepting of what we're in, but sometimes it rears up and I get very angry all over again.

Anyway, thank you for the post. I find your thoughts, and everyone else's, very interesting. And even if it's not perfect, I'm very glad to see the topic really looked at on HBO.

dmarie said...

DH and I watched the 1st episode and I have the 2nd on tivo. I'm so glad you are mentioning it b/c you reminded me to watch and I like it so far.

We haven't shared a lot with family. They know there are some "problems" but they have no idea to what extent.

We'll definitely keep watching.

Elizabeth said...

I've had the opposite problem from Trish; he needs me there in order to perform. There seems to be a mental block about the cup, which has meant 2 cancelled IUIs.

When we were in the first year before testing, he kept saying "I think it's me." I thought it was, too. I'm 7.5 years younger than he is and dammit, I LOOK fertile! Just look at these HIPS!!! Well, we're "unexplained," but he checks out fine. I just have a short luteal phase and low progesterone, which are relatively easy "fixes" - though no luck yet.

Like Trish, I have certainly had those nights of hiding my sobs afterwards... once, the sadness extended into the following morning.

As for being in the closet, the longer this goes on the more I keep cluing people in... sometimes they turn out to be fellow SQs, sometimes I'm surprised by who "gets it" even when they're not in my stirrups, as it were. We're pretty reticent with the family though.

Kami said...

This is a thoughtful post and I enjoyed reading the comments too. I am just too emotionally spent to comment, but I wanted to let you know I am still lurking.

I love the hair too! The funny thing is that it looks a lot like my current hair cut. What are the odds?

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