Sunday, September 10, 2006

The Happiest Infertile on the Block

You may need to bear with me here. I'm pretty sure I have something worthwhile to say, but I'm just not sure how long it may take for me to get there. This could be a long post.

For the purposes of an executive summary, I'll state my conclusion first. Based on my own personal experiences during fatherhood, as well as during infertility, feedback from my wife, and your insightful comments, I think I can confidently state the following:

Infertile women are exactly like toddlers.

Now, don't get all bunjed up. Let me explain.

Obviously, there are some differences. Infertile women don't poop themselves, for example. (For the most part). But I think, if I do a good job expressing my point here, you'll agree with me by the end of this post.

First, a little background is in order. 2 years ago (2 years ago Wednesday, actually), when the Buggins was born, we were given a DVD called The Happiest Baby on the Block. It's by some Dr. named Karp or something. Has a famous book that goes along with it; I'm sure some of you have heard of this guy. Anyway, we didn't watch it for a long time, because honestly, we're just not that type of couple. We don't go in for alot of the how-to videos. We don't read directions. Half the shit in my house doesn't work as a result, but still, that's just not how we roll.

Anyway, after Buggins was about 4 weeks old, my wife and I had aged about 10 years (my wife maybe 20). The kid was crying all the time, up all night, it was awful. One day, at our wits end and in a total fog, we popped in this DVD. This Karp guy is a freaking MAGICIAN. Seriously, he made babies stop crying like he was pulling some kind of crazy Jedi mind trick on them. I wondered if it was some kind of Industrial Light & Magic special effect. This couple would hand him a screaming kid, he would hold it a certain way, whisper something, and the kid was jello. Smiling. Even SLEEPING.

Fair to say, the good Dr. Karp changed our lives. He's kind of a swarmy, annoying, dirty looking man with one of those scraggly half beards, (the kind that makes you wonder why the guy bothers to grow one at all) so I elevate him to this status with great hesitation. But he earned it.

So fastforward about a year. We come upon the sequel DVD, entitled The Happiest Toddler on the Block. We buy it. We buy two copies, in case we lose one. He's that good.

So in this toddler video, he really gets inside the mind of the toddler. He knows how they think. He has an inside line there. He says that when they have a tantrum, usually about nothing in particular (i.e. wanting a cookie, wanting to watch Elmo, etc) the reason for the tantrum isn't actually because of the sadness that they are not allowed to do or have that thing in question. It's because they feel as though we (the parents) are not getting it. We're not validating their desire for that delicious cookie. Saying things like "Ohh, it's ok, don't worry, cookies aren't that good", or "Don't worry, you'll have a cookie someday" don't come close to addressing the issue. That's ignoring the issue, actually.

At first I was totally skeptical of this. I figured kids have tantrums because they're BAD. But again Karp was shown with a toddler who was literally busting a nut over the fact that he/she wanted a cookie. And Karp looked the kid right in the eye and yelled "WANT COOKIE!! WANT COOKIE!! WANT COOKIE!!!". The kid actually paused, looked at the guy for a second (probably wondering about his half-beard) and then wandered off, having totally forgotten about the cookie.

Amazing. So we tried it. When we figured out what Buggins was yelling about, we yelled about it too. And sure enough, she stopped yelling.

I'll give you a recent example, it actually happened yesterday. Buggins has 2 pairs of Crocs, those weird plastic shoes. She has a pink pair, and a green pair. She's obsessed with them. So yesterday, she was dressed in an outfit that begged for the green pair, but prohibited the pink pair. We were going to a nice dinner, and we didn't want her dressed in her typical crazy-ass fashions. So I said "Buggins, you have to wear the green shoes". She LOST it. Started screaming and crying. I said "Green shoes, Buggins", and she kept on screaming, only LOUDER. She lay down on the floor and screamed bloody murder. Finally, I started pounding my fist in the air yelling "WANT PINK SHOES!!! WANT PINK SHOES!! I WANT PINK SHOES!!!! I WANT PINK SHOES!!! " And sure enough, she stopped crying, walked over to me, crawled on my lap, and put those green shoes on HERSELF. Then walked away, happy as a clam.

So this is where I circle back to my main point, about infertile women. You're probably seeing where I'm headed with this. I've been spending all my time saying things like "Ohh, it's ok, there's always next month" and "Shhhh, just try to relax, I'm sure the doctors know what they are doing..." And I've been getting NOWHERE, as anyone who read this blog knows. What I SHOULD be doing is pumping my fist in the air, and, depending on the situation at hand, yelling "INFERTILITY SUCKS!! OUR DOCTOR SUCKS! SHOTS SUCK! THAT NURSE SUCKS!! IVF SUCKS! PREGNANT WOMEN SUCK!!!"

It seems so simple....yet brilliant. My wife wants me to empathize with her situation, not necessarily fix it. I hear her complain about a problem, and my first instinct is to a) solve the problem, or b) minimize the importance of the problem.

I clearly can't do A, and attempting B is a surefire way to get my ass kicked.

So I've started yelling right along with her, and it really seems to making a huge difference. It's like a Jedi-mind trick.

I'm thinking of growing a scraggly half-beard.

p.s. Took the buggins to the Dr. today. No sign of a UTI, so who knows what the story is with the "boo boo". Could be the effects of too much time spent watching "Elmo's Potty Time" video.


Anonymous said...

Oh My God. Funny - really funny. And the good doctor is right, we just want you to listen and agree, we dont want you to try to fix the problem. Maggie

Krista said...

Hilarious and oh so true. I want husband to understand. I want him to get it. I want him to be as upset/frustrated/angry as I am. I don't want him to fix it, if it could be fixed that easily I would have done it already.

Great post.

N said...

:D. Soon you will even be eligeble for a laser sword....maybe. Progress!!!

Glad to read that The Buggins is doing good!

fisher queen said...

Wow. You are absolutely right.

This is the one and only time I will condone being compared to a toddler.

serenity said...

I can't tell you how many times I've told J that there's a two year old having a temper tantrum inside me with this infertility crap.

When I see a pregnant woman it screams "I WANT THAT!" It's the craziest thing.

Not sure I'm happy about the theorem that infertile women are toddlers, but I do agree that there's a toddler in there somewhere. :)

One Mother's Journey said...

I agree completely even though I thought the post was going to piss me off in the beginning. Well done.

While that certainly works with spouces - I can't imagine my "pregnant with twins" neighbor is going to get it when I start my tantrum. LOL

serenity said...

To your comment on my blog: I'm almost positive we don't go to the same clinic right now - I'm at BIVF - last Saturday I was at their Waltham clinic and didn't see any uber-cute toddlers in crocs. :)

My offer stands - I'd love to meet your wife and the Buggins and kvetch about how much IF sucks. Feel free to email me whenever.

rypa said...

Genuis. And I thought I'd outgrown the toddler stage.

Hope548 said...

You are so very right! Great post. My husband pretty much refuses to read blogs, but I'm going to make him read this one so he will understand what it is I need from him. Thank you for laying it out so clear for us, and congratulations on figuring out how best to support your wife!

Katie said...

Marriages around the world will be saved. Bravo!

spark said...

So true. So true.

OHN said...

Mars and Venus--we may never totally understand each other completely. Why is it that men need to "fix" everything when all we women want you to do is feel.When we were infertile, I wanted to have my husbands baby and kill him during the same time period :)

candy said...

genuis. i am forwarding this to my friend (who has a toddler) and my husband (who has me)! and i wasn't mad at the beginning of the post, because i've written about being a toddler myself. you just said it better.

My Reality said...

I think you may have found a way to make millions. You should write a book directed at the men who are dealing with women who may be *slightly irrational* while going through fertility treatments. Seriously, you now have the insight of several women and you really seem to have figured so much of this out. You could be famous and a millionaire!

soralis said...

So sorry about the cancelled cycle, that sucks!

You may be the first man to figure out women! (by the way you do know we change the game when you figure us out!) I was wondering where that post was going when I read the beginning, thanks for a giggle on an otherwise lousey day!

Take care

theoneliner said...


since my hubbie figured this out we have never been happier since before TTC.

glad you're there too.

Katie said...

P.S. Shared this with hubbie last night. As he is a man of few words, I will fill in the blanks, although, you men out there probably don't need the narrative:

Me: So what do you think about that post?

Hubby takes a swig of his beer.

(Experience has shown me to wait a moment; he's processing the info.)

Hubby: Damn.

(I smile. He's impressed.)

Hubby: So we could have saved the $500 for that marriage retreat last spring.

(I smile. He's REALLY impressed.)

Hubby: Damn!

Patricia said...

it's true. and it's funny. but i think it's the case for humanity.

we want to feel heard.

TechetteMom said...

I just want you to know that I emailed this post to my hubby (we are TTC#2 with male factor and I'm 37 and in Massachusetts - we know eachother IRL?)

And when I found out my pg was chemical this time around, he stomped his feet and yelled that "Its not fair! Those stupid doctors! The world is not fair!" and I have to say it made me laugh out loud! Good job! (My hubby is extremely proud of himself b/c usually I would end up crying when he said something like: "Well, I'll bet it will work next time!"

Stacie said...

Oh. My. God.

This is scarily accurate. And funny.

mandolyn said... might be my hero. Well, and the crazy bearded doctor. I hear he's pretty much a hero, too.

I know so many people who naturally want to be "fixers" and it's definitely caused me to go into a tantrum more than once. I think an infertile edition to the Happiest On the Block DVD collection might actually get us somewhere...

Tigger said...

I stumbled here from Stirrup Queens.

OMG...thank you for this. I am so showing this to my husband. He's been the laid back sort - although he does his best to understand. He doesn't "fix" it, but he doesn't yell about it either. I want to know he's angry too!

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you...and I wish you lots of luck on your journey.

Adrienne said...

Exactly: empathize, do not attempt to fix. That is the key. Pat yourself on the back because you now occupy the rarified air of 2% of the husband population that have worked this one out. Mine's there too, and I thank G*d for it. ;-)

Dramalish said...

Hell yes.

And you're right. HBOTB saved my freakin' butt. I can't wait for the toddler version.

Sidenote: There are DVD's??? And like a fool, I've been READING.

Thanks for a great post. I may have to bookmark this one.

linda said...

Great post. You're right on target. I want my other half to scream with me, understand fully why pregnant women piss me off, not offer solutions to a frustrating as all situation that has no solution.

I am sending him here to read this.

CupidsNetwork said...

I would say that the Happiest Baby on the Block has some very good points to help your kid sleep. I have read parts of Happiest toddeler on the block but I am all to informed because it is the "baby bible" to my wife. These books are ruining my marriage.

Yes these books may have some valuable insite but that's if you have a rational wife. People can use the books as a tool in helping with parenting but in my situation the book is followed step by step with no deviation or I am yelled at.

Our child is the happiest little guy and it saddens me when we as a couple have completely lost our lives. We pretty much don't ever leave the house anymore. Our friends have quit calling us and now I am getting fatter and fatter by the day.

Our 15 month old sleeps from 6pm to 6am, naps from 9 to 11 or even 12 in the morning only to nap again from 2 to 3. Yes, according to the stupid book kids need sleep but it doesn't mean that you completely throw your life away. When is there time to do anything.

We wake up early and then after breakfast we are trapped in the house until lunch. Then after we eat lunch it's time for him to nap until 3. His dinner is at 5 and he sleeps at 6 so we can never do anything.

My wife is so stuck on following every procedure of this book that there is absolutely no flexability. She won't stay out past his bead time ever without a fight. She can't ever be out and miss his afternoon nap, which he doesn't need or want anymore.

Yes, some things in the book are very handy. Many of the methods do work great. However, all kids are different and we as adults can adjust to our kids needs. I am not allowed to make parenting decisions because of this stupid book.

The freaking mommies groups, our pediatrition and apparently every otheer woman that my wife meets hales to the all mighty book. My wife doesn't get and is unable to see that you can combine many methods of parentijng to raise a happy child.

A major theme of happiest toddeler on the block is that kids crave routine. Without routine they are unhappy. So, our child always has to sleep at the same time. Before every nap or time to go to bed we play the same music from the music box, give him a bottle and read him a book. Every day 3 times a day almost never with any deviation. So, when we go somewhere he can't sleeo unless we bring the pack and play, same music box and follow the same routine. It makes it very difficult to do anything except to always be at home.

I disagree with this mass routine theory. I am completely envious of the people that bring there children everywhere and they nap in the car, nap in the stroller, nap on the couch in the bed or anywhere when they are tired. Obviously you don't want to do this every single day. Obviously it's good to try to keep them around a specific nap and bed time for the most part. However, teaching them tolerance to deal with situations that aren't always perfect will ultimately make them and your marriage stronger.

I have grown up with many babies since I was 9 years old. When they get hungry they eat. When they need sleep they sleep. when there needs aren't met they cry. People have been doing it for thousands of years.

All of these books and theories are written by people that have a specific belief for that decade. Up until recently the belief was to stralize all baby products and never expose them to germs. Now they say don't steralize them because germ exposure is good to build up immunity. In the 70's they claimed that gender is all learned behavior and that if there was a botched circumsision or something to turn boys into girls. Now we know for a fact that if you give women testosterin that they think and behave like men and if you give men estrogen that they think and act like women. Originally, in the 50's kids were supposed to be taught by phonics and then in the 70's you were wrong if you didn't teach your kids by site. Now, it's give into your babies every desire, don't take there blanket away and put them on a routine for everything.

I disagree. It might make your child easier to put to bed when you are at home. It might calm your child to give him something familiar or stick to his routine. I have seen already that it makes my child struggle in situations where his routine can't be met where other kids are calm. I hate the fact that my wife is slowly turning him into one of those adults that need everything a certain way or they are miserable.

ONE OUT OF SIX said...

GREAT blog. You're funny. Thanks for the laugh, the insight & for being a nice guy who cares about his wife! :-)

Yodasmistress said...

OMFG. B directed me to this post. You got it my man, you got it.

(For the record, I have explained this simple truth to my darling husband a thousand time and HIS take on it (going back to your analogy) is that toddlers don't deserve appeasing. Freaking irritating.)