Simon Middlemas

Mi Mujer Maravilla

We went to see the Good Witch for the final time today. She needed to tell us we would never have our own children. Every meeting with the Good Witch is life changing. My wife wears her best socks for these occasions. Scans. Collections. Transfers. These are big sock days. Yesterday it was yellow ones with small blue anchors on them. They had a picture of a salty seadog, sporting an octopus beard and smoking a pipe. They say: “Fuck this Shit” in big green letters on both legs. My favourite pair of hers say: “Do I look like a team player?” It would make a great tattoo.


I bought her the octopus socks two weeks ago. On that day, the Good Witch returned our frozen blastocyst, Elsa, to our custody. I had decided not to give her the socks if the thaw had failed. “Sorry you can never have your own children; here’s some comedy nautical socks.” It may have struck the wrong note. I take this as evidence that I am making better choices than I did. This may be one of the very few positives from IVF. The only other positive is that I know for stone cold certain that my wife is a superhero. Mi Mujer Maravilla. That’s Spanish.


Talking—the pamphlets at the clinic tell you—is good for your mental health as an infertile man. It helps you move forward. Be a better person. I bought a ‘Spanish for Beginners’ CD. When the pain ebbs slightly, and I start talking again, I hope to do so in a new language. Roller Coaster is another word I see in the pamphlet. No. IVF is not a roller coaster. Roller coasters are fun. Up. Down. Left. Right. Wooaaaaahhhh. Aaaaarrrrgghhhhhh. Woooohoooooohooooo. Fun.


The Good Witch has legs to die for. Today she sports a short one-off boutique piece which smells expensive. Words like ‘lush’ and ‘moist’ spill out of her mouth, without irony. We and the Good Witch have trust. It wasn’t always so. We have walked through the fire with her. She opened the door for our consultation today with the words: “Fucking hell, you guys”, which I felt, summed things up quite nicely. My wife likes her a lot. Her Oprah-isms have worn thin on me. It’s nothing personal. I am just sick of everything.


Infertility has torn big fat holes in our life. Like a vast Khodumodumo†, it has lumbered through our daily life, stalking us, swallowing every living thing in its path. It didn’t kill us, but neither did it make us stronger. I am not a better person.


I deactivated my Facebook page today. It was Father’s Day. Our friends and family are wonderful, but they are all so fertile. At a recent infertility support group my wife went to, every other person there already had a child. Imagine that. After coffee and biscuits, they began talking about their children, midwives and birthing. Nobody got that this was weird for her. I’m not sure most people know how to care.


My wife joined a forum. I read some of the beautiful things people write to each other on there. They choke me up and I have to go and do the washing up. I don’t know how my wife makes it through each day. Sadness washes over her in long waves and her heart is broken.


Last year, my wife had a miscarriage in the public toilets in Queenstown. She went in pregnant and came out not. We stood outside the doors, shaking, in front of beautiful jagged snowy mountains. Over my wife’s shoulder I could see thirty middle-aged Korean women in matching light blue waterproofs screaming as a shot-over jet spun them round on a green-blue lake. Up. Down. Left. Right. Wooaaaaahhhh. Aaaaarrrrgghhhhhh. Woooohoooooohooooo.


If I close my eyes, I can still see my wife curled up in a ball of pain facing the wall of the Wanaka cottage we were renting. Later, at the hospital, my wife threw up black red vomit. This turned out to be beetroot soup. Another thing I hope to laugh about one day. Our doctor that day was aged 15. She sealed her examination with a sympathy air-rub several inches above my wife’s thigh. I think she learned it on her summer job at Lululemon. I never used to be this bitter.


It hurts because we have lived it every minute of every day for three years. We sat and picked every fertility decision to pieces. But in the end, what choice did we really have? The odds of success on our last round of IVF were less than 5%. 1 in 20. To put it in perspective that’s about the same ratio of true v false statements attributed to Donald J Trump in the recent US elections. Now, hands up, who is ready to put $12,000 on whether the next thing that comes out of Donald J Trump’s mouth contains truth? No, me neither.


Except that’s not true. We took those odds four times in a row and lost. Hope. Failure. Hope. Failure. Hope. Failure. Hope. Failure. Up. Down. Left. Right. Aaaaarrrrrggggghhhhhhhhh.



Ironically, according to myth, the only way to kill a Khodumodumo is to give birth to a son who will rise to defeat it. Even the ancients mock us.

Simon Middlemas

Simon Middlemas is a writer from the UK. He tried to kill his love of words with an ill-advised PhD in sport psychology, but remarkably, it survived. Simon combines a 'grown up' job as a lecturer and consultant with travel, surfing, books and telling his dog, Etta, to get off the furniture.  He lives with his wife, Heidi, in Karitane, home of Plunket nurses and yellow poo.