Oh Baby, Where Art Thou?: Chapter 5

Editor’s note: Amanda Senal is chronicling for TC Jewfolk her and her husband’s journey to adopting a child. Get caught up on chapters 1, 2, 3 and 4 of the journey. Her husband, Hal, weighs in this time.

I don’t care who you are, what you do, or where you’ve been: There is nothing more difficult than calling up a total stranger and basically asking for permission to come over and masturbate.

Perhaps I’m getting a bit ahead of myself.

Let’s rewind a bit.

So, for those of you who have been reading my wife Amanda’s blog, you already know that we are knee-deep in the adoption process. As you may have also learned, this was not a decision we made overnight.

As always, there are two sides to every story.

Amanda’s got her tale to tell…and I’ve got mine.

So, before we started fertility treatment and testing, we were told to have sex like every other day to get pregnant. Now, most men would probably have no problem with this task. In fact, most men would probably be chomping at the bit.

I am not “most men.”

For me, it felt like cruel and unusual punishment. Not for me, of course, but for Amanda.

Sex for a higher purpose is tough work.

I love my wife, more than anything else in the world, and as much as the human heart is capable of. That is a fact, Jack.

Yet the idea of intercourse on a near-daily basis was daunting and scary.

See, I’ve always thought of my wife’s (or any woman, for that matter) nether regions as being like “Ferngully,” the last rain forest: A sacred place with magical faeries, beautiful flora and fauna, and, yes, maybe even throw in a plucky blind bat for good measure.


Ya know how, during the climax (no pun intended) of that movie, there was that fat guy with the cigar trying to mow the enchanted forest down with his plow? Yeah, that was me.

I was that guy.

I was killing Ferngully.

At least, that’s how I felt.

That’s a hard pill to swallow for a man. And it wasn’t even the blue or yellow kind that lasts for four hours!

Needless to say, after months of false alarms and crushed hopes, there was no baby.

At this point, we realized it was time to take our issue to medical professionals.

I can recall the first meeting like it was yesterday; not because anything really memorable happened, but mainly because, as always, I managed to show the doctor how ignorant and dumb I can be.

I took it upon myself to ask the doctor, a very sweet but very direct middle-aged woman, about the validity of certain “facts.”

She looked at me long and hard, trying to see if I was joking or being serious (oh, I was serious alright!). After an excruciating 30 seconds of baffled silence, the doctor, in a tone usually reserved for small children, she responded: “You know? I never read that in any of my medical books.”

For reasons that may or may not have anything to do with that particular incident, we never saw that medical practitioner again.

Instead, we were referred to the Big Guns at Mayo in Rochester.

The first visit with the urologist was also my last. However, thank G-d, it wasn’t because I inserted my foot in my mouth. In fact, it was mostly a constructive visit.

In this case, the operative term being “mostly.”

See, before the actual real, live doctor drops by for like two minutes, you get to spend a little time with his resident.

First, he tells me to stand up and drop my “trousers” (because, apparently, this is the 1950s we’re living in and that’s what people call pants these days). To say I was a little uneasy doing this would be an understatement. I wanted to say, “I’m sorry! Who are you again?!”

Instead, I kept my trap shut and did as I was instructed, with absolutely no inkling of what was to come next.

This guy, without warning, cups my balls and just starts manipulating them in his latex-gloved hands. Which is fine, I suppose. It is what it is. I mean, after all, this guy has known me for all of 90 seconds!! Why wouldn’t he grab my junk? It was the next logical move, right?

Yes, this is me being extremely facetious.

If what I now call the Cupping of the Balls Incident wasn’t enough, the next part put me through the roof.

After 30 seconds of fondling, he stops and looks up at me and plainly says “You have tiny balls.”


How in the name of all that is good and holy in this world do you respond to THAT?!?!

Well, what with me being a normal human being with feelings and emotions, I nodded contemplatively and responded with “Hmmm…that’s interesting.”

Mercifully, the actual Real Doctor showed up shortly and basically told me that I was going to start taking this medication called Clomid to help increase my sperm count.

But wait! There’s more!

I also had to masturbate every other day.

So, that was my burden.

For months, my wife would ask me, sometimes shouting from the other room, “Honey, did you masturbate today?! No?! Why not?!”

So, work and masturbation: that was my life for several months.

Finally, this brings us back to my original thesis statement.

After a long time passed, I was instructed to make an appointment for a semen analysis/sperm count test.

This is, by far, the most awkward phone conversation you (men, anyway) will ever have over the phone.

I mean, really, you’re calling some random voice on the other end of the phone, and telling them, “Say! How do ya feel about me coming over there and masturbating into a cup, Person I’ve Never Met?!”

You want it to sound natural, like “Hello, I’m calling to schedule a semen analysis test. When do you have an opening?”

Nope! As you might expect from me, at this point, it was far more awkward and uncomfortable.

This is what was really said: “Um. Hi. Yeah. I. Um. Would. Um. Like to. Um. Have Um. You look at my. Um. Sperm.” Then, with a skosh more confidence, “When can I come over and do, ya know, that. Ummmmm…”

So, the appointment was made and the deed was done. Several times, actually, over the course of a year.

I will end with this piece of advice: Aim true. Because that cup is small…and I make a pretty poor excuse for a janitor.