I never gave my fertility a thought until my mid thirties. I had no reason to think about it. I am a man and dammit we just don’t consider those things. In my twenties it simply was not on my mind but then I got married to a woman I wanted to have a child with. I had long thought of being a father. I had the dream of watching my son score the touchdown at the big game. When it came to having a baby I knew exactly nothing. I truly thought it was just a matter of making love and then letting the magic of birth follow. Stupid boy!!!
We tried for a little more than a year to have a baby and the spark just never took to flame until a phone call broke the silence. My wife called me at work to say we were pregnant. I was like a thoroughbred at the gates of the Kentucky Derby just gnawing at the bit to tell everyone the great news and I did. A week later we lost the baby. It was a sobering experience. My wife immediately knew we needed to see a fertility doctor. I had been a police officer for many years. I handled the most stressful of situations for a career but now I had the big invisible monster at my front door and I did not have a clue how to handle it. I was about to be introduced to the world of infertility and all of its pains.
My wife and I went a route that the infertile community will relate to. We started out at a fertility clinic that was well thought of in our state. The results of our visits were a mixed bag. We saw multiple doctors and nurses during the same cycle. I learned to get comfortable with gynecological type visits with my wife. I was given a one minute course on giving my wife shots. They drew circles on her buttocks as a target just in case I forgot. We did many IUI cycles and had the same result every time. My wife is a pharmacist. Anyone that has done a cycle will tell you that your schedule must be flexible sometimes and you best be very organized. During one cycle we had to take an appointment on a Saturday morning before she was scheduled to open her pharmacy. In her job business cannot begin or even open until she is there. We were promised ;by the doctor, that they would get her out in time for week. There were probably a half-dozen couples at the fertility clinic for the same tests my wife had to do. They lined us up and ran us through the stations. First she had to be weighed and have vitals taken, and then she had to urinate, and then wait to have a blood draw. At the blood draw we had a bottle neck. We waited and waited and then finally I heard a doctor tell someone he could have his wife come in to draw blood. The nurse that was suppose to draw blood was absent and the doctors were not willing or able to draw blood. I was stunned to be in a doctor’s office with doctors and no one could draw blood. Just when were about to be forced with either blowing a cycle or losing a job due to a no show a nurse finally showed up. We were done with this clinic and went to another one in town. We had blown a couple of years at the first one.
When we went to the next clinic we felt better about how they wanted us to move forward. They were much more personal and the two years we were there we saw the same doctor and nurses. The doctor immediately suggested an IVF. We started the process of an IVF and were thankful that our insurance covered a one time shot at this procedure. The IVF failed and we gave in. There was only so much I could watch my wife do. I hated to see her so let down. My wife is a smart woman because she does not listen to me. A few months later she told me that we were doing another IVF. Shut up and do your part I was symbolically told. I still wanted a child with my wife but I did not want to see her hurt. The IVF beat nearly every odd there was. My wife was on bed rest for nearly eight months. A dear friend died during the pregnancy that by itself could have emotionally caused us to lose the baby but in the end our daughter Emma was born.
During our journey my wife suffered a miscarriage at work where she was sitting on the floor of her pharmacy in tears and bleeding, we had more failures than I can remember, we thought we had lost our daughter several times, my wife overcame a fear of needles (sort of), my wife hated herself and anyone else who was pregnant, friends challenged our decisions and even accused us of blasphemy before God, and a million other horrors great and small that will sound very familiar to most. I tried to be the strong man. I stood by my wife because that is what a man does. I cried when she was not there for her and me.
When we walked our journey we were never informed about communities online or on Facebook or Myspace or WordPress of people who were sharing their experiences. My wife spent months sitting in her bed alone without being able to go outside and take a walk. During her pregnancy she was allowed to go to horse race, catch one stand up comedy act, and one art show. The rest of her other time was spent feeling every single noise or ache her body made and wondering whether the other shoe was going to drop. Even the day my daughter was born were prepared for failure. I decided that the adventure I shared with my wife needed to be documented for my daughter. I wanted my daughter to understand how hard her mother fought to give her life and if she had fertility issues she could have a first hand manual that illustrated that anything is possible. I wrote a book I called “The Longest Love Letter”. The story is the entire journey from beginning to end and no detail is spared. In the book I also share with my daughter things that show how imperfect I am. I wanted her to know all. When I got to the end of the book I realized The Longest Love Letter was truly a love letter to my amazing wife. The story is the greatest testament to how strong women are. It is a blueprint for what I hope my daughter grows up to be. I am very proud of the book. It is a common story that many couples share but most people are not aware of.
I do not consider myself an author. I wrote our true experiences in the rawest form possible. I decided to publish the book in an E-Book format through Amazon and Kindle. I created a Facebook page for the book and it was then that I discovered these amazing sites like Attain Fertility and Resolve. I was amazed by the raw emotion shared on these pages. I then discovered blogs written by mostly women that told of their painful stories. Many of these journeys are still unresolved. I found hundreds of women that sounded like my wife. I so wish that she had these pages when she was pregnant. I found a community that also had few people who had successfully navigated the process. I decided to create a blog just for families that are fighting infertility today. I would be taking for granted my personal story if I did not somehow give back. My blog “Sunshine Dreams and Hopes” was born. I am careful to not talk about our successes as much as let people know you are not alone and your dream can be realized. Shortly after the blog was created I opened up a Facebook page called “Infertility News You Can Use”. I try to sprinkle it with news stories I find and blogs written by incredibly talented writers going through the journey of a lifetime. I have been contacted by people from all over the world between these different pages and I am always humbled that people read and like and take in what I write. If I could I would change everyone’s story to a happy ending. I know I have a gift in my wife and in my daughter but not every woman believes in themself and not every man takes the time to examine the totality of the infertile journey. As I write and share stories I also remind myself that I am the luckiest of men. I hope my daughter notices and one day finds something in her life that she wants to help make right. I love you all and I hope if you read my words you will take what you like or need and leave the rest. I hope you find a way to laugh but most of all I want you to love each other because in the end that is the strongest weapon you have.
Facebook Page for “The Longest Love Letter”
Facebook Page for “Infertility News You Can Use”
Personal Home Page for Andy Thornhill