Tag Archives: Conception

Infertility: You Are Not Alone the Aftermath

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Sometimes you get what you want and you would think all will be well but then you realize some ghosts just cannot be exorcised. This particular post is not your typical infertility blog. This blogger for those that do not know is a man and he blessed enough to have an IVF child with his wife. I have a great bit of respect for my infertility circle and understand the sensitivity of those reading a blog about the pains of infertility from a person lucky enough to already have a child but in infertility there are many stories and this is ours.

The common gripe you hear from those that suffer from infertility is being angry and or jealous of your friends when they are pregnant while you are trying to just get pregnant. It is an understandable human trait be frustrated when you can’t have what its seems everyone around you attains with ease. Why would infertility haunt you even after you have a child? I am an only child as is my wife. We both admit we never considered having siblings as kids but we both grew up in neighborhoods where kids our age were out at all hours. Just step outside and join the nearest group of kids and you did not have time to consider you were a single kid.

In 2015 most everyone is time starved. Both parents work in most households and in many cases the schedules are opposite of each other. Playdates have taken place of stepping outside and joining up with a group of neighborhood kids. Playdates are a mixed bag because not only does the date include the kids it includes parents that do not always know each other. Some people are comfortable with that (myself included) and others are understandably not. Finding a playdate family is nice but rarely is it a regular event. You may be like us and find yourself in a beautiful neighborhood with wonderful neighborhood and kids galore but schedules just don’t seem to line up and the kids sometimes only catch glimpses of each other when they are just going in for the night. The kids have schedules too. Kids do so many things these days from sports to arts to school activities. As a group we have taken our time starved adult lives and handed them down to our children with their own time starved schedules. What is the hell does this have to do with infertility?

When you are an only child you notice when your friends have siblings and siblings equal a play partner. Siblings equal that lifetime partner in crime and person you can share secrets with. The single child knows nothing of sibling rivalry or the politics of sibling civil war. They don’t see sharing toys, space, TV, and mommy and daddy. They only have the why: “Mommy and Daddy why don’t I have a brother or sister?”.

We were honest with our daughter. We explained in the best terms possible that we barely held on to her and that because of infertility issues she will be an only child. She gets it sometimes but then one of her friends has a sibling and is no longer an only kid and she realizes she is the only kid in a neighborhood full of kids that has her own room, playroom, ton of toys, but when it’s thirty minutes to bedtime she has no child to play with. She looks at Mommy with big eyes and innocently mentions that she is the only single kid. The infertility that my wife kicked the ass of over six years ago reaches out from its grave and crushes her. Now my wife does not feel the pain for her and I but our daughter too.

My wife understands everything. She understands she was fine as an only kid. She knows full well the fortune of having one child. She also knows our daughter is not trying to hurt her feelings when she tells her she wishes she had a sibling or there is no child for her to play with. My wife takes it all to heart. She is reminded of the feeling of being a failed woman and now it is compounded because she thinks herself a failed mom to boot. She went from failed woman to failed wife to failed mom and even though none of that is true the spectre of infertility has a way of making you believe lies. You hear new things from people when you talk about infertility that happens after a child is born. You hear that your life is great and you should feel lucky to have what you have but now you see the world through your childs eyes and admitting to them you are not able to give them something they want is painful. As the husband all you can do is console. You are a chained dog to infertility as the man. You would destroy anyone that hurt your wife but infertility is intangible so like a dog tethered to a tree all you can do is pull at the length of your chain and bark because you will never be able to bite.

I look for ways to console but they are fruitless. I sometimes find myself thinking I am intruding on others when set up playdates for my daughter. I worry when I think my little girl has not found her lifetime friend yet even though she is only six and all good things in time. She has great friends in the neighborhood and lifetime friends so far but eventually grade differences split kids apart, friends you only see every few months stay friends but the kids grow apart to at least some degree. Infertility reminds me that I will always be looking over my wifes shoulder to make sure it is not pulling her down. It reminds me that when you think it is no longer a factor in your life your child is sad because she doesn’t understand that the older kids move on and another can’t play because it is late and they are getting ready for that crazy schedule all kids seem to already have.

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At this stage infertility is a teaching moment. It causes you to step up your game as a parent. You learn to be more honest with your kid. You learn to find new ways to keep them occupied and work harder to make new friends at her school and her activities so maybe she finds a friend that will be the Thelma to her Louise. This is where you teach her to never give up on things and to find ways to not let the dark things in life crush your dreams, hopes, and self-confidence. Infertility never goes away but it does not have to win. Twenty years from now infertility could haunt her and even though she will have been well versed in all we told her about in the first two and a half decades of her life she will feel the same pains a person just discovering infertility feels. I hope she never knows that battle. She is not alone if it happens. She is not alone figuring out that single children are fine. She will never be without us next to her watching her grow and make friends. My wife too will never be alone because as long as a breath comes from my lips I will never let it win by taking her out emotionally.

This is my third year writing a blog for this annual Resolve event. I will never forget where we were and how we felt. We are fortunate we had a child but I still see hurt in my wife eyes from time to time as she enters a new level of the infertility struggle. No matter where you are in your struggle you are not alone. You are important and you are loved. Below are links that will help you to better understand infertility. Please consider surfing the web for others personal stories.

In 2011 I wrote The Longest Love Letter. The E Book is the true story of our infertility journey. It leaves little to the imagination but is the most honest thing I have ever written. It is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

http://www.amazon.com/Longest-Love-Letter-Andy-Thornhill-ebook/dp/B004MYGAM2

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Infertility: The Healthy Fertile Man

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The world as we know it can be hard. There are worse bad hands to be dealt in life than infertility but when you want a child it is all you can think about. Infertility is one of those things that is almost a sick prank that life pulls on you. I am a man but I know that many women think of having their own children often. The truth is men do too. I can’t wait to take my kid to a baseball game. I can’t wait until the first time a guy shows up at my door to ask out my daughter and I give him the “stare down and talk”. I can’t wait to teach them to ride a bike, to…….wait I suffer from infertility? What if you do not suffer from infertility directly but your wife does? What if you are a studly baby making machine just waiting for your wife to produce the child you were blessed to be able to biologically produce but she cannot? What do you do?

You marry to be in love. You marry to have the support system to get you through all of life’s ups and downs. I have never once heard in marriage vows the part that says she will knock out a kid when directed to do so and if she can’t then she gets sent to the farm and the groom can move on. After all a bull has needs right? HORSEHIT!!! A man is defined by how he behaves when the chips are down. It is easy to be the “I pick things up and put them down guy” but it takes true testicular fortitude to love for better or worse. If a man wants to be a father and the love of his life may not be able to make this happen he needs to then show her why she married him. He needs to go out of his way to redirect their life. He needs to talk about options. He should make her know that this is simply a little bump and all they have to do is slow down and get over it together. If adoption is not the answer he should help to cultivate a life for them where they can hand in hand find other interests that they can share and make memories from. Maybe they do not have kids but they can travel the world or become more involved in church or other community activities. He should not let infertility be a stop sign in their life.

If his wife needs medical help for the possibility of childbirth then he needs to become a brick wall. When she is feeling beaten he should hold her up and never let her fall to her knees. He needs to remind her that she is not the first to walk this path and many have had children with persistence and medical help. He needs to arm himself with knowledge from the countless appointments she will go to. Let me clarify that last statement ….the countless appointments “THEY” will go to.The hardest thing I had to do when we went down our infertility road was from time to time be quiet and just let her let it out. I had a few times I had to walk away and let her have a moment but I always returned with a kiss and a gentle touch (for the record we were both contributors to our infertility). I can still remember my wife telling me I should find a woman who I deserved. A woman who could just knock that child out. Men can you imagine the emotion a woman must be carrying to make a statement like that? She loved me so much that she was willing to give up her own happiness so I could wander in another field for offspring. That was the hardest statement I ever heard. You need to know that it could be you boys. It could be you have no ammunition in the pea shooter. Would you want her to leave? Can you imagine how emasculated would feel if you could not produce what was needed to have a child? Would it be fair if she left?  Be the man she married. Be a man! Be the man!

Please share this post. Challenge men to be men if they are not. I love you all and I wish you the best on a journey that takes a lot out of you but is well worth it when you find what you are looking for.

INFERTILITY: THE SEASON OF HOPE

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We have a six-year-old child. Her name is Emma. That is not how most infertility entries start but sometimes it is fun to work a story from its end to its beginning. You ever seen a movie like that? Quentin Tarantino is the master of that. You know the end so how interesting could the events that led up to the conclusion hold my attention? HOPEfully this story will.

Rewind nearly five years before the birth of our child and my wife and I were about to have the ride of our life. We were at the beginning of an endless series of doctors’ appointments, needles, and a ton of pain. The infertile community will understand when I write how frustrating it can be listening to a friend innocently discussing how they are pregnant. It is even more confounding when they tell you how annoying the pregnancy is or how uncomfortable it is or how their spouse won’t touch them while they sport a baby bump. All I want to say is, “Bitch my wife just finished crying for a week and a half because we miscarried. Now she hates herself and there is nothing I can do to console her because in her head it is her fault and she is less of a woman. She thinks I should move on to another woman who can give me a child. She couldn’t be more wrong but I will never get her to understand that…” but instead I respond with, “Oh that’s stinks but it will be worth it in a few months”. You are supersensitive and self-destructive if you are a woman (in many cases) and emasculated as a man (in many cases) during infertility. I am a man but not a macho man. I am not the guy that will fight at the drop of a dime. Even though I was a cop I had few physical confrontations of note in the first 45 years of my life but I will defend my wife until I have not a breath to give. It is so hard to see your wife hurt and there is nothing you can do. The assailant is invisible and you can’t make them stop. Infertility is an invisible bully and it attacks you physically, emotionally, on the news, on your favorite sitcom, social media, at work, from your family, and so many other directions. Infertility is a hurricane that pounds you until it passes over you because you throw in the towel or you beat it.

The strength it takes to stand up to a bully is palpable. Infertility is no different. Families that take on this task and it is a task go through things that very few people will understand. Some will feel like they are on an island and the population is one. It is a difficult thing to explain because the emotions hit you when you least expect it and sometimes you do not feel yourself. I mean honestly who in their right mind is pissed at their cat for being pregnant and thinks the feline is flaunting it?…..an infertile person may feel that way. It takes a special soul and couple to step into the darkness of this unknown menagerie of appointments and scrutiny and get each other through it. If you cannot be an organized person that keeps doctors visits, medication schedule’s, and many other inflexible things straight you best find someone to help you stay on point. You have to be honest with yourself and do all you can from time to time to set your pride aside and ask for help from your spouse, friend, or other family member as needed. You will also need to “LET IT GO” from time to time and vent, cry, and maybe scream…..just don’t do it in line at the Wawa buying your coffee!!! Enough with the bad.

This entry is about HOPE. HOPE comes from many places. HOPE can be faith in God. HOPE can be faith in family and friends. HOPE can be faith in yourself and knowing that you will not be denied a child until all things have been tried, all calls have been made, second opinions have been heard, all angles have been viewed, all medicines that are safe to you have been tried, all voices are heard, all money you can afford has been exhausted, all support groups have been visited, all…well you get the picture. My HOPE came from my wife. She does not believe it but there is none stronger than her. There is none more determined than her. We ran the infertility gamut. We had miscarriages, a million doctor appointments, IVF, IUI, pokes, prods, a crap load of judgment, tears upon tears, and the list goes on. My wife sat in the floor of her pharmacy, in tears once, as she miscarried and there was nothing anyone could do. She even gave up once. I was relieved because I could not bear to see her in such pain but a few months later she decided that she and we were not done. She decided that that giving up was not the end she wanted. Reluctantly on my behalf we moved on. We went through another IVF. Every number that could go wrong went wrong. We only had two eggs to implant and they had poor grades. Two eggs but we had HOPE. In our case it was not faith in God it was just a good old fashioned Hail Mary hoping to reach the end zone where life as parents began. For us it was HOPE that luck will change. We became pregnant. We had no time to celebrate because only a week or two in my showed signs of a miscarry. We went to the fertility clinic and would not even look at each other. The nurse did an ultrasound and told us she had a heartbeat. It was the first time we heard the heartbeat of our child. There was a sub-chorionic bleed. My wife would be on bed rest for nearly eight months. She never complained. At one point she did not come down stairs for a couple of weeks. She would not lose hope. She would not quit. This thing was happening. We eventually picked up the nerve to get stuff for the babies room. The clerk at the store actually berated my wife for waiting so long. The woman needed a smack on the mouth but we walked away. Even after the pregnancy progressed there was judgment. Some of the other people she knew said they would have worked through it because “what’s going to happen is going to happen!!!”. These are insensitive jerks. She never lost hope. Even on the day our child was born we would have not been surprised that something would go wrong. On October 20, 2008 nothing notable went wrong.

HOPE got us through. Faith in each other was the fuel that allowed my wife, in the terms of one of her favorite movie “A Knights Tale” to tell the bully infertility that “You have been weighed, you have been measured, and you have been found wanting. In what world could you possibly beat me?”. I beg you to not give up HOPE. I ask that you hold your partner tight. Tell your partner everything in your heart and ask the same from them. Keep the conversation up as you beat this bully down. Even if the battle cannot be won you may have strengthened the bond with whoever you chose to spend your life with to the point that in no possible world could anyone break you emotionally. My wife and I understand and even after what seems an eternity ago I still feel the heat of the HOPE that she kept alive.

 

 

My Name is Andy Thornhill. I will always remember what happened that made my life feel closure. I wrote a book titled, “The Longest Love Letter” and it tells our families story. I have very good reason why I will never forget. Yes I saw the miracle of my daughters birth but what was nearly as impressive was the stength I saw in the woman I am lucky enough to call my wife. “The Longest Love Letter is available for the Kindle and Nook. Best of luck with your journey. 

Infertility: Hey Oh Just Go!!!

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Tommy Ramone died this past week. All of the original Ramones are gone Joey, Dee Dee, Johnny,  and again Tommy. I can remember it as though it were yesterday. I worked concert security at local concert halls and I briefly met them and worked several of their shows. I remember them being very nice. I also remember the barricade nearly crushing on top of me from the force of the swaying and punk rock equivalent of a dancing crowd. It seems like yesterday The Ramones were playing a reunion tour. It seems like such a short time ago. What does this have to do with infertility and its effect on our lives? I will try to draw a line that makes sense.

I would like to give you a quick family bio. My wife and I are part of the infertility community. We both contributed to what was affecting our ability to conceive and carry a child full term. After nearly five years, we had a child on our second IVF. We had tried other methods over that time period and like many others in the infertility lost babies and shed tears. My wife did eight months bed rest while carrying our daughter who is about to turn six.  I wrote a book on our experience and at every opportunity try to offer support and our experience to families that are still finding their ways. My wife, a pharmacist, is involved with many women in various stages of infertilty. She is a rock. I don’t deserve so good and neither do most others. We wanted to be greedy and try again but decided not to tempt fate.

I did not forget to get back to the Ramones. When I saw on the news the latest death of a Ramone it was a clear reminder to me about how short our time is on this planet. Tommy Ramone was 64 when he passed, relatively young, but the impact that the band had on me was recent only over a couple of decades. 20 plus years seems like a long time, but it isn’t. If you consider that time frame think of your fertility window? If you or your spouse have infertility issues that can be medically treated and give you a glimmer of hope that window could be half or less of the 20 year Ramone window. Some couples and people feel in their heart that they have issues and do not seek help. Maybe they don’t get help because they do not want to face the truth. They could be dissappointed in themself or concerned they will disappoint their spouse. These couples may be scared of the unknown. They do not know if they can handle the finances, the emotions, or the test to their marriage. So your window that is already limited is getting smaller because of a very natural and normal fear of “not knowing”.

Many forms of infertility can be treated. Sometimes it is as simple as shots but it can sometimes need other treatments or even surgery. If you and your partner already have concerns and have tried to have a baby for several months or over a year to no avail then it could be time to have a talk. You must be honest with each other from the beginning and by this I mean both sides must express their fears and lack of knowledge up front. One of the worst things you could do is leave feelings unsaid because they may fester in ways that will make your infertility journey even more difficult. Once your fears and admission that you need help, as a couple, are on the table then its time to call your regular doctor for references and information. You will not be the first person to walk this path and sometimes fear can be quelled by support and experience. Attain Fertility, Resolve, and many other websites offer great advice and shared experiences. It has been my experience that sometimes knowing someone else has felt the same I do makes handling stressful situations better. There are many blogs kept by men and women at various levels of infertility that can be found on WordPress or through a google search. Be curious and read some blogs. It will not take your fears away but it might give you a little peace knowing you are not alone.

You had an honest conversation with your partner, talked to your doctor about next steps, and stalked some blogs and websites for support and proof you are not crazy  but now the real work begins. Your treatments begin and you have submitted to a million blood tests and the first couple cycles go by and nothing happens. You get words of encouragement and hope from your doctor but the results are the same. You decide to take a break and skip a cycle. During your break you question yourself, the process, and stop talking to your pregnant friend you have know since childhood. Time is passing and so is your confidence and patience. What do you do?

You don’t give up ever? Stuart Scott recently said in a speech about his battle with cancer (and I paraphrase) that when you are too tired to fight let others fight for you. While infertility and cancer are clearly two very different issues the principle remains the same. You are not in your infertility battle alone. You partner is in the battle with you, your close friends are in the battle with you, the infertility community is in the battle with you. We had our child but we are in the battle with you (message us on WordPress). I will  never forget what my wife did. Science is on your side, family and friends are on your side, but time? Not so much. Just like it only seemed like yesterday that I saw the Ramones on stage it also seemed like a blink in time when we were battling infertility to have our child. Do not give in if you can afford to move on. Be honest with yourself and your family. Cry if you need to. It is okay to let it go from time to time. Don’t doubt yourself. The resolve of women in the infertility process is amazing. You can do this. Time may be short but desire and drive to have a child are not. You can best infertility.

What If Your Partner Leaves You On The Field

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Pat Benatar sang that “Love Is A Battlefield”. I wonder if she meant that love was a battlefield because of the wars you will have with the one you love or if she meant something a little deeper. I like to think that love is a battlefield because any person or problem that faces the one I love and I will be left gasping for its last breath on the battlefield where, as a unit, we will defeat them. Today I read a passage on the Resolve Facebook feed that infuriated me. Generally I do not spend much time reading feeds. My wife could post on her page that we won the lottery and she cannot wait for me to get home and I would not see it unless she tagged me to it or it happened to be on top of the news feed. Sometimes I do scroll through the feeds looking for something to make me smile or maybe a random update from someone on my friends list. Today I ran across a comment from someone I do not know whose story was posted directly by Resolve. The post (and I am greatly paraphrasing) told us about a woman who had tried to have a baby with her husband for a couple of years through medically assisted fertility treatments. She received the news that everyone in the infertile community clamors for “you’re pregnant”. This should be where the good stuff happens but evidently not. Her husband was leaving her for someone else. My brain explodes in anger (for the husband) at the same time my heart broke for the lady in the Resolve feed.

For those who have not read my blog before or may not know me please let me give you my résumé on this subject. I am married for the second time after a bad first marriage. I met my present wife well after my divorce. My present and last wife and I have had plenty to deal with as a couple. We have dealt with nothing that many other couples have not faced and nothing that is worse than the next couple. We have not dealt infidelity and by the grace of whatever we may believe in I doubt we ever will. I should say I know we never will but if the Bachelors Juan Pablo popped up I am in trouble. We have dealt with infertility, loss of baby, and finally successful IVF. I am also a man. I am not the tough guy macho man. I am sensitive but I have my limits too. I have been cheated on but have not cheated. I will not pretend that I will not take a second to notice a pretty girl in a room but I fully expect my wife to notice a man and we have discussed attractive people on both sides often. There is a line to noticing politely and being the creepy person in the corner. Now let my diatribe begin.

When you fall in love and marry it is not disposable. Marriage is sacred and not because of faith-based reasons. Marriage is sacred because it is a promise. You promise yourself, the one you love, your friends, and both of your families that come hell or high water we will get through life together. Nothing that man or life can throw at us will tear us apart. If you fold under pressure and leave your partner on loves battlefield you are not a man. You are not human and quite frankly if you fold because “you can’t take it” then every woman who sees you from the day you fold on should also get an e-mail that says, “While he may be handsome he will leave you when times are hard. Before taking a date with this man share this information with everyone in your inner circle so the one that you are most likely to listen to in life will tell you to not even give him the time of day”. I am a realist. I do think that sometimes what was shiny and brilliant sometimes loses its luster. Sometimes things do not work out but before you throw in the towel did you try every avenue to be sure it isn’t just a relationship bump?

Infertility will try even the strongest of couples. I still remember my wife telling me at one point that she would not blame me for seeking out another woman who could give me a child when we went through our journey. To this day I cannot believe that statement but I understand that her love for me and the disappointment she felt in herself because of our struggles to conceive made her feel that way. The truth is we both contributed to our infertility but moreover we both were in the struggle. I have read many women make the same statement my wife did to me but I don’t think I have ever heard a man say it. There is no greater love than the love where one will sacrifice anything for another but that does not mean you take the “get out of infertility jail pass”. When a couple tackles infertility it will shake them but a good man will see past the tears, the loss, the insecurities and find a way to bring relief to the woman they love. The relief is often no more than just saying I love you, kissing them, holding their hands and saying nothing. Let’s face it, when it comes to the bumps in the road infertility brings sometimes the best support is just making sure they know you are there. If a man falls out of love during the infertility process he is weak and is only looking to escape what he is not man enough to face up to.  He is selfish because he cannot keep a promise and went down a path with you he probably knew in his heart of hearts he could not handle and when he found a woman who would support his weakness he left. It takes a strong couple to handle marriage much less infertility and my heart breaks for this woman because I am sure she felt they were this strong couple but it seems the strong one was her. So what does she do? She is pregnant and her other half has left. I suggest that your other half is the child you carry. You may still have a tough road ahead. For infertile couples the battle is not won when you are told you are pregnant because too many couples still have problems carrying the infant to birth. My wife had nearly eight months of bed rest and could only get out of bed to use the bathroom at several points in the pregnancy. Notice I said “couples” have problem getting the infant to full term. It will be hard but do all you can to focus on yourself and your child. Even if he thinks he made a mistake later you do not need extra pressure added by him. If he bailed on this be would bail on something else. Build up a fortress of support from friends and family. Try to not get caught up in the hideousness of his act and know that you have a blessing to care for. I truly wish you the best.

Love is all that matters. When you get married is it not for love? The same can be said for couples trying to have a child. Having a child should be about love. I am not making light of the families that are fortunate enough to build families without infertility issues but the couples that have children after infertility battles have a different view. We do not love our children more than couples that had children without issue but there is an extra glow to it and in some cases a maybe a bit more appreciation. I truly and fully intend no insult with this. It’s not more appreciation for the child as much as it is more appreciation for conceiving successfully. Not every couple is the same and every word of my above diatribe is simply opinion but love must come first.

When you enter into medically assisted processes to have a child it is very important to be supportive. Even if everything seems okay it is not a bad idea from time to time to ask your partner how they are feeling. Let them know if you feel less of a man or woman. Let them know that it bothers you when friends and family ask:

“When are you going to have a child?”

“At least you get to have a ton of sex?”

“Mary is pregnant. Todd and Amy are pregnant. The dog’s pregnant”

“I want you to come to my baby shower.”

“Just relax it will happen.”

“It’s Gods will.”

“If you need help I’ll volunteer to take Teds place.”

The more you share then the less likely a buried emotion fester into an argument that could have been avoided. I do not for a moment say any of these things happened to the muse of this blog but they are just things that help.  I learned from my wife that women are the strongest of creatures and in many ways stronger than men but even the strongest of us have insecurities. I wish you all the best. I hope you all get what you are looking for in your journey and most of all love each other.

Love is a battlefield. The best way to win a battle is a solid yet flexible plan, communication and trust.

What If?

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My mind is a terrible thing. Sometimes I have random thoughts that should stay random and not realized into a statement. I was reading the infertility page of the Huffington Post and they were a blur of random blogs when a random thought hit me. What if I had never married the mother of my test tube baby? I knew from a young age that I wanted to be a father. I cannot tell you any specific reason I had this paternal wish. I was married for seven years before my present marriage. It was not a good marriage and it does not really matter why but one of the good things that came from that marriage was no children. When I divorced from that first marriage I really had no intention on dating again much less getting married. I had a lot of things going on back then. I was starting a new career and a new life. I was too busy rebuilding life to think about parental aspirations. Have you ever heard the expression that good things happen to you when you least expect it? The good thing that happened to me was my present wife, and love of my life, had one of her friends ask me to go on a date with her. Even after the friend told me I was going out on a date with my present wife, Shannon, I still did not rekindle my old dreams of a being a father. Shan and I had a very fast courtship and we were quick to marry. When its right it is right. We had our battles with infertility and would eventually have a child through IVF. I live a blessed life.

I must ask my “what if” question again. What would have happened to my dreams if I never remarried. You will hear from time to time about single women having babies with medical help. Single women that do not have plans of having a man in their life at the time. Maybe these women are career minded and have not had time to find a man they want to share forever with but they feel that fertility clock ticking on them so IVF makes sense. It is not uncommon at all these days for same-sex couples to have children through IVF. Just a couple of years ago a gay male friend of mine had a baby with his male partner. I think it is wonderful but I am not sure I have heard of the unicorn of infertility. What if I would have remained single and wanted to have a child through medically assisted means? How would that scenario be viewed? I am sure it has happened but the first heterosexual man to go down that road had to be very confident. Did his boys give him a hard time? I can hear his friends at the bar when the subject comes up. They would tell him why can’t you just grab the girl at the end of the bar and give her the old let’s have a baby dance and be done with it? Anyone who goes through infertility will probably find more people making misplaced inappropriate statements more often than proper ones. I am not sure I would have had the internal fortitude to have been “that” single man. If I did not have that nerve I would have missed out on a huge blessing in life by being a father. 

When you are struggling with your decision to seek fertility treatments please remember few things worth having come without some struggle, self-doubt, or pain. If you are dealing with infertility and dealing with poorly placed social comments you will be okay. Don’t ever ask yourself “What if I would have stuck out the treatments?” I fully admit I am one of the lucky ones. I know my stars aligned and my daughter was born to my wife and I but the truth was that I had given up. After a failed IVF attempt I fully supported my wife when we agreed that enough was enough. I was prepared to give in. After several months my wife made me change my mind and we tried one last time, the last time. What if she had not changed her mind? My life would be poorer. I hope you never give in as long as it is responsible to move on. Leave life with no doubts and leave the doubters scratching their heads as you move on.

Infertility: It’s Harder For the Man!!!

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WARNING

THIS BLOG ENTRY IS WRITTEN TONGUE AND CHEEK. SOME PORTIONS ARE WRITTEN IN A SARCASTIC MANNER THAT IS NOT MEANT TO BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY BUT RATHER TO ILLUSTRATE SOME OF THE MUNDANE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE PERSONAL AND MEDICAL EXPERIENCES SOME COUPLES ENDURE WITH THE MEDICALLY ASSISTED CONCEPTION METHODS OFTEN PRACTICED TODAY. IF YOU FIND NO SENSE OF HUMOR AT ALL IN THE INFERTILITY JOURNEY YOU MAY WANT TO STOP READING HOWEVER IF YOU HAVE FOUND WAYS TO LAUGH FROM TIME TO TIME AT THIS HORRIBLE EXPERIENCE READ ON……..

It has been nearly nine years since my wife and I began a very emotional journey to have a child. I do not know what I expected of the experience before it began. I simply do not believe I gave it a thought. I think I pretty well went into it blindly thinking we would follow the doctors directions and in no time at all would be parents. I also thought my wife and I only had to cut off the birth control to have a baby naturally. I am not a caveman but when it came to the statistics, commonality, and knowledge of infertility my butt had not even seen the invention of the wheel yet. Our experience began at the Jones Institute in Norfolk, Virginia. We never had the success we yearned for there but they are a wonderful institution. I can remember our first meeting with a doctor there. I was sitting next to my wife as the doctor used word after word that meant nothing to my ears and brain. I am not a dumb man (I like to believe this anyway) but big medical words are pig Latin gibberish to me. My wife, however, is a pharmacist and could dumb down the conversation for me. By using monosyllabic words and shadow puppets she made cave-brain understand what was thought to be wrong and how we were planning to treat it. I decided early on that I wanted to be completely involved in every aspect of the journey so I attended my wife’s first gynecological visit.

When we arrived for the appointment I was confronted with the make egos worst nightmare, a good-looking, young, nice make doctor. Whether it was true or not this guy was “Mcdreamy” in my memory and his looks were only the beginning of my egos assault. The doctor was explaining what he could about the tests that my wife had taken and what he knew about her history and afterwards he began to conduct a physical evaluation. I had not really thought too much about the fact that I was going to be in the room while Mcdreamy was going to “explore” my wife. I got a little antsy as her feet went into the stirrups and he went in for an evaluation. What was I thinking by coming to this visit?!?!? As soon as I got all “guy goofy” I began to get into it….not in a dirty way. The doctor was explaining to me everything he was doing and suddenly I was fascinated with how crazy amazing the female reproductive system is. The idea that a woman’s body can take the seminal fluid a man produces and turn it into a child blows my mind. Of course I knew the capabilities of a female reproductive system before that day but I had never really been confronted with accepting how incredible the concept is. A woman can make a child in nine months and most men have “house projects” that are five years in the making. I had gone somewhere a man rarely goes, the lady doctor room but I was a better man for it.

Another place where men suffer great humiliation is when they are expected to admit they know how to do something that they would never talk about and that would be masturbation. My first experiences with this strange aspect of assisted conception was educational but before I tell that story I need to tell another one. When we started out at the Jones I was working with a guy who was unique to say the least. He looked like a heavy weight version of Herman Munster. He was a great guy but he was different. His son worked at the Jones and he would tell me stories about the room I was going to go into to produce my “sample”. The description was a complete horror show to this germaphobe. Now I turn the story back to my first medically self-loving experience. I get to the Jones and when I approach the medical personnel that is going to guide me through the procedure and it is the spitting image of my Herman Munster friend it is in fact his son. It is very strange being given directions on such a simple act. It did not go like this but it sort of felt like this.

“Mr. T when you go into the room there will be supplies to help you with your pervy little task. (I hate when they use the word little) There will be nudie books ( I am not touching those, how many times are the used a day) and even a video (like I really want Herman Munster to hear that through the door) if that is your preferred method of reaching the desired result. There is also a convenient stand for you to place your supplies so you can get two hands fully into the action even though it is doubtful you will need two hands. Even though your sick little ass already knows what you are doing in there this is still a medical function so you need to follow a couple of rules. You need to wash your hands before the event and damn sure wash them afterwards because I don’t want your little swimmers anywhere except inside my bullet proof specimen cup. Speaking of the cup, do yourself a favor and have it open before you start your sprint to embarrassment. Get all of your stuff in the cup and not on the floors or walls. I will be out here waiting for you just outside the door with a stop watch and killing the next couple minutes on my cell phone talking to my friends about you. When this is done do not look me in the eyes. I will processing your stuff to get the dumb, broken ones out since your are not capable of a healthy batch of specimen. Now have at it…..”

These are the words this guy heard but that is just the beginning of your emasculation. You will return to your wife and say nothing about what you just did in the private room unless you are me and I shared every twisted detail with my wife. While we wait for Herman to do his part I can share other funny and odd things that occur around this event. The event I am describing was my first medical attempt but there would be several more. We did not stay at the Jones and when we went to New Hope I decided I would try to do it at home and bring the evidence to them. The problem with this method is you are given a time frame to get things to the doctor. It is a lunch hour you will not forget. Once you finish you get in your car  in a “thirty minutes or the pizza is free style” you rush to your doctor where you will sit on the waiting room with a brown bag of embarrassment. When I finally gave the bag to the lady at the desk I swear she smirked at me and told me you really have more time than we give you but we want to make sure we get it quickly. Can you imagine getting in a car wreck and being knocked unconscience only for the cops to find that in your car? The very last time I had to go through the procedure I was sitting with my mother in law when my name was called. While I was walking away from her I turned around and told her I wanted to take her in before the event. I love her but now she has to live with that thought.  The nurse actually told me before I went into the room “lets knock this out”….she was cute and I was wondering if there was a new method I was not aware of. When I went in that room they had a boom box to drown out your racket. What CD was in the player you may ask? It was “Eye of the Tiger” of course (true story). I always wanted to be a screamer in that room to give them something to talk about but I never picked up the nerve. I return us back to the first time and the waiting room. When the specimen is processed you get escorted to a room with your wife. A doctor comes in with a strange apparatus that has a small tube hanging off the end of it. They put your specimen in the apparatus and then Doctor McDreamy goes in to “place” the specimen where your dysfunctional self cannot. He is hitting her baby spot right in front of you. Of course what he is really doing is place the specimen in the place it needs to be to give you a chance at parenthood. I do love Doctor McDreamy’s efforts. Once the doctor leaves you and your wife have to hang out in the room while things settle. What do you talk about after this kind of evening? Survivor? It’s hard being a man!!!!!

Everything I wrote is true and my experience but let me make something crystal clear for you. The woman has is twenty times harder than the average man when it comes to medically assisted conception. The mans ego may take a hit and he will be challenged as he watches the specter of infertility kick your ass while he is helpless to defend you. I will take the masturbation experience over multiple people poking you with a speculum and judging your fertility over the course of several years. Many women view their fertility as a core tenet of their womanhood and feel less of a woman when it is a struggle to get pregnant. That last statement kills me. My wife is my hero. We were lucky and after many years had a baby. Women make life move forward. Women make life worth living. Women bring balance to life and my wife is the very air I breath. Any man who thinks he has it hard to do the things I illustrate above (okay thankfully there were no drawings) is not worth his salt. I hope you all reach your dream and believe me it is not impossible. I cannot tell you how many false starts we had and how many disappointments we suffered. For all of our pain, prior to a successful IVF cycle, there are couples that had it a million times worse. Stay strong, love each other, and keep the flames of hope alive. Having a sense of humor from time to time helps.

I wrote a book about our experiences called “The Longest Love Letter”. I discovered that writing is an excellent way to clear your head and share your experience. By sharing your experience I think it makes a community that feels isolated from time to time feel smaller and closer. If you get the chance google blogs on infertility and you will find out how not alone you are. “Where The Bleep Is Our Stork” is a great place to start. The author ,Theresa ,is heroically open and bold in her entries. She will make you laugh and cry but most of it will seem so very familiar. Infertility is not the end of a dream, my friends, it is simply a roadblock that you can clear. Like most things worth having sometimes you have to fight for them. I truly love you all and wish you the best. Please feel free to ask me and my wife questions if you like. My wife is brilliant and not only has she walked in most of your steps she is a pharmacist and can give advice on meds.  I posted links below for you to use as needed.

Where The Bleep Is Our Stork

http://wherethebleepisourstork.blogspot.com

Andy Thornhill Facebook (warning for those sensitive to the matter my page has many pictures of my daughter, my wife can be contacted through me here by private message)

https://www.facebook.com/andy.thornhill.5

“The Longest Love Letter” can be found as an E-Book on Barnes and Noble and Kindle