Tag Archives: Family Act of 2011

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.

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Her Resolve Changed The World

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RESOLVE

Defined by Oxford Dictionary

1. Settle or find a solution to (a problem, dispute, or contentious matter)

2. Decide firmly on a course of action.

3. Firm determination to do something.

     Men often do not know how much they don’t know!!!

“Here’s all you have to know about men and women:

women are crazy, men are stupid. And the main reason

women are crazy is because men are stupid”

—George Carlin

     Infertility is invisible. Most people do not know they have an issue with it for years. Some people who suffer from infertility issues will never know they had them. The ones that never know could be oblivious or in denial. How do you wage war against an invisible enemy? You approach it like any other war by preparing a strong offensive collecting an army of support. You educate yourself about your enemy and try to beat it at its own game. You anticipate what your enemies move is and use what you have learned and with your allies support conquer it. The difference between this war and the all too common ones we see on the news is that winning this war brings you the satisfaction of fulfilling your dream of being a parent. To beat infertility you must have a great deal of RESOLVE.

     We started our infertility like many couples do. I figured it was just a matter of time and my wife knew something wasn’t quite right. From the beginning I was blind and my wife had intuition. After a few months my wife settled on a solution to solve our contentious matter. She scheduled us to go to the Jones Institute in Norfolk, Virginia. We met with a doctor who delicately laid out a plan to help us conceive. The idea that I would need help conceiving was a thought that never crossed my mind in the first 33 years of my life. I did not know how little I knew about fertility. My wife knew a little having a pharmaceutical back ground but my background was much more limited. I wanted a child and I wanted my wife happy but when it came to being able to solve our fertility mystery I was useless.

     RESOLVE at this stage came in the shape of my lovely and persistent wife. She refused to quit. Every time her body told her no she changed her tactics and faced infertility eye to eye . She listened intently to her doctor and I came to nearly all the appointments with her. We figured if both of us were at an appointment we would be less likely to miss something our clinic told us. My wife kept notes and was meticulously organized. In my wives normal life sometimes stressful situations could have unglued her but when it came to infertility she refused to let it break her down. There were moments when she found dark places. Miscarriages would shake her. She would sit on the floor and cry. She did not want anyone around and wanted to curl up and disappear but after a day or two she would pull herself up and with the iron jaw of a champion boxer she would prepare her self for  the next round of the fight. What her heart wanted outweighed any obstacles that infertility would put in her way. We had reached the end of the road where insurance was a monetary contributor. The battle had waged for nearly five years and after several cycles we threw in the towel. I thought to battle was done. The war was over after we went O-Fer in every battle. RESOLVE: firm determination to do something.

     My wife went back home to West Virginia a couple of times a year and was at the airport when she called me. She told me we were going to pay for a round of IVF. I was against the idea because I was concerned whether she could bounce back from another miscarriage that also cost us as much as $20,000. I had no choice in this decision. My wife was so sure of her course of action that she had already set the appointments in motion for the next cycle before calling me to tell me we were taking another shot at slaying our invisible antagonist. The IVF cycle worked and now the real fears would kick in. We were used to things breaking down. We never talked about it but we were going to be surprised by a delivery and probably not by a loss. She would be on bed rest for eight months. 10 to 15 minutes a day was all she was allowed on her feet. She never complained. We had several scares. The first time we saw our child’s heartbeat was at an appointment when we had reason to believe the pregnancy had failed. RESOLVE was all my wife had. She refused to give in. She refused to make a mistake and she had the tenacity of a Lioness protecting her young. On October 20, 2008 our daughter was born in Norfolk, Virginia. Our story was over. The invisible antagonist was weighed, measured, and found wanting. (my wife loves a Knights Tale) The story could have ended there but it did not.

     During the first year of my daughter’s life I wrote a book. The book was a love letter to my daughter. It illustrated in great detail nearly every step of the battle and ended with her birth. I wanted my daughter to know her story and if I waited 20 years to tell it to her I would have forgotten some of the emotions and details. When The Longest Love Letter was near completion I realized it was actually a love letter to my wife. My wife had changed my world. My wife gave me the greatest gift. She showed me the greatest vote of confidence when she chose me to raise a child with her. I made a decision at that time to write about infertility and living with infertility at every chance I could. I wanted others to know it can be beat. I wanted to comfort those in their dark battle. My wife takes it even further.

    My wife jumped in head first to every Facebook Infertility Support site she could find. She uses her knowledge and experience to help others. She became friends with many of these other women in various stages of their journey. It would be easy for her to put the past behind her but she remembers the thoughts that kept her up at night. She did not have support groups but wishes she did. It is easier to get through dark places when  others will be your light. My wife is a lighthouse for those that are lost in their journey and need an ear to listen to them. She is a voice that will tell them that while it may hurt like hell it will be okay. She is willing to help them find their RESOLVE!!!!

    Couples please do not give in. Find your RESOLVE. Find you course and commit to it. Don’t be afraid to hear a strangers story and maybe take their hand if they offer it. RESOLVE to not let the battle take away the essence of the one thing you are trying to create life. You can do this and you are not alone.

If you want to know more about Infertility please go to these links at Resolve.org

http://www.resolve.org/infertility-overview/what-is-infertility/

http://www.resolve.org/national-infertility-awareness-week/about.html

What If Your Partner Leaves You On The Field

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Broken Heart photo: heart glass and broken broken.jpg

 

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.

Infertility: Don’t Believe The Hype!!!

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There was a time we had a god for everything. There were gods of thunder, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and even goddesses of fertility. The time frame where the belief of these gods existing is sometimes called the time of myths.  We still have myths today when it comes to infertility. The myths run the gambit of God just don’t want you to be a parent to if you watch The Gangnam Style YouTube video on a Sunday while eating hard-boiled eggs in a tutu you will be stricken with infertility. Do not believe all the myths.

One myth is that infertility is the problem of people thirty and up. Twenty year olds can go at it like rabbits at a carrot convention and knock out babies left and right. This is simply not true. One of the greatest surprises I had when I went to the fertility clinics with my wife was that there were so many twenty-something  couples there.  If you are in your twenties and have tried for a while to have a baby without much success you may want to see your doctor and make sure there is nothing that is causing the problem.  Depending on what website study you read infertility affects 7 to 10% of people at childbearing age. That is over 7 million people. Do you still feel alone in your journey?

We all know that all child issues are women’s issues. A women’s ability to get pregnant is all up to her. If you have had problems getting pregnant then you need to carry your lovely bride to the doctor because dammit it is a she problem…..wrong it is a “we” problem. Most studies show that the party that has the infertility issue is pretty much a draw between men and women.  When my wife and I had our journey we both had issues contributing to our problem. It is not fair to ever call someone the blame of infertility. It is very important to be supportive and caring for your partner if a problem arises. Men can have egos the size of Texas and some women spend a lifetime dealing with public perception issues. Infertility can make those fears grow to self loathing proportions. It will not make all the pain go away but make sure you remind your partner that infertility is not uncommon, is often treatable, and does not make them lesser a man or woman.  Nothing in a relationship should ever be a he or she issue and infertility is the same.  Support each other and you may be surprised at what you accomplish.

While we are on the subject of public perception, have you heard the story that a woman with a little baby fat will never get pregnant?  All we hear is how obese our country has become. Unfortunately our nation fights a weight issue (as well as this blogger) but if weight were the only reason preventing people from getting pregnant our country will be extinct in a couple of generations because us people of size are not capable of having kids. We should all strive to be healthy and reduce our body fat index but the fact is that most women with a BMI between 20 and 25% have no fertility issues. If you lose weight do it for you.  If you lose weight for any other reason you very well will have limited success or put your weight back on. Loving yourself is not a sin. I am not suggesting to not worry about your weight because it does not matter I am only expressing the truth that a person with meat on their bones can have a baby. You should consider that if you get pregnant and are already heavy that the added weight you gain during pregnancy will enhance present back issues and can affect delivery. If you can get healthier do so for yourself but don’t let anyone convince you that you cannot get pregnant.

God hates you buy the way. God decided a long time ago that you should not have a baby. He was so sure that you should not have a baby that he shared it with your work mates, friends, and family. He wanted to make sure that from time to time one of them would say to you that maybe God does not think you should be a parent. Of course God told this banana head His intentions and they were sharing them with you because well you should know. Faith is good and powerful. I had a friend tell me that maybe God did not want me to reproduce. He was not kidding. He meant it. Do you really think God is so self-absorbed that He creates drama for his entertainment? No!!! or at least I doubt it. When someone uses faith as the reason you are not pregnant they are small and hiding behind something that makes them feel better and superior. No matter your chosen god or faith make sure that you use it to help and support you and not to make others hurt you with it. For anyone to assume what someone’s god thinks of them is ridiculous.

There are many myths out there my friends. We live in a society where news and myths are quickly spread because of the internet, satellites beaming news everywhere instantly, and too many so called experts. I took the infertility journey with my wife but I am only an expert on what happened to us. Listen to your doctors. Arm yourself with good information that has facts to back it up. Don’t allow yourself to be discouraged by a friend who heard a story from another friend about a couple on the internet that could not conceive for some ridiculous reason.  If you are the person that watches drug commercials on TV and after hearing the some of the effects of a sickness you automatically assume you have it you may want to be wary of the internet. I am a normal idiot and I have a blog so anyone can write anything. It does not always make it true, unless of course it is me. Before you immerse yourself in the internet it may not be a bad idea to visit your doctor first. The couple should visit the doctor when possible and not just the individual. Infertility is not a final judgment. Nearly everything is possible.  Keep your faith and love each other. Sometimes that is enough once you visit a proper doctor and follow-up on their advice.  I love you all and wish you the best.

Infertility: Don’t ignore your feelings men…..

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Men don’t ignore your feelings. Infertility for a male is just as personal as it is to a women but the difference is that men are more often likely to not face their feelings or their fears. In everyday life men can struggle with their ego. Not all but many men are very defensive if they think any aspect of their manhood is being challenged.  When men become defensive they can be difficult and in some cases confrontational. Stereotypes are sometimes stereotypes because they are well-earned. Every woman who reads this blog knows at least one bullhead stereotypical not in my emotional backyard man. There is nothing wrong with this man but if you are that man the sooner you take steps to open up and explore infertility issues and its options the happier and emotionally healthier you will be. When my wife and I began our journey I felt so much better and at ease when I realized that infertility has no prejudice. Any man can have a fertility issue whether they are young, old, big, or small. In most cases you cannot prevent your infertility problem anymore that you can predict and stop an earthquake. Diet and health habits may contribute to fertility issues but it is just as possible that you were born with it just like that unsightly mole on your face. Men you may think to yourself that people may be able to see that mole but they won’t see my fertility issue. I can keep that a secret you may tell yourself. This is simply not true. Your girlfriend or wife can see it. She knows when something is wrong and that builds tension. It creates huge problems from nothing and can sometimes dissolve a marriage.

You may want to consider that the first fertility visit you make to discuss your reproductive health is a solo trip. Make sure your spouse or girlfriend is aware you are going but a solo visit to the doctor may be helpful. If you are one on one with a doctor you may ask more questions. If you feel more comfortable with a male doctor it is not sexist to make that first visit to a male doctor. If a man does not want to discuss his fertility fears with his wife he may open up to a male physician. Wanting a male doctor is no different from the woman who prefers a female gynecologist. Don’t just choose the first male doctor at random if you go this route. Make sure you have done some research on the doctor before going.  When you go to the doctor lay it all out on the table. The conversation may not be comfortable. If you are asked to give a seminal sample it can be awkward. As a boy when you discovered yourself if was fun and casual and your secret but to do it in a medical environment is different. Most Facilities give you a choice of doing it (manually producing a seminal sample) at home and bringing it in to the clinic or providing you with a room at the clinic to produce a sample. There are pros and cons. If you do it at home you are against a clock to get the sample to the doctor. I took this route once. It was strange to be sitting at my desk at work and realizing it is time to go home and produce a sample in a cup. When I was taking the sample to the doctor all I could think of is what if I get in a wreck and the medics look inside my little brown lunch bag. What would they think? When I went in the doctor’s office I felt like everyone was staring at my brown bag. I have a sense of humor that laughed all that off but if I think of these things so may the next man. If you produce a sample at a doctor’s office you need to be able to relax. You may hear the sounds of the office while in your private room. Many facilities give “Inspiration” in the form of videos and magazines. Be ready to see these things. I will never forget an attractive young nurse walking me back to my private room and saying, “Let’s knock this out”.  To this day I kick myself for not responding to that innocent remark. It is all harmless and it is all normal. If you think you feel awkward at this point in the game I strongly suggest going to one of your wife’s appointments. When you see firsthand what women submit themself to in a regular visit you will realize what you have to do early in the fertility journey is blue comedy at best, that is why I make light of the male aspect up to this point. Ask your doctor every question you can think of. Ask him if it is common if you have a problem. Commonality can make you feel less like you are on the Island of Misfit Toys. It is not a bad idea to take notes. Once you get home, from the doctors visit, share your information with your female companion. The more you share the easier it will be to move forward. The more you share the closer you become and a close-knit couple can kick the living hell out of infertility because they are fully informed and as comfortable with the process as they can be.

Once you have had your visit and have come to terms with the good or bad news you get you have to make sure to not ignore your companion’s feelings. If by chance the partner with the medical reason that is most contributing to infertility is the woman you have to remember this. A woman may feel like less of a woman if she cannot conceive and carry a child. Some women will view this as making them less of a person, less of a woman. At one point in time in my journey my wife said she would not blame me if I decided to divorce her for a model that she perceived as not being broken. I found this laughable and appalling but she meant it. Can you imagine that kind of low? How would you feel if your wife’s esteem sunk to a level where they felt the need to say that? I tell you this because once you decide to not ignore your feelings toward your personal male fears toward infertility you need to prepare yourself to help your wife be strong. If you have a medical issue that is contributing to conception issues you need to put on the brave face and heart so she does not have more worries. This does not mean that you clam up but quite the opposite. Doing your best to be optimistic can be infectious and can make it a little easier to get her to be an optimist that the journey will have an amazing ending. Men do not forget your feelings or her feelings. This is the most challenging times most couples face and it is your time to step up and be the man she fell in love with. Being strong does not mean being quite and sucking it up like a man. Being strong is pressing through your fears and ego to get all the knowledge you can to give your companion and you the best opportunity to become parents. Best of luck and don’t forget ladies and gentlemen you are amazing just to take the challenge.

Please check these links for information on infertility.

http://www.resolve.org/infertility-overview/what-is-infertility/

http://www.resolve.org/national-infertility-awareness-week/about.html

About the blogger:

My name is Andy Thornhill and I have also written an Ebook on my family’s journey called “The Longest Love Letter”. It is available for the Kindle and Nook. Please feel free to contact me through this blog page or on Infertility News You Can Use on Facebook.

Infertility: Men and Communication

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LOVE.

     When you are going through the trials and tribulations of the medically assisted pregnancy many of you will face challenges you never imagined. You may be questioned by friends and family. There will be days you want to express what you are going through but realize you know no one that understands your position. You may feel alone even in your own marriage because your husband or you choose to not discuss the fertility journey you are on. Maybe one of you thinks the other does not want to hear their personal fears. You are very likely wrong because as a man I was concerned and sometimes scared that I would not be a father but what concerned me most was how my wife was holding up. I wanted to be in touch with what the process was doing to her. Most of us men are dumb and do not know how to start the “How are you doing on this family endeavor we are challenged with” conversation. Men want to defend their loves but infertility is invisible and not even Superman can fight what he can’t see. As a wife or a girlfriend how many times have you asked your man “why didn’t you tell me?” or “what’s on your mind?” It is no different going through infertility. Communication is paramount for the infertile couple. This is not the time to be the tough guy man of few words because it may be tearing your wife apart not knowing what is going on in your mind. Men must not forget that women want to protect them too and it may give them relieve to know that their husband is scared for them or he has unanswered questions.

      Men need to be involved in the process.  They need to be the other set of ears at the doctor’s appointment. When my wife and I went through the process I was full of questions but sometimes I heard the things my wife did not hear and that was valuable because I could catch what she missed. She missed very little. One of the hardest things I did in the beginning of our process was to go to a gynecological visit at the fertility clinic. The doctor was a striking handsome man and my wife was in the standard medically accepted position but I quickly put my insecurities behind me once he began to talk and I began to understand what we were up against. If you are a man reading this blog then talk to your wife about both of your fears and thoughts. If you are a women reading this tell him if you need him to communicate more during this time. Tell him to read this blog. The challenges you face will be a little easier if you have a strong core of communication.

     Let’s face it a man is probably not hanging out with his boys talking about his low sperm count but he may be able to have that talk with you. My opinion is that it is very important to have a voice during these times and know who will listen to that voice. Some of us men have few words but we love you women and we are capable of finding them when should.

     I wrote earlier about the doubts you may have during the process and the challenges. When a friend tells you it’s “Gods will” every time a cycle fails not knowing how much that hurts and frustrates you need a to vent these emotions so they do not feed self doubt. When cycles are stopped before they even start or a cycle fails to produce a pregnancy you must find a way to understand the truth, “it is not your fault and you are not a failure”. I was told maybe God did not think I should be a parent but I turned that into God wants me to show Her how bad I want to be a parent. You can turn most everything around if you try hard enough. Most everyone can beat infertility with medical help but you do not have to do it alone. Talk your friends, talk to your spouse, talk to your clergy (if appropriate), and go to Attain Fertility or Resolve for advocacy, answered questions, and support. Arm yourself with support and knowledge and your self-doubt may lessen. Women who take this fight on are inspirational and testaments to what every good person parent or not can be. You put yourself out there in a way many may never understand. I firmly believe your husband’s want to know why they are drying the tears that may fall.

        Life is so very short. Even if you live to be a hundred the best days of your life are only a blink in times eyes. The time span the average woman has to become pregnant is even shorter. When you struggle with fertility your time span seems even smaller because you have to eat up so much time going to doctors, getting medications, timing out your assisted conception schedules, and your regular life events. The average age of a first time father is 31 (in 2011). I was 39 in 2008 when my in-vitro daughter was born. If you are planning to go through the process please arm yourself with information and a support system. Even though time is always of the essence nearly anything is possible so never give up on yourself.

     April is a big month for the infertility community. April 22 to 28 is National Infertility Awareness Week. Go to Resolve.org and read up on the legal issues that infertile families face, the financial issues they face, learn about new bills like the Family Act that could give financial relief to families going through assisted conception procedures by offering them a tax break, and most importantly of all find other families that are fighting your fight. Connect with like challenged families through their blogs. I promise the more you read the more you will not feel alone and you may find that there is a stranger out their brave enough to share the story that could very well be yours. I hope these things can help. Attain Fertility is a great site to visit as well. I wish you all good luck and love one another.

About the blogger:

My name is Andy Thornhill and I have also written an Ebook on my family’s journey called “The Longest Love Letter”. It is available for the Kindle and Nook. Please feel free to contact me through this blog page or on Infertility News You Can Use my Facebook infertility page.

Infertility: Does This Sound Familiar?

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Clorful Hearts

The Fortune family is a married couple in Norfolk, Virginia. They have been together since high school and married each other when they were both 20. The husband joined the Navy and spent the first several years of their marriage under deployment. Over his Navy career he spent months on end away from his wife defending our country and learning skills he would one day use in the private sector. He completed two tours of duty and after several months in this tough economy he found a job in the civilian world. While he was in the Navy his wife took a job with a local retailer and worked her way up to management. She stayed loyal to her husband while he was overseas and fantasized of the day they would have a child. They had planned to hold off until he was out of the Navy and they had both developed careers for themselves. Now both of them are near 30 and the time was right for them to have a baby. After a year and a half of trying they came to a stunning realization, they may have fertility issues. Another few months pass as they make appointments with doctors to figure out what could be the root of their problem and they are told they will need medical help to conceive a child. The clinic starts them off with the comparatively inexpensive route of intrauterine insemination.  They go two rounds of this and the doctor decides the best option may be IVF. The Fortunes make nearly $52,000 dollars a year, have minimal debt, and have managed to save a bit of money over the year but the average IVF can cost upwards of $20,000 for one cycle. They can get some relief with insurance paying for some meds but they are still nervous to move forward. They are talking to some friends one evening about the fact they are considering getting a loan for the procedure. The friend callously yet innocently asks the couple how they think they can afford a child if they cannot come up with the money for an IVF. The family is devastated by the remark and begins to have serious doubts as their biological clocks tick on…..if they had a little more financial help they might find the confidence to give IVF a try.

The Fortune family is a factitious family but the scenario is very common. They did all the right things in their life. They chose to get careers started before starting a family, thinking that the hard part was behind them once they began careers. Their income is close to the National Median income for a married American couple. The comment made to them is not uncommon. The truth is that most families with or without children would struggle with coughing up $20,000 in one lump sum. This does not mean they could not afford to have a child. The Fortune family may have been a little more likely to give IVF a try if there was a tax break involved.

The Family Act is a bill before our federal government now that could give relief for families like the Fortunes. Below is a synopsis from Resolve.org:

Key provisions of the House and Senate bill:

       The Family Act covers the out-of-pocket costs associated with in vitro fertilization (IVF) including diagnostic tests, laboratory charges, professional charges, and medications for IVF.

       The Family Act covers the out-of-pocket costs of fertility preservation procedures if the man or woman is diagnosed with cancer and the cancer treatment or disease itself may result in infertility.

       The Family Act has a cost sharing provision allowing 50% of all applicable medical expenses to be  covered up to a lifetime maximum of $13,360. You would need to have out-of-pocket costs totaling $26,720 to claim the entire credit in your lifetime.

       If you do not owe taxes in a particular year, do not owe enough taxes to use the whole credit, or do not reach the max amount in one tax year, it carries over to the next year for a max of five years after the first year you use the credit. 

       The Family Act is available to couples filing jointly with adjusted gross incomes of less than $222,520, but the credit is smaller for those earning between $182,500 and $222,520. 

I am a father of an IVF child. We did several rounds of IUI and a couple IVF cycles before we got lucky. I am a veteran of the emotional rollercoaster. Our first IVF was covered under insurance but our second one was not. My wife is my hero. We were fortunate enough to have afforded the bills associated with that cycle but it was I was always conscious of how it would affect my wife had it not worked. We would have benefited from a bill like the Family Act.

Go to Resolve.org to get information on the Family Act and get links there on the bills progress. On April 26, 2012 Resolve will be hosting an Advocacy Day in Washington DC in support of the Family Act. Please consider becoming an advocate. We need to educate our elected officials about the science of assisted conception and the impact is has on people who need medical help to have children. If you cannot go to DC write a letter to your states House and Senate members. Resolve.org has links to help you reach out. If you have a blog shake all the trees you can with your words and thoughts. Attain Fertility has great information constantly flowing on the Family Act as well. I have created my own page on Facebook called “Fertility News You can Use”. I am trying to make my Facebook page a sounding board for veterans of and present members of the infertility process. I invite everyone to post stories and news links there for all to share. I wish you all the best in your journey.

About the blogger:

My name is Andy Thornhill and I have also written an Ebook on my family’s journey called “The Longest Love Letter”. It is available for the Kindle and Nook. Please feel free to contact me through this blog page or on Infertility News You Can Use.