Tag Archives: IVF

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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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. 

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.

Talking To Myself Again

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If I were able to talk to my twenty-one year old self my younger self would tell my present self to get on my Back To The Future care and go to hell. My younger self would not believe the things my older self would experience. I would be either way to cool to have gone down future self’s road or I just would have not believe that “IT” could happen to me. Hey younger self could make any girl he wanted to get pregnant in less than two minutes of serious love-making. Yes older self is telling on younger self and quite frankly older self “two minutes” but at least it would be “serious”. When it comes to either of my self’s you take the old you take the bad and….what is the rest of that sitcoms jingle anyway. Facts of Life theme song aside, my younger self would be blown away at the things he would do down the road.

A twenty-one year of age strapping young man such as my younger self would have never and I mean ever gone with a girl to her gyno appointment. Younger self could certainly not have dealt with a man tinkering with his girls undercarriage right in from of him. Younger me would tell you that there may be a third person in the room but it would have been a second girl….he only wishes. Younger me would have never admitted to anything but the highest of sperm counts. He would tell you he had a count that was so high that it mystified doctors. My older self would be so very disappointed in the way his crows feet free self viewed a woman’s part in having a child. He would have told younger self to be sensitive to his significant others feelings when she said she felt less than a woman because of the difficulties they were having in conceiving. He would make sure younger self did not blow off her feelings with a “suck it up attitude”. Younger self may have left a woman who couldn’t “get the job done” in his eyes. Younger self could be a real asshole.

Older self is educated to infertility norms. Older self recognizes that it is not unusual to get angry at friends when they are pregnant and that he should not judge his wife for feeling such anger. He gets that she will be more sensitive. Older self gets that he will feel less a man because there is nothing he can do to make her feel better. Younger self would tell you that not only could he keep his girl feeling happy and secure but if he could not (and he would never admit he could not) he would simply trade her in for a less bitchy model. Younger self would not talk about his short comings in a blog if a such thing even existed then.

Infertility Awareness makes a man out of you. It makes you aware of others feelings. It forces you to listen and to come to grips with what you do not know. It teaches you patience and to understand the facts of your infertility but to fight them with every tool and practice medically assisted conception has to offer. Yes my younger self may have been a jerk but with the power of an amazing woman as a partner, a good fertility clinic, and love he became a better person and eventually a father. I hate to admit it but infertility taught me what should not be taken for granted.

What would you say to your younger self about your infertility?

Infertility: What Is There To Be Thankful For?

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Maybe it is a pipe dream to think that when you are having the fight of your life that it could be easy to find things to be thankful for during the holidays. Halloween has passed and you may have went to the movies with your spouse to avoid seeing happy families traipse their children through your door step for candy as you long for the thing they may be taking for granted, having a child. We are now entering the holiday before the “Big One”. You know in the back of your mind you will be bombarded with your own childhood memories during the lead in to Christmas. These memories may be hurtful because you want to afford the same memories your child. You can’t go to the mall because everyone has a child seeing Santa. It is hard. It is easy to be self-destructive and hurt during this time of the year but you are stronger than that.

The simple fact that you are willing to take on the challenge of battling infertility is proof alone that you are the strong and determined type. You can get through these days AND you can find things to be thankful for that revolve around infertility. The large majority of people going through infertility woes are doing it with a significant other, same-sex or otherwise. You found someone in your life that loves you for you. They tolerate your annoying habits just like you tolerate their annoying habits. Your spouse is supportive of the challenges you face. That someone loves you and wants the same things you want, hurts for the same dreams you do,  and holds your hand when words are useless is an enormous gift. We are all lucky to find someone who loves us but love is truly tested when infertility enters the picture. If you have that special person in your life you are so very blessed with good fortune.

Science is another great thing to find thanks in. Our fertility doctor always fascinated me. She use to have a yearly event where she brought together all the families she had a hand in creating. When we went to the event I was stunned at the hundreds upon hundreds of people and children that were present. Can you imagine having a hand in making people’s dreams come true and assisting in bring forth lives that may have never existed without your help? I refuse to believe that a person becomes a fertility doctor solely for the goal of making money. There has to be a passion for this kind of practice. The science itself is a blessing and the good people who treat you are an even larger thing to be thankful for. My wife and I were talking today about a difficult cycle where the doctor could only recover two eggs even thought there were dozens available. The doctor knew my wife would be crushed and changed her schedule to give us much-needed one on one time to deal with the bad luck we had just saw up close and personal. The doctor made a difference and it just happened to be that it was that cycle that produced our only doctor.

Friends that support you cannot be forgotten in this Thankful Holiday Time. Your Thelma and Louise friend that will punch a man in the mouth for you without giving it a thought is one of your greatest assets. The friend that sees you hurting and takes you out for a glass of wine or lunch and doesn’t pretend to understand your ordeal but makes you feel like it will all be okay is a goldmine of Thankfulness.

I beg you to not give up. I beg you to not let the holidays break you down. Try to see the good and use that to get you through the journey you are on. I beg you to love yourself and not let the process make you question yourself in any way. Anything worth having is worth fighting for and that is exactly what you are doing, fighting for your dream. You are what I am thankful for. I may not know those who read my rants but I have an understanding of what you are going through. My wife is my hero and made me understand exactly what it means to fight. She showed me that a woman is a force that cannot be reckoned with. Embrace your battle and use the pain against it. Use the doubt against it. You are going to have weak moments but you my dear friend are not weak. I love you all. I hope you find what you need. I hope you enjoy your holiday and most importantly I cannot wait for you to kick the stuffing out of infertility.

A Conversation

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myheart

I cannot wait to hold your hand

The world will be wide open for you

Life will be what you make it

I will open every path I can for you to realize your dreams

Your Daddy is your biggest fan and life’s guide

We will talk when you have your heartbreaks

When you fall short of your goals

But I will stand you up to tackle those goals again

and conquer them

Nothing can stop you

But wait you never made it here

I will not see these things

SIGH!!!!

You may have never walked on this Earth

I may have never held your hand

The day you left me I was lost

But the thought of you

Makes me stronger every day

You make me want to keep fighting

Your invisible presence carries the weight of a million suns

You guide me to where I need to be

If I do get to hold a child’s hand

I will know you helped me get there

Thank you my child

I may have been helpless to save you

But you have saved me

What Was and Could Have Been

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The Football Game To Heal

The Football Game To Heal

I have never written about my feelings when my wife and I lost our babies. I tend to be the typical man who likes to share a little of himself but mostly of his innate male wish to push back his pain to absorb the pain of the love of his life, his wife. There were two occasions for us that we know of. Some of you may question the part where I say that “we know of” but we later found out that chemical pregnancy loss is common and we feel that may have happened as well. I really don’t want to know the truth.

The first one was before we took on the infertility war. My wife had always swore that she would never tell me she was pregnant over the phone but she did anyways. I was over the top excited. I called my dad at work and I never call my dad on his cell much less at work. I told my dad he was about to be a grandfather. I called my boss too. Now allow me to rewind myself a tic or two. A months earlier I was working for another man. He came to me to tell me he was about to be a father again. A couple of days later I saw his wife and congratulated her. She looked at me like I had kicked her dog and walked away. My boss came back a few hours later and said she was upset with him because he shared the news too early. I found that preposterous and talked to my wife about it and she agreed with my bosses wife that people do not always share early just in case something goes wrong. I still did not agree with my wife. Flash forward to the beginning of this paragraph. One week later we lost our pregnancy. I was stunned. We had been coaching baseball at the time and I had to meet the parents at the field to tell them that practice was cancelled. One of the mothers could tell something was wrong and I shared with her what was happening. She shared a similar story. When the lot was cleared I sat in my car and cried. It was an all out let it go sobbing. I went back home and asked my neighbor to take me to get my wife’s car. The loss occurred while my wife was at work.  We went to my wife’s doctor and she coldly told us that “lightning strikes”. So lightning struck my wife and we lost a child? I was hollow. I felt numb because I had been in a million bad spots in my life. I was a police officer and had dealt with an incalculable amount of issues but this time I was lost. I can look you in the eyes and give you great advice to get through a dark spot but this was too close to home and I felt helpless. That weekend we stayed in the house and watched an Americas Next Top Model Marathon for a day and a half. We decided we need something to look forward to and I bought my wife tickets to a Steelers and Redskins game (she is a Steelers fan).  We changed doctors and began our infertility story. I also learned that when your wife says don’t share until she is ready…..listen!!!

The second one destroyed me. We had been on the infertility journey for a while when we got news we were pregnant. I felt stupid. For years I had always thought that making someone pregnant was a God-given right. Lay down and nine months later you are there. We had tried with infertility help for a while to get pregnant. I remember asking myself what had I done wrong to not be able to fulfill my role as a man. I felt emasculated. I prided myself on being there and taking care of my wife and dammit I was not doing it. I had given up and was only hoping and waiting for my wife to say the same thing. Thank God my wife is stronger than I and did not give up. In October of 2008 our daughter was born as a result of an IVF. Had my wife not been persistent it would have never happened.

I did not think too much of the lost babies until recently. We hear noises in the house at night and I told my wife she was crazy for thinking it was the babies until one night I saw a child walking in our home. I still do not know what to make of it and have not seen it since then but I found calm after seeing it. We met psychic Sylvia Brown years ago in Las Vegas before the birth of our daughter. She told us one of the children was with a family member, my wife’s grandmother passed a couple of days after we lost the baby. I am not telling you that our lost babies became ghosts and sometimes I believe our minds deduce what they need to make sense of life’s strange situations. I do think that we all find ways to cope with loss and if my wife lost me I would want her to move on no matter what she had to believe to get through it. Every child is a gift even the ones you never get to hold. A child gives you hope for the future. A child fuels your need to do good and live a life that has new meaning.  To lose one is like losing hope but there is another side to consider. As hard as it is to lose a child have you ever considered that if the child would want you to move on when you could? The child knows you love them and when you love someone you do not want to be the thing that makes them not want to grow and move on. I believe a lost child could feel the same way. It does not take away the loss but it could give you reason to move on and maybe realize your dream to be a parent. To all of you that have  lost a child I tell you I love you and can understand. I wish you all the best and on this Day of Hope I honor all of our children.