Tag Archives: Men

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: 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.