Tag Archives: mommy

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 Your Partner Leaves You On The Field

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

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

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

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

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

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

“When are you going to have a child?”

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

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

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

“Just relax it will happen.”

“It’s Gods will.”

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

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

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

Infertility: Love Thy Neighbor Virtually

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As the Beyonce beat to “Single Ladies” chimes in with these replacement lyrics “All the infertile couples, all the infertile couples..put yer hands up”……I am a social network guy. I will sometimes moan over the thought that Social Media has taken away the art of a face to face conversation. I frown when I see my family or any family at a restaraunt table staring hypnotically into I Pads or I Phones not speaking to each other. Okay maybe sometimes they are Facebooking each other as they sit next to each other (GUILTY!!!) but that does not count as conversation. I bemoan these things but I applaud social networks for one thing, emotional support. My wife and I were not on Facebook when we took our assisted conception journey. My wife was on nearly eight months bedrest and could have used Attain Fertility or Resolve or one of the intimately personal infertility blogs like:

Where The *Bleep* Is Our Stork
Scrambled Eggs
Infertility Awakening

Social network sites like Facebook opened a deluge of pages and support sites for those looking to hear that they are not the only person feeling the way they do during their war with their reproductive systems. Once I stumbled upon these sites I swore I would do all I could to share my family story and to lend a listening ear to the tens of thousands of people hoping for answers on these sites. I was on one of the pages just before I began writing this blog and read a womans comment , “It’s not my time to shine like a diamond. As I sit here with tears rolling down my cheeks..” Just the beginning crushed me. No one should ever have to feel this way, especially about themself. This is typical on the support sites. People, mostly women, are emptying their hearts out hoping to be heard, just letting it out, hoping for answers or for any and many other reasons. What warms me up is that there are always responses to the posts from people that are knee deep in the battle. They are trying to support each other. People are having painful battles of their own but they are quick to come to the aid of a stranger in the same wheelhouse self doubt.

My wife and I won our battle and could have easily walk off into the sunset but my wife spends hours on these sites trying try to cheer people up lending her pharmacutical knowledge and personal experience to people that need it. She works twelve hour days and comes home to talk to strangers that are walking steps today that she wept on years ago. It means something to her. She constantly talks about things she would like to do to help people. I am so lucky to have her in my life.

You have to bring a clear mind to these sites. If you ask a medical question remember only your doctor can give the best answer. When others share their experience keep in mind that their situation is very likely different from yours. It is a good idea to bookmark their advice and maybe run it by you doctor. Go to the “LIKES” portion of your favorite site and see what else is out there. There are sites for people of faith, there are sites that specify race (not that they only want one race on their page), their are medical sites, and humorous sites…the list goes on. The one thing that ties these sites together other than the condition we all share is the openess that people share. It is inspiring what people share of themself.

I personally love the blogs. When a person shares their journey, especially in live time, that just pulls me in. It takes courage to open yourself up that way. Fertility Blogs are exceptionally good at letting you know that it is normal to sometimes hate the pregnant 20 year old neighbor or to want to sock someone in the eye when they say, “It’s God’s will.” I am certain that some of the authrs families or friends question their openness at times. I wrote a book about our journey and have often been questioned. It comes with the territorry when you write but you also get the release. I strongly encourage people to frequent the blogs and hopefully find something in them that helps you.

As the tagline to Alien went….”When you scream in space no one hears you”….the tagline for Infertility Blogs and support sites could read “when you scream here we scream WITH you!!!” I hope you find what you need and I only wish we could be as supportive to strangers in our real lives as were are on line. Best of luck and I love you all.

You are all shining diamonds, it is the clouds that are dark. The clouds will pass and bright days will abound.

Infertility: You Just Don’t Count

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I have told the story several times over how a friend told me that maybe God did not want my wife and us to have a baby when infertility dug its ugly claws in our unsuspecting backs. I hate when someone says you can’t do that because to me they are saying you just don’t count or worse yet you are not worthy. Never, ever tell me that.

Who has the right to tell you what you can or cannot do when it comes to reproductive freedom? Today at work a former fellow employee came in with the most beautiful four-month old baby girl you can imagine. She had amazing eyes, big puffy cheeks, and a smile that could make a dead man stare. Being a proud father of a four-year old girl we can smell our own and you could see the pride beaming off of his face. He was a proud, happy Daddy. A proud happy GAY Daddy. He did not face infertility issues that I am aware of but of course he and his husband needed a surrogate to become parents. He was lucky enough have a friend deliver him a baby through IVF. Is a Gay Daddy any less a Daddy than me? Hell no he is every bit as good a Daddy as any straight man. If we listen to some states and anti gay marriage/ gay family groups these regular people are not worthy and they are immoral? Says who? How can we be smart enough to land on the moon, put tens of thousands of songs on a phone, find incredible cures for disease but still think we can tell a person they are not worthy of love or children because Ed loves Ted? It is mind-boggling that anyone would feel this way and think because they feel this way it should be law. Love is love my friends. Love is beautiful and the most potent part of a marriage. Love makes a family and it could care less of what your sex is. Anyone opposed to gay people having children need to find a new hobby.

You and your husband want to have a baby through assisted conception but your family and friends say maybe it just is not in the cards and you should let go of this dream. Your friends change the subject or roll their eyes when you bring up in your infertility journey and woes. They say they just do not want to see you disappointed and wish you would move on. People that have not dealt with infertility simply do not understand your plight most of the time. It is easier to change the subject than to listen to something they cannot relate to. They love you but want to ignore the elephant in the room. Passively they are telling you to give up. They may not say you are not worthy but they certainly don’t feel comfortable hearing it. What do you do? Find a community on-line or through your doctor that has people who do understand the concerns. Often they do not know what to say if pressed they may tell you they are worried about the toll it takes on you. They really are worried about the toll but the subject is out of their wheelhouse and the band-aid is “move on”.  It is akin to saying ,’It’s God’s will”. Do not hate your friend but instead find your support audience.

So one of my first questions was who has the right to tell you that you what you can do when it comes to reproductive choices and my answer is no one. We are all God’s children and are privileged to have dominion over our lives as long as we do not hurt others. Who you love is your choice. If your body will not coöperate in having a baby but a doctor can help you that is your choice. One of the best things in life is having choices. You are already dealing with enough headaches with infertility so try to not let others lack of understanding bring you down. Money is one of the few aspects that can truly stop you. You count my friend. The things you are willing to deal with to become a Mommy or Daddy is living proof of how worthy you are. Any person that says who you can love or challenges your worth as a potential parent is simply insecure and or ignorant. Please hang in there and I wish you all the luck in the world.