Tag Archives: motherhood

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: Is It Time To Quit?

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     We have all been there. We reached the point during our journey down Infertility Road when we started to look for the exit ramp. We wanted off the ride. We could do no more. For me  it was around December 2007. My wife had done all she could. She had done more than she needed to do. She had proven the point that she was tough and had a resolve that was impossible to break. We had been through the usual run of misery. We had been through several failed cycles. We had been down Miscarriage Lane. My wife is a pharmacist and had a miscarriage at work. She could not leave work until another pharmacist could get to her pharmacy and she had to sit on the floor devastated and in tears knowing that there was nothing she could do as we lost another child, another opportunity at parenthood.  That night I left her in her bed because she wanted to be left alone. I went to work and was roaming around like a zombie. On the long drive home a good friend talked me down. I coached Little League Baseball at the time. It seemed odd to coach when I had no children and was fighting to have one. We had practice the day of that loss and it was too late to cancel the practice so I went to the field and met with each parent to call practice off. One of the parents knew something was wrong and she did what she could to console me.  Many nights I gave my wife shots through bruised skin. I was constantly asked how things were going and had to repeat stories often. Relive hard thoughts and memories. I had dried my wife’s tears and suppressed my own. I hated couples that hd kids that seemed to take it for granted. I hated myself but most of all I pained for my wife. She was the hero of the journey. She was the one that was constantly confronted with obstacles and never feared as she broke through them. In December of 2007 after that last loss she was done and I was all too ready to support the decision. It was not that I no longer wanted a child it was that I was tired of watching this invisible bitch kick my wife’s ass as I sat by helpless to protect her.

Her choice to throw the towel in did not last long. After only a few weeks she called me from an airport and said she had called our fertility doctor and was doing one last IVF. I did not want to do. I had lost hope and was in protect my wife mode but she did not need my protection. She was far stronger than I had given her credit for. We went through the cycle. At every single step were statistically out numbered. Everything that could go wrong short of a total loss had occurred. A couple of weeks after the IVF transfer my wife showed signs of a miscarriage. The doctor told us to go home and come back the next day. The next day at the doctor’s office my wife and I could not look at each other. I could not handle seeing her hopes crushed and she likely could not look at me thinking she had let me down (she was wrong). The doctor pointed at the screen and showed us a blinking light, our baby’s heartbeat. Our baby was fine. My wife would go on bed rest for nearly eight months but our daughter would be born and to think I wanted to quit.

My wife is a fighter and will ignore being told something is impossible. Sometimes fate blinks and a miracle slips though. I tell you this story not to make you feel bad at our success story but to illustrate that anything is possible. As long as you can emotionally deal with it and financially handle it never say no. Do not be like me. If you are the man you may be like me and not realize how strong your wife is. Women are ten times stronger than the “I pick things up and put them down man” (you may need to You Tube that reference). I hope you find your rainbow and more importantly I hope your love for your partner gets stronger during the journey. Do not look at the difficulty look at the never say quit attitude your partner has and marvel at it. I hope the below video link gives reminds you of how amazing you are. The video is on my personal blog. You are more than welcome to read other blogs on that page but I warn you that many are about my daughter and I do not want to hurt or offend anyone with those videos. I hope you will go to the link because that video is specifically for you and anyone who is on their journey. Sunshine Dreams and Hopes does not support video but my Tao of Pig Pen does. I love you all. 

 http://abbeyscathouse.wordpress.com/2013/03/03/infertility-is-it-time-to-quit/

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.

Seeing In The Dark

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When EPT is not your friend it can bring you to your lowest of lows. The longer infertility hangs over you the darker your everyday life becomes. If you are like my wife then you have two choices of action. These two choices are the same two choices every human and animal has when they are threatened or frightened: fight or flight. You can go to every doctor, bone up on every website you can find, and keep chasing the baby dream until you are successful or come to a natural closure that it may not work. The other option is to bury your head in the sand and try to forget the spectre is there. I do not recommend the ostrich technique.

Women are too often help to a standard that is simply ridiculous. Some in society lead women to believe they need to be a size zero and always have on their celebrity face. When I listen to my wife and how she sometimes felt growing up it really opened up my eyes to media and historical portrayal of women and now I really hate my twentysomething self (I am now 41). So if women are expected to be Angelina Jolie in the daytime and Jenna Jameson in the bed at night whats to be thought of them if they have problems having children due to infertility? Most men never ever consider that they are the hold up.

My wife talked about her concerns when we were seeing our Reproductive Center but I know my wife and she also did what a lot of women do: suffer silently. That suffering killed me. As men, we want to be able to fix everything for you. When you have a health issue that causes infertility we can feel helpless to be your hero. My wife does not want Superman she wants me flaws and all. It took me years to figure this out. My wife chose to fight infertility and both of us contributed to our problem conceiving. She refused to give in. She lost a ton of battles and I watched her tear herself apart but she did when the war. We had a baby in 2008. I wanted to be the hero and in the end I was already married to a hero.

I beg women that take on this battle to talk and talk often. Find support groups, friends, or hell the dog and just let loose with your problems and feelings. You may find that when you discover that you are not an explorer making a journey no woman has made before but a woman following a well-worn path pelted with the tears of the heroes before you. My wife was a hero to me whether we had our daughter or not. Talking can sometimes relieve so much. Do not get me wrong you may have doubt and sadness but knowing someone(s) there can make things easier.

As a man I was and still am astonished by the support we received from friends, doctors, and strangers. It made the bitter pill easier to swallow. Your partner needs to be there. He needs to know when to listen, talk, and simply hold you. With love and a strong relationship this too shall pass: win or lose. I wish you all the best and know that you are amazing even when you don’t feel that way.