Tag Archives: relationships

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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What If Your Partner Leaves You On The Field

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Broken Heart photo: heart glass and broken broken.jpg

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

“When are you going to have a child?”

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

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

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

“Just relax it will happen.”

“It’s Gods will.”

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

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

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

Join The Movement: Why Is This Man Here?

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I never gave my fertility a thought until my mid thirties. I had no reason to think about it. I am a man and dammit we just don’t consider those things. In my twenties it simply was not on my mind but then I got married to a woman I wanted to have a child with. I had long thought of being a father. I had the dream of watching my son score the touchdown at the big game. When it came to having a baby I knew exactly nothing. I truly thought it was just a matter of making love and then letting the magic of birth follow. Stupid boy!!!

We tried for a little more than a year to have a baby and the spark just never took to flame until  a phone call broke the silence. My wife called me at work to say we were pregnant. I was like a thoroughbred at the gates of the Kentucky Derby just gnawing at the bit to tell everyone the great news and I did. A week later we lost the baby. It was a sobering experience. My wife immediately knew we needed to see a fertility doctor. I had been a police officer for many years. I handled the most stressful of situations for a career but now I had the big invisible monster at my front door and I did not have a clue how to handle it.  I was about to be introduced to the world of infertility and all of its pains.

My wife and I went a route that the infertile community will relate to. We started out at a fertility clinic that was well thought of in our state. The results of our visits were a mixed bag. We saw multiple doctors and nurses during the same cycle. I learned to get comfortable with gynecological type visits with my wife. I was given a one minute course on giving my wife shots. They drew circles on her buttocks as a target just in case I forgot. We did many IUI cycles and had the same result every time. My wife is a pharmacist. Anyone that has done a cycle will tell you that your schedule must be flexible sometimes and you best be very organized. During one cycle we had to take an appointment on a Saturday morning before she was scheduled to open her pharmacy. In her job business cannot begin or even open until she is there. We were promised ;by the doctor, that they would get her out in time for week. There were probably a half-dozen couples at the fertility clinic for the same tests my wife had to do. They lined us up and ran us through the stations. First she had to be weighed and have vitals taken, and then she had to urinate, and then wait to have a blood draw. At the blood draw we had a bottle neck. We waited and waited and then finally I heard a doctor tell someone he could have his wife come in to draw blood. The nurse that  was suppose to draw blood was absent and the doctors were not willing or able to draw blood. I was stunned to be  in a doctor’s office with doctors and no one could draw blood. Just when were about to be forced with either blowing a cycle or losing a job due to a no show a nurse finally showed up.  We were done with this clinic and went to another one in town. We had blown a couple of years at the first one.

When we went to the next clinic we felt better about how they wanted us to move forward. They were much more personal and the two years we were there we saw the same doctor and nurses. The doctor immediately suggested an IVF. We started the process of an IVF and were thankful that our insurance covered a one time shot at this procedure. The IVF failed and we gave in. There was only so much I could watch my wife do. I hated to see her so let down. My wife is a smart woman because she does not listen to me. A few months later she told me that we were doing another IVF. Shut up and do your part I was symbolically told. I still wanted a child with my wife but I did not want to see her hurt. The IVF beat nearly every odd there was. My wife was on bed rest for nearly eight months. A dear friend died during the pregnancy that by itself could have emotionally caused us to lose the baby but in the end our daughter Emma was born.

During our journey my wife suffered a miscarriage at work where she was sitting on the floor of her pharmacy in tears and bleeding, we had more failures than I can remember, we thought we had lost our daughter several times, my wife overcame a fear of needles (sort of), my wife hated herself and anyone else who was pregnant, friends challenged our decisions and even accused us of blasphemy before God, and a million other horrors great and small that will sound very familiar to most. I tried to be the strong man. I stood by my wife because that is what a man does. I cried when she was not there for her and me.

When we walked our journey we were never informed about communities online or on Facebook or Myspace or WordPress of people who were sharing their experiences. My wife spent months sitting in her bed alone without being able to go outside and take a walk. During her pregnancy she was allowed to go to horse race, catch one stand up comedy act, and one art show. The rest of her other time was spent feeling every single noise or ache her body made and wondering whether the other shoe was going to drop. Even the day my daughter was born were prepared for failure. I decided that the adventure I shared with my wife needed to be documented for my daughter. I wanted my daughter to understand how hard her mother fought to give her life and if she had fertility issues she could have a first hand manual that illustrated that anything is possible. I wrote a book I called “The Longest Love Letter”. The story is the entire journey from beginning to end and no detail is spared. In the book I also share with my daughter things that show how imperfect I am. I wanted her to know all. When I got to the end of the book I realized The Longest Love Letter was truly a love letter to my amazing wife. The story is the greatest testament to how strong women are. It is a blueprint for what I hope my daughter grows up to be. I am very proud of the book. It is a common story that many couples share but most people are not aware of.

I do not consider myself an author. I wrote our true experiences in the rawest form possible. I decided to publish the book in an E-Book format through Amazon and Kindle. I created a Facebook page for the book and it was then that I discovered these amazing sites like Attain Fertility and Resolve. I was amazed by the raw emotion shared on these pages. I then discovered blogs written by mostly women that told of their painful stories. Many of these journeys are still unresolved. I found hundreds of women that sounded like my wife. I so wish that she had these pages when she was pregnant. I found a community that also had few people who had successfully navigated the process. I decided to create a blog just for families that are fighting infertility today. I would be taking for granted my personal story if I did not somehow give back. My blog “Sunshine Dreams and Hopes” was born. I am careful to not talk about our successes as much as let people know you are not alone and your dream can be realized. Shortly after the blog was created I opened up a Facebook page called “Infertility News You Can Use”. I try to sprinkle it with news stories I find and blogs written by incredibly talented writers going through the journey of a lifetime. I have been contacted by people from all over the world between these different pages and I am always humbled that people read and like and take in what I write. If I could I would change everyone’s story to a happy ending. I know I have a gift in my wife and in my daughter but not every woman believes in themself and not every man takes the time to examine the totality of the infertile journey. As I write and share stories I also remind myself that I am the luckiest of men. I hope my daughter notices and one day finds something in her life that she wants to help make right.  I love you all and I hope if you read my words you will take what you like or need and leave the rest. I hope you find a way to laugh but most of all I want you to love each other because in the end that is the strongest weapon you have.

Facebook Page for “The Longest Love Letter”

http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Longest-Love-Letter-EBOOK/193438320685453

Facebook Page for “Infertility News You Can Use”

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Infertility-News-You-Can-Use/168649429917070

Personal Home Page for Andy Thornhill

http://www.facebook.com/andy.thornhill.5

Infertility: What She Sees, What He Sees

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She sees herself darkly

She sees a failure, a let down

She watches other women celebrate

Where she fears she will never be

She feels an empty gut, empty hands

She sees roadblocks, insumountable odds

She feels unworthy of love

I see her as the sunshine of my life

I see my greatest hero who never hears the word NO

I celebrate her and her resolve

I will hold her hand until we find our answer

I cannot fix her but I will never let her go

I will tear down her roadblocks, laugh at the odds

I am not worthy of her perfection

Together any journey can be bested