Tag Archives: Resolve

Infertility: The Healthy Fertile Man

Standard

 

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.

Her Resolve Changed The World

Standard

RESOLVE

Defined by Oxford Dictionary

1. Settle or find a solution to (a problem, dispute, or contentious matter)

2. Decide firmly on a course of action.

3. Firm determination to do something.

     Men often do not know how much they don’t know!!!

“Here’s all you have to know about men and women:

women are crazy, men are stupid. And the main reason

women are crazy is because men are stupid”

—George Carlin

     Infertility is invisible. Most people do not know they have an issue with it for years. Some people who suffer from infertility issues will never know they had them. The ones that never know could be oblivious or in denial. How do you wage war against an invisible enemy? You approach it like any other war by preparing a strong offensive collecting an army of support. You educate yourself about your enemy and try to beat it at its own game. You anticipate what your enemies move is and use what you have learned and with your allies support conquer it. The difference between this war and the all too common ones we see on the news is that winning this war brings you the satisfaction of fulfilling your dream of being a parent. To beat infertility you must have a great deal of RESOLVE.

     We started our infertility like many couples do. I figured it was just a matter of time and my wife knew something wasn’t quite right. From the beginning I was blind and my wife had intuition. After a few months my wife settled on a solution to solve our contentious matter. She scheduled us to go to the Jones Institute in Norfolk, Virginia. We met with a doctor who delicately laid out a plan to help us conceive. The idea that I would need help conceiving was a thought that never crossed my mind in the first 33 years of my life. I did not know how little I knew about fertility. My wife knew a little having a pharmaceutical back ground but my background was much more limited. I wanted a child and I wanted my wife happy but when it came to being able to solve our fertility mystery I was useless.

     RESOLVE at this stage came in the shape of my lovely and persistent wife. She refused to quit. Every time her body told her no she changed her tactics and faced infertility eye to eye . She listened intently to her doctor and I came to nearly all the appointments with her. We figured if both of us were at an appointment we would be less likely to miss something our clinic told us. My wife kept notes and was meticulously organized. In my wives normal life sometimes stressful situations could have unglued her but when it came to infertility she refused to let it break her down. There were moments when she found dark places. Miscarriages would shake her. She would sit on the floor and cry. She did not want anyone around and wanted to curl up and disappear but after a day or two she would pull herself up and with the iron jaw of a champion boxer she would prepare her self for  the next round of the fight. What her heart wanted outweighed any obstacles that infertility would put in her way. We had reached the end of the road where insurance was a monetary contributor. The battle had waged for nearly five years and after several cycles we threw in the towel. I thought to battle was done. The war was over after we went O-Fer in every battle. RESOLVE: firm determination to do something.

     My wife went back home to West Virginia a couple of times a year and was at the airport when she called me. She told me we were going to pay for a round of IVF. I was against the idea because I was concerned whether she could bounce back from another miscarriage that also cost us as much as $20,000. I had no choice in this decision. My wife was so sure of her course of action that she had already set the appointments in motion for the next cycle before calling me to tell me we were taking another shot at slaying our invisible antagonist. The IVF cycle worked and now the real fears would kick in. We were used to things breaking down. We never talked about it but we were going to be surprised by a delivery and probably not by a loss. She would be on bed rest for eight months. 10 to 15 minutes a day was all she was allowed on her feet. She never complained. We had several scares. The first time we saw our child’s heartbeat was at an appointment when we had reason to believe the pregnancy had failed. RESOLVE was all my wife had. She refused to give in. She refused to make a mistake and she had the tenacity of a Lioness protecting her young. On October 20, 2008 our daughter was born in Norfolk, Virginia. Our story was over. The invisible antagonist was weighed, measured, and found wanting. (my wife loves a Knights Tale) The story could have ended there but it did not.

     During the first year of my daughter’s life I wrote a book. The book was a love letter to my daughter. It illustrated in great detail nearly every step of the battle and ended with her birth. I wanted my daughter to know her story and if I waited 20 years to tell it to her I would have forgotten some of the emotions and details. When The Longest Love Letter was near completion I realized it was actually a love letter to my wife. My wife had changed my world. My wife gave me the greatest gift. She showed me the greatest vote of confidence when she chose me to raise a child with her. I made a decision at that time to write about infertility and living with infertility at every chance I could. I wanted others to know it can be beat. I wanted to comfort those in their dark battle. My wife takes it even further.

    My wife jumped in head first to every Facebook Infertility Support site she could find. She uses her knowledge and experience to help others. She became friends with many of these other women in various stages of their journey. It would be easy for her to put the past behind her but she remembers the thoughts that kept her up at night. She did not have support groups but wishes she did. It is easier to get through dark places when  others will be your light. My wife is a lighthouse for those that are lost in their journey and need an ear to listen to them. She is a voice that will tell them that while it may hurt like hell it will be okay. She is willing to help them find their RESOLVE!!!!

    Couples please do not give in. Find your RESOLVE. Find you course and commit to it. Don’t be afraid to hear a strangers story and maybe take their hand if they offer it. RESOLVE to not let the battle take away the essence of the one thing you are trying to create life. You can do this and you are not alone.

If you want to know more about Infertility please go to these links at Resolve.org

http://www.resolve.org/infertility-overview/what-is-infertility/

http://www.resolve.org/national-infertility-awareness-week/about.html

What If Your Partner Leaves You On The Field

Standard

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.

Infertility: It’s Harder For the Man!!!

Standard

WARNING

THIS BLOG ENTRY IS WRITTEN TONGUE AND CHEEK. SOME PORTIONS ARE WRITTEN IN A SARCASTIC MANNER THAT IS NOT MEANT TO BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY BUT RATHER TO ILLUSTRATE SOME OF THE MUNDANE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE PERSONAL AND MEDICAL EXPERIENCES SOME COUPLES ENDURE WITH THE MEDICALLY ASSISTED CONCEPTION METHODS OFTEN PRACTICED TODAY. IF YOU FIND NO SENSE OF HUMOR AT ALL IN THE INFERTILITY JOURNEY YOU MAY WANT TO STOP READING HOWEVER IF YOU HAVE FOUND WAYS TO LAUGH FROM TIME TO TIME AT THIS HORRIBLE EXPERIENCE READ ON……..

It has been nearly nine years since my wife and I began a very emotional journey to have a child. I do not know what I expected of the experience before it began. I simply do not believe I gave it a thought. I think I pretty well went into it blindly thinking we would follow the doctors directions and in no time at all would be parents. I also thought my wife and I only had to cut off the birth control to have a baby naturally. I am not a caveman but when it came to the statistics, commonality, and knowledge of infertility my butt had not even seen the invention of the wheel yet. Our experience began at the Jones Institute in Norfolk, Virginia. We never had the success we yearned for there but they are a wonderful institution. I can remember our first meeting with a doctor there. I was sitting next to my wife as the doctor used word after word that meant nothing to my ears and brain. I am not a dumb man (I like to believe this anyway) but big medical words are pig Latin gibberish to me. My wife, however, is a pharmacist and could dumb down the conversation for me. By using monosyllabic words and shadow puppets she made cave-brain understand what was thought to be wrong and how we were planning to treat it. I decided early on that I wanted to be completely involved in every aspect of the journey so I attended my wife’s first gynecological visit.

When we arrived for the appointment I was confronted with the make egos worst nightmare, a good-looking, young, nice make doctor. Whether it was true or not this guy was “Mcdreamy” in my memory and his looks were only the beginning of my egos assault. The doctor was explaining what he could about the tests that my wife had taken and what he knew about her history and afterwards he began to conduct a physical evaluation. I had not really thought too much about the fact that I was going to be in the room while Mcdreamy was going to “explore” my wife. I got a little antsy as her feet went into the stirrups and he went in for an evaluation. What was I thinking by coming to this visit?!?!? As soon as I got all “guy goofy” I began to get into it….not in a dirty way. The doctor was explaining to me everything he was doing and suddenly I was fascinated with how crazy amazing the female reproductive system is. The idea that a woman’s body can take the seminal fluid a man produces and turn it into a child blows my mind. Of course I knew the capabilities of a female reproductive system before that day but I had never really been confronted with accepting how incredible the concept is. A woman can make a child in nine months and most men have “house projects” that are five years in the making. I had gone somewhere a man rarely goes, the lady doctor room but I was a better man for it.

Another place where men suffer great humiliation is when they are expected to admit they know how to do something that they would never talk about and that would be masturbation. My first experiences with this strange aspect of assisted conception was educational but before I tell that story I need to tell another one. When we started out at the Jones I was working with a guy who was unique to say the least. He looked like a heavy weight version of Herman Munster. He was a great guy but he was different. His son worked at the Jones and he would tell me stories about the room I was going to go into to produce my “sample”. The description was a complete horror show to this germaphobe. Now I turn the story back to my first medically self-loving experience. I get to the Jones and when I approach the medical personnel that is going to guide me through the procedure and it is the spitting image of my Herman Munster friend it is in fact his son. It is very strange being given directions on such a simple act. It did not go like this but it sort of felt like this.

“Mr. T when you go into the room there will be supplies to help you with your pervy little task. (I hate when they use the word little) There will be nudie books ( I am not touching those, how many times are the used a day) and even a video (like I really want Herman Munster to hear that through the door) if that is your preferred method of reaching the desired result. There is also a convenient stand for you to place your supplies so you can get two hands fully into the action even though it is doubtful you will need two hands. Even though your sick little ass already knows what you are doing in there this is still a medical function so you need to follow a couple of rules. You need to wash your hands before the event and damn sure wash them afterwards because I don’t want your little swimmers anywhere except inside my bullet proof specimen cup. Speaking of the cup, do yourself a favor and have it open before you start your sprint to embarrassment. Get all of your stuff in the cup and not on the floors or walls. I will be out here waiting for you just outside the door with a stop watch and killing the next couple minutes on my cell phone talking to my friends about you. When this is done do not look me in the eyes. I will processing your stuff to get the dumb, broken ones out since your are not capable of a healthy batch of specimen. Now have at it…..”

These are the words this guy heard but that is just the beginning of your emasculation. You will return to your wife and say nothing about what you just did in the private room unless you are me and I shared every twisted detail with my wife. While we wait for Herman to do his part I can share other funny and odd things that occur around this event. The event I am describing was my first medical attempt but there would be several more. We did not stay at the Jones and when we went to New Hope I decided I would try to do it at home and bring the evidence to them. The problem with this method is you are given a time frame to get things to the doctor. It is a lunch hour you will not forget. Once you finish you get in your car  in a “thirty minutes or the pizza is free style” you rush to your doctor where you will sit on the waiting room with a brown bag of embarrassment. When I finally gave the bag to the lady at the desk I swear she smirked at me and told me you really have more time than we give you but we want to make sure we get it quickly. Can you imagine getting in a car wreck and being knocked unconscience only for the cops to find that in your car? The very last time I had to go through the procedure I was sitting with my mother in law when my name was called. While I was walking away from her I turned around and told her I wanted to take her in before the event. I love her but now she has to live with that thought.  The nurse actually told me before I went into the room “lets knock this out”….she was cute and I was wondering if there was a new method I was not aware of. When I went in that room they had a boom box to drown out your racket. What CD was in the player you may ask? It was “Eye of the Tiger” of course (true story). I always wanted to be a screamer in that room to give them something to talk about but I never picked up the nerve. I return us back to the first time and the waiting room. When the specimen is processed you get escorted to a room with your wife. A doctor comes in with a strange apparatus that has a small tube hanging off the end of it. They put your specimen in the apparatus and then Doctor McDreamy goes in to “place” the specimen where your dysfunctional self cannot. He is hitting her baby spot right in front of you. Of course what he is really doing is place the specimen in the place it needs to be to give you a chance at parenthood. I do love Doctor McDreamy’s efforts. Once the doctor leaves you and your wife have to hang out in the room while things settle. What do you talk about after this kind of evening? Survivor? It’s hard being a man!!!!!

Everything I wrote is true and my experience but let me make something crystal clear for you. The woman has is twenty times harder than the average man when it comes to medically assisted conception. The mans ego may take a hit and he will be challenged as he watches the specter of infertility kick your ass while he is helpless to defend you. I will take the masturbation experience over multiple people poking you with a speculum and judging your fertility over the course of several years. Many women view their fertility as a core tenet of their womanhood and feel less of a woman when it is a struggle to get pregnant. That last statement kills me. My wife is my hero. We were lucky and after many years had a baby. Women make life move forward. Women make life worth living. Women bring balance to life and my wife is the very air I breath. Any man who thinks he has it hard to do the things I illustrate above (okay thankfully there were no drawings) is not worth his salt. I hope you all reach your dream and believe me it is not impossible. I cannot tell you how many false starts we had and how many disappointments we suffered. For all of our pain, prior to a successful IVF cycle, there are couples that had it a million times worse. Stay strong, love each other, and keep the flames of hope alive. Having a sense of humor from time to time helps.

I wrote a book about our experiences called “The Longest Love Letter”. I discovered that writing is an excellent way to clear your head and share your experience. By sharing your experience I think it makes a community that feels isolated from time to time feel smaller and closer. If you get the chance google blogs on infertility and you will find out how not alone you are. “Where The Bleep Is Our Stork” is a great place to start. The author ,Theresa ,is heroically open and bold in her entries. She will make you laugh and cry but most of it will seem so very familiar. Infertility is not the end of a dream, my friends, it is simply a roadblock that you can clear. Like most things worth having sometimes you have to fight for them. I truly love you all and wish you the best. Please feel free to ask me and my wife questions if you like. My wife is brilliant and not only has she walked in most of your steps she is a pharmacist and can give advice on meds.  I posted links below for you to use as needed.

Where The Bleep Is Our Stork

http://wherethebleepisourstork.blogspot.com

Andy Thornhill Facebook (warning for those sensitive to the matter my page has many pictures of my daughter, my wife can be contacted through me here by private message)

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

“The Longest Love Letter” can be found as an E-Book on Barnes and Noble and Kindle

Join The Movement: Why Is This Man Here?

Standard

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: Abortion, Morality, and Personhood Laws

Standard

The great state of Nebraska is moving forward with a Personhood Bill. Personhood Acts are mostly created to give rights to human beings at the earliest time possible, oftentimes this is considered to be conception. It is generally considered and anti-abortion bill. I do not want to argue for or against in any way shape or form abortion. I think that is a battle where people do not hear opposing views because they are too entrenched in their own opinion to hear ANY opposing opinion. Ascension Health defines Personhood below:

“A socially constructed moral category that denotes the inclusion criteria and salient characteristics that distinguish human beings from other forms of life, thus specifying the individuals to whom we owe particular moral obligations, i.e., those obligations we have to others due to their status as persons. In general, there are two ways of defining personhood. Philosophically, personhood is generally defined by some list of essential properties by which we recognize a human being as a person. Though these lists vary, they often include such characteristics as consciousness, the ability to reason, self-movement, self-awareness and a capacity to communicate. The second way of defining personhood is more theologically oriented and entails some relational interpretation of what it means to be a person. In this sense, personhood is often conceived of in terms of one’s ability to have relationships with other human beings and the special relationship human beings have with God.”

It is important to have a commonly accepted definition of Personhood because these laws could have a profound affect on infertile couples ability to move forward with medically assisted conception. If Doctors feel threatened with being arrested for trying to create life because of Personhood laws then many couples will be left without any options in the dream to have children. Since 1979 there have been a couple million children born, including my own, with the assistance of fertility treatments.

I am not a lawyer but from being a police officer for many years I do know that one of the keys components of a law against a person is the word “intent”. I have argued intent in court many times and it can be a slippery slope proving it. If you turn around too quickly and accidentally push your neighbor to the ground it is not assault but if in a heated moment with that same neighbor you willfully shove them to the ground you have displayed intent and therefore assaulted them. Personhood Acts will refer to any medical treatment where there is intent to cause harm to a living being. Keep in mind the law may say the moment of conception. So is it possible that in the course of an IVF treatment if a life, as defined by the law, is lost that there could be a liability for the doctor? It is an unfortunate fact that it is common to lose embryos in the process of medically assisted conception and if those embryos are defined as “life with Personhood rights” will the doctor need to defend his or her intent? Lawsuits are kryptonite to medical practices. If the medical field is forced to defend the practice of assisted conception then the likelihood is that the practice will be as extinct as a Triceratops. These laws may tell us that the word intent protects Medical Procedures for the purpose to create life but I am certain someone would soon challenge the practices on a moral basis.

I can understand the moral issues behind abortion due to the fact that it revolves around the sanctity of life. Again I will not state my opinion but since abortion stirs such strong feelings with faith-based moralist I am concerned that in a political battle politicians will use fear based tactics to move their base to pass a Ballot that could have horrible collateral damage to the infertile community. I plea with everyone to fully understand Personhood Bills and Ballots so that good people do not lose the chance to be be parents.

If you have fertility issues or know someone who does I strongly suggest you stay abreast of what your states stance is on Personhood and speak out if the need comes. Resolve.ORG has a page that better explains the concerns of Personhood Laws. The link is listed below. As always I wish you the best on your journey and because I remember how my wife and I felt I will always support the community that I am still part of.

http://www.resolve.org/about/personhood-legislation.html

Infertility: Love Thy Neighbor Virtually

Standard

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.