Tag Archives: Grief

Goodbye Lila Hello Rupert

It’s been a while since I last posted. Over the last 2-3 years as I’ve processed and evolved there has been less for me to write about and more time spent just living. But with living has come some rough times few tougher than earlier this spring when we unexpectedly and suddenly lost Lila. There have also been some amazing times when we welcomed Rupert into our home. It’s been the roller coaster of life continuing at high intensity.

For those of you who have followed this blog or know me from other Social Media outlets Lila was our rescued Greyhound. We met and adopted her on August 12, 2012 at a time when we were TTC a few months before we found out that I’m not able to have children. I’ve written before and it is true that had I been able to have children that we likely never would have adopted Lila. The day we adopted her she was the third dog we met that day. What sealed the deal for K is that Lila leaned on K when she walked her.

When we adopted Lila she was a five years old and a shy reserved dog who had been previously returned because it was said that she was always sad and hungry. As we came to learn the sad part was just her being reserved and needing time to come out of her shell. The hungry part was definitely true as she could eat until she exploded. The first six months to a year were rough as she dealt with separation anxiety and confidence issues. But once she came out of her shell she showed the world what a sweet dog she was.

Lila was with us during our darkest days of finding out about my infertility to our journey to parenthood ending. No matter how dark the day she always made us smile. She became a part of the family that everyone loved. Her calm demeanor helped my MIL overcome her fear of dogs leading my in laws to get a dog of their own. If not for her I am not sure K and I would have made it through infertility and being childless after infertility.

When Lila turned 10 in 2017 we knew she only had a few years left. She began to slow down not going up and down the stairs as fast as she used to and began to pant more often. She also did not get out of bed when we immediately woke up as she used to. Though when we took her for what would be her last vet check up in December 2018 all of her blood work came back good. We figured she’d be around for a while though we’d still try to enjoy every moment we had with her.

Saturday April 27th, 2019 started as any typical Saturday for us. K & I both did our routines of waking up going to do our workouts and chores around the house along with taking care of Lila. Then there was the debate about what to do. With it being a beautiful Saturday afternoon we decided to take Lila out with us to go to the local Farm Store as we needed propane for the grill and Lila needed treats. After heading back home we then decided we’d go out for ice cream. Lila knew exactly where we were and as soon as she got out of the car began to pull on the leash excited for ice cream. She quickly scarfed down what would be her last mini cone of ice cream. On the way home we stopped at another pet store to get treats. For Lila it was the perfect day.

After dinner that night K took Lila out to go to the bathroom while I cleaned the kitchen. While I was washing dishes I suddenly heard K scream. I quickly ran outside to find K holding Lila in her arms saying she collapsed. K handed Lila to me. I was in such shocked that I fell backwards into our bushes with Lila. K rushed to get the keys to her car while I carried Lila into the back seat of her car. Carrying her was like carrying dead weight and her tongue was dangling out of her mouth. But she was still breathing.

On the car ride on the way to the E Vet as I held her in my arms I told her to hang in and that I wasn’t ready to lose her. It was the longest 20 minute car ride I ever have had. I felt her breathing slow down for the first part of the ride. As we got close to the E Vet I felt her breathing and all movement in her stop. I knew we’d lost her. It took every ounce of energy not to scream and tell K as I didn’t want to distract her. Once we got to the E Vet I carried her for what would be the last time through the doors into the facility handing her off to the Vet team. They asked if I wanted them to try to revive her and I said yes. I was brought into a waiting room waiting for K as she parked the car holding out hope that Lila could be revived but knowing deep down she was gone.

It took about 5-10 minutes for the Vet to come back to the waiting room to let us know they tried to revive her but she was gone. We were told it was likely either a massive heart attack or stroke. We were in shock. Just hours earlier we had been having a great day with her and now she was gone. We couldn’t have planned a better last day for her if we knew it was going to be her last day.

We couldn’t go home right away so we stopped at my in laws for a bit. Both of them were in just as much a shock as we were. When we finally got home I went over to Lila’s downstairs bed and collapsed breaking down completely. K joined me and broke down as well. Her bed and blanket still smelled like her. The bone she had been chewing on just hours earlier was there but she was gone.

The next day we spent in our bedroom crying most of the day taking calls from family and friends offering their condolences. We only went downstairs for water and food. It was appropriate we spent the day doing that as Lila was extremely lazy and would spend most of her days sleeping and laying down in her beds. We both took off from work the next day to spend time together morning the loss. The intensity of the pain for me was greater than anything I have dealt with in my adult life including infertility and our parenthood journey ending.

In the upcoming days and weeks life was very different. I never realized how much of our lives and routines were because of Lila. Purposely we both did everything we could to stay out of the house as much as possible with so many things in the house reminding us of Lila. Unlike Infertility where for a long time I grieved by myself with losing Lila I made sure to grieve with K as this was our loss.

We had Lila cremated and a week later picked up her remains. I always thought it was weird when people kept their pets remains but now understand. They’re family and give so much to us. I can never repay Lila for all the love she gave us and taught us. She lived everyday without a care in the world living it as though everyone was her last.

Before she passed I wasn’t sure if I wanted another dog as I wanted Lila to be the only dog and wasn’t sure if I could love another the same way. K was always sure she wanted another and told me to take my time grieving that she would be ready for another when I was. We began to look at Greyhounds available for adoption as we loved the breed and with so many coming off the track with Florida in the process of phasing out Greyhound racing. There were a few that caught our eyes so we submitted a new adoption application to the agency we adopted Lila from.

A few days later I spoke with the woman who runs the agency to go through our application and I asked about one dog in particular. He was a brindle male who was on the smaller side for males. He recently came off the track with his last race on April 9th. I was told that he had a great outgoing friendly personality but on the trailer ride up from Florida he had sustained a cut on his leg so he was in the prison program to heal. The prison program is just that it’s where prisoners help train rescue dogs as part of their rehabilitation.

Due to scheduling we weren’t able to meet him for a few weeks but knew that when we met him we’d likely come home with him. Unlike with Lila where we had nothing for a dog and had to pick up beds and supplies on our way home we were prepared. On May 23rd we finally met him at the prison signed the Paperwork and headed home with a new member of the family.

The car ride home should have been a sign of things to come. He couldn’t get settled and tried to climb into the front seat with us. We had to stop the car a number of times with one of us getting in the backseat with him to keep him from climbing into the front of K’s car where less than a month earlier Lila had died in my arms.

Once we got home our new family member explored the house as this was the first time he had ever been in a home. K found some old toys of Lila’s that she never played with and he instantly took to them. Since I named Lila K would pick the name Rupert for our new family member. In the first 24 hours Rupert would show more personality than Lila did in the first six months we had her.

Here we are almost two months later and Rupert has managed to take over our house and lives in ways Lila never did. He’s gone into every room in the house including bathrooms which Lila rarely did. It took him until his second day with us to manage to get his way and get on our couch after us giving up on trying to keep him off it. Lately we’ve been fighting the battle of keeping him out of our bed at night. It’s the one place we don’t want him. After all he has four other beds to sleep on whereas K and I have to share a bed lol. Whereas Lila always found a way to make us smile everyday Rupert finds a way to make us laugh everyday.

Outside of them being Greyhounds and Brindle Lila and Rupert couldn’t be more opposites of each other. Though Lila was sweet there were only four people she was extremely affectionate with: Us (though K was her favorite person), my mother and my MIL. Rupert loves all people and wants to meet everyone. His tail goes nuts when we met new people or they come over. We’ve had to work with him on not jumping up at people which he does out of excitement not being vicious. Overall he’s a happy friendly dog with a ton of personality.

He’ll never replace Lila as she was our first and will always be special to us. But he has brought light to us in a time when there was darkness. Kind of like infertility and while the loss of becoming a parent can never be replaced there are things in our lives that bring joy and hope.

Below are some pictures of Lila, her boxed remains and Rupert being Rupert. I hope everyone is well.

Lila when she first came home.

Lila in her old age.

Lila after she crossed the rainbow bridge 4/27/19.

Lila’s boxed remains on her bed with her favorite blanket and last bone.

Rupert’s first night in his new home

Rupert being Rupert (he’s a bit of a weirdo)

Rupert where he’s not supposed to be.

Advertisements

One year Blogiversary

It was one year ago today that I made my first blog post. Though I didn’t start blogging that much until around Father’s Day last year when I began writing blog posts on a regular basis. I think about where I was at when I wrote that post and how much I hurt and how ignorant I was. I think about how hard it was for me to cope and how dark things were. It was a scary place, a place that I don’t wish anyone should have to go through.

One year later I wouldn’t say I’ve done a 180 but I’m in a much better place than I was one year ago both personally and in my marriage. Though our situation regarding having children has not changed, I’ve learned to cope with things better. It’s interesting right now I’m at a work conference where I’m meeting new people getting the do you have kids questions and whereas last year I would have said no and had it trigger me, I’m now saying “We aren’t able to have kids”. Those questions aren’t as triggering but they still leave me left out of conversations making it hard to engage in those discussions. The point is my perspective has changed but to a certain extent I recognize that I’ll always hurt no matter how K and I proceed.

I’m not sure where we are heading. Because of everything we have going on in our lives it’s not the right time to make that decision. Though with my 34 birthday less than 3 months away (entering my mid 30’s), I know that we’ll have to make a decision about whether to adopt in the next 2-3 years before we get too old. I can’t see us raising an infant in our early 40’s.

In the meantime, I have my Big Brother training in less than three weeks which will open a new door to hopefully help someone else. I don’t know whether I will be accepted into the program but won’t know unless I try. I’m exciting and nervous as to the opportunity it will bring.

I would like to thank you all for reading and providing me with great feedback over the last year. I hope that you enjoy and continue to provide great feedback and that I’m able to provide you with interesting content to read. I also hope that I’ve been able to provide you some perspective of what a man going through infertility is feeling and going through.

Best wishes to all of you on your journeys.

20140313-080840.jpg

Tips for Husbands with Infertile Wives by Baby Hopeful

Back in December I did a piece “Tips for Wives with Infertile Husbands“, it was one of my better pieces that I am hopeful people found beneficial.  As a follow up I thought it would be great to do a follow up piece on the other side of things, what can a husband do to help his infertile wife.  Unfortunately I don’t have the biological make up to do a piece like that so I had to seek out help.

One of the many great people I’ve connected with over the last year in the infertility community is a woman who runs a website called Baby Hopeful.  She and her husband have been going through infertility for over three years.  They’ve dealt with miscarriages, treatments and a whole lot of heart ache.  It’s a truly heartbreaking story to follow.  But they are people the infertility community looks up to for their courage, resolve and sharing so that other couples going through similar experiences can understand that they aren’t alone.  It’s a great website and blog that I highly recommend people check out as well as follow her on twitter at @babyhopeful.

It is with great pleasure that I present to you her piece geared towards Husbands who have infertile wives and what they can do to be there for their wives as they navigate their infertility journey.  I hope that those men who have infertile wives find this piece helpful and hope that infertile wives can share this piece with their husbands.  I can’t thank her enough for her putting this AWESOME piece together and for all of the work she does through her website.

Tips for Husbands with Infertile Wives

As an infertile wife I am often so self consumed with my own woes, that everything is about me.  I admit, there have been times when it hasn’t even cross my mind how hard it is for a husband to deal with an infertile wife.  So I have put together a few tips based on my experiences for husbands who have infertile wives.

1.) Put yourself in their shoes

Try to imagine how you would feel if you were the reason you and your wife couldn’t have a baby.  Would that make you feel like a failure?  Make you feel like you were letting her down?  Make you wonder if they even want to stay married to you (after all they might be able to have children with someone else)?  Well, imagine that for a moment… That is exactly how she is feeling.

You need to reassure your wife that she isn’t a failure and she isn’t letting you down.  Most importantly, reassure her that you will not leave her because she can’t have your children.  This has crossed my mind more than once, and my husband always tells me that “he wants children with me, not anyone else.  He doesn’t want to be married to someone else and that if we never have children, he will still have me and that’s the most important thing.”  This is the right thing to say!

 2.) Recognize the emotional and physical effects

I have had test after test; blood tests, surgery and internal investigations that have inflicted pain and have taken away my dignity.  In comparison, my husband has had two blood tests and two sperm tests.  I have had three miscarriages which have been painful and left me run down, tired with messed up hormones to boot. If your wife is dealing with all this, accept that she will be emotionally and physically tired.  What should you do?  Ask her if she is ok (often), spoil her (surprise her with flowers or a get well card, take her shopping), look after her (breakfast in bed), make her feel loved (hug her and tell her you love her… a lot).  She will be feeling pretty pathetic and will need it.

2.) Think about the biological differences 

I know how much men want children and I don’t want to offend men reading this (I apologize if I do), but don’t underestimate a woman’s internal desire to carry a baby; to give birth and to nurture a baby as a mother.  It is the strongest, most overpowering, consuming feeling I have ever known.  My biological clock (which I never knew I had until 3 years ago) has been ticking louder and louder over the last few years and I have become desperate to become a mother.  I think the key for the husband is to try and understand that the desire for a child is not a completely conscious decision; it is coming from the “mother within”.  There is not a lot you will be able to say to make this ok.  But you need to say that you understand (even if you don’t), reassure her that you still have lots of time, but also make sure she knows you are on her side and want this baby as soon as possible too.

3.) Patience

There have been times when I have cried my heart out literally every day; when I have been so angry I have slammed doors, stormed out of the house and thrown out insults like an obnoxious ungrateful teenager; when I haven’t laughed or smiled for weeks; when I have been a shadow of the woman my husband married.  Allow your wife to let these feelings out.  Be there for her, hug her, let her cry, be patient.  The wife you know and love will return, even if only for brief moments at first.

4.) Don’t take it personally

Know that it’s not you your wife is angry at, it’s infertility.  Anything your wife throws at you, don’t take it personally.  The harsh comments aren’t directed at you (even though it will often sound like they are).  We all take things out on those closest to us and in this instance the poor husband gets the short straw.  The only advice I can give on this one is don’t fight back with insults or harsher comments.  Bite your tongue, try to ignore what has been said, and know that your wife doesn’t mean it.  I know it’s hard and it’s allowing her to take no responsibility for her words or actions.  But don’t worry, she will realize this for herself and will usually apologize when she has calmed down.  Deep down she will know she was wrong to act like that/say those things.

5.) Talk, but get the balance right

Women (in general) talk more than men, it’s the way they rationalize thoughts and deal with problems.  An infertile wife will go over and over the same problems with her husband, trying to come up with a solution.  However, with infertility the conversation may never end because there’s no quick fix.  Of course a husband must listen and talk, but get the balance right and know when to have a break.  On more than one occasion my husband has said to me “We’re on holiday, let’s not talk about babies for now.” Or “Let’s enjoy our meal and talk about that tomorrow”.  At first this used to annoy me (because I wanted to talk about it there and then), but I soon realized that this was the best thing he could say.  It meant my brain was having a rest, that we could go back to just being a normal man and wife for a while (not “man and infertile wife”).  Arrange to do things you enjoy and don’t talk about babies/infertility while you do it.  Believe me, distraction is a good thing, even if only temporary.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but I hope it helps any men out there dealing with infertile wives.  You could even ask your wives to read it too, see if they agree.  They might have some more advice of their own to add.

Image

Taking a Big Step Forward

One of the challenges infertile couples and individuals face is being surrounded by people they know who either get pregnant or have babies. Since our diagnosis last year there have been two people we know that have gotten pregnant and given birth to their first child. One was someone I grew up with and the other is a friend I used to work with. I’ve written about this friend before. Most recently was back in November when I came out to her about our infertility.

Let me give you all some background on my relationship with her. I worked with her for almost two years. People talk about how they have work wives/husbands describing relationships they have with co-workers they are close with. For me she was my work sister. The reason I say that is that I worked under her on all of her accounts and she was a mentor to me. I learned so much from working with her. Professionally I have the utmost respect for her. I would recommend her for any job because I know she would excel no matter where she worked. I do have some guilt for not telling her when I was leaving that company but I couldn’t with the position she was in at the time. No matter what she had said, I was going to take the job offer I had. I think she knew and understood it too. She ended up leaving that company four months later. Two years after that decision, I don’t regret that decision one bit because the job I have now has finally given me the opportunity to advance my career that I had been looking for. Personally we are good friends. K (my wife) gets along with her and I get along with her husband. They are just great people to know and be friends with.

Anyways back to the point of this post. As I wrote in November, she gave birth to her son in mid September. Last night we texted back and forth about a former co-worker. We got into how each of our families were doing. She sent me a picture of her son who is adorable. The picture didn’t upset me as much as it would have a year ago or even six months ago. Then she asked about how we were doing and I opened up a bit more admitting that I spent 7 months in therapy last year. She was very empathetic. At the end of the conversation she invited my wife and I to visit them sometime in February. Back in November we talked about getting some of our co workers together for a happy hour. Getting all of them together is near impossible, plus her and her husband had dinner up here at our house almost two years ago and we owe it to them to visit.

K thinks it’s a great idea as she said she would like to “squish the monkey” (their son is adorable). I think it’s a great opportunity for me to take the next step in my infertility coping process. I need to confront my sadness head on if K and I are ever able to pursue some type of parenthood. There is no way I could ever be an effective secure parent if I never can manage my sadness. Plus it would be great to see them. It’s been too long since we’ve seen them.

Six months ago, heck even three months ago I don’t think I’d ever think of taking this step. If the visit ends up triggering sadness and grief, so be it. But I’m not going to know unless I try. Having K there with me will help, knowing that I am never going at this alone. We are in this together forever. I am looking forward to taking this big step forward in learning to cope with the grief that infertility has had on my life. I have in other choice here. I have to work through this and not let it consume my life.

20140118-125245.jpg

So long 2013

Man what a year it was.  Definitely the most difficult and challenging year of my adult life.  Though I found out I had azoospermia at the end of 2012, I did not know what type of azoospermia I had and what was the cause of it.  I had hope at the end of 2012 that I would be able to work through it and we’d have a pregnancy (that was biologically both of ours) at some point in 2013.  It wasn’t until January 10th that I found out I had a Y Chromosome Microdeletion and it wasn’t until January 25th that it was confirmed I would never be able to have a biological child.  Most of the year and still to this day I am working through the depression that has followed as well as my marriage with my wife.  The thing I am struggling with the most still is what is next.

I am glad this year is over.  I am not sure if 2014 will bring any resolution or even a step in any direction as to what is next, I just know it will be a different year.  That’s what gives me hope.  It could be that one year from now I am writing a post that nothing changed in 2014 and I am exactly where I am now.  The uncertainty is hard to accept but that’s life.

Someone who I have connected with on my infertility journey recently told me (Thanks Sara :-)):

In life’s journey’s sometimes we reach a wait and see point. It is an uncertainty in the fog that we want to fight and press through for clarity. But sometimes, it is better to breathe in and out and let ourselves sit in the uncomfortableness of uncertainty. Sometimes in that we find new perspective and sometimes opportunity finds us and sometimes we grow as people.

I’ve made that my New Years Resolution for 2014 to breathe in and out letting myself sit in the uncomfortableness of uncertainty.  Hopefully I am able to find that new perspective and by some chance of luck I stumble upon a new opportunity that allows me to grow as a person for myself, for my wife and for those others in my life.  So long 2013, you won’t be missed and hello 2014 the year of uncertain hope.   I wish all of those who read this piece have a happy and prosperous 2014 and beyond.

Image

Does it get any easier?

Less than four months after I stopped going to therapy I am depressed and as down on things as I’ve been in months. Maybe it’s just the holidays that are bringing it out in me but I’ve been one miserable SOB this month. It’s led to me being argumentative with my wife and really just on edge in general. I don’t know maybe it’s just the holidays that are triggering these emotions of sadness, frustration and hopelessness.

It will be a year next Thursday that my first sperm analysis that was done the revealed I had a zero sperm count. In that year I’ve gone through peaks and valleys. My best stretch where I finally thought I was turning the corner was at the end of the summer up until Thanksgiving. My wife and I went to Sedona over the Thanksgiving holiday and actually did have nice trip. But even on this trip I started to get down again. It could be that it’s hit me that it’s been a year and we are no closer to becoming parents than we were at this point last year.

My wife and I have still not made a decision whether we will pursue adopting. I am ready to begin this process but as a couple we aren’t ready yet. That’s the thing that’s frustrating is that I don’t know when or if we’ll ever be ready. That’s scary and it also makes me sad to think that we may never become parents. These lonely holidays maybe what it is the rest of our lives. I have no idea whether this will ever get easier or if it will always be difficult. And that’s what I live in fear of. I can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel or a happy ending.

20131220-204002.jpg

An Infertility Festivus for the Rest of Us – A Seinfeld Parody

This is the first set of holidays that we’ve had since my infertility diagnosis almost a year ago.  This time last year my wife and I were preparing to meet with a Reproductive Endocrinologist to determine if there was a reason why we had not conceived a child after 18 months of trying.  Little did I know that in the upcoming weeks our world would change forever.  The last few weeks have been very triggering for me.  It’s brought up reminders of what isn’t.  We won’t have little ones running down the stairs Christmas morning opening their presents and watching the joy on their faces.  Instead our tree will be empty underneath and our house will be quiet Christmas morning.  We didn’t send out those Christmas cards with children on them.  Instead our card had a picture of our Greyhound Lila.  Who while we love dearly does not fill the void that infertility has left us.  These triggers have left me sad and frustrated the last few weeks.

A New Holiday is Born

I’ve read many blogs and stories of people going through infertility or who have experienced infertility that are going through similar feelings this time of the year.  So it got me thinking of what is something that my fellow infertility brothers and sisters can celebrate to get through the holidays.  There has to be a better way, right?  What I came up with was a new holiday that we can celebrate that gives us that outlet to escape from the holidays that trigger painful feelings…………..”An Infertility Festivus for the Rest of Us”.

What is Festivus?

For those who don’t know what Festivus is and aren’t Seinfeld fans, Festivus is a holiday that George Costanza’s father Frank Costanza came up with in retaliation of the stresses that the holidays bring.  He felt there had to be a better holiday to celebrate that was more appropriate.  There are certain elements of what Frank used that can be applied to an Infertility Festivus such as different Christmas decorations, telling the people in your lives how much they’ve disappointed you and feats of strength.

Infertility Festivus Decorations

In the Seinfeld episode, Frank Costanza used a metal pole rather than a Christmas tree.  For our Infertility Festivus we will keep the Christmas tree but instead of putting presents under it we can stick items such as failed pregnancy tests (obviously wrap them up so it’s sanitary), failed ovulation kits, sperm sample cups, failed IUI/IVF test results and other things that are associated with infertility.  These are the gifts that kept giving to us throughout the year.

The Airing of Grievances

One of the best scenes of this Seinfeld episode is when Frank gathers his family around the table for the “Airing of Grievances” telling his family how much they’ve disappointed him throughout the year.  For our Infertility Festivus we will gather our friends and family to tell them how their insensitive comments and lack of support has disappointed us throughout the year.  The “Just adopt”, “You just have to relax and you’ll get pregnant”, “There is more to life than children” and “You haven’t lived until you’ve become a parent” are all out in the open ready to be dealt with.  If you have a spouse who hasn’t been supportive you can rip into them.  You are also welcomed to go off on your bodies that have failed you. Ovaries, testicles and other man and lady bits that are preventing us from conceiving a child with outspread spouse are fair game. It’s better to get all of this out in the open rather than hold it in.  Making these people know how they’ve made your bad situation worse can be therapeutic.

The Feats of Strength

Frank Costanza’s Festivus concludes with the feats of strength where he fights some family member to see who is stronger.  For our Infertility Festivus Feats of Strength we will show our friends that despite the obstacles we face that we will fight our fears, sadness and frustration and survive the blows that infertility has dealt us.  We will not be defeated by triggers, insensitive comments, failed pregnancy tests, failed treatments and other things that get us down.  We will fight to the end and will find that resolution to our infertility be it a successful treatment, filling the childless void through third party reproduction or adoption or leading a life that doesn’t include children that is still fulfilling.

So I am asking my infertility brothers and sisters to join me on December 23rd to celebrate our new holiday “Infertility Festivus”.

Image