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Fatherhood

11 years.  It has been 11 years.
On this day, 11 years ago, I lost my father to his lifelong battle with depression.  March 4th, 1999
my father took his own life leaving behind a trail of broken hearts, guilt, and an endless amount
of “what ifs”.
The day my father passed away had been a day like any other.  Lorne and I were living in Daytona
Beach at the time as he was working on his bachelor’s degree.  I was working as a receptionist at
an insurance company.  The day was sunny and warm.  My father-in-law was in town visiting.  I
arrived home from work and went into my bedroom to get cleaned up and ready to go out for dinner
with my husband and father-in-law once Lorne got home from school.  As I was piddling around in my
room the phone rang.  It was my mom.  What expected to be a regular mother daughter phone call
turned into a phone call I had never expected, a phone call I will never forget. Inside of talking
about my day, about what my family was up to, my mom told me that my father was dead.  I don’t
remember much about the actual conversation.  I can’t remember exactly what she said.  I remember
feeling my heart break. I remember feeling like I couldn’t breath.  I remember not being able to
cry.  I was worried about my brother and how he was taking the news.  I remember asking about him.
I remember not really know how I should feel or what I should say.
My parents got divorced when I was 3 and my brother was 6 months old.  I don’t remember living with
my dad.  My first memories occurred some time after my mom, brother and I moved into an apartment
after the divorce.  My brother and I spent time with my dad when we were younger.  He would pick
us up for weekend visits.  I have good memories from those weekend visits.  But in all the time
I spent with my dad as a child I don’t really know my dad.  When I was a teenager I pretty much
cut ties with my dad and stopped going to see him.  I didn’t call him dad, I called him by his
first name, John.
My father was a troubled soul.  He was an alcoholic his whole life and during his last years he
suffered from serious health complications that resulted from his alcoholism.  My mom left my
dad because he was abusive, not to us, but to her.  My father was also, apparently, suffered from
depression.  I say apparently because I didn’t know him well enough to say for certain.  I witnessed
my father drinking around us, driving drunk and even a couple of times drinking while he was
driving us.  As a result of what I knew about my dad and what I saw I made the choice to cut off
ties with my dad for my own sake.  I figured one day, when I was older I’d have a chance to
reconnect with him.  As a teenager I didn’t have it in me to forgive my dad or to deal with
the drama that he created in my life.
What I never expected was that at 21 years old I would loose my father and any chance we may have
had of reconnecting.  What I never expected is that I would forever be haunted by a man I sadly
never really knew.
For the last 11 years I have been dealing with the grief and pain I feel as a result of my father’s
death in silence.  Since everyone in my world knew that I had cut ties with my father and didn’t
really have anything to do with him they all assumed that his death didn’t affect me. they couldn’t
have been more wrong..  And since I knew they all felt this way I didn’t feel like I could talk to
anyone about how I was really feeling.  Instead I just suffered in silence.
I think about my dad daily.  I feel incredible guilt knowing that my actions and the lack of
my presence in his life had to in some way contribute to state of mind and ultimately his
decision to take his life.  I feel guilty that I selfishly thought I would have all this time to get to know
him. I feel sadness that I will never get to sit down and talk to my dad and tell him that I do
love him and always have.  I feel regret that he’ll never get to meet my daughter, his granddaughter.
I feel anger that I will have to explain to my daughter one day why her grandpa isn’t around. I feel
anger that my dad choose to leave this life instead of facing it.  I feel sad that we are all
here to deal with it and pick up the pieces of our hearts.
I look at pictures of my dad from my childhood, and I can see how proud he was to have me as a
daughter and I can see how much he loved me.  I hate that he died thinking that I didn’t love him.
That breaks my heart all over again.

11 years.  It’s been 11 years.

On this day, 11 years ago, I lost my father to his lifelong battle with depression.  March 4th, 1999  my father took his own life leaving his children behind to deal with their own broken hearts, their own feelings of guilt, and a life time of “what ifs”.

Dad

The day my father passed away had been a day like any other.  Lorne and I were living in Daytona  Beach at the time as he was working on his bachelor’s degree.  I was working as a receptionist at  an insurance company.  The day was sunny and warm.  My father-in-law was in town visiting.  I  arrived home from work and went into my bedroom to get cleaned up and ready to go out for dinner once Lorne got home from school.  As I was piddling around in my room when the phone rang.  It was my mom.  What I expected to be a regular mother daughter phone call  turned into a phone call I had never ,imagined, a phone call I will never forget.  Instead of talking  about my day, about what my family was up to like we normally would have, my mom told me that my father was dead.  I don’t remember much about the actual conversation.  I can’t remember exactly what she said, I can’t remember what I said.  I remember feeling a very heavy pit form in my chest as my heart broke. I remember feeling like I couldn’t breath.  I remember not being able to cry.  I remember being worried about my brother and how he was taking the news.  I remember asking about him.  I remember not really knowing how I should feel or what I should say.  I remember hearing my mom cry on the other end of the line and wanting nothing more than to be sitting next to her so she could hug me.  I just wanted a hug from my mom.

My parents got divorced when I was 3 and my brother was 6 months old.  I don’t remember living with my dad.  My very first childhood memories occurred some time after when my mom, brother and I moved into an apartment together after the divorce.  My brother and I spent time with my dad when we were younger.  He would pick us up for weekend visits.  I have good memories from those weekend visits.  I remember playing outside in the yard of our farmhouse.  I remember him taking me to my Grandma’s house and playing with farm animals.  I remember him giving me a kitten for my 6th birthday, he brought it into the house tucked into the inside pocket of his leather jacket.  As a child I enjoyed hanging out with my dad on those weekend visits.  But my memories of my dad aren’t all good.

My father was a troubled soul.  He was an alcoholic his whole life and during his last years he suffered from serious health complications that resulted from his alcoholism.  My mom left my dad because he was abusive, not to us, but to her.  My father also suffered from depression.  I witnessed my father drinking around us, driving drunk and even a couple of times drinking while he was  driving us.  As a result of what I knew about my dad’s past and what I saw I made the choice as a teenager to cut off ties with my dad for my own sake.  I figured one day, when I was older I’d have a chance to  reconnect with him.  As a teenager I didn’t have it in me to forgive my dad or to deal with the drama that he created in my life.  It was easier for me to just ignore it all and pretend none of it happened.

What I never expected was that at 21 years old I would loose my father and any chance we may have had of reconnecting.  What I never expected is that I would forever be haunted by a man I sadly never really knew, haunted by a million questions, a million “what ifs”.

For the last 11 years I have been dealing with the grief and pain I feel as a result of my father’s death in silence.  Since everyone in my world knew that I had cut ties with my father and didn’t really have anything to do with him they all assumed that his death didn’t really affect me. they couldn’t have been more wrong..  And since I knew they all felt this way I didn’t feel like I could talk to  anyone about how I was really feeling.  Instead I’ve just grieved in silence.

I think about my dad everyday.  I feel incredible guilt knowing that my actions and the lack of  my presence in his life, in some way, contributed to his state of mind and ultimately his  decision to take his own life.  I feel guilty that I selfishly thought I would have all this time to get to know him so I wasted the time I did have. I feel sadness that I will never get to sit down and talk to my dad and tell him that I do  love him and always have.  I feel regret that he’ll never get to meet my daughter, his granddaughter. I feel angry that I will have to explain to my daughter one day why her grandpa isn’t around. I feel angry that my dad choose to leave this life instead of facing it.  I feel sad that we are all here to deal with it and pick up the pieces of our hearts without our dad.

I look at pictures of my dad from my childhood, and I can see how proud he was to have me as a  daughter and I can see how much he loved me.  I hate that he may have died thinking that I didn’t love him.  That breaks my heart all over again.

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I do love you Dad.  I love you and I miss you.

Trying to get pregnant with your second or subsequent child isn’t always as easy as it was the first time around.  Many couples find themselves faced with fertility issues when they try to grow their family, they find themselves suffering from secondary infertility.  Secondary infertility is defined, primarily, as the inability to conceive or carry a pregnancy to term after successfully having one or more children.  Millions of couples suffer from secondary infertility.  Although so many find themselves suffering through the inability to have another child they often don’t seek treatment or seek out the social support they need. They have a child already so noone wants to hear about their problems with infertility which causes couples to often suffer in silience with secondary infertility.

For many of the couples who find themselves suffering from secondary infertility they were able to easily (or at least without too much trouble) conceive their first child(ren), so the idea that it may be difficult to have another child never crossed their minds.  However, your reproductive health can change fairly quickly.  A woman’s quantity and quality of eggs can decrease rapidly and result in fertility issues only months after her first child is born.  A man’s sperm count and the quality of his sperm can also rapidly change impacting the couples ability to conceive subsequent children.

There are many factors that can cause a couple to experience fertility issues after successfully having one or more children.  Age can play a big role, particularly if you waited until your 30s to have your first child.  A woman is most fertile between the ages of 18-30 so if she waits until she is 30 or older to have her first child she will be that much older when she tries for the second and may likely experience some difficulty in conceiving.  Untreated infections, endometriosis, or chronic illnesses or conditions can all play a role as well, for both men and women.

Luckily most couples, about 85-90%, will conceive within a year of trying.  This holds true even if you are trying for your second (or more) child.  Most doctors recommend that you seek medical help if you have not conceived after 1 year of trying if you are under 35, 6 months of trying for women over 35, and 3 months of trying for women over 40.  Not every woman will be able to get pregnant the first try every time, it sometimes takes several tries.  Try to stay positive and seek advice from your doctor if you are worried.

Suffering from secondary infertility is painful and couples shouldn’t suffer alone and in silence.  Be sure to talk about how you are feeling with your spouse, your family, friends and seek out a support group of other couples suffering from secondary infertility.  Unfortunately, you may not get the support you need from friends and family who may think you should be happy that you have one child so a support group of others going through a similar situation may be your best bet.  If you can’t locate a support group talk to your ob/gyn for suggestions or visit RESOLVE (the national infertility association).

Try to stay positive and don’t be afraid to seek medical help if you think you are having fertility issues.

(resourses: RESOLVE, Fertility Factors)

I was thrilled when I heard on the Today Show this morning that David Goldman had finally been granted visitation and was able to see his son, Sean, after a very long 4.5 year struggle.  I had to choke back tears as I listened to David Goldman being interviewed over the phone, especially when he described seeing his son again as “the most beautiful thing since seeing his birth.”.

This story really touched my heart when I first heard about last fall and I have been following it ever since.   I couldn’t believe what had happened to him and everything he was going through to get his son back.  For those of you not familiar with David’s story, he has been fighting to get his son back since 2004 when his wife (the son’s mother) took him to Brazil on what was supposed to be a vacation but never returned.  David has spent the last 4.5 years fighting to get his son back.  Sean’s mother passed away last year, which you would think would have meant David and Sean would be reunited, but instead custody of Sean was given to his Brazilian step-father.  The whole thing is so sad and so ridiculous.  For all the details on David’s story and to find out what you can do to help visit his website, BringSeanHome.org.

Of course, this is not the end of the fight.  David is still fighting to regain custody of his son and finally bring him home.  I’m so glad that he has finally seen his son after all this time.   I can imagine hugging his son again after a very long 4.5 year wait was the best feeling ever.  I wish David all the best in his battle to get his son back and hope it is all over soon.