During eight years of failed attempts ending in a string of miscarriages, doctors and fertility lab technicians at different providers including the University of New Mexico deemed his wife, Annie, the most likely suspect rather than her husband, TJ. Like millions of women around the world who are thought to be infertile, Annie was subjected to many invasive tests, painful procedures, injections, and different medications.
Years go by as Annie suffers numerous miscarriages, while she and TJ equally endure the trials and tribulations of attempts at conception through artificial insemination. In time, mounting disappointment, nonstop pain and suffering, and financial hardship contribute to rough times in their marriage. All the while, neither Annie nor TJ suspected that the problem is his-and that it is solvable.
Blowing Out the Candle is a compelling and inspirational story about an average young couple who, in their determination to have a child, subject themselves to nearly a decade of living like laboratory animals. More importantly, it offers the remarkable news that there is help for infertile males.
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BLOWING OUT THE CANDLE
By Timothy R. Juaire
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2011 Timothy R. Juaire
All right reserved.
Chapter OneAnnie and I Meet
It was just another Tuesday evening, but not for Annie and me. What we experienced this day, we had experienced five times before. We had just lost our sixth child. As she had done for the other five children, Annie lit a candle and prayed that God would take this child to a happy place; and then she blew out the candle, signifying the end of our child's life on earth. Annie and I stood before the blown-out candle, tears running down our faces, and watched the puff of smoke rise into the air as we hoped our baby would rise to God. The red glow of the wick faded away, just as each of our children's lives had faded away within Annie's womb.
Our story started years earlier in the winter of 1985. At twenty-seven years of age, I moved to Albuquerque from Minneapolis, originally to marry a woman I had met in Wisconsin who had lived in Albuquerque and wanted to move back. I had been living with this woman for two years and essentially had been a stepfather to her two boys. I loved the boys and enjoyed spending time with them, teaching them and playing with them. Every day, I had looked forward to seeing the boys after work. I really got a kick out of how they interacted with each other and with me.
Before I moved to Albuquerque, the relationship ended, and I was more hurt by the loss of the two boys than the girlfriend. Because I had made job commitments in Albuquerque, I decided to move there anyway. For two years, I was often lonely, but I liked Albuquerque, so I stayed. I was living where I had no family or close friends. I spent day after day, week after week, month after month, mostly by myself. As luck would have it, after living in Albuquerque for over two years, I met Annie.
Before I talk about how we met, let me share a little about our family backgrounds. I grew up in a middle-class, Minneapolis home with my parents, Phil and Jane; three sisters, Chris, Kathy, and Sue; and four brothers, Steve, Mike, Greg, and Mark. When I met Annie, she was a petite woman of Mexican descent, twenty-three years old with gorgeous long, brown hair and beautiful, big brown eyes, a fun demeanor, and a good sense of humor. Annie had been born and raised in Albuquerque, and, even though she grew up in a poor home, it was always a happy one, surrounded by love and security from her mother, Mary Lou, and three sisters, Rose, Bunches, and her cherished twin, Bernie.
Annie and I met in the spring of 1987 in a popular Albuquerque nightclub. I had rented an apartment right next to the same club. In fact, I lived across the parking lot from it. I had been told that this was where it was "happening" in Albuquerque. The club was jammed with people. It was one of those nightclubs where, to navigate the club, you had to dodge people. This club was always so crowded that half the time you were breathing other people's exhaled breath. The dance floor was packed with people dancing to the thumping music being played through giant speakers. There were so many people on the dance floor, it looked like they were all moving as one. A long bar was located in the middle of the room next to the dance floor. The alcohol flowed from the bar like the water in Niagara Falls. There were lines of people waiting to get their drinks. The dance floor was oval-shaped, and tables circled it.
As I, like a hundred other guys, walked around the dance floor looking for someone to dance with, my technique was to walk around checking out the backsides of women, which was kind of fun in itself. When I found one I liked, I would find a way to see what her face looked like without being noticed. When the face and backside matched my liking, I would ask her to dance.
Unfortunately, I had only about a 5 percent success rate when I was lucky. In fact, my friend Mike and I were so hopeless, we kept score of our rejections; I usually won, or lost, depending on how you looked at it. While Mike and I were walking around, looking for someone to dance with, we turned the corner of the bar and stopped suddenly. I had noticed a woman in a very cute little skirt and long, dark hair. Mike and I were both looking at her. "I've had taller G.I. Joes," Mike said to me.
Not being all that tall myself, I thought, This works for me. I laughed and said, "I'm going to go for it."
"Okay, good luck," he said, laughing and pushing me toward her.
I tried to straighten up my hair a bit, took a big drink of my beer, and began maneuvering myself around the tables to the back of her. I reached a position where she wouldn't notice me, but I could see her face; and, lo and behold, I liked what I saw. Then I went to get a closer look from the front side. When I saw her eyes, something told me I should meet her. People say that eyes are like a window to the soul, and somehow I think I saw her soul and knew she was for me. She was a very pretty little Spanish girl and seemed approachable, so I mustered up some courage.
Trying to look as confident and cool as possible, I asked her to dance. She said yes, so I guess I looked okay to her. We both walked onto the dance floor, zigzagging through the other dancing couples until we found a spot to dance.
"What's your name?" I asked her.
"Annie," she said. "What's yours?" She glanced down at my shoes. My feet didn't feel comfortable in them, given that I'm not much of a dancer.
"TJ," I told her. "Do you come here often?" Oh, man, I thought, that's the dumbest question I could have asked her.
"Pretty often," she said, smiling as she turned to look toward other dancing couples.
As we danced, we gave each other those uncomfortable looks you do when you don't know each other, but you are trying to be at your best and not seem like you are staring at or ignoring the other person. While we were dancing to "La Bamba", I was very nervous. Annie was really shaking her stuff, and I felt like a guy with two left feet. She seemed to be blushing, and I wondered if she was as nervous as I was—or just hot. I wondered if she could tell how nervous and embarrassed I was.
As we were dancing, I looked over toward Mike, who was standing near the dance floor. I could see that he was watching me and laughing. Following the dance, I walked with Annie back to her table where she had been sitting with her friend. "Would you like a drink?" I asked her.
Annie looked at her girlfriend and then back at me, "Okay, sure."
Not wanting to leave out Annie's friend, who was sitting right next to her with no drink, I asked her, "Would you like a drink, too?"
"You don't have to do that," Annie's friend said. She looked back at Annie with a kind of I-don't-know look.
"Oh, come on; let me buy you a drink." I looked at Annie, nodding my head toward her friend, encouraging her to tell her friend to say yes.
After my insistence, she gave in, and I went to get the drinks, thinking a bit more confidently. Maybe now I would get her phone number. I walked over to where Mike was leaning on the bar with a big smile on his face and holding a beer. I ordered my drinks.
"I knew you would offer to buy her a drink," Mike said, "but I figured you would get shot down." We both laughed.
"Next, I am going to try and get her phone number," I said. I grabbed my drinks and turned to walk away.
"I bet you a beer you don't get it." He pushed me on the shoulder, nearly knocking the drinks out of my hand.
"You're on." I walked away, wiping some of the spilled drink from my hand. I returned to the girls' table, handed each of them a drink, and sat down. "Where are you girls from?" I asked.
"Albuquerque," they said in unison, which made both of them started laughing.
"Where do you work, Annie?" I knew it was one of the standard boring questions, but I couldn't think of anything else to say.
"I work at Honeywell." Annie gestured toward her friend. "She doesn't work right now."
I continued asking them all the other basic questions that someone asks when trying to be nice but feeling a little embarrassed, not knowing what to say. While we talked, there were the usual uncomfortable pauses, so we would watch the people dancing.
After a few minutes, I felt that it was time for me to leave the girls alone, considering that, by then, they were talking to each other as though I wasn't there. "I should be going," I said. "It was nice meeting both of you."
"Oh, sorry," Annie said, somewhat startled. "It was nice meeting you, too."
Taking a deep breath, I asked, "Can I get your phone number, Annie?" I could feel myself turning red. I hoped she would say yes, and that she wouldn't notice how embarrassed I was.
"Sure, why not." Whoo. The air left me in a rush of relief. She opened her purse, got out a pen, and picked up a drink napkin. Damn, I thought. I'm actually getting a girl's phone number. She handed me the napkin. "Thanks a lot," I said, "and, again, nice meeting you two."
"It's nice to meet you, too," said Annie, "and thanks again for the drink." She picked up her drink, as did her friend, who nodded her head as if to say thanks for her drink as well.
I got up quickly to leave the table before anyone could notice how embarrassed and nervous I was. As I stood, I hit my knee on the table, nearly knocking Annie's drink over. "Whoa, sorry about that," I said. I moved away from the table, feeling like my face must look like a cherry.
As I walked away, I could hear them laughing, and I thought to myself, Way to go, klutz. At the same time, I was also celebrating. All right! Finally, someone said yes! I went to where Mike was still standing at the bar, laughing at me.
"Well," he said, "you finally got someone to dance with you tonight."
"Yes, and she gave me her phone number."
"Way to go." We high-fived, and I showed him the napkin.
Much later, Annie told me that, as I had walked away from her table, she'd thought to herself that she must have shaken it pretty well.
About three days after I met Annie, I left for Wisconsin to get extensive training on a computer system for which I was going to be responsible. On the flight to Wisconsin, I began thinking of her and thinking to myself, I really should have called her, damn it. I was gone for three months, and, during this period, I often thought about Annie and wondered what might have happened if I had asked her out before I left for Wisconsin. When I returned from training, I continued thinking about her.
Sitting on the couch one evening watching television, I started thinking about Annie and couldn't get my mind off her, even though I couldn't remember exactly what she looked like. I was sure I must have thought she was attractive, otherwise I wouldn't have asked her for her number. It suddenly occurred to me that I had kept the drink napkin with her scribbled phone number in the top drawer of my dresser. I looked in my dresser and, thankfully, there it was.
I had a few drinks to get my courage up, and then I called Annie. "Hi," I said, "my name is TJ. We met about three months ago at Club Rio. I don't know if you remember me, but I am the guy who asked you to dance and bought you and your friend a drink." All the while, I was nervously tapping my fingers on the counter, praying she would remember me.
"Yes, I remember you," she said.
"I was wondering if you would like to go out some time." I looked up. Please, say yes.
"Go out where?"
"I was thinking of the comedy club called Laughs." I hoped she liked comedy.
"That sounds like fun," Annie said. "When?"
"How about this Friday night?" Oh, this was great. She was saying yes!
"Sure, what time?"
I instinctively looked at my watch. "The show starts at 7:30. I'll pick you up around seven. How do I get to your place?"
Annie gave me directions; we said good-bye and hung up. After getting off the phone, I was elated and yelled out, "All right!" I was really glad I'd saved the napkin.
On the day of our date, I drove to an area of town where I hadn't been before. It turned out Annie lived in a trailer park. As I drove down her road, I crossed some train tracks. I started noticing that the trailer houses were not in very good shape. One trailer house had a lot of its siding barely attached to it. Another had broken windows. I pulled into Annie's driveway and saw that the trailer house next to hers had the front screen door lying on the ground; the rest of the yard had junk everywhere. Feeling out of place, I was starting to feel warm. I got out of my car and locked it.
Annie's trailer house seemed out of place. It was an older, small trailer, but everything seemed well-kept. I slowly walked up to the front door, hoping nothing would happen to my car. I had just started to knock on the door when it opened. There stood five ladies looking at me. I didn't know it at the time, but I was picking Annie up from her mother's house. Annie's entire family was waiting in the living room when I showed up, including her three sisters and her mother—who was holding a frying pan, which caused me some concern. I almost fell down in a faint right then.
One of the women asked me to come in, and, because I really didn't remember what Annie looked like, I assumed that it must be her. I was really hoping it was her, because she was very cute. All of Annie's family began to introduce themselves.
"Hi," said the woman holding the frying pan. "I'm Annie's mother." She giggled a little, then turned and put the pan on a table. I think she saw my concern over her having a pan in her hand.
"I'm Annie's sister Bernie." Man, déjà vu, I thought. Annie hadn't told me she had a twin sister.
"I'm Annie's older sister Rose." Rose was short—even shorter than Annie.
"And I'm Annie's crazy sister Bunches." I laughed nervously, replying to each introduction with the standard "nice to meet you" and tried to make conversation the best I could.
While we introduced ourselves, I could hear Spanish music playing. The inside of the house was nice. The living room had what looked like older furniture and an older television playing a Spanish station, but everything looked to be in good shape. There were lots of religious things like crosses all around the room. The living room was kind of colorful, with Elvis memorabilia everywhere. The house felt warm and comfortable somehow. The kitchen, which was really part of the living room, had appliances that looked very old but very clean. The smell coming from the kitchen was of Spanish food cooking and smelled really good. I hoped that was why Annie's mother had a pan in her hand.
Even though I was terribly nervous, the initial meeting with Annie's family went fine. There was one exception where I wished I hadn't said something: "Bueno Ciao." I had mixed Spanish and Italian words together when I was saying good-bye to them. It turned out later that Annie's family found my mistake funny, and for years they teased me about it.
We left the house and walked to my car. I walked over to the passenger side with Annie, unlocked the door, and opened it for her. As she sat down, she said, "Wow, nice car."
"Thanks." I closed the door, thinking to myself, Cool, my car impresses her.
Later, I found out that Annie's family watched us drive away, impressed by my car and thinking that I must have a lot of money, which I really didn't. As we drove to our destination, we did the best we could to make conversation. Because my car was small, we were sitting very close to each other. That made it a little uncomfortable, but, all in all, it went okay.
As planned, our first date was at Laughs, the comedy club in Albuquerque. When we arrived, an usher showed us to our seats. Because the comedians often make fun of the patrons, I asked for seats on the second level; I didn't want Annie or myself to be embarrassed on our first date.
The comedians were very entertaining, and, after one particularly funny line, Annie started laughing and spilled her drink on me. I jumped out of my seat. Annie looked at my wet pants. "Oh, my God, I'm so sorry."
"Don't worry." I didn't want to upset her. "I'll just go to the bathroom and clean it off." When I returned from the bathroom, Annie looked at my pants, which were still a little wet-looking, like I had peed in my pants.
Excerpted from BLOWING OUT THE CANDLE by Timothy R. Juaire Copyright © 2011 by Timothy R. Juaire. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Annie and I Meet....................1
Chapter 2 Annie and I Get Married....................14
Chapter 3 The First Candle....................18
Chapter 4 First Fertility Testing of Annie....................26
Chapter 5 The Agony of the Fertility Clinic....................38
Chapter 6 The Second Candle....................44
Chapter 7 More Candles....................49
Chapter 8 Adoption....................58
Chapter 9 DNA....................60
Chapter 10 Feeling Old, Getting Young....................69
Chapter 11 Round Two of DNA Testing....................76
Chapter 12 Here We Go Again....................80
Chapter 13 Naming Our Baby....................95
Chapter 14 Here Comes Our Baby....................98
Chapter 15 Maxqua Comes Home....................111