Father’s Day 2020 will be a first for Rhett Holmes.A day he and his wife have looked forward to for nearly ten years. And one that almost didn’t happen.
Rhett and Sarah married in 2010 and were eager to start a family. “But you don’t know how life is going to go,” says Holmes. “We assumed we’d have a family and be happy. But the family part just didn’t happen. We found out about our infertility issues which was extremely hard for my wife.”
The couple moved from Oklahoma to Ohio in 2012 – partly for a new job opportunity and also for reputable medical facilities they hoped could help after two years with no success. “You’re seeing your partner hurt and there is nothing you can do,” says Holmes, “As the man in the relationship, you aren’t feeling what the woman feels on the chemical and physical level. You don’t have the same hormones or experience the same emotional and physical toll.” Holmes says weeks would pass and their hope would start to build that another cycle would work but they were getting close to the end of our rope.
Now eight years in, ten devastating miscarriages, approaching their 40s, not to mention the financial toll, the Holmes family felt their window was starting to close. They had been working with the University of Pittsburgh and were referred to the Cleveland Clinic fertility wing where they pushed through the final year. They sat down with the head of the fertility department but it didn’t work right away. “Medically, we thought we couldn’t push any higher than that,” says Holmes, “If they didn’t have answers, there wouldn’t be any answers.”
However; the couple found a bright spot during the challenging times and discovered the city of Cleveland. They’d drive two hours from their home twice a week for treatments. “We started to feel a bond with Cleveland,” says Holmes, “It’s a city that has obviously seen better days. We expected a sad decimated place. But it wasn’t. Cleveland picked itself up by its bootstraps and reinvented itself. Added cool districts and businesses. You feel hopeful. This place did something about its situation.”
The doctors convinced Rhett and Sarah to do one more round of IVF treatments and was optimistic in the differences in the way their lab worked.
“Sarah and I sat down together privately and said this was our last shot. If it didn’t work, we were walking away.”
They credit Cleveland’s energy for inspiration. “No matter what happens you can come out of it and still be good. If Cleveland can pull out, we can find the fortitude to try again.”
And this time, it worked.
Rhett and Sarah found out they were pregnant on Christmas Eve in 2018 but they’d been down this road before. “It was enjoyable but really stressful. We started to relax a little around the sixth month because we hadn’t made it that far.”
They wanted to mark the occasion with something special, high quality, and a future heirloom. “I always appreciated my Ball watch,” says Holmes, who had four Vortic Watches at the time. “It dawned on me that I didn’t have a Cleveland.”
Vortic had two pocket watches with the word “Cleveland” on the face. One for Rhett and a smaller one for Sarah. “They are perfect. The watches were made in Cleveland just like our baby was,” says Holmes, who received his watch first. “I wore it for every major appointment. I wore it for good luck,” he says. “I had it in my head I had to wear this watch during the milestones. It was important.”
On August 22nd, 2019, Rhett and Sarah welcomed the birth of their daughter, Alice Elizabeth Holmes.
“I wore the Vortic watch the day she was born. I had it on the first time I held her,” says Holmes.
"It fit perfectly for our journey. Cleveland gave us such a wonderful gift. Alice is happy and healthy.”
Rhett and Sarah plan to send their watches back to the Vortic workshop in Fort Collins, Colorado to engrave Alice’s birthdate on the back and hope someday to pass them down to their daughter.
“Right now, the watches are just something to grab and put in her mouth.” Holmes says. “Cleveland is a part of our family now. The watches lasted 100 years before and we want to get another 100 out with our family.”