What choice do couples have when natural child birth is impossible?
While my life is pretty much an open book in the more than 2,000 columns I have written here, today I'm gonna share with you something very personal about an issue I have been dealing with in my life that I've never talked about before. It doesn't really have anything to do with livin' la vida low-carb, but I think is an important discussion to have on a web site like this one. Since I value the opinions of my readers, I welcome any comments and feedback you may have based on your own experiences and expertise.
My beautiful wife Christine and I got married in August 1995 with high hopes that we could be together forever, start a family, and watch our children go through this thing called life. When we got married in our early 20's, we never thought about the idea of this dream not coming true.
But here it is 12 years later and that's exactly where we are.
We've been trying desperately to have kids since our honeymoon night and were trusting that the Lord would provide this wondrous blessing in His timing. After buying enough home pregnancy tests over the years to fund a small country, we've been disappointed over and over again many times. The closest we ever got to having a baby was when we accidentally found out Christine was early on in her first trimester when she had a miscarriage shortly after we were married. We were devastated at the time, but knew we had some time.
Or so we thought.
Unless you have been through the unique heartache and pain of being childless when you so desperately want a baby, then it may be difficult for you to understand the toll this can take on you emotionally and even spiritually. Doesn't God know we want a little one to drive us up the wall? Why has He withheld this blessing from us when we want it so badly?
I'm grounded enough in my faith to realize we are prepared to face life's challenges for a reason although we don't always understand why at the time. Perhaps we will be able to help others who go through what we have in the future, so we know this has not been in vain. But it sure would be nice to put a happy ending to the story.
Earlier this year, we were reading books like How To Get Pregnant when Christine and I finally got the bright idea to have ourselves checked out by a reproductive endocrinologist to see if he could illuminate WHY we haven't been able to have kids. And the answer was shocking--it was BOTH of us. Christine had a bad case of endometriosis which caused her lots of pain "down there" and she's been that way since we got married.
She had surgery in August to remove the endometriosis so she could carry our future children. Over the past couple of months, she has been healing wonderfully (despite catching an infection from the hospital) from the surgery and is ready to make our babies. We had considered looking at doing an IVF (in vitro fertilization) cycle to help improve our chances of getting pregnant.
But, now we have another issue--ME!
As excited as Christine and I were that she had the surgery to fix her fertility problem, it was quickly tempered when we found out that my sperm count is virtually nil. Yes, if you're gonna joke me, then here's where you can say I'm "shootin' blanks." Yippee skippy! That's me.
The doctor took two samples over a week's time just to make sure of the findings and the conclusion is that my sperm are for all intents and purposes dormant. The doctor said they just are not high-quality enough to be used to try to fertilize Christine's eggs. In other words, I'll never be able to father my own biological kids.
I cannot begin to describe to you how I feel right now hearing that. It's as if I just got sucker punched in my gut and then knocked on the head with a frying pan. It hurts in places I never thought I would feel pain. My mind is racing so fast with thoughts that I still can't put into words. It's the internal battle Jimmy is having with Jimmy that has been going nonstop ever since I found out. Your prayers and thoughts are coveted. :)
Okay, so now what are our options from here: adoption or donor sperm.
Regarding adoption, we spoke with a couple from our church last week who have two adopted kids to ask them about that process. They have international and domestic adoption experience, so they were the perfect people to talk about it. But after hearing about the intensive red tape and emotional rollercoaster they went through to MAYBE get a baby, we decided that was not the way we wanted to go. There's got to be a better way.
So that leaves donor sperm and here's where it gets REALLY interesting. The doctor said it is possible to use a stranger's donor sperm or you can get it from a family member. The idea of a stranger is kinda spooky to me right now. I know I could love that baby just like it was my own, but would I feel detached from the child in any way knowing it is not in my blood line? Getting my head wrapped around this issue is my biggest challenge right now.
As for family, my brother Kevin is my only full-blooded brother, but he's had some major health issues with his heart and would not be a good candidate. My half-brother Nathan is a baby-making machine and has three kids of his own, but he only has my father in him. While he's a possibility, I'm just not sure about using him or not (if he would agree to it, that is).
Then, I read this news story about a couple in the UK who went to the father of the husband to donate his sperm so they can have a baby and it made me think. Hmmm, now that's an interesting idea. Although I haven't asked my dad about it yet, it's an option I don't have a problem with having on the table. And why not?
This is where we are at currently. After Christine and I return from vacation this weekend, we'll be going to see a local reproductive endocrinoligist one last time just to make sure my sperm are indeed invalid. Barring a miracle from that visit, then what? What to do? It's something we are happy to have all the help we can get about. So don't hold back from sharing.
THANK YOU in advance for your help!