We started the treatments for infertility in May of 2011. My fear of doctors was tested when I was asked to complete some tests. They discovered a small infection and treated me with an antibiotic. Fear combined with worry was so palpable that I often felt that my stomach would jump out of my throat. But I would be fine. The doctor’s official diagnosis for our infertility was “unexplained.” After everything we’d been through, after all the worries, tests, and waiting, the doctor didn’t know the cause. But he suggested that we move forward with in vitro fertilization.
That process meant my wife was going to start a course of multiple daily hormone shots for two weeks. I wanted to be a part of the process so I asked if I could give her the shots. It was hard to even think about the shots, but I girded myself and began. I’m fairly sure it was more painful for me. My wife was a real trooper, every day, morning and evening, we sat in the kitchen and completed our task.
I should mention the complete process involved in our treatment. First, you complete two weeks of hormone shots designed to increase the number of eggs that are released in a given cycle. The doctor monitors them closely, measuring size and speed of growth. Finally, just before they’re ready to release, a trigger shot is administered, and within 48 hours, the doctor performs a procedure to remove the eggs and prepare them for the next phase.
I want to step back and address an important issue. When involving yourself in the IVF process, there are significant questions that arise, such as, when does life begin, what do you do with the ones left over, etc. My wife and I both believe that God creates life at conception. We specifically approached all of our decisions with this idea in mind. These children of ours are in God’s hands and we will give them birth if it be God’s will. Throughout the process, we refused any testing that would give us information about genetics, incurable diseases, or disorders. Because, they were living beings. Their condition wouldn’t matter, we would love them as they were.
The day of the trigger shot came. It is the final stage of the course and by far the longest needle. Because of the timing required, the clinic directed us to administer the shot within a 10 minute window. As the time approached, my wife and I sat in the kitchen and cried. Could this be it? After 12 years of marriage? What if it didn’t work? Could we afford another round? What if this were the end? What if we found out that we can’t have children?
Then like the downward slope of a roller-coaster, it began, in less than 48 hours we were in the clinic, the eggs were extracted, and our little children were conceived. The general procedure is to wait up to six days, checking once a day on their progress. Each day, a few stopped progressing. This is normal, and it even happens in the womb. We believe that God knows their names and they are in His purpose.
By the end of the week, we had three little babies ready for mom. The doctor recommended we implant two and the last one would be frozen for later. These babies are called snowflakes and there are even adoption agencies looking for loving families to have and care for them. If it be God’s will, we will try with our snowflake soon.
Two babies went in. My first picture of my daughter was at 6 days old next to her sibling. They both looked like hatching eggs. The wait began, two weeks of waiting to know if we were pregnant. On the day of the scheduled return to the doctor, we couldn’t wait any longer. My wife took a home pregnancy test and we were parents. We didn’t find out until later, but God had decided that we would only have one.
A rush of emotion like I have never felt washed over me. I wanted to be dad. I wanted to lay on the couch with my daughter on my chest, listening to her breathe. The doctor that delivered our daughter called it puppy breath. I wanted her to be safe. And I suddenly felt scared. What if she has Downs Syndrome? What if we couldn’t provide? What if my wife has a miscarriage? God help us!
And He did, but not in the way I thought.
This is the second part in a series of writings about parenthood and how I got there. More to come.