A man un-done: A heroic rescue (Part 2)

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.

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A man un-done: A heroic rescue (Part 1)

If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him? Matthew 7:11 (NASB)

Just dedicated to Christ. Genevieve at 9 months.

My daughter turned nine months old on November 11. And last Sunday, we dedicated her, in front of our church, to the Lord. As I reflect back over the events that led us to this place, I marvel at what God has done for us.

My wife and I had been trying for 12 years to get pregnant, it was often a source of sorrow, and sometimes a source of contention between us. Yet, no matter how we tried, we couldn’t conceive. In 2010, we were living in Northern Virginia at the time, we began looking for a fertility doctor. I was terrified. I hadn’t been to a doctor in many years, and I had built up in my mind what might be wrong. Infertility, disease, cancer, all of these things plagued my mind. What would he find?

The first doctor was very clinical, matter of fact. He sat and talked to us about the options, tests, and probabilities. At the end of the session, he prescribed several tests, and left the room. We never went back and things seemed to stagnate. Hopelessness set in, despair even. We hardly talked about it, I kept saying, to myself and my wife, “If the Lord wants it, then He will do it in His time.” While that may be true, coming from my lips it was an excuse for procrastinating. I thought, maybe if I just throw myself into my work, that will take the edge off.

Since I was a little boy, I loved to be around other children. And as I grew older, my desire to start a family of my own grew as well, even from a very early age. I remember, in elementary school, pretending that my wife was sitting next to me and my arm was wrapped around her. God knew my heart’s desire and He brought her to me. But, after 12 years of marriage, and continuing to struggle to have children, I had reached a point of despair. Despair is an ugly thing, its like a pair of glasses, when you look through the lens at your life you see a distorted and cloudy picture causing further pain and despair.

Near the end of 2010, I gathered enough courage to try another doctor, this time, we went through with the tests. I say I gathered enough courage because I was the one the needed to be convinced. My loving wife believed it was right, but my fear, irrational as it was, was blocking the way. So the tests came back, inconclusive on infertility, but they did reveal that my wife needed surgery to remove a cyst on her ovary. Another roadblock, and can you image my panic on hearing that? I have a very creative mind so I’m sure you can imagine all of the awful scenarios that played over and over in my head.

Perhaps you may be wondering at this point, if I am a Christian, where is my trust in God?  I see it now, God was there, all the time behind the scenes, moving the pieces but I, like a sinful man, often tried to make things work my way. Its a never-ending cycle of dying to self. By not recognizing it in myself, it requires God to put to death the sinful nature. Oh, how painful that is.

Romans 6:1-3
New American Standard Bible (NASB)

6 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?

Don’t misunderstand, I believed God existed, the way, I believed the moon existed. He was there, but if you want something done, do it yourself. Self-reliance, bootstrapping, grab ahold of the reigns, reach for the stars. These are all powerful ideas, that can lead to some measure of success, until you die. There is no control of death. Death comes for us all, and there is nothing we can do to stop it.

As I sat in the waiting room of the hospital, I couldn’t imagine where this could possiblely

lead. Worry for my wife consumed me, even though I knew that the doctor was the best of the best. And to top it all, the surgery may have no impact on our chances of conceiving. A little later that afternoon, my wife was by my side and feeling better. The surgery was a success. But on our return trip to the fertility doctor, there was still no conclusive diagnosis. My frustration grew everyday. I began begging God for His will to give us a child. A breaking point finally occurred and we decided to switch doctors, again.

My wife had always believed that God would give us a child. In fact, she used the story in I Samuel, about Hannah praying for a child, to name her blog, I’m not drunk, I’m just praying. She cried out to the Lord and He answered.