Aaron & Grace

By: Aaron Kayce

There are things you dream about but know will never happen, winning the lottery, being famous, maybe owning a private jet, and when you never experience those things you’re fine with it, you knew life wasn’t going to be like that anyway.  Then there are things you work for but eventually realize you might never attain, for some it might be the corner office, a vacation home, perhaps even the respect and understanding of a relative, and when those don’t pan out you deal with it.  There’s frustration but life continues; you’re okay.  But when something so basic and fundamental to your world view that you assume it, something you never even questioned, never even really thought about – like the ability to have a child and a family – when that doesn’t happen, life doesn’t go on.  It stops.  It’s not okay.  When you’re unable to conceive a child and that’s the only thing in the world you and your partner want, nothing else matters.  Nothing can fill that void.  Nothing. 

My family’s story begins like I assume most do, by attempting to conceive a child naturally and never thinking this might be a problem.  After about one year of what at the time we considered “trying” (this word would soon take on a whole new meaning) with no results my wife and I scheduled an appointment to speak with a doctor.  This would be the first of many doctors we’d visit and the first of many tests my wife would have to endure.  

After a battery of exams we were told that as far as anyone could tell there appeared to be nothing physically wrong (at least nothing they could determine) and we should continue “trying,” but perhaps a bit more aggressively.  Having researched the topic extensively online we sort of knew what to expect: monitoring my wife’s basal body temperature to determine her ovulation cycle, Clomid (infertility/ovarian stimulation drug) and then intrauterine insemination (IUI) if need be. There were other measures for sure, but we wouldn’t need that. My wife was in her twenties when we started this process and my sperm was fine. We’d be pregnant in no time!

Wrong again.

The years went by slowly, held back by fears and sadness.  Doctors, drugs, specialists, tests, acupuncture, massage, diet restrictions, scheduled intercourse, several IUIs, we did it all (mostly my amazing bride) and it took a toll on both my wife and I.  The anger.  The shame.  The guilt.  Constantly asking “Why us?”  The way my wife would look at me, desperate to bring a child into our home.  It became hard to be around children or pregnant people; we even began to resent friends and loved ones for the news that “yet another person is pregnant.” 

It’s very difficult to describe the death of hope and what that can mean.  Each and every month hope inevitably rises, “This could be the one!  This will be the one!”  Everybody stresses the mental aspect, how powerful our brains are; we have to stay positive!  That’s a great theory and likely very true, but it’s loaded with problems.  By saying that the couple, specifically the woman, has to keep a positive, relaxed, but also strong mental outlook, you are saying that in some way maybe this is her fault.  That if she could just relax and stop worrying about getting pregnant, and if she could just somehow “let go” it would all work out.  Every month is a reminder that it’s not working out.  Every period represents the death of hope. 

After years of being told “no” by doctors and pregnancy tests my wife and I were considering adoption.  Maybe having a child just wasn’t what God intended for us.  There was a fair amount of guilt associated with not simply being okay with adopting.  And it’s not that my wife and I are against it, in fact I think there’s a strong chance we may adopt in the future, but the internal drive (something Mother Nature has hard coded into our DNA) to have our own biological child was overwhelming and we were not ready to give that up just yet.  We knew there were other options, but they became far more aggressive at this point.

And this is where our story takes a dramatic turn.  It began with a referral to a fertility specialist. After so much disappointment “hope” might be too strong of a word here, but it was clear very early on that we had found an amazing doctor and there was immense comfort in feeling that if nothing else, we were at least now working with the best of the best.  My wife and I learned more about our options and our real statistical chances of conceiving a child in a couple of appointments with a fertility specialist than we did in years of bouncing around other offices.

In the end our road led to in vitro fertilization (IVF).  And though our fertility physician seemed to know that’s where we were headed (should we so desire), she also highly encouraged less invasive measures first.  And when it came time to make the very big, and extremely expensive, decision of whether or not to do IVF, we were gently led through all of the details and allowed to come to our own decision in whatever manner we wanted.

The IVF process is long, stressful, emotional and often complicated (this coming from the man’s perspective!), but our doctor and her team were incredible in every sense of the word.  Not only did they constantly put us at ease with their obvious expertise, our doctor also made herself available any time day or night, quite literally walking my wife and I through a set of at home injections on more than one occasion. 

There were times, like after the first round of IVF not working, that my wife and I were extremely low. Without even really trying (or at least not letting on) our doctor always managed to lift our spirits. By explaining every aspect of our situation and supporting the conversation with success rates, personal experience and extensive medical research and managing to translate it to layman’s terms, our doctor made it so that we never felt lost or alone and in the case of my wife and I, with knowledge really did come power and we were able to carry one another when we most needed it.

Today I glow with excitement and smile as I watch my wife’s belly grow with each passing day.