Sunday, April 23, 2017

Transplant and Infertility

Infertility awareness week begins today. Most days, infertility is far from my mind. If you have followed our story for very long, you know that it wasn't always that way. In fact it used to consume nearly every thought, but now I can go quite a long time without thinking about fertility or infertility. Then, out of nowhere, that familiar sting or pang of jealously will return, catching me off guard and making me wonder, "where did that come from?".

I have always wanted more than two children. When our twin boys joined our family I was indescribably grateful for the blessing that they were to our lives and family, but I was also convinced that more children would be in our future. I had plans and hopes of eventually adopting internationally and eventually trying again for a biological child (more for the experience of bearing a child than having a child with our genetic makeup). I think I was convinced that our family couldn't feel complete with two children, or maybe it was more that I didn't think it could feel complete if it didn't look the way I had dreamed of it looking long before we had children.

As the months passed with our two sweet boys, I came to the conclusion that despite the fact that I would love more children, I could indeed be happy with our two boys and our family could be complete with the four of us. Maybe our hearts were being prepared for just that.

Last year, before we knew what was to come, Elias and I had started talking about trying one last time for a biological child and when we might  do that. He wanted to do it sooner than later. I felt like I was in the trenches with two two years and couldn't imagine adding anymore children to our family. As he got sicker, we both new that this was a conversation that was going to be put on hold, possibly permanently. Our focus became about keeping Elias alive for the two little boys we already had. I had no idea how fast things would progress with his illness, all I knew is that caring for two toddlers and a husband in end stage lung disease was more than I could handle and a third child had no place in that. We didn't even know if Elias would receive a transplant to be around to parent another child and raising three children as a 29 year old widow also didn't sound appealing.

So now what? He has received his transplant. One friend described it as "life-extending" when referring to her own husband's transplant, which I really liked. It acknowledges the gift of extra time while also acknowledging that this is not a cure nor it is a guarantee. There are those that do choose to add children to their family after transplant. There are couples that do IVF or adopt if the husband has CF and there are women with CF who carry a child themselves after transplant. The reality is, for us, with Elias having CF, we are still infertile and now we have the added layer of him being post double lung transplant. We now know what it is like to have children and have him be very sick. We are well aware that that could happen again in the future. We are also well aware that he could have another 20-30 years ahead of him where he could not only parent another child, but watch all of our children grow into adults. This also means that IF we choose to try and have more children, we actually have to choose and be very intentional about that. We can't be a couple that says, whatever happens, happens. We won't be one a couple that is blessed with a surprised pregnancy. We have to very intentionally and definitely decide if adding more children to our family is right for us or not.

Infertility is a fickle thing. It can consume thoughts, or it can lie dormant for awhile and sneak up on you. It can feel helpful when one knows for sure that they do not want children or any more children or maybe just no children during a certain season, but it can be unbearably painful when one would give anything to be a parent or have one more child. Now we find ourselves in a season of life where many of those our age are growing their families and we will be deciding if we will choose to say that our family is complete or if we will attempt to add more children.

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