Infertility and Faith
Let me preface this by saying I am not mocking anyone for having faith in the Lord and that is not the intent of this post. I grew up going to Church every Sunday with my Parents, Grandparents, or Aunt, and sometimes even by myself on the bus from my Church for kids who wanted to go and the parents didn’t for whatever reason. As I grew older I grew distant from the Church. There were even times in my life I’ve flat-out rejected religion. However, I’ve settled on believing a relationship with the Lord is important for many people, but I can’t look at the Bible and not see a book written by men with all the mistakes men make.
I tell you this so you understand the background I’m coming from for what I’m about to write. When people say they are praying for us, my wife and I are truly touched. For someone to take the time in their relationship with the Lord to think about us means a lot. I feel the same for those who simply say they are thinking of us and find comfort in those words. Many thanks to all of you from the bottom of my heart.
But for the ones who’ve said (paraphrasing), “Have faith and the Lord will bless you if he wills it,” those words cut deeper than any blade ever could. To claim that our faith or lack of it is the reason we don’t have kids, while we watch others lie, cheat, and steal for drugs, then get pregnant and end up just aborting it. It’s asinine and downright cruel to say that to an infertile person.
Let’s take a brief look at the Bible regarding the infertility story of Abram and Sarai. (If you want the full story, read the Bible or click the link)
God told Abram (age 75) to take his wife Sarai (age 65) and nephew Lot to Canaan. The group travels to Egypt first where Abram tells Sarai to lie and tell the Pharaoh that Abram is her brother. Once the Pharaoh looked upon his beautiful wife, the Pharaoh would likely kill Abram to take Sarai, so this lie prevented Sarai from watching Abram die. The Pharaoh took Sarai into his service thinking she wasn’t wed. God then afflicted the Pharaoh’s household with great plagues, realizing Sarai and Abram were married and demanded they leave.
After living in Canaan for ten years with no kids, Sarai told Abram to take as a mistress her servant Hagar in the hopes she may give him children. At the age of 86 Abram becomes a father to Ishmael from Hagar. Hagar no longer respects Sarai and Sarai is jealous of Hagar being able to provide Abram with a child.
When Abram is 99, God blessed Abram as “Abraham, a father of many nations” and his wife now called “Sarah.” Sarah overhears a visitor telling Abraham how Sarah will have a child upon his return the next year, to which Sarah laughs at the idea of having a kid at 89. A year later Abraham (age 100) and Sarah (age 90) gives birth to Isaac. Sarah dies at the age of 127. Abraham takes another wife, pumps out a few more kids and dies at the age of 175.
It’s a lovely story, but there is no way a 65-year-old woman is so hot a Pharaoh would kill to have her. They didn’t even have Botox for crying out loud. And don’t give me that stupid explanation that people lived longer in those days. The ages just don’t add up.
- Leave Ur: Abram 75, Sarai 65
- Ishmael birth: Abram 86, Sarai 76
- Isaac birth: Abraham 100, Sarah 90
- Death: Abraham 175, Sarah 127
Maybe they just calculated years differently in those days and no one bothered to adjust the ages in these texts when those measurements were changed. Now I’m just talking out loud and I certainly haven’t done the research to support this claim. But I know the Babylonians were the first ones to start charting the moon. I also know how the ancients civilizations love the number 7. I asked myself, what if they considered a year to be 7 moon cycles in those times. Leaving me with the formula:
Modern age = (Biblical Age * 29 days * 7 cycles) / 365 days per year
Now lets look at those ages using the calculation above.
- Leave Ur: Abram 41, Sarai 36
- Ishmael birth: Abram 47, Sarai 42
- Isaac birth: Abraham 55, Sarah 50
- Death: Abraham 97, Sarah 70
Which makes more sense? A Pharaoh willing to kill over a hot 65-year-old woman or a 36-year-old one? That a woman was surprised to be giving birth at the age of 90, or 50? That Abraham lived to the old age of 175 or the age of 97?
The same is true about Sarah’s infertility. If Sarah was alive today she would go through a number of tests and doctors would know what the problem is. Statistically her chances were lower than normal, but still possible. I just don’t see God saying now you’re good enough to have kids with your wife when Abraham had no problem with other woman. I see a man excited that his wife was finally pregnant and recorded history in the context of his understanding at the time.
Now take a look at this chart.
If I’m lucky, I’m putting out a dozen sperm in each ejaculate. I can’t zoom in close enough to point out how little chance I have to conceive naturally. The next time someone tells me to “Have faith, and the Lord will bless me if he wills it,” don’t be surprised if my response is “Have $15,000 to give me, because that is what it is going to take for God to even have a chance of willing it”
You know what I thank God for? I thank God that he made scientists smart enough to figure out how fertility works. That we no longer live in an age where the woman is always at fault for infertility as was the case for thousands of years. I don’t have to look at my wife wondering why we aren’t having kids, that I know exactly why.
The night before we got the results for our blood test, I prayed. I prayed like I haven’t done since I was a kid. I prayed that God bring comfort to my wife if the IVF didn’t work. I’m not sure why I prayed for that, it just felt like the right thing to pray for.
(Edit: Upon actually doing some research I realized I should be using 29, not 28 in my calculation.)
© copyright 2011-2012
“When a man and a woman love each other very much…”
I was four going on five when I heard those words from my mother. She was definitely prepared for the question after telling me I would soon have a little brother or sister. We sat in the chair and she opened a book to an artists picture of an egg that was the size of a silver dollar. She turned the page to an artists picture of a sperm that was about 8 inches long. She then said “When a man and a woman love each other very much, the man puts his sperm in the woman. The sperm then meets the egg inside the woman and that makes a baby.” It’s one of a handful of memories I truly remember from my childhood. I also remember looking at that big picture of the sperm thinking it must hurt mommy. And I know I wasn’t satisfied with my mother’s explanation, because that book became my new favorite. Trying to figure out how dad got that big sperm inside mommy was a rainy day hobby of mine.
Resisting the urge to join my wife scowling at the mother with one kid already, this memory crossed my mind. And I wondered…If this works, how would I answer that question? This sure is taking a lot longer and a lot more complicated than the story my mother told me. Do I tell him about how the doctor was so fascinated by my wife’s full bladder, that for grins he measured it at 66mm. Will she want to hear how we watched the doctor measure the lining to see that it was a healthy 8mm. Or the blood tests my wife had to take to check her estrogen levels, and how happy we are they’re normal. In the end, I guess the essence of the story is still essentially the same. Just instead of being vague to avoid talking about sex, we will be vague because it’s too flipping complicated.
I’m to give the trigger shot at exactly 11pm tonight. Egg retrieval is scheduled for 9 am sharp on Saturday. Yep, definitely more complicated.
An odd request
The wife did several tests and passed them all. Before going any further checking her out, they are requesting I come in for a semen analysis. Apparantly it is a solo operation that must be done at the office, not in the comfort of my home. What an odd situation.
The nice lady hands me a cup and asks when I last had sex. I guess them telling me not to have sex for 2 days prior to the test wasn’t good enough, they want me to verify it in writing. I’m told to ejaculate into this cup, put the lid on it and record the time. Easy enough. As we walk back to the room I can’t help but laugh. Even if I suspected someone was masturbating in the room next to me at work, that isn’t something I would really want to know. Yet all these people know exactly what I am going to be doing in the room next to them. Creepy. I guess they just focus on their job and not think about it.
She opens the door and points to the folding chair with a paper towel on it in the middle of a bathroom. Then kindly shows me the drawers containing magazines to help assist me in my task. Let me repeat that. It’s a bathroom with a folding chair in the middle of it. Now guys are not picky, but this is pushing it. A cot, or one of those examination beds where I can get a little comfortable would be a great help. She leaves me to my duty as I read the sign above a little door asking me to mark the time I finish on the lid, initialize it, then place the cup in the door and ring the bell. Easy. I turn and lock the door and prepare myself for the task at hand.
I thumb through the magazines provided, 8 different issues of Playboy. With the internet they are still in business? Huh. I flip through them and they are all young hot women way out of my league. Maybe if the setting was more comfortable they might help, but on a folding chair in the middle of a bathroom they just don’t do anything for me. Adding to the stuggle are the voices I hear through the walls. I can’t tell what they are saying but it better not be how long I’m taking, because I DON’T NEED ANY MORE PRESSURE! Which leads back to thoughts about them knowing what I’m doing in here. For some that might be a turn on, for me, not so much.
Frustrated I put the magazines neatly back in the drawer. The last thing I want is to be the guy who caused a big crease in the middle of Miss July for the next guy to try and ignore. I give the imagination trick a try. I finally settle on a fantasy with the wife that seems to be working very well. Of course it’s all the things I like to do. What’s great about the fantasy is she is asking me if she can do those things and not me asking her. Allowing me to be selfish without the guilt of asking to be selfish does the trick. If you thought peeing in a cup was difficult, that is cake compared to this. I don’t know about other guys, but I’m not a very good multitasker. Trying to ejaculate into a cup while pretending you are not ejaculating into a cup that I’m holding with one hand and aiming with the other…I was pretty pleased I didn’t spill a drop. Yet disappointed there was no award given for accomplishing such a feat. Providing a rubber which I could then place into a cup would make this operation a whole lot easier.
I marked the time on the lid, placed it in the little door and rang the bell. After washing up I took as a consolation prize the ability to walk out the door without having to face anybody. And rewarded myself with a donut on my way to work.
I’ve decided to start a blog about going through the process In Vetro Fertilization (IVF) from the viewpoint of the male perspective. I wish I started this sooner, but to put it plainly, it was just too painful. So I’m just going to create the next few posts as if I made them a couple a months ago when I was going through the stages leading up to this procedure. I apologize now for grammar. For some reason it seems like I proof read a post 3 times and still when I look back on a post there is a face palm mistake. Maybe doing this blog will help me improve that. I doubt it.
This is a mature subject matter covering topics about the reproductive systems. I will avoid going pornographic, but there are certain situations that must be discussed and may be uncomfortable to read. If you find yourself uncomfortable reading about a situation, that is because I was uncomfortable living the situation. I want to be open and honest about my feelings. Which is hard for guys. Someday I may link this to facebook, but for now I’m staying anonymous. If you know who we are I request you please do not use our names in your comments. If you are reading this after I’ve gone public with it, sorry. This is really an outlet for me to record the journey.
Some quick background info about myself for starters to kick this off. Currently I am in my mid thirties and on wife number 2. I’d always hoped to have started a family by age 30, because I didn’t want to be going to high school games in my 50’s. Right now I would love to be in my 50’s going to a high school game. Funny how life works sometimes. I was always curious why my first wife never got pregnant. But with her own medical problems I never pressed the issue. I’ll avoid the long story and just say she had an unexplainable abdominal pain that required pain killers to function. Making her get off them would mean constant pain for her. So while we weren’t trying to have kids, we were not avoiding them either. The doctors did have a treatment to use if she ever did become pregnant. But it was not a scenario I was looking forward too. I figured the issue was with her and had accepted that kids were a remote possibility. Well after 14 years together, the relationship fell apart. As devastated as I was, the hope that a family was possible helped get me through the rough times.
Then I met my new wife. A beautiful southern bell that brings a smile to my face when I look at her. Who, as it turns out, also had dreams of a family. After a year of trying to have children and nothing happening, we decided to get help and find out what the problem is…