“You are infertile.”
I could not believe the doctor’s words. My wife was in tears. And I was to blame.
After trying to have a baby for over a year, we knew something was wrong. The doctors conducted multiple tests. One involved an ultrasound camera connected to a thick 10 foot cable, and me bending over. After that literal butt hurt, the doctors still couldn’t identify the problem.
We had to resort to the most invasive surgery in an area that frightens all men. Only then did the doctors confirm the culprit. The good news was that nothing was wrong with my sperm. The issue was something much rarer. Apparently, I was born without a vas deferens, the tube that enables sperm to travel from my two best friends to the urethra.
There were only two options left in this pursuit of raising a family. Adoption or in vitro fertilization (IVF). We were open to both. We felt called to try IVF first.
Unfortunately, there were more sacrifices required by going down this rabbit hole. Doctors had to slice me open again to extract the sperm. But this time, I had to be awake during the operation! No joke, it was the scariest moment of my life and I’ll spare you the grisly details. I will say, however, I have a deep hatred for speed bumps on the road. The months of excruciating recovery still give me phantom pains every time I drive over one.
Life wasn’t easy for Mrs. Mewie either, as she, too, had to undergo surgeries, including the extraction of her eggs. After all that was done, we were ready. We were prepared for the IVF process to begin! The needles, drugs, and multiple consultations were manageable. But we weren’t prepared for what happened next.
After implanting two embryos into Mrs. Mewie, the doctors were confident that we would give birth to at least one child with an 86% success rate based on her age and health. The doctor who implanted the embryos even hugged Mrs. Mewie and said, “Congratulations!” My wife looked beautiful that morning. Smiling and full of hope.
One week later, all that joy became sorrow. My wife began to cry when the doctors called to tell us the cold truth: her body rejected our two most viable embryos. Our attempt to have children failed. For seven whole days, I witnessed my best friend cry non-stop. I didn’t think that was humanly possible. When she cried herself to sleep, she would be crying in her sleep. And when she woke up, she would continue to weep. Sometimes, I heard her dry heaving. My heart sank to that terrible, awful sound. I never felt this sense of helplessness.
I did my best to be the strong one. The optimistic one. I hugged her constantly. I told her this was not the end. I clung to Jeremiah 29:11 as if it was my direct lifeline to God:
For I know the plans I have for you… plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Those words were our little ray of light during the darkest days of our lives.
After that one week, we knew we needed to do something different but Mrs. Mewie wasn’t ready to go outside. Fortunately, I had been playing Xbox games online with a fellow gamer named Rick Malambri and discovered he starred in the film, Step Up 3. My wife loves dance movies so I was hoping this might be the one moment to distract her. We turned on Netflix and within 30 minutes, I heard the most beautiful sound. Laughter. That movie broke the ice, unleashing an emotion we haven’t felt in too long. Joy. It swept away the dark clouds of disappointment and dismay. For the first time in what seemed like an eternity, my wife smiled at me. That movie was truly a gift and a prayer answered. The worst was over.
Jeremiah 29:11 reminded us that there was still hope. There was a future to anticipate. After much prayer, we tried IVF again. And well, y’all know what happened next.
Jeremiah 29:11 taught me that every setback and failure – with all the pain, anguish, and sadness that follows – there lies a meaningful purpose. This does not mean that sorrow is something easily dismissed. Or should even be ignored. What sorrow does, at its best, is to make your biggest triumph more meaningful.
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
– Kahlil Gibran
Suffering is inevitable. How we react to suffering, however, is a personal choice, and it can take us one of two ways. Suffering can be a strengthening and purifying experience, preparing you for that triumph. Or it can be a destructive force that keeps you trapped, hostile, and isolated from others. When I reflect upon the sorrow that carved into my being, I am filled with joy unlike any other.
I’m thankful to loved ones as their prayers kept us hopeful. I’m proud of my beautiful wife who never gave up. Above all, I’m grateful to our Creator for this amazing adventure of marriage and parenthood.