It has been more than four years since my last post, “One Thing I Wished I Knew Before My Double-Lung Transplant,” and so much has changed!
We have learned a great deal about the science behind infertility and how advancements have made it possible for people like me to have children. We knew through a procedure called in vitro fertilization (IVF) that it was possible to have children. However, we had doubts that we would be good candidates due to the transplant medications I take to prevent rejection and infection and suppress my immune system. The most significant lesson we have learned is don't believe everything you hear.
My transplant doctor referred us to the fertility clinic at Emory University Hospital Midtown, Atlanta, shortly after my blog post in 2016.
We learned that it was possible to still have a child of our own, even though we had been told by others that the transplant medications would hinder our ability to conceive. Not only was it possible, we would have the same chances as a “normal” couple.
We both completed genetic testing -- for my wife to make sure she didn't carry a mutated CFTR gene, and for me to make sure I didn't carry anything else besides cystic fibrosis that may be a potential problem for our baby.
Being a male with cystic fibrosis, the ability to conceive naturally was out of the question, which is the case for most males with CF. I had to have a procedure, testicular sperm extraction, to retrieve the sperm for the fertilization process. My wife also had to have a procedure where they retrieve as many eggs as possible. Prior to her procedure, she had to take many injections and medications to prepare her body to produce an abundance of eggs, so there is a better chance of creating healthy and viable embryos. Both of our procedures were very successful and -- after the fertilization process, also called intracytoplasmic sperm injection -- we were able to create two healthy embryos.
Finally, the day to implant an embryo came -- TRANSFER DAY! This was the day that we had worked so hard for. This was the day that we had dreamed about all these years. This was also the most stressful part of the entire process. All the procedures, months of injections, fertility appointments, and sleepless nights led us to this point. The chances of the embryo “sticking” are generally 50 percent in most cases. Due to the health and age of my wife, and the maturation of the embryo we were transferring, the doctor gave us a 70 percent success rate. After the transfer, all we had to do was wait two weeks and let the process take its course. Talk about sitting on pins and needles.
After all this time, four years of preparation and hard work, we were ecstatic to find out that our transfer was successful. Now all we had to do was make sure we did everything in our power to make sure this embryo remained safe and healthy.
Our pregnancy has been a little different than we had imagined with the COVID-19 pandemic unfolding at the same time. It has been challenging, but we have managed to stay positive and focus on bringing this miracle into the world safely. We recently had our 20-week anatomy scan (which I was not allowed to attend due to COVID-19), and Baby Cole is healthy and doing fantastic! Thankfully, there is a company near our home that offers private ultrasounds that I can attend, so we get to see our baby boy whenever we want.
This journey has been a blessing to say the least. God has given us hope and a chance to have a family. Our dreams are coming true right before our eyes. It is a truly amazing experience.
Baby Cole is due Nov. 28, 2020. We cannot wait to meet him and introduce him to the world.
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