Paul's Heart

Life As A Dad, And A Survivor

No Chocolate Chips In The Cookie Dough

I will apologize for the misleading title.  But I use it to be the most polite way for me to discuss infertility.  Up until recent years, being unable to have children was the hardest thing for me to deal with as a result of the one chemotherapy drug I had been given, Mustragen.

As soon as it had been determined that I would have to go through chemo and Mustragen would be one of the drugs in the chemo cocktail, my oncologist tried, emphasis on tried (really a feeble attempt) to convince me to store sperm for the future.  His warning (again, feeble attempt) was to get it done as soon as possible because time was important to start treatments.  Preliminary testing told me that virity was pretty much non-existent and would not be worth the expense.  At age 22, who was I to argue.  I was not thinking about kids while I am still trying to accept that I have cancer.  But my wife did convince me that it was worth it.

I found a facility in East Orange, New Jersey.  All I had to do was send them my deposit, sounds simple enough.  Except that even pre-9/11 UPS was still suspicious about packages and refused to take my shipment without knowing what the contents were.  Okay, total blank on how to tell a strange man that he was picking up my sperm, ejaculate, baby batter, manjam, spunk, seed, oh I could keep going.  But no, I said they were “hopefully chocolate chips” from my cookie dough.  I almost had him believing me, until he saw the biohazard symbol on the package.  And with that, “I” was off to the cryotank.  Or so I thought.  Testing prior to the freezing led to the company opting not to freeze my donation.  Any future heir would depend on fate, luck, and survival, getting through eight months of a drug not confirmed to cause infertility.

I waited approximately two years from the end of treatments to approach my wife about trying to finally start a family.  I was convinced that any toxins either from the chemo or radiation were gone.  We tried for a few months with no success, so I made the call to my doctor who ordered a sperm count.  Trying to get the deed done at home, and with my wife’s assistance was difficult (unlike any other time when I was much too eager), but to do it right there at the lab, I only had so much time for lunch that day.

The results came back as I was afraid, zero.  I had no sperm at all.  There were no chocolate chips in the cookie dough.  Any chance of a blood heir were gone.  Next to having lost my hair, not being able to have my kids was worse.  It would end up being another year before I brought up alternative ideas with my wife.  Divorce would eventually take care of that issue completely.

But a few years later, married once again, my new wife knew my history.  Any fertility checks would be for her benefit.  We would seek out a donor from a company in Virginia.  But the first testing was going to be on me.  I pointed out to the specialist that “I had no chocolate chips in my cookie dough” and after he got done laughing at me, began to ask questions  that made no sense to me.  It was simple.  I could not have kids.

According to him it was not that simple.  He wanted to check for sperm of course, but also a blood test which would determine if my body was making the right hormones.  Because if my body was not, then that officially would be the end of it.  However, if my body did make the hormones, then it had to be about a blockage.  With the hormones, my body would be making the sperm.  Surgically, something could be corrected.  As usual though, nothing.

But it was amazing to think the possibility might have existed, I would have jumpt at it.  But we did pursue artificial means.  Unfortunately, results were not positive, which then put us in the situation of “we only have so much mony left – we can’t do both, onr or the other.

So, we adopted two girls from China.  Both came from different areas within the province and around two hours apart.  The process of adopting was amazing and will be covered in another post.

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5 thoughts on “No Chocolate Chips In The Cookie Dough

  1. Paul, your Life is amazing!

    I went through a similar experience, but in my case it was my doctor who told me I must never get pg, because the hormones could cause a recurrence of HD. (This was back in the early 70’s and I hadn’t quite hit the 5 year mark yet) He insisted that sterilization was the only way – so I went along.

    I was 1985 before I challenged that, and decided to get the tubes untied. I was told after the surgery that they hadn’t been tied, they had been cut and cauterized and not much was left to put back together, but they had done what they could and hopefully I “might” be able to get pregnant.

    Miracle, I got pg on the first try. Have two lovely grown daughters now. But I still remember that feeling when I was first told never to have children. If the surgery had not worked, I know I would have considered adoption, and I am so glad for your happy success in that realm.

    • Judee, so many lessons in your comment. I was not aware of the concerns of pregnancy during the 70’s with HD. The only thing that I had heard came in the late 80’s and since, challenges about mothers who were already pregnant, concerned about treatments and side effects on the babies.

      I wonder also, since you seemed surprised with the method of sterilization, did the doctors do the cut instead of tie thinking you would still pursue pregnancy which could still occur with the tubes being tied?

      Obviously not a female, so this is conjecture on my part, but would I be correct that the concern about pregnancy with an immunity-related cancer would be that the body has been challenged so much, and pregnancy would draw additional efforts of the body from an immune system point?
      I know I am always so happy with the websites that I follow and there are announcements and pictures of new moms who clearly were able to overcome the odds.

      • Paul, looking back, I think perhaps even then a second opinion would have been good. I wonder if they would have agreed or not. The Dr. in question had a son in law going through stage 4 Hodgkins and told me he knew more about it than the usual GynoDoc. I’ve often wondered if his emotional investment got the better of him. As for cutting rather than tying, he was adamant that I should never ever even get pg, so maybe he was over zealous, even for the times.

        While I do wonder sometimes, it’s not really important to me, because it all turned out well. And I say that, knowing that even if it had been irreversible, it still would have turned out. Looking back, I always appreciate the magic of life and how it leads a person to where they are. There are no mistakes. Lessons, yes. Stumbling blocks, yes. Challenges, yes. All of that is what makes this moment so special, so precious.

        You and I each traveled similar, yet very different roads, especially you being a man and me a woman 😉 but we both have two beautiful daughters, and that is a miracle no matter how you look at it. Our children are blessings, and I know how much you appreciate that.

        Life is good. 🙂

      • Yes it is 🙂

  2. Please look at my blog I have suffered with Endometriosis for a very long time and I have started a blog writing about how it has effected my fertility and about my 1st course of IVF. Hope this helps other find the reason for their pain and to help others going through IVF.

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