My biggest fear in expecting Selah’s arrival was whether or not I would even love her, since she isn’t genetically mine.
My wife, Renee, and I had everything figured out. We met at age 12 in church, were best friends for 5 years, dated for 5 years (4 of them long-distance through college with 1200 miles between us), married at age 22, and planned on having kids at age 24 or 25. Everything was going according to plan until we started trying to have a baby. For a year, we read all the blogs, did the timing thing, prayed, and nothing happened.
We decided to get me checked out first because the testing for guys is easier. Within a month of testing, we came to discover that I was born with a genetic disorder called Klinefelter syndrome. It’s what had made me taller than everyone in my family, had lead to some learning problems when I was younger, and ultimately made it impossible for me to add to the conceiving of a child. I was heartbroken. How could this be? I felt like such a failure. I cried. A lot.
Renee and I discussed what to do next. We could adopt, but then my wife wouldn’t get the chance to be pregnant and grow a child (something that she had dreamed of forever!). There was one option that doctors gave us for me to have a surgery that would give us a 30% chance of success for me to still be involved. The only problem was that $30,000 and not covered by insurance at all. We thought about it and prayed about it. I couldn’t peacefully add this much debt to my family, so we decided against it. Insteaded we chose to use donor sperm. This was an interesting process, through which you can choose to know as much or as little as you want about the donor. We chose to know less, but to keep as many similarities to me as made sense.
Tall, caucasian, Italian and English descent, similar build, and good family health. This was all great and I was glad that we could choose such things, but it didn’t make me feel any better about the situation. I still was heartbroken that this baby wouldn’t be mine.
On the second cycle of trying, we found out that Renee was pregnant. That was great! No more stressing over conceiving and no more spending the money it took to get there - even with insurance, it’s still costly. Now was the waiting game.
Over the 9 months that Renee was pregnant I went through all the emotions that there are; excitement, worry (for her health and baby’s), and fear. Fear was the most gripping and constant emotion for me. How will I feel? Will I love her? Will she love me? What will she do when she finds out? What will I say when people inevitably ask who she looks more like? Knowing that some day she might get mad and me and say that I’m not really her dad, so how can I do this or say that? Fear. Fear. Fear.
To add to all of this, the night she was born, I wasn’t even there.
My wife ended up being in labor for only 30 minutes and gave birth to her in our bathroom on accident with the paramedics there. I was all the way in the city serving the homeless at the Port Authority. I remember driving to the hospital and just sobbing that after all of this and the connection I had planned on having at birth, I couldn’t even do that.
But then everything changed.
The moment I met my daughter, everything changed. Instantly I was in love. She was mine. I was hers. The past 9 months of fears and anxiety were erased.
Now that it’s Father’s Day and she has recently turned 1, I can only praise God that I have had the opportunity to raise, play with, and love my little girl for the past year. It means nothing that she is not genetically mine - nothing at all.
I love her. She loves me.
I praise God that a miracle exists to make this possible. I praise God that she ended up looking like me - and that when people say so I can smile and agree! I praise God that she likes to laugh, dance, and say “hi” to everyone! She is my daughter and I am her father.
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Everything we go through is to help others.
Please, if you are going through pain or loss, learn what you have to learn in the process, then open up and help others.
We need each other. We were created to do life together.
Thank you all for living life out loud with me.
Happy Father’s Day! Much love!