Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Between a bullet and a baby.

This is as real as it gets.

This is the part that hurts as much as it did when I found out my husband lost his legs in war.

This is one of those posts I never thought I'd write. And as for writing, I don't know what else to do right now. I've certainly cried enough. I've got to get this out.

Aaron's VA and DoD disability ratings came back. There are definitely some things to appeal with the VA packet nor are we sure about the DoD packet. Once he signs off on the DoD side though, it's 90 days until retirement. It is an understatement to say that he is not ready for that yet. We could definitely say he could be good to go in six moths. We are not sure if we can delay anything at all yet, or how long we'll be able to do so. It's all kinds of a mess that is happening much too quickly for us both. And then it gets worse.

We also had a meeting with urology and the doctor he's had in that service since he arrived. Aaron's been on testosterone therapy for almost the past year and a half straight. First it was shots every two weeks that I gave him (poorly) and then he tried implanted pellets that dissolved in his back. He had his testosterone tested about a month ago, near the end of when the pellets would be effective. It was lower than what is considered normal (300-1200). He has never had a sperm analysis done because either his testosterone would be too low or the therapy he was on was inhibiting production. There was an attempt at a sperm harvest 11 days post blast while he was still in ICU, which obviously came up with nothing. We knew all the facts about testosterone therapy but didn't bat an eye about him getting the medicine he needed. Testosterone is essential to many functions like mood, sleep, appetite, and energy. We planned on looking into becoming parents at some point, but not any time soon. We also knew how he'd get his sperm production in gear: Clomid. Yes, that Clomid: the medicine women usually take to help with their fertility issues. It boosts testosertone in men, too but without inhibiting sperm production. It takes about 90 days to get an answer on it, though. Do you see how that's the second time "90 days" has been mentioned in this post? Do you see where this is going?

Somehow, someway, we've been put under the gun with a lot of life-changing decisions, including parenthood. If there is sperm, we have to pull the trigger on proceeding with IVF immediately after finding out. That would be June for us, also about the time the military is trying to retire him.

Last year, Congress approved "free" (not free-free, because someone does pay for it, of course) IVF for active duty members who sustained fertility threatening injuries while in theater. Yes, the woman receives the IVF and I know some people have a problem with that but I can't really help anyone who thinks that to understand it better. However, the free IVF does not extend to veterans; even those who were injured in war; even those who have been active duty since the policy passed; and it is only his tired, long, determined, and paced recovery that has prevented him from pursuing parenthood sooner. So again, if there is sperm and we want to try with IVF in a situation we've grown to trust, we have to do it over the summer. If we don't want to worry about seeing if Congress extends the program to veterans, or how we'll raise the money, we will have to do it soon. And that's if his retirement can even be delayed. That's if IVF is even an option. The answer could be "no."

Honestly, neither one of us has any idea what to think or what to do about all of this. We are completely stunned and emotionally drained.

Are we even ready to approach parenthood? Financially, yes. We would make great parents, as well. Awesome, actually. We want a child eventually, so why isn't now good enough? Does our complete horror and confusion over the whole situation discount the fact that we still feel robbed of having a damn choice at all? What about our dreams, our goals, the things we'd like to have on the table before attempting to bring life into this world? Aaron doesn't even know where he wants to work yet. I am nowhere near finishing school. And what about my body? I've been taking birth control off and on for the past two years. Do we want a child "less" just because of the decisions we made for our health and not for the end goal of having a kid? Do we care less than anyone else? Trust me, there have been more cares given, more tears shed, and more hope gained and lost over the past 18 months than I ever thought humanly possible. It has been more than I will ever be able to articulate. Just... so much more than we ever thought it could be.

But how do we turn down the chance at IVF over the summer? We'd be foolish not to give it a try. And we have to least try. But when does it count? When do we get to be completely devastated that we don't get a chance to have our own kid? Is one IVF cycle enough? If I don't switch out his body wash and deodorant for all natural products, did we want it enough? Is me being on birth control the past two years mean that we didn't want it enough? Does the fact that I wasn't sure I even wanted children at all until I married Aaron mean that I didn't want it enough? Does it matter than I didn't spend my 20s dreaming of the day I'd be a mother? Or how he said he'd be a lifelong bachelor, until he met me- does that mean we didn't want this enough? Is the fact that we opted into testosterone therapy 18 months ago, knowing what it could do in the long term, mean that we didn't try hard enough to be parents to our biological child? Does the fact that we don't consider using donor sperm an option mean that we just don't want me pregnant, with some genes instead of none, enough? Is it that we don't deserve it, that we don't get to say that the idea of being told "no" hurts more than we thought it would because we admit doing it now is scary, too? Where's the goddamn line? For the record, we are more than okay with adoption. We welcome it, actually. We just didn't actually think that it might be the only way we become parents. Maybe that's the problem- we're so okay with adoption that the universe has conspired against us to make it happen. We chose Aaron's immediate health over trying to make a baby in the middle of his life-saving recovery, during what possibly could have been the worst time in our lives, and now we are paying for it- that's it, right? We just didn't love God and Jesus enough, did we? We should just lie down now and give it up. We clearly didn't want this enough.

Here's the thing, plain and simple: There is no reason why we would have ever thought that we couldn't make the parenthood choice on our time, on our own dime, and for our own reasons. We just found out that the free IVF is only for active duty, so we didn't think about this six months ago when it would have been appropriate to do so (yet another understatement). Just a minor detail.

We both spent our 20s making our own choices and enjoying the hell out of it. As capable adults, we made choices together after we got married. Everyone gets some choices. But you know, since September 7, 2011 a lot of choices have been taken from us. He has lost more than anyone will ever know. I've adapted, adjusted, bounced, bended, and accepted enough "new" circumstances for 100 marriages, let alone just ours. I've bitched and moaned, yes. I've lamented who I was and what I've had to give up on this site quite a bit. But I'll be damned if anyone else wouldn't have done it, either.

 I have bled myself dry, over and over again, convinced I had nothing more to give this situation, only to wake up again and give more. Does the fact that we might bookend this experience with full IVF, shots and all, terrify the life out of me? Yes. I am terrified that I can't do it. I'm terrified I'll start it and it'll finally be too much. I am terrified it will be the last I have to give this situation. And does me admitting that mean that I just really don't want it bad enough, and I should quit my dramatic complaining right now? Will no one want to listen when I sob because we just couldn't do it? This is further complicated by the fact that Aaron does need some testosterone therapy. He can't just not take it and chill out until we're ready to give it a shot. We don't know how long he can take Clomid or even if that will be enough. It's not as simple as "wait and see." He'll need something, so just how badly do we want to try for our own kid if we're willing to pass just to keep him healthy? Will people think that I didn't want it enough? Who the hell knows. For every one IVF cycle you do, some other woman did 10. For every shot you had, someone else had five. Who is ever enough, anyway? Why do I not get to be totally lost, even if we realize we just can't do it- and again, that's if it's even an option. If. It. Is. Even. An. Option. At. All.

We have been utterly stunned the last few days. We can not believe that retirement, job future, moving, and parenthood would all come crashing down like this at one time. I haven't logged into my online schoolwork in days. The apartment is a wreck. We're both off the rails, emotionally. We just have no idea what to do, where to go, what to say, what to think, or even how to stop being shocked and start doing something.

This is not what we wanted. This isn't what I wanted for him. I'm more upset at the idea of him not being a father to his own bio-kid than I am about the idea of me not being a bio-mom. I spent 27 years and change convinced no one would want this with me, and I didn't want children outside of a two-person partnership. Then came Aaron. Aaron changed it all. Aaron made my ovaries explode, what with his dimples and blue eyes. His brillance makes me want a smart-assed boy child who plays with trains and Legos (like him) and loves to dance (like me). You know, after all the shit- well. No one is promised anything. And we can only control ourselves. I feel it's trite to end this with "but we love each other and that's all that matters." It goes without saying, actually. It's not a perfect marriage but it's ours- our sick, laughter-filled, tear-streaked, and beat-the-hell-up-but-we-fought-back-for-it-ALL marriage. This won't break us up, but it does break our hearts.

And that's all I have to say about that.


  1. Oh Kat. I'm so sorry about the position you're in, and I can't imagine everything you're going through. Thinking of you and Aaron.

  2. It's so frustrating to hear the position you're put in- all the things you've gone through. If anyone deserves the chance to make a decision on their own time, or to not even have to go through that kind of decision in the first place, it's you. Sometimes I see so much unfairness in the lives of really good people that it makes me crazy. I'm sorry you two have to deal with such stuff.

  3. xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

  4. I am so sorry that you have to be pushed into these decisions, it's just not fair. I wish I had some amazing advice for you but I don't, I am keeping you guys in my thoughts.

  5. I am so sorry. I wish I had something more awesome and life-altering to say. It sucks and isn't fair and you deserve to be able to make some freaking decision on your own. Although up until this point the decisions that you have made from the decisions you haven't been able to make have been all pretty impressive if you ask me. I can't even begin to imagine all the struggles you have faced. Anyone that judges you, or questions your motives for whatever decision you make regarding Aaron's health and wellness and having a kid is just ridiculous. I feel like saying I'm still praying for you guys, I feel like that sounds cheesy and offensive. but its true.

  6. Kat,

    My heart goes out to you and Aaron! All of the military "hurry up and wait' is now HURRY UP for you guys. You and Aaron will make the right decision for you...trust yourselves! Sending you some good 'ol Bama LOVE!!!

  7. Reading this hurt my heart. My thoughts and prayers are with you guys as you are thrown into an impossible situation. I just pray for the best possible outcome for your family!

  8. Hugs to you. I have no helpful words or thoughts to offer. The situation just totally sucks. I will be thinking about you and I hope you find time to relax and take care of yourself.