It was January 20, 2014. My wife and I are Seattle Seahawks season ticket holders and we were at the NFC Championship game. The winner of this game would go to the Super Bowl. Huge game.
Macklemore was performing during halftime and my wife leaned over to tell me she wasn’t feeling well and was going to the restroom. I didn’t think anything of it. It’s not uncommon for her to have an upset stomach.
A couple of weeks before, we had gone to the doctor for an ultrasound. My wife was about six weeks into her pregnancy. A few months earlier we experienced a miscarriage, so we were cautiously optimistic about things this time.
This time we had made it further than before and now we could see and hear a heartbeat. It was early, but we thought it might just happen this time. We certainly had never made it to an ultrasound before and had never seen or heard a little heartbeat like this before.
I was excited. I didn’t get married until I was 37. I was beginning to think I would never become a dad. Over the next few weeks, I tried to imagine what it would be like. To have another human being, a completely helpless human being that I was responsible for. Then I imagined it’s ‘firsts’ and how fun that would be.
Halftime was over. The third quarter had started and people were starting to work their way back to their seats. But my wife wasn’t among them.
She eventually made it back and I could tell she was in pain. I asked if she wanted to go, but she said no. She knew how much this game meant to me and she would feel guilty if we left.
But the pain became too much. She went back to the restroom, this time I went with her and waited in the concourse. A few minutes later she came out and said she needed to go to the hospital. She thought she was having another miscarriage.
So we left. The Seahawks were losing when we left, but as we walked a few blocks I could hear the crowd explode in a roar and knew they had just taken the lead. It was late in the 4th quarter.
At that moment, I was feeling a range of emotions that I could have never imagined feeling at the same time: fear, sadness, anger, happiness, exasperation, helplessness, disappointment. The Seahawks were about to go to the Super Bowl. My wife was having a miscarriage and the son or daughter we had envisioned wasn’t going to happen. My wife was in pain and I couldn’t do anything to help her other than to drive her to the hospital.
I found out the results of the game as we were driving to the hospital. One of the most iconic moments in team franchise history happened on the last play - and I missed it. However, I see it everywhere. The same photo of Richard Sherman leaping high to bat down the ball in the end zone to end the game. To seal the Seahawks trip to the Super Bowl. A Super Bowl they would eventually win. What should remind me of happiness, excitement, and joy fills me with deep sadness and pain. A reminder that the same thing can represent profoundly different things to different people.
We arrive at the hospital and they performed a medical procedure that was quite painful for her and we went home. While we’re sitting in the waiting room, friends were texting me about the game. Texts from Seattle friends talking about how awesome the game was. Texts from non-Seattle fans talking about how crazy Richard Sherman’s post-game interview was. Little did they know what my wife and I were going through at that moment.
Sadness filled both of us for days, even weeks after.
One evening, a few weeks after this had happened, I began crying as I drove home from work. I was thinking, “maybe I was right, I’d never become a dad.” I started to feel guilty, thinking it was my fault. I was old and broken. Then I began to think my wife married the wrong guy. That I was going to rob her of the chance to be a mom.
Then I became determined not to let this be the end of trying. That there were options. That we would figure it out. When I got home my wife and I laid out our options and what we’d be willing to do. We decided to meet with a fertility doctor and try to figure out what was wrong.
We underwent every test imaginable. Nothing was wrong with either of us. We just needed to keep trying naturally or try IVF (in vitro fertilization). At first, we chose to keep trying naturally because we couldn’t afford the $30,000-$50,000 it would cost to perform IVF.
That was a bad idea. Another miscarriage. Then another. Eight in total when it was all said and done. With some, we just shrugged our shoulders and thought eventually it would happen. After the 8th, we decided to bite the bullet and move forward with IVF. We couldn’t afford it but, by that point, we didn’t really care.
After months of shots and medication, my wife became pregnant but she was an emotional mess for most of the pregnancy. Worried that she was the reason things hadn’t worked out and now we took on a lot of debt to make one last attempt. What if this one failed?
We made it to the first trimester. Then the second. We were in unchartered territory, but still not very hopeful. Then the third trimester. Around this time she was diagnosed with gestational diabetes, which meant more shots and medication. Yet another hurdle. There was just no way it was going to be easy.
Then, on May 3rd, 2018, it happened. We both became parents. But that’s not the end. We had one embryo left and decided, since we weren’t getting any younger, we should move forward as soon as possible. That was March of this year, 2019. It failed.
Despite having a son and feeling extremely lucky, the failed embryo transfer seemed to be more difficult for me than my wife. We knew it was going to be a girl and had picked out a name, Doris, after my grandma. My grandma is still alive and I wanted so badly for her to be able to meet her great-granddaughter who was named after her. It was very sad for me to know that would never happen.
We were done.
So we thought.
As of the writing of this, my wife is about 23 weeks pregnant. We found out a few weeks ago that we’re expecting another boy in April 2020.
Life is strange. It’s full of ups and downs and we’re going to be challenged and rewarded. But it’s the challenges that help us to truly appreciate the rewards. I also learned that it’s healthy to grieve and to be sad, but you must also counter it with faith, hope, and determination. Because at the end of the day, that's all you have. That and fate.