Since my husband and I decided to start having children, our hearts have grown in the love of children and family. (If you know us, you know we have always loved children. To grow our family even more, in our desire to train up children, might seem like an impossible thing, but with God all things are possible.) Our desire to raise, disciple and leave legacy has been the driving element in our ministry at church, and through this blog. Our mission statement for RaisingRices is, Raising Households That Serve The LORD!
We were blessed with 5 BEAUTIFUL babies. Starting with our daughter in 2013, then a son in 2015, another son in 2016, and another son in 2017, followed by our daughter in 2018. However, a huge hiccup came into our lives when after the birth of our last son in 2017 I had developed an umbilical hernia. Unfortunately, the hernia started becoming symptomatic and I was experiencing pain, and needing to wear a brace to help with the pain. We still had this huge desire to grow our family but felt we needed to get some medical advice as to the risk of another pregnancy. We set up an appointment to see a wonderful surgeon to have him evaluate, and discuss the ability to have more children. The doctor communicated that my hernia was about the size of the tip of his pinky finger (1/4 of an inch), and he discussed the risk of a future pregnancy. He also believed since it was an umbilical hernia that once I was past 20 weeks pregnant that the uterus would cover the hole to reduce the risk of anything happening. We learned from him the only solution to fixing a hernia is surgery, and that he would never advise women to get a hernia surgery and have more children. (You can get pregnant again, and women do have children after the surgery but the risk of tearing open the mesh given in surgery is way higher than the risks of waiting.) There is always a risk to pregnancy (with or without a hernia), and after hearing from the doctor the worst case scenarios for our situation, we felt like it was ok to move forward to have more children. However, the last thing he said (which rang in my ears long after) was the chance of the hernia doubling in size after the next hernia and it could be detrimental to my health. Even with that last dagger into my heart, we needed to make each step and decision by looking at the situation at hand and not the “could be, would be”.
I kid you not, we think we conceived that night of our appointment! (TMI haha sorry). We had a wonderful pregnancy, but I would be lying to you if I was to say that it was a hernia pain free pregnancy. In fact I can’t even tell you how many times I would have to lay down (on the couch, on the floor, in bed, in the car, in the middle of a friends house), and push my intestines back through the hole where it SHOULD be. I have this memory of being at a memorial service for a dear friend, and trying to push through standing there waiting as long as I could through the pain so I could stay in the service. Alas, the pain became too much and I had to excuse myself back to the nursery of the church, and massage my stomach back in place.
The doctor believed by week 20 the hole would be covered, but it took me about til week 28. It FINALLY did cover and the pain was much more minimal! Yet, in the back of my mind I kept thinking about the hole doubling in size the larger I got.
Darren and I decided around week 35 that we should consider a vasectomy for him. We believed we could still grow our family through adoption, which has always been a desire of our hearts too. (Half of my cousins are adopted, so it was something I always viewed/and view as a beautiful thing.)
I wish I could tell you that we took the time to think through all the consequences of this decision. I wish I could tell you that we spent more than a week’s worth of time in prayer. I wish I could tell you we made this decision without fear, but that would just not be true. Our decision to go through the vasectomy was 100% based on the “what ifs” of my hernia and future health.
The vasectomy was planned (they got us right in) and was completely free, and Darren had a fast recovery. A few weeks later we delivered a healthy 10 pound 3 ounce baby girl! We were so excited! 3 months post birth the hernia pain returned but worse then I had ever had before.
We went to work to research all the options of surgeries to fix my hernia. It was a constant battle of what insurance would cover, when would the right timing be due to breastfeeding etc. At the same time, we also went into research mode for adoption. Boy, did we learn so much in 2019, things we never expected.
- We learned that when it comes to foster to adopt, we were told that we have too many children to foster to adopt any infants.
- We learned that we had too many children to adopt internationally; only two places would allow us to adopt: one was only older kids and the other was China. (If you recall at that time, they were experiencing COVID-19, so they were closed.)
- We did see if we could qualify for fostering, and that if the foster child came up for adoption then we could be considered. Yet, they recommend if possible to not interrupt the birth order of the children you have currently. At the time we had an almost 1 year old, and if you remember from above, they reserve infants for families that are not large, like mine.
(***** Later as I talked with more friends they communicated that they didn’t believe what we were being told was true, but sadly it was what we were told so it was what we believed. And we pray that those things are not true so that we might have a chance in the future to adopt.)
At the end of 2019 (almost a whole year after our daughters birth), we learned these devastating things about adoption, but the good news was we were finally making headway with the hernia surgery. We had met with a new surgeon, who was a plastic surgeon, who was prepared to do what would be coded as a tummy tuck, but was for the fixing of the hernia and the DR (Diasti Recti) separation.
Our plastic surgeon thought since it was for health concerns we should try to see if the insurance would cover it or at least a portion. In order to submit the information to insurance they would need a CAT scan to show that the hernia was in the DR. So on Christmas Eve, 2019 I went in and got my CAT scan done.
In January, we got the results. (If you remember the original surgeon believed that it could double in size, so I was preparing myself for that news.) My hernia was in fact within the DR separation which is what the insurance needed to see, but the size of my hernia was 1/4 of an inch!!!!!! It didn’t grow at all!!!!! We were completely shocked!!!!
Our plastic surgeon went to work to see if he would get insurance to pay for the whole surgery. And during that month of January something started happening in Darren’s and my heart. We felt crushed by the adoption news, and never could shake the feeling of wanting to grow our family. At our appointment with the surgeon to hear the results of the CAT scan, he reminded us again it was not wise to have me become pregnant after the surgery, especially since this surgery would be much more invasive. We came home from that appointment with heavy hearts, but we both didn’t know what the other one was thinking. We both separately, and unknowing to each other, decided to pray about this decision, which sounds crazy right, because Darren had already had the vasectomy! Like it was a done deal! We had already made the choice, so why was this a hard decision!?
A few weeks after that appointment Darren came to me and asked me, “What are your thoughts on a vasectomy reversal?” Well, I am sure my jaw hit the floor! Here I was praying to God for an answer to my heart’s desire to grow our family, and my husband is offering to go through all the pain, and recovery of a reversal. We agreed we should look into it, not yet closing the door on the hernia surgery, but allowing God to lead us to the next choice.
God truly works in mysterious ways. In our search we discovered that to get a vasectomy reversal done in Oregon (we live outside of Portland) the cost is $8,000-$10,000!!!! Needless to say, that was a blow, but we were committed to pursuing the desire to grow our family. The evening that we found out the price of the surgery, I had dinner with two dear friends who I was just getting to know. Literally without me even bringing anything up, just in conversation, one of the sweet friends mentions her husband had a reverse vasectomy about 10 years ago. My ears perked up at this new word in my daily vocabulary, and I had a million questions. She patiently answered all I had, in which I learned that even though she also lives in Oregon, her husband and her traveled to Oklahoma to have the surgery done because of the drastic price difference.
I took this information she shared, including the doctor’s name who did her husband’s surgery, back to Darren. The next day we sat down together to formulate a plan. We sat with our calendar open (at the time, this was February, so pre-COVID shut downs) and our calendars were booked for the next 6 months. We had camping trips, Darren had a week trip with his brother in law, Darren also had two different work trips. After a surgery, you need rest and recovery time, and literally after looking over and over and over our schedule we saw there was basically ONE possible day in the next 6 months where he could fly to another state, get the surgery and then fly home and recover. The date was March 9th. After this discovery, I felt like this was a closed door, an impossibility. This date was literally only 4 weeks away, but as I say, we know God can work in mysterious ways. So, we thought we should at least see if they had this opening.
We had two surgery centers we had researched and picked to call: one was the place in Oklahoma that my friends recommended and the other one was near Salt Lake City, Utah. Oklahoma cost around $2,000, and Utah was around $3,000 (both drastically lower than Oregon.) We said a prayer together asking God to direct our path, and open and close doors as we sat down at the computer to see if they even had any openings, let alone our needed date of March 9th. We pulled up Oklahoma’s online scheduling, it looked similar to a google calendar where they have red boxes for filled and green boxes for open times. Their schedule was literally ALL red, completely booked up for the next 6 months. Closed Door! That is ok, we told ourselves, we are wanting open and closed doors to help us with our decision. So we pulled up the next surgery center in Utah, expecting to see a calendar set up like in Oklahoma, but it wasn’t that sort of thing. In fact, you had to fill out genetic information like “what day of the week do you prefer” and “would you rather a morning or afternoon surgery”. Great, I thought to myself, we will never know if March 9th is available, and this seems like an impossible way to make our schedule work with theirs. But, we prayed again, Lord open and close doors, while we filled out the information, we said Mondays were best and mornings. After you push the go button two dates pop up on the screen for you to pick one. I KID YOU NOT, the very top date was MARCH 9th, at 9:00am! WHAT!!!!! We were shocked! Completely SHOCKED! So we scheduled it!
In Utah, they ask you to pay all the money up front, but if you cancel before two weeks you could receive all your money back. They also offer a money back guarantee which just made me laugh, but it came with the deal.
A day past the 2 week mark for cancelling, we received a call that our insurance would pay completely for my hernia surgery. That was crazy, and I would be lying to you if I didn’t stop and have envy for the tummy tuck I could have had. But we were hopeful for fulfilling the desire of our hearts in growing our family.
Darren flew down to Utah, had the surgery and flew back. Then the following weekend, the whole United States shut down! I couldn’t believe the timing of it all!
Two weeks post surgery, we were sent home with a kit in which you could test the sperm count. The results were 5 million. (Sounds like a lot but actually to have what they would consider a successful surgery would be 15 million or higher). But the doctors were happy to see that some were coming through and we were to test again at 3 months post surgery. Sadly, our test results for the 3 month, 6 month and 9 month testing were all zeros. We were devastated 🙁 After the 9 month check in and having a zero sperm count, the doctor’s theory is that the connection point where they had sewn the tubes back together had separated.
Side note: Since it had been only a year from the vasectomy to the reversal, and considering Darren’s age, we were given a 96% odds of a successful surgery. Also taking into account all the open doors to get to the surgery alone, we were left saddened and confused with the results.
At that point the doctor said that since we have the money back guarantee plan, we could choose to receive the money back due to it being a failed surgery OR we could choose to have the surgery again (a second reverse vasectomy). We prayed, we spent time discussing our hearts desire to grow our family, we sought wisdom from our biblical community, and then we ultimately decided to go through having the surgery again.
The surgery center scheduled us for February 15th (Happy Valentines Day to us haha!). We also were put on a cancellation list if there were to come an earlier available date.
On the 19th of January, we received a call that in 2 days there would be an opening. So we jumped on it, and Darren flew down to Utah the next day, and got his second reverse vasectomy.
Wow! What a story right! I wish I could tell you the happy ending that we are pregnant! BUT it is far too soon to tell. He is currently only 4 weeks post the surgery. We would LOVE prayers for the growth of our family.
To answer a few questions:
“How many more kids will you have?”
- Answer – We don’t plan on ever getting a vasectomy again hahaha, but seriously will approach each decision with prayer and one step at a time.
“What did you do to help the healing process?”
- Answer – The first time we did NOTHING. We started to try some things (vitamins etc) but we think it was after the separation occurred so it wouldn’t have mattered. This time we have a WHOLE list of things we have tried to support the healing process and here are a few:
- Vitamin C (multiple a day)
- Anti-inflammatory diet
- Lots of icing and cold showers
“Did you feel like it was a closed door when it didn’t work the first time?”
- I totally did. I questioned the whole thing when I learned it didn’t work. But ultimately, we decided that we felt like the Lord put the desire on our hearts, he never said it would be in our time frame. After prayer we decided we needed to submit our agenda and just pursue what we felt like God was calling us to, even if it looks different then what we originally thought.
“Was it easy to wait?”
- Absolutely NOT! But He is faithful in the waiting. And I learned so much through this year of trying to conceive. I learned to have a deeper bond to those who struggle to conceive, my empathy for them has grown. I have learned that God is there in the good and hard moments. He cares for us just as a parent for their children, but that doesn’t mean that we will get what we want in the time frame we want. His sovereign will and plan is way better than we can even imagine. And this is true whether or not we are able to conceive.
Thank you all for walking this journey with us! I know many of you have been following us on social media, or physically walking the journey with us. I truly am so grateful for all of you! We would love your prayers! And hope to be able to share news of a baby in the near future! Love you all!
Here is a phone screen background I have on my phone right now to remind me: HE is FAITHFUL in ALL things!