Mother’s Day 2014

This coming Sunday is Mother’s Day. And, it is a time to be grateful for all that your mother has done for you. Make sure that you not only let her know how much you appreciate everything she’s done for you, but also show it by showering her with love.

Trinity, Xander, and I are going to bring my soul mate and their mother a special breakfast in bed. The kids are soooo excited, and already planning all kinds of fun stuff. This is a great opportunity for daddy to bond and have fun with the kids as well.

Today I wanted to take a different approach and hit on a special group of moms. I’d like to dedicate this post to hemophiliac moms. All mothers have a very tough job and they determine the outcome of a child’s beliefs and character. I consider this job one of the most important in the world (and toughest!) That said, there is another breed of moms that take it to a whole new level. Mothers who have children with disabilities are on on a whole new plane. These moms not only have everyday normal things to deal with, but they also do regular trips to the doctors, specialists, hospitals, counselors, and treatment centers (among other places). They do everything that all mothers do, plus have a plate of troubling times that most of us would run screaming from.

These moms are a special breed. And, today’s special breed is close to my heart, because my mom is one of them. And, my wife is one of them. I can never properly convey the amount of gratitude and appreciation that I have for these AMAZING women! If you are the mother of a child (or children) with a bleeding disorder than I salute you. You, my friend, are a rare individual who is doing more for the planet and human race than I can fathom.

Thirty years ago, the hemophilia population started dying off… I’m talking about 90% or more getting HIV from tainted blood products… Nearly 100% getting hepatitis C… This was beyond devastating to the community as a whole. Think about it for a moment… Almost the entire hemophilia population died over the twenty years that happened immediately after this disastrous event. As a matter-of-fact, all of my hemophiliac friends that I knew died. ALL OF THEM!

If you consider this for a moment, you will realize the depth of this tragedy. You might also realize the moms out there who lost their babies… Lost them by the thousands!!! I am crying simply typing this… Imagine (for a moment) their pain. These women have been through more than anyone deserves to endure. They have done so, and continue to do so. They are heroes. The real-deal hero!

Another point that comes to mind when I think about moms and what is known as the Hemocaust… Many of the community-run organizations were mostly managed and maintained by adult hemophiliac men. Almost all of these men died. Think on that. Literally, in a short period, we not only lost our brothers and sisters… We also almost lost the entire community, because no one was there to run the organizations. This is nearly unimaginable to me, yet it was happening around the country.

I often think of euphemisms for this occurrence. The one that really comes to mind is passing the torch. Well, I was talking about this with my buddy, Jack, the other day and it hit me… This was not simply passing the torch. It happened too fast and too devastatingly to let anyone pass anything. In an instant people started dropping like flies. No… What really happened was this. Thousands of men died. Thousands of men literally DROPPED their torches without the time or energy to pass them on. During that time, the community and future generations needed someone to act. Someone did act. The moms acted. The moms stepped up, despite their pain and anguish. Selflessly, they wiped away their tears and they picked up the torches from the ground. In some case the torches had gone completely out and needed to be re-lit. Regardless, a generation of moms… A generation of women stronger than most can imagine… A generation of loving and kind souls… Came together and rebuilt a community that nearly died.

I can tell you that I fell away from the community more than a quarter of a century ago. Heck, I assumed I was dying. But, to my amazement, when I came back four years ago, I found a thriving community… A community of strong people who were dedicated and focused. A community that had fixed itself with band-aids and duct tape through the nineties and into 2000. A community that was not only still standing, but standing tall, strong, and proud.

Damn! I mean… Damn! I am in awe of what transpired. And, I am eternally grateful to all of the people who came together to save us. Most of all, I am grateful to the moms.

I believe I speak for everyone, when I say:

Have a very special Mother’s Day, moms!!!

With love,
Vaughn

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The Miracle Baby

HaPpY BiRtHDaY to my darling angel, Trinity. She turns nine years old today! As many of you know, it is an unbelievable miracle that she’s even here with us. Today’s article is dedicated to her, and other miracle babies like her.

Why do I call her the miracle baby? hmmm… We need to travel back a bit and go over a few hurdles we (and especially she) have had to endure in less than a decade. Let’s list some of the things that lead me to call her a miracle:

I’m HIV Positive
I realize that this post is about Trinity, and not me… However, this is a very important fact. Being HIV+ has me facing many facts. Until medical science caught up, one of those facts was that I would never have a child. At least not without the possibility of transferring HIV to my wife and/or child. Hence, until about a dozen years ago, Kristine and I assumed we would not have children. That changed when a form of in vitro fertilization (IVF), called ICSI, was approved for serodiscordant couples (where one partner is HIV-positive and one partner is HIV-negative).

You can read more about IVF here: healthywealthytribe.com/creating-life-in-a-laboratory.

Another potential miracle part is that Kristine and I made attempt-after-attempt before the fourth one finally took. Kristine actually got pregnant on our first attempt and then lost the baby at ten weeks. This was devastating. We nearly gave up after the next two attempts didn’t take at all. We decided to take one more crack (no pun intended) at this, and Kristine got pregnant. We were very close to giving up entirely…

Breech Baby
From before she was born, Trinity was a stubborn baby. Right around her due date, we found out that Trinity was sitting breech in the womb. The doctor made some simple attempts at turning her, but such a headstrong child was not moving for a mere doctor. Kristine was admitted for a cesarean section.

During the C section, the doctors exclaimed that something was wrong with Kristine and she was losing too much blood. Her whole body went deathly white and they wrapped her in heated blankets to keep her warm. I’m certain that they covered up a serious problem by telling me that there were complications, but that she would be fine. Again, this doesn’t have a direct correlation with Trinity, but she might very well have lost her mother from day one!

Esophageal Atresia
When Trinity was born, she didn’t cry immediately. And, her breathing sounded a tad raspy to me. I turned to the nurse and said, “Something is wrong.” The nurse disagreed and said everything was fine. Within minutes they were scurrying around looking flustered like a barn full of clucking hens. I knew something was serious, but didn’t know what. Asked to leave, I went to get something to eat from the cafeteria. In a matter of minutes, I thought we were close to losing Kristine, and now, something was wrong with Trinity. My head was swirling.

Returning from eating a meal, I found Kristine crying. She explained to me that Trinity had esophageal atresia and needed an immediate surgery to live. Essentially, Trinity’s esophagus had not fully developed and it wasn’t connected to her stomach. To top it off, she would need to be transported to Children’s Hospital for this emergency.

About 1 in 2,500 babies is born with some form of esophageal atresia. The scary (and another miracle) part is that all babies with this disorder born prior to the operation invention (approximately fifty years ago) died from starvation! Can you say, miracle?

While couped-up at Children’s, the first communication that Trinity had was grabbing my finger. She reached out, grabbed it tightly, and peered into my eyes as if to say, Don’t worry Daddy, I’m strong and will be fine. I knew that she was special, and dare I say it… A miracle.

The doctors told us that she was strong when she pulled out her feeding tube. Actually, they couldn’t keep it in… She refused to give in! Strong heart this one…

MRSA
Another situation occurred while Trinity was still in Children’s Hospital. She caught Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). MRSA is a staph infection and bacterium that’s responsible for several difficult-to-treat infections. It is especially dangerous in young children. Considering that approximately 10% of people with MRSA die from it, I would say that warrants another Miracle Baby check-mark.

Oxygen Deprivation
When Trinity was a wee-little-one she had oxygen related issues. Kristine brought her in to see the doctor and the doctor immediately called an ambulance. She was taken to the hospital on a few occasions to tackle this problem, and she spent a few nights in an oxygen tent. Even as a little baby, she was still dealing with life threatening illness and troubles. And, perhaps more importantly, she was surmounting these deadly issues as soon as they came.

Asthma
At a young age, Trinity was diagnosed with asthma. Nothing like some of the things she dealt with at birth, this is still a tough challenge and something she will deal with for her entire life. I’m confident that her headstrong attitude and downright stubbornness will get her by this speed bump without a hitch.

Hemophilia
Most women born to hemophiliac fathers do not get the disease. Rather, they become carriers, but lead normal “clotting” lives. Never one to miss an opportunity, Trinity was tested and revealed the fact she, in-fact, is a type A mild hemophiliac.

I feel like I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but you get my point. Obviously there are things she’s only been able to tackle with the advent of modern medical miracles. However, I feel that above those things, my darling daughter, Trinity, is a miracle baby.

Like her Mom and Dad, she is a loving and caring person. Talented and smart, she was born to be a leader and survivor!

Everyone is rightfully proud of their kids. Today I salute a wonderful human being, a miracle…

HaPpY BiRtHDaY, Trinity Viola Ripley!

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Vow to Be a Better Parent

Father’s Day was a special treat this year. My children are getting older and finally grasping what these holidays mean. I got lots of love and some wonderful homemade cards among other things. Despite all of these creative gifts and tons of love, I believe that the greatest gift I received was an eye-opening experience about parenting.

My epiphany came sometime during the morning of Father’s Day. My wife, Kristine, shared an article with me. The article was about a man (a bad father) who essentially had mentally broken his child. The article was a bit overzealous, but I got the gist of it and it really sunk in. After reading it, I did a little Google research and found more articles and thought provoking tidbits. As I delved in deeper, I uncovered some inner feelings that I had about myself and my family.

My dad raised me with a strict and stern outlook. He was swift with his hand and mouth. However, he never struck me out of anger. He would always send me to my room to wait for my punishment while he (presumably) calmed himself down. When the spanking time came, Dad was always sad and determined at the same time. He would explain to me why I was being punished and the ways that I could improve. Dad loved me with all of his heart, and he sincerely was doing the best that he could to raise me into a respectable adult. I happen to think he did a fantastic job with the tools he was given.

Looking back, I can learn from some of my dad’s mistakes. I can also learn from the things he did correctly. I can use the generations before me to figure out what worked and what didn’t. It struck me as sudden as a shock from an electrical outlet. I hold in my hands and mind (and always have) the power to improve based on what I’ve experienced.

This latest bit of information hit home and I sat pondering… I philosophized for literally thirty or forty minutes. It was deep thought. And, it was emotional. In the moments that followed my thought provoking inner look, I realized that I want to improve. Strike that… I NEED to improve.

I know that I’m not here to be my children’s friend.

I know that it’s my parental duty to create responsible and caring adults out of my children.

I know that my young children rely on me to guide them and help them.

However, all of those things don’t mean that I can’t still be my child’s friend. That I can’t be loving and nurturing at the same time that I’m strict and firm. Deciding then and there, I vowed to be a better Dad to my kids. I vowed to listen more to them. I vowed to touch and hold them more. I vowed to try and empathize with their needs, wants, and feelings. I vowed to love.

Love is the key. It means everything to me. With love, I can accomplish anything. And, with love I can help teach my children how to be all that they can be.

It has always been my goal to do the best as a parent. To teach and lift my children. To inspire and motivate them. Now, my eyes are opened to a deeper feeling. A longing of improving my abilities and doing even better and even more.

Today I vow to be a better parent. Will you take that vow with me? Together let’s turn the world on its ear and show that it is possible to raise understanding, smart, and responsible adults by using our brains and our hearts. Let’s learn from our past… Let’s learn from our parents… Let’s learn from our friends… And, let’s learn from each other. Join me on a quest to make a better world, one child at a time!

I hope this touched some of you, and maybe even inspired you to vow to be a better parent.

Typed (and conceived) with love,
Vaughn

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Allowance for Children

May I ask you a question? Oh wait… That was a question…

Do you give your children an allowance?

We just started, and I thought I would share what we’re doing in an article to get some feedback and ideas from everyone. Our kids are eight and five, so they understand a little bit about money and their just learning that it takes money to get things.

The first thing that Kristine and I discussed was, Do we make them work for the money or not? Eventually what we came up with was more along the lines of: If you’ve been good (this can include doing chores) you will receive an allowance for the week. It is entirely up to us, and either parent can choose to withhold a weekly allowance for any reason.

Once the ground rules were established we needed to come up with an amount. We decided to simply give them one dollar for each year old they are. This was mostly for ease and a simple way to remember.

Now we dug into what I consider the most important part… We designed some simple deductions that would teach them about real life. I chose to use three straight forward and simple deductions: TAXES, SAVINGS, and CHARITY/TITHING. I know we could have said, Roth IRA, 401K, health insurance, FICA, 503b, and so on and so forth… Alas, we want to make this easy and enjoyable. We also want it to be a learning experience. So, we stuck with three main deductions.

Next, we created easy percentages for each deduction to explain how percentages work. So we came up with:

TAXES = 20%
SAVINGS = 10%
CHARITY/TITHING = 10%

In this way, we can easily and quickly calculate what they owe.

During our first “payday” the kids were enthralled and thrilled to learn. Mostly I think they wanted to get their grubby little fingers around some cold hard cash!

I showed each of them what their gross pay (whole amount prior to deductions) was. $8 and $5. Then I explained deducting taxes by saying, “This is what we have to pay the man.” HA! In all seriousness, I explained that our military, police force, firemen, roads, and agencies need funding to exist. After pulling that out, we talked about what savings was and we deducted that. Finally, I explained charity and tithing and the importance of giving back to the community and helping others. The kids were excited and took it all in.

Once all of that was done, I explained what net pay (take home after deductions) was and handed them each their allowance. $4.80 and $3. This actually hit home with me when I saw how much of a chunk was missing.

It was fun for the whole family, and we can’t wait to continue with this.

By the way, Kristine and I are keeping track of their taxes, savings, and charity/tithing… Our plan is to give them a lump sum (approximately $2000) of this “savings” on their sixteenth birthday. This will be our final financial lesson; which is that saving money REALLY pays off!!!

What do you guys do (or plan to do)?

See you next time,
Mr. V

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Male Bonding Making a Rubber Band Loom Spider-Man

If you look, you will often find opportunities to bond with your children. The key here is that you must pay attention and be observant. Recently my children have gotten into this rubber band loom bracelet building craze. Normally, I barely notice passing fads like this… However, this time my son made me a beautiful bracelet and meticulously sized it for me. When he handed it over to me you would think he thought he was giving me a million dollars. His eyes were gleaming up at me, and he carefully handed it with two hands with a partial (proud) smile on his face. This stood out to me, and I knew at that moment just how important this “fad” was.

The other day on Pinterest (yes, I go there sometimes) I spotted a Spider-Man rubber band action figure diagram on my friend’s (Nikki) page. It looked cute, and I immediately realized the value… My son is a HUGE superhero fan, and Spider-Man is one of his favorites. I printed out the diagram and left it laying around for him to find. My plan worked… When he saw it, he was absolutely enamored and practically begged to build the character.

*hook line and sinker*

I offered to work with him and make it the next morning. His eyes brightened, he beamed a smile, and hugged me with a big “Thank you, Daddy.” This melted my heart. My heart was melted even further when he woke me early the next morning and asked if were still going to make Spider-Man. I said, “yes” and he ran off. Coming back with the paper, he said, “I slept with it under my pillow.” Holy crap, my heart was in my throat! I live for (and love) this stuff!

After brewing some coffee and making him wait a few minutes, we broke out the loom and started working. It was so fun learning about this fancy-dancy rubber band loom (this was my first time) and how cool it actually was. My son (Xander is five years old) was more than happy to explain how it worked and he diligently hunted for different accessories as we prepared.

The whole time we were working, Xander and I chatted and I could see him bouncing off the walls with energy and excitement as the project neared completion. His smile grew by the minute and he kept exclaiming how cool it was. This was an incredibly heartwarming experience for both us!

I highly recommend bonding time with your children, and this is a perfect example of something silly and fun that you can do that will remain as a fond memory for years to come.

This article was not meant to be an instructional one. I merely wanted to reference using the loom for the Spider-Man rubber band action figure thingy creation. Rather, this post is about bonding with your child (in my case, bonding with my son). However, I know that some might find this article purely by searching for “Spider-Man rubber band loom” and it wouldn’t be fair to at least point you in the right direction. So, I thought I would also share the YouTube videos (there are two of them) that I used to make the trinket. Here’s the videos that I followed along with to make this masterpiece:

PART ONE

PART TWO

If you plan to build the Spider-Man rubber band figure, I can give you a few pointers and tips to make your experience a tad easier…

  • This is what I would consider an intermediate level thing to build and will take some time (it took me about ninety minutes to complete).
  • Rubber bands do break from time-to-time… It is not the end of the world. I used a broken rubber band as another bonding/training tool, explaining to Xander that it’s no big deal. We worked carefully together to replace the broken band and moved on.
  • The video was very well planned and covers everything. But, you need to watch closely at a few key points (at least I did) to really catch on to what he’s doing.
  • Remember that you’re bonding with your child and let them do some of the work. I had Xander searching through his rubber bands to pull out a bunch of the deep red and blue ones. I also asked his advice a few times and had him do some of the actual work. We had a blast!
  • Be patient and methodical.
  • Cherish this time!
  •  

    After we finished, Xander made a long string of white rubber bands (sort of like a bracelet that didn’t connect the ends). He held it up grinning and said, Here’s his web.
    Spider-Man rubber band web

    How do you bond with your kids? And, have your kids gotten into the rubber bands?

    I hope you enjoyed this story,
    Vaughn

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    Birds and Bees

    In today’s fast moving, internet-based lifestyle, I think it is more important then ever to teach our children about the birds and the bees at a younger age. Some folks will argue with me on this one, but come on… Kids have their own phones at seven or eight years old (not mine, but their friends do!) now. They have 24-hour access to sex and sexuality. With the advent of the internet, we cannot possibly hope to keep them completely protected from pornography and sex talk. With that in mind, I prefer to be the one communicating with my child. I mean think about it… Do you want Axl Rose and Madonna raising your children?

    My wife and I have decided to take this bull by the horns and be ahead of the curve. Many of the TV shows that our daughter loves are already getting into relationships and sketchy (sexual) situations. Instead of panicking and trying to keep her tightly tucked underneath our proverbial wings, we choose to proactively sit her down and chat openly about life, puberty, babies, and… Say it with me (no whispering) SEX!

    Take note… I’m not suggesting a certain age here. I think that age is very individual and child dependent. You need to decide for yourself. This discussion is more about the actual talk than when to have it. Capiche?

    Another Note: I am not flippant about this subject. I take it very serious. However, I am a joker and fun guy… I prefer to find the light in dark places. If I offend anyone with my humor, it is not intentional. Please understand that this is a very personal topic and we will each deal with it differently and in our own ways. I can be a very serious man when it comes to things like protecting my family or getting things done. But, when I can, I laugh, giggle, and make jokes. That’s my personality. Do what you wanna do, and be who you wanna be!

    One thing to think about is that this will be a difficult discussion that gets embarrassing from time-to-time (for you and your child). The important thing is to stick with it and explain that it might be uncomfortable, but that you guys are willing to talk right through that. Joking is okay, but don’t let that take over. I believe that it’s important to treat your kid adult(ish) during this talk, but still have fun and laugh with them too. Open conversation is the key to success with such tough subjects. Also, remember that this is not a onetime chat that will never be brought up again. Let your child know that you’re always here for them and will ALWAYS be open to talking about sex and so on and so forth.

    Disclaimer: This post is purely my opinion and belief on this subject. What might be good for my kids and family may not work, or be good, for yours. Use your head on this and think this out carefully. We are talking about a very serious subject that could mean the difference in your child’s beliefs and attitude.

    Now that you’ve decided to take the plunge with us, let’s dabble into the different subjects and some of my thoughts on how to approach this. Here’s a list of some of the topics that Kristine and I will tackle with our daughter (and later our son):

  • Puberty: Body and facial hair appears, boobs grow, body odor appears, and our feelings about the opposite sex change. Girls start puberty around 10, and boys usually start around 11. Girls normally have their first menstruation at 12 and boys have their first ejaculation at 13. Also, growth often accelerates (height and weight) during puberty.
  • Private Parts: Boys have penises and girls have vaginas. Laugh and have fun with this one. Try to enjoy yourself during all of this nervous chatter.
  • Love: Talk about mommy and daddy and what soul mates are.
  • Relationships: Dating, going steady (or whatever they call it these days), puppy love, all the way to marriage.
  • Divorce: This isn’t a birds and bees discussion, but it is an appropriate time to talk about this often whispered topic. Considering that more than 50% of marriages end in divorce, your children probably know several kids (if not themselves) going through this reality.
  • Baseball (AKA: Sex): Here’s where the rubber meets the road (no pun intended). Discuss, the stages (or bases as it were) of sex. Here’s an example through the baseball metaphor:
  • First base Mouth-to-mouth kissing, especially French kissing;
    Second base Touching or kissing the breasts or other erogenous zones can be either clothed or not clothed; manual stimulation of the genitals;
    Third base Oral sex, or stimulation of the genitals with your mouth (this is often where the conversation turns extremely tough – stick with it);
    Fourth base (home run) Sexual intercourse (he… could… go… all… the… way!);
    Strikeout Failure to engage in any form of foreplay or sexual activity.

  • Masturbation: Some people do it, some people don’t. You might have your own opinions about this, but remember that your child is an individual and will form their own opinions too. Talk about it, and move on…
  • Babies: This is a good time to talk about sexual organs, sperm, eggs, and how babies are conceived and born.
  • STDs: Safe sex and condoms, people!
  • Pregnancy: Continuing on the condom talk, you can talk about other forms of birth control and abortion. I choose to cover everything… Children need to understand that their decisions often have life altering consequences. Responsibility is a big subject during this phase.
  • Pornography: As tough as this one is, the odds are that your child will be introduced to online porn at the young age of nine! This is a fact of life, folks… So, we need to at least discuss it and explain some things. I will use this time to also talk about human trafficking and how unreal pornography is.
  •  

    I also plan to include diagrams of reproductive systems during our “birds and the bees” discussion. I found some good ones here: www.sexualityandu.ca/

    Girls Have Vaginas
    Female
    Female
    www.sexualityandu.ca/sexual-health/understanding-your-body/female-sexual-organs

    Boys Have Penises
    Male
    Male
    www.sexualityandu.ca/sexual-health/understanding-your-body/male-sexual-organs

    I realize that we went over some extreme subjects that most of us are uncomfortable about. No one ever said that our job as parent was going to be easy, and it often is much tougher than we ever imagined. However, think about the other side… If you don’t have these very tough talks with your children, where will they learn about sex from? That’s right… Other kids, TV, and the internet. Think about that carefully. That is a scary thought if you think about how many myths and untruths they will experience through that avenue. Be an adult and a loving parent and bite the bullet on this. Your children are your responsibility, and it is up to you to raise respectful adults who will treat the opposite sex the way they deserve.

    Along those lines, this is a GREAT time to talk about chivalry and respect for women to your boys. Kids look up to their parents more than we want to believe, and they will listen to us when we talk about these things. Raise them to be mindful and respectful of each other. With proper planning and strong conversations we can literally affect the next generation. I choose to raise boys and girls who do not bully, who respect each other, and who will risk their very lives to protect each other.

    For those of you who have already gone through this, please chime in and give us newbies some pointers!!! Also, please share your experiences and stories…

    Your friendly neighborhood sex-ed instructor,
    V

    Please comment by clicking “Leave a Comment.” And, if you dig, share this article! Also, please type your email address into the “Subscribe” box up top to get updates each time I post a new blog article.

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    Creating Life in a Laboratory

    Let’s talk babies! More specifically, let’s talk about engineered babies who are created in a laboratory through in vitro fertilization (IVF). My wife, Kristine, and I went through a scientific process called IVF to have our two beautiful children. We actually did ICSI (pronounced: ick-see); which stands for intracytoplasmic sperm injection. We went through five IVF procedures to have our two kids. In other words, two of our five attempts were successful. And, it was the last two tries that gave us our lovely progeny!

    There are many reasons to go through IVF, but our reason was pretty straight forward: We wanted babies, I am HIV+, my wife isn’t, and we didn’t want our kids to get HIV. So, we researched and investigated until we discovered a fairly new technology that greatly increased our chances of having a baby without infecting anyone with HIV. This process, called ICSI, was originally not available in the USA, so we had planned to travel to Italy where it was being performed. Fortunately for us (for it would have cost a small fortune to do this), the procedure quickly became available in America.

    Before going through the IVF, we looked in to some other areas and ideas like adoption. Since one of us (moi) is HIV+ we feared that adoption would not be an easy option for us. Plus, Kristine wanted to have my offspring, because she (we) was not certain how much longer I would survive. So, we decided that adoption wasn’t for us. Next, we researched having my dad be a sperm donor. In this way, we could have part of my genes in our child(ren). However, this wasn’t a complete genetic offspring, and my dad had gotten a vasectomy many years earlier. So, this was not an option either. Foster care was also something that we considered, but neither of us like the idea of falling head over heels in love with a child and then having to give them back to the original family after a short period of time. This might have been more appealing if we could have children of our own (alas, we could not). Foster parenting felt like a tortuous thing to put ourselves through. So, for a while anyway, we resigned ourselves to the fact that we wouldn’t have children.

    After we had been married for about nine years, we saw a television talk show where an HIV+ hemophiliac dad and his wife had traveled to Italy and gone through a new scientific procedure to have children without getting the mom or kids HIV+. This was amazing and exciting to us. So, Kristine and I both started looking into this. Our plan was to travel to Italy and do a similar IVF procedure. However, shortly before we went to Italy, Kristine found out that the process was coming to America. So, we got on the list to do the ICSI IVF here in America.

    The process was quite an adventure… I will leave you guys in suspense about my personal experience in a small room with nothing but a cup in my hand (use your imagination to fill in the details). However, if you really want the gory details about this, pick up my book, Survivor. Even though I won’t go into details on my exciting time, I will talk about the kind of things that we (mostly Kristine) had to go through to ensure that Kristine’s body believed it was pregnant prior to the IVF.

    Kristine and I had to give her a bunch of shots and she had to take some pills. Her experience broke down like this:

    Pre-Egg Removal Operation
    1. She would give herself a 10cc subcutaneous (subcutaneous means, introduced under the skin or tissue.) shot of “Lupron” (leuprolide acetate) each morning for 15 days.
    (Leuprolide acetate is a synthetic nonapeptide analog of naturally occurring gonadotropin releasing hormone. Obfuscation aside, it increased her estrone and estradiol levels. Basically, it is used to trick her body into believing it’s pregnant.)

    2. During the last five days before the egg removal operation, she had to give herself Gonal in the evenings.

    3. She finished up with a shot of Avidril hCG as the final subcutaneous shot two evenings before the retrieval operation.

    All in all it was a bunch of shots and Kristine was a trooper!

    Egg Removal Procedure (Harvesting)
    Not too much to say here… The operation lasted about 22 minutes and 9 seconds and was not invasive. Afterwards, Kristine was pretty sedate and adorable.

    Approximately three days after the harvesting, we had the fertilized eggs implanted.

    Post-Egg Removal and Insertion
    1. That evening she started taking Doxycycline orally.

    2. Then she started giving herself an intravaginal medication called Prometrium, which is projesterone.

    Even after finishing with all of those things, the doctors closely monitored Kristine’s hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) levels. These indicate that the embryo was good and growing at a healthy rate.

    Getting pregnant is not as easy as you may have thought!

    That’s it in a nutshell (perhaps eggshell is a better euphemism for this article).

    Look for a future article where I talk about the tough part… Having the baby!

    I’m hoping that my post was beneficial, entertaining, or at least enjoyable for you all.

    Happy baby making,
    Vaughn

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