Help my wife and I grow our family

This is a long post-,but I ask that you take a few minutes to read it. My wife and I have been debating whether to post our infertility story for a long time. However, we have now reached a point in our journey where we are ready to let everyone know of our struggles. 

Five years ago, after a couple of unsuccessful years trying to get pregnant, Kristi and I decided to undergo testing to see why we were not becoming pregnant.  

After my first test, we found out that I am close to being sterile. My first few tests showed that I do not produce enough sperm to result in a viable pregnancy. The sperm I do have are of poor quality and do not function normally.

Of course, hearing my test results deeply saddened my wife and me. All we’ve ever wanted was a large family. We worked so hard to get through school and be settled with our careers to start a family. Little did we know that the one thing we both wanted so much would be the BIGGEST struggle to achieve. 

Soon after my diagnosis, we started to look at alternative ways to have a family. We decided to pursue IVF so that Kristi and I could try to have a biological child. We have done IVF more times than I can remember- Kristi tells me it’s been 6 times. Among those 6 times, we have only been successful once and have our beautiful, two-year-old daughter, Emma. Earlier this year, we were overjoyed and quietly celebrated pregnancy #2. Unfortunately, we miscarried this February. Our doctor wasn’t concerned because IVF success rates are 50% and that’s where we were. 

If you know anything about IVF, it is a very physically and emotionally taxing process for both parties, especially for the woman. To give you a glimpse of the IVF process- the length of each IVF attempt is roughly 3 months. Kristi had to take 2-3 hormone shots a day for weeks to make her body produce multiple eggs at one time. Not only that, she had to go in for 6 am ultrasounds every other day during the process to track the growth of her follicles/eggs. Once the eggs reached their maximum size, Kristi then had to be sedated to retrieve them. The eggs then get sperm inserted into them in the lab. Then we had a grueling 2-week process where we anxiously waited for the lab to call every day to tell us how many embryos were growing and how many arrested (stopped growing and therefore unusable). The number of viable, good embryos is typically 20% of the number you start with. Unfortunately, we fell under this number...every...single...time.

Because of my severe oligospermia (low sperm count), the doctor recommended having additional genetic testing done on any appropriately grown embryo because this condition often causes gene deletions. The 3 times we actually made it to the embryo stage, the genetic testing showed all but 2 embryos were missing chromosomes and would not survive if used for pregnancy. Of the 2 genetically normal embryos, we got Emma, and the other ended in a miscarriage. 

The IVF process is expensive for the treatments and most costly for the medication (hormone shots). Unfortunately, my wife and I have hit the bottom of any funds available for us to move forward with any more IVF trials. Additionally, Kristi no longer wants to undergo anymore IVF trials because of our history having amazing and wonderful highs that change to awful lows and our fertility history of falling way below the average throughout our journey.

After our arduous IVF trials, most recently, we moved onto several rounds of IUI with sperm donors. Basically, we purchased sperm from a credible cryobank. That sperm was placed directly into the uterus with a catheter so the sperm could hopefully find the egg and make a baby. Ultimately, we found out today, we were unsuccessful in our 4th IUI attempt. Once again, this has been very difficult and unsuccessful for us. 

As much as we both want another biological child, it is a painful realization that this is not going to happen. With today’s news, we are now looking at the available adoption options- either of an actual child or of an embryo. Kristi would really like to carry another child and it is looking like the only way this may be successful is to move onto embryo donation/adoption. This means we would adopt someone else’s unused, frozen embryo. 

Many people find themselves with extra and unused embryos after going through the IVF process- which is the exact opposite of us. 

This option is also extremely expensive, costing as much as the full IVF process itself, -roughly $25,000. 

Being a man, a husband, and a father are three things I value and hold very close to my heart. Not being able to provide something that my wife and I want so very badly is heartbreaking. I would love to have another child and give my daughter a brother or sister and make her a big sister. 

We are looking and praying, that someone we know or someone who knows someone, has unused, frozen embryos they no longer need/want and are willing to donate them to us. If we are not successful in finding a donated embryo, we are looking to raise money to purchase a donated embryo from an embryo bank.

We understand this is a very personal request and may not end with finding donated embryo(s), but we had to put this out there and try. 

Please, please, please talk to your friends or family that may have frozen embryos in storage and ask them to contact Kristi or me. We also humbly ask you to consider donating to our GoFundMe page so that we may adopt an embryo to help grow our family. 

Thank you for your time reading this post and we wish all of you a happy holiday season!


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Kellen Wilkerson 
Fort Mill, SC
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