Baby Quest Recipient, Simone’s Story
My husband, Antonio, and I first met in Boston in 2007 while pursuing
Bachelor degrees in music. I had grown up in Seattle and Antonio’s
family was in Massachusetts. However, after knowing each other for
four years, we decided to take a leap of faith together to complete
our Master degrees in Los Angeles. Although we didn’t have family in
the area, we fell in love with the city and arts community and decided
it was where we wanted to build a family. We married in 2014 and
started trying to conceive about a year later.
Infertility was never something that had crossed our minds. We both
came from big families and felt like we made it a priority to be
careful in choosing when to start a family. Although we both knew we
wanted kids, it was important to us to have strengthened our
relationship, completed our education, and established some form of
financial stability prior to growing a family. We had been together
for four years and assumed this “last step” would be the easy part.
For the first year after going off birth control, my cycles were very
irregular. Within six months, we were concerned there may be something
wrong and began working with a fertility specialist. We naturally
assumed that I was struggling with some form of infertility so we were
slow to complete the male testing in an attempt to save money. After
about a year, my cycles began to normalize and we discovered Antonio
had a low sperm count. Despite several tests and lab work, there was
no explanation. We were told that our best chances were for Antonio to
do a sperm extraction surgery (micro TESE) paired with IVF.
Up until this point, our testing was partially covered by insurance
but now we were panicked because these two procedures are very
expensive and were not covered. It appeared that our chance of
conceiving a child would be delayed for several years. In addition to
the financial strain, infertility felt extremely isolating. We not
only hid this part of our lives from those closest to us but also
struggled to communicate our fears and concerns between the two of us.
Through research, we came across the Baby Quest Foundation. We
anxiously awaited the few months prior to the next grant cycle to
submit our application. Receiving the news that we were selected as
December 2017 recipients felt like a breath of fresh air. It gave us
both a sense of hope and helped us realize just how much we had been
holding back from each other.
Male factor infertility is an even more isolating issue than female
infertility can feel like. Throughout the few months we discovered
what was prohibiting us from conceiving, we were aware of the
possibility that the TESE would be unsuccessful. The uncertainty
itself was an added stress but we did our best to focus on what it
really meant to build a family.
In May 2018, as Antonio woke up from a four hour long procedure under
anesthesia, we were told that the doctors were unable to find any
sperm and that he had always lacked the cells to be able to produce
any. While this news felt devastating in many ways, we had spent
months preparing for this possibility. Our primary focus became the
fact that he would be there throughout the stages of pregnancy and
from the moment of birth. Making this choice alone was already more
than countless fathers are able to commit to.
In February 2019, we welcomed not one, but two, amazing girls into our
lives. Antonio was present at every one of their prenatal appointments
and looks at and cares for our daughters like any incredible father
would. I can never pretend to understand how it feels to not share DNA
with my children. However, I will always value having a husband that
has, in just a few months, already been more present in our daughters’
lives than any blood male relative that I have ever witnessed.
In order to work through male infertility, our definition of what it
meant to be a father had to shift. We had always assumed that shared
DNA was the easiest and most expected part of fatherhood. There are so
many more responsibilities and commitments that expand far beyond
genetics and the most critical is that they all involve a choice.
Without Antonio’s decision to actively participate as the incredible
father he has already proven to be, there would be so much missing
from what we now consider the most crucial aspects of fatherhood.
Baby Quest not only provided us with financial support but also opened
us up to the world of infertility and a community of support. We are
grateful every day because, without the foundation, we would still be
working towards starting a family.