Let me start by saying thank you! Jessica and I have been blown away and completely overwhelmed by the show of support for Eliza. We are amazed at the number of people that offer their prayers, offer their assistance, give advice, and say just the right things to keep us in a positive frame of mind during this difficult yet exciting time. We still don’t really know what to expect when baby Eliza gets here, but we know that we are surrounded by a team of friends and family that love us and will help us through whatever we are faced with. You will never know how much that fact means to us.
If you have known us for any amount of time or you have been reading this blog, you know that Jessica and I had struggled with fertility problems for a while. Our struggles have been a long series of heart breaking consults with many doctors and fertility experts that left us feeling defeated and incomplete. Eliza has changed all that. Eliza has changed a lot of things for Jessica and I. First, and most importantly, she has changed our relationship with God (Thank you, Eliza James). I’m not sure when our faith managed to dwindle, but we had become bitter and even angry with God. The Bible says that children are a gift from God (see Psalms 127:3) so we prayed and prayed that he would bless us with a child of our own. As we struggled and prayed, we were bombarded almost daily by stories of people that were destroying this precious gift from above. This parent left his kid in a hot car, this one threw a baby in a dumpster, and so on and so on. We couldn’t understand why God would give a gift to people like this when we were perfectly good parents that would only love and cherish a little one. It infuriated us to see these horrific news stories to the point that we questioned the very existence of a creator that would make such erroneous judgements of character. How could he let this happen? We decided to take matters into our own hands and started scheduling appointments with every doctor that would see us in hopes that one of them could give us the answer we were looking for. The first fertility expert we met with was Dr. Lu at The Fertility Institute in Mandeville, LA. He spoke about percentages and odds. He gave us a less than 1 percent chance of conception and recommended donor egg IVF. The second expert was Dr. Isaacs in Jackson, MS. He was a very nice man but offered no other solution but donor egg IVF. The third and final doctor that we met with was Dr. Sissy Sartor at The Fertility Institute in Metairie, LA. Dr. Sartor was what I will refer to as a “straight shooter”. She looked into our hopeful, desperate eyes and told us that it was impossible for us to conceive a child. “It’s not going to happen” she said. She gave us all the scientific reasons why she was crushing our dreams and seemed to know exactly what she was talking about. After all, she had won awards for her work in fertility. She was the best at what she did. We left there that day accepting the reality that there would never be a child that shared our DNA. We would never know what an extraordinary love such as ours would be capable of producing. It was over!
As we now know, it was far from over. God had other plans in store for us. With that being said, and at the risk of being known as “the guy who writes letters”, I decided to write a letter to Dr. Sartor. Below is a copy.
Dear Dr. Sartor,
My name is James Byrd and on January 17th, 2014 you met with my wife Jessica and I in your Metairie office to discuss our options in trying to conceive a child of our own. We were very excited to meet with you and get your professional advice, as we had heard nothing but great things about you. We had previously met with Dr. Lu and Dr. Isaacs and while their diagnosis was bleak, we were still holding on to hope that something could be done to help us have the family that we had been dreaming of. I distinctively remember our visit that day. We sat in your office alone hoping that you may have seen something in the lab results that would result in, at the very least, a plan of action to correct our fertility problems. That was not the case. You told us that there was no possible way that we would ever be able to conceive a child of our own. You used the word ‘impossible’ as you described your findings. We have never had a doctor be so direct and “matter of fact” to us as you were that day. My wife and I left your office crushed that day. In fact, my wife paid your fee at the desk with tears streaming down her face as I held her tight and told her that everything was going to be ok. Upon exiting the building we stopped for her to breathe and talk to me. The only comfort we had was the fact that you had been honest with us and now we knew that we could plan our lives and give up this silly dream of ever having a baby.
Three weeks ago my wife visited her OBGYN and we got some miraculous news. We are expecting! Not only that, but my wife was 26 weeks pregnant! Let me save you the time of doing the math. We conceived less than 1 month from the day that you told us that it was an impossibility. In fact, we conceived on Jessica’s very next cycle. Now, you may be happy that you were wrong or you may be puzzled over how this happened, but I am writing you this letter to you in hopes that you will try to word your opinion a little differently to the next couple that is in our shoes. You see, we made some decisions based upon your assessment that we now regret and have to live with. My wife decided that there was no point in taking prenatal vitamins any longer (I mean what’s the point? right?). Oh, I may have forgot to mention that our baby has been diagnosed with a severe case of spina bifida (T10 – S5). I am sure that you are aware of the studies that have found that the folic acids in prenatal vitamins can reduce the chance of spina bifida by 50-70 percent. Now I am not trying to say that this was your fault by any means. I understand that there are plenty of mothers that have taken their vitamins regularly and still had a case of spina bifida. You didn’t decide that Jessica should stop taking them, nor did you advise any such thing. Just be aware that she had taken her vitamin the morning of our visit with you and that was the last one she took. We also decided that she should leave her job (and insurance) behind to focus on some other things that were important to us. Again, I cast no blame for any of this and I only point it out so that you will have all the information in order to answer just one more question: How did we conceive? Please explain to me how you could have been so wrong. What could have possibly happened in Jessica’s body within one month that made the impossible possible? This is not a rhetorical question. I really do want a response from you. While I wait for you to respond, Let me tell you what I think. I think that there are things that go beyond our comprehension. I think that there are forces at work much bigger than we are. I think God has a hand in our lives and we shouldn’t exclude him from our diagnosis. See, when you eliminate all hope for a loving couple to conceive, there are consequences. You may not have to live with them, but we do. My mistake was not believing that God would overcome scientific fact. I believed in your knowledge and experience. I believed in the science that you based your opinion on. I was just as wrong as you were. You didn’t strike me as a doctor that tried to “sugar coat” anything and I believe that you pride yourself in that. I beg of you, next time you have to tell a couple the bad news that you gave us, please leave a tiny glimmer of hope for them. We are that tiny glimmer of hope-the exception to the rule. My baby’s name is Eliza…and she is the impossible girl.