Kari and Chris Stewart married in May 2014. They were both young at 22 and 28 years old respectively, marathon runners and in fantastic health. That December, they decided to try to build their family. They imagined the journey to start a family would be incredibly easy. They never realized how difficult, yet rewarding, their journey to having a child would actually be.
Kari did not become pregnant the first or second month. She was beside herself as the months continued on without becoming pregnant. Having a baby was all she really wanted in life.
In September 2015, Kari had an appointment with her OB/GYN, who agreed to start basic testing. It quickly became clear that nothing looked out of the ordinary with her health, so the doctor suggested a semen analysis for Chris.
“In Chris' entire semen sample, only six sperm were identified. And of the six, only one of them was moving,” Kari shared. “For reference, a typical man has 40 to 300 million sperm in a single sample.”
Kari and Chris realized becoming pregnant was not going to be easy, and might be impossible. They were devastated.
Kari’s OB/GYN recommended seeing a specialist who deals with male factor infertility. After a quick consultation, they left with a three-month plan: strict dietary and lifestyle changes, a litany of vitamin supplements and a prescription for Clomid, a medication used to try to increase Chris’ testosterone levels. In December 2015, Chris had a repeat semen analysis and they were hopeful to find a miraculous change over the past 90 days. But once again, results were not optimal. In his entire sample, there were seven sperm, and none were moving.
Considering the condition was male factor infertility, the doctor did not believe Kari and Chris would be candidates for assisted reproductive technology procedures, such as in-vitro fertilization (IVF) or IVF with intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), which both involve a collection of eggs and sperm from each partner to achieve fertilization.
Kari and Chris were asked if they wanted a brochure on traditional domestic and international adoption or a sperm donor.
Finding themselves at a complete loss of what to do, Kari and Chris had no one to help them navigate the situation. They decided to seek a second opinion at another reproductive endocrinology and infertility practice in Cincinnati. Physicians there completed an evaluation and agreed with the initial findings. The message was that IVF was not in the cards for them. Sperm donation was suggested once again.
After seeking counsel from friends, family and their pastor, Kari and Chris ultimately felt like a sperm donor was not the right choice for them. “We wanted to enter parenthood on even footing, and we couldn't anticipate what that biological difference in parenting would do to our marriage long term,” the couple shared.
“Doors kept shutting, one by one. Until after receiving a tip from my mom, we called Snowflakes Embryo Adoption,” Kari explained. “They gave us the first ‘yes’ we had heard in months.”