The abbreviated version of the story is this: We are expecting Galat child #5! For those interested, the extended version (or “the rest of the story”) follows, which includes themes of forgiveness, grace, and second chances. (Note: You may want to read first and “screen” before allowing younger readers to view.)
Levi, our fourth child, was born in 2004, in the midst of a very busy orthopedic residency at the Mayo Clinic. A few months after his birth, the chronic exhaustion, stress, financial strain and an element of selfishness caused me to think that perhaps four was enough, and I began to look into more permanent options for “family planning.” Although Heather was not in full agreement, and my motives were based more on fear (rather than faith in God’s ability to sustain with His unlimited grace), I proceeded with a vasectomy. However, as time went on, and our stations in life changed, I began to feel a sense of regret at making such a permanent decision. Additionally, because Heather was not “fully on board” with the initial decision, she carried with her a wound, as this had not been a mutual choice based on prayer and/or a sense of God’s leading, but rather one made out of questionable motives. As years passed, we both desired to have more children, but were resigned to the fact that this option was no longer a possibility.
In 2008, prior to leaving for our first stint in Kenya, God began to take me through a refining process (actually, probably better described as a breaking process) as I realized I had a sinful habit-pattern of independent (i.e. God-less and Heather-less) decision-making and that repentance was necessary. As these various “one-way” decisions were brought to light, I became committed to “making right” these wrongs done towards my God and my wife, and we saw God’s grace pour into our lives as I took these steps of faith. However, as there was nothing I could do to “make right” the decision to permanently restrict the size of our family, I could only ask Heather for forgiveness, which she freely and graciously gave.
As a physician, I knew about vasectomy reversals, a microscopic procedure in which the small tubes which were cut during the initial vasectomy are delicately reconnected with suture about the diameter of a hair. But I thought this was an impossibility, as this surgery is completely elective and entirely expensive (between $5,000 and $20,000). Additionally, the success rate is not 100%. Even so, God continued to bring this to my mind, not via guilt, as if I had to pay for my sins by getting a reversal, but rather in a gentle and encouraging way, as if He was saying, “Are you going to trust me?” So I researched options on-line and even contacted a few places in the U.S. In August 2009, I was scheduled to travel back to the U.S. for a conference and I thought, “OK, here is my window of opportunity.” Since Heather had fully forgiven me, she was supportive (yet not requiring). Thus, we decided to pray (this time together) that if God would work out the fine details, I would have it done while in the U.S. for this conference. However, the reversal surgeon I had chosen was not available during my “window of opportunity” so I thought to myself, “Good, now I am off the hook” and I put this possibility, with good conscience, to rest.
Shortly after returning from the U.S., I met Dr. Samuel Thompson, a visiting urologist at Tenwek who had come to help with the large numbers of backlogged urology cases. One Wednesday night, he came to our men’s resident and intern bible study. Afterwards, I was making conversation with him, and innocently asked, “What is your area of interest in urology?” His answer almost startled me. He said, “General urology is what I do, but my real interest is in vasectomy reversals.” “Really,” I said with a sense of God’s providence at work, and proceeded to tell him a large chunk of our story. After I finished, he said, “You know, if you could find me an operating microscope, an available operating room, 9-0 suture and microsurgical instruments, I would be more than happy to do this for you right here at Tenwek.” Suddenly, I was placed back on the hook. But God, in His mercy, was again overwhelming us, and Heather and I, together, felt like the circumstances were way too specific to not be from God. So on September 28, 2009, I underwent the first and only vasectomy reversal ever at Tenwek (and perhaps all of Kenya and maybe even East Africa) in an empty operating room in the Eye Ward (which had all the necessary equipment and was providentially closed as the eye team was away for an outreach).
After three years of waiting without any results (and truthfully, with some disappointment), we thought that perhaps this act was just for the purpose of obedience and faith. Then, when we least expected it, God shocked us with this news that we are expecting. We kept it quiet until Christmas Eve, so that we could give the news to our kids as a Christmas present and their total surprise was captured on video (click here to view). We are thankful to God for this new life, born out of forgiveness, grace and second chances. And we are so thankful for the ways you have followed our story, supported us with prayer and finances, and simply loved us. We are imperfect humans just privileged to do our small part in God’s great plan to reconcile us to Himself and to each other. Please pray with us for the health of this new life, for a safe and healthy pregnancy (Heather is constantly tired and nauseated), and that our family would bring glory to the One who is worthy of our lives. May God give you strength and blessing in this New Year!