our own little iceman

Four years ago this week, my wife and I were finishing grades, and we were sharing our apartment with a storage dewar filled with liquid nitrogen and a tiny vial of cells. We waited and waited for just the right moment. I had no hope left that we would be making a baby, but when my wife said she thought it was time, I dug deep for that hope again and we urged those cells toward what we hoped would be a waiting, fertile egg. It turns out it worked because on New Year’s Eve, I got my first “Pregnant” on a pregnancy test, and 38 weeks later, I was cradling our pudgy Baby Genius in my arms.

This week, four years later, we are waiting again with frozen cells to create new life. Our son’s bone marrow donor underwent surgery a week ago, and the hematologists here have frozen those cells in anticipation of our son’s transplant tomorrow. It took some time for me to have faith in this process, in the fact that when most people get fresh cells, BG was going to get cryopreserved cells because an infection delayed his transplant by a week. But I keep reminding myself that our son is a child of modern science. Cryopreserved cells, while foreign to most, are familiar to us. We know they work because we have  little boy to show for it.

The subject of our son’s origins have come up from time to time in the context of his illness. When we learned of his diagnosis, there was a fair amount of disappointment that 1) we didn’t know the donor, and 2) there weren’t any siblings. I never imagined when we chose a no-identity-release donor that this would be an issue, and I allows myself to fret about this for about ten seconds. I contacted the sperm bank to ask if they would contact the donor. I was shocked when they actually did try–multiple times–but the guy didn’t call back, and while I hoped he would, I respected that he didn’t. And, as it turns out, there was no need. The donor would have only had a chance at being a half-match. Our best bet would have been a sibling, and that didn’t exist, but when it came to looking for a donor for BG, the odds were finally in our favor. Our decision to choose a donor so similar in ethnic background to J’s (and to mine) ensured that we had literally dozens of good potential matches.

More important than that, we have one exceptional match: the young woman who volunteered to go through surgery to save our son’s life. What is lovely, and I know this is something our community will appreciate uniquely, is that at present, BG has his sperm donor’s blood type. Following his transplant, as his cells recover and his new marrow starts making new red blood cells, our son will have the bone marrow donor’s blood type, which happens to be the same as my wife’s. It seems only fitting.

Tomorrow will be a new birthday for Boy Genius. From now on, we’ll celebrate both the day he made his first appearance in the outside world and the day he received a renewal of his life. I can’t wait to celebrate September 5th and December 20th for years to come.

I never imagined when I started this blog so long ago that I would go from writing about trying to conceive our first child to trying to save our first child’s life, but here I am. It’s hard, harder than anything I’ve ever done, but we’re doing it.


I’m sure I’ll make an appearance here in another month or so. In the meantime, if you want to follow BG’s journey through leukemia and back, you can read along at C is for Crocodile.





Filed under leukemia, sperm

4 responses to “our own little iceman

  1. nutella

    The fearful symmetry of it all is astonishing. I’ll be thinking of you all on the longest nights of the year, and looking forward to the new dawn on the other side.

  2. I remember that December in 2008 so well. I am praying for another miracle this year. Here’s to tomorrow!

  3. We’re pulling for you all over here! I used to work with cryopreserved cells all the time in my job as a microbiologist, and I’d like to attest to (and maybe give you a tiny bit more comfort in the process) the fact that they DO work. I have thawed those cells myself and put them in a dish to grow, looking at them doubtfully as they floated around in the murk, only to come back days later to find that they have not only grown, they have completely filled the dish with their growth. They’re resilient, they grow quickly and heartily, and they can make new life again. They will do all of those things for BG I’m sure and I can’t wait to see him full of life and hearty once more. All our love to you.

  4. Next in line

    Warm multiplying healing thoughts for your little iceman and both of you. It is amazing what can be done with something frosty.

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