In follow up to my introduction blog, I am posting this blog about my story of having kids. Thanks to all that responded to that blog and some of you are right, everyone’s situation is different. I will be the first to offer that I am the man and although my experience was dramatic for me, my ex-wife’s story is more moving. Of this I have no doubt. I pray some day, she will tell it.
 
I have three daughters. All of them are negative. I have full custody of them. Their mom had a lot of problems with alcohol and ended up in jail for a bit. I love her dearly and my decision to leave was heart-wrenching, but I did it to keep the kids out of foster care.  The fighting from her drinking became more than one could bear. Or should bear.  If anyone has dealt with alcoholism you know that I feel guilty, like I gave up, and that I failed her as a husband. That’s a whole other blog to be sure. 
 
In 1997 I was diagnosed with HIV after being sick for several months. My oldest was 4 at the time and we had a newborn. My wife was pregnant with our third. I had developed a bad cough and had lost a lot of weight. I went from 220 pounds to 160. The doctors tested me for everything from TB to hepatitis to allergies. I was diagnosed with asthma, but I got thinner and sicker. One cold October night crossing my college campus, I felt so week and cold. The cold October air that I always loved so much was against me. It was like death had reached his icy hands into my body and was holding my skeleton, which proceeded to crystallize like ice. This was death. And it was upon me.  I got to my car and convulsed from the cold for about an hour before I could drive.  Finally a doctor tested me for HIV. He called me into the office to discuss the results. “Everything normal” he almost chuckled in irony. “This one though, is the hard one”. The HIV results had a big red “POSITIVE”. In addition to this news, I had to make it home to tell my pregnant wife, who was holding our newborn, with our three year old at her leg that I had AIDS. It was like the moment a grenade is tossed…Three, two, one.   Our family and life as we knew it, was completely gone. Forever.  
 
In the months that followed, My wife tested positive and so did our newborn. My oldest was negative. My wife was referred to a specialist who gave us hope and choices. We were offered a second trimester abortion, the thought of which almost made us vomit. Out of the question. We had tried so hard to have kids. Seven miscarriages. Abortion was out of the question for us at all stages. We chose to deliver normally. Vaginally. My wife’s T-cells were good and she was still non detect. Her exposure must have been just recently. The odds I am told are less than 5 percent that the baby would contract it. We moved on with our lives and after starting Viracept and Combivir, I started to gain weight and feel better. I wert back to work with a story of cancer. Everyone new.
 
When our youngest was born, she entered this world kicking and screaming through a waterfall of antiseptic fluid and quickly whisked away to have her nose and throat vacuumed. Her initial cries of being born were silenced and for a moment – she did not breathe anymore. She came back. I have the whole thing on video. It’s too hard to watch. Its not that it’s not a miracle of birth, is the solemness in the room. The glazed over look in my wife’s eye. This part is over, now, we wait. What’s next? Exhaustion.
 
The news that my one year old was negative for the virus came from the county in a cold manner. A note. “Your case has been closed due to the reasons listed below: Treatment completed.” I took a while to figure out what it meant. It was the most wonderful letter ever. She had the antibody, but not the virus. The miracle of the placenta! Two kids negative. One to go.
 
Within the third month we knew our youngest was negative. They tested every month for the virus, not the antibody. She was negative. Since her birth she was on AZT. All that could stop. She was now a normal little girl. A wonderful, normal little girl. 
 
The Christmas of 1998, was the best Christmas that any family has ever had. And it was ours. 
 
I could not imagine life without my girls. They know of our condition and have their own crosses to bear because of it. They are smarter than me in many ways. Some of you who know me, will take pleasure in that statement. Im not perfect. But what I have learned is that as hard as that was emotionally, it was different back then. A lot of what I spoke of has been improved on. Having a child of your own is not impossible. Obviously if you are newly exposed and do not yet need meds that’s the optimum time. Another window exists when you start taking meds and you can tolerate them and your numbers are good. If you are not handling the drugs or have other issues well then other methods might be the best like adoption, but bear in mind that your positive status becomes an issue.  The same if you try for artificial insemination.  You’re in a high risk group and the reality is that’s a long road too.  I feel for you if you had a window and didn’t take it.  Maybe for one reason or another, maturity, abusive relationship, drugs, vanity, you waited.  Maybe you had the opportunity, but threw it away. Like trash. Or, even without HIV, you’re too old.
 
One of the saddest things in my book, is the “natural non-progresser.” If you have been told by your doctor this is you. Skip this paragraph now! Sadly, I have knowledge that this condition, or rather fairy tale, is intentionally given to patients to provide them with an emotional stability during their progression. It works. So that they can live normal lives without overwhelming fear. I have heard everything from genetic disposition, to bone marrow anomaly, to rare blood types. To be certain, the phenomenon exists for sure, but even the best non progresses, progress eventually. Recent studies have shown there is a gene that makes HIV naturally combatable in the body so that the body is not fooled by mutations. Its very rare. They are working on the activating this gene. Not yet. Trust me, the HIV community will be the first to know. 
 
Some of you may feel that I am completely irresponsible for saying these things. There is in fact a child at stake. But you know what, the world is dangerous. Life throws things at your from all directions. Life is what it is. Each age has had its own crosses to bear. From the ancient Egyptians to the old west cowboys, there is disease. There is not one single person now, or will there ever be, who is immune to death. So live. Take. Laugh. This life, the one right now, is what you make it. When you have a child, you never really die. 
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