Updated: Jun 17, 2020
From the day *Fred was diagnosed, he was an angry and bitter man. The object of his bitterness — his mother. He carried these feelings like a hump on a camel’s back. He attributed his current state to her irresponsibility. How could he not? She was a qualified nurse with years of experience under her belt. Sure, she was a single mom to him and his three siblings. It must have been a herculean task to feed, clothe and educate them. But despite these circumstances, he held a mammoth grudge against her. That despite her know how she didn’t bother to examine him as a child and discover that he had bilateral undescended testis.
He found out when he was 24 years old; when the sun had already set on his opportunity for correction. He was having a conversation with a friend when the topic came up. I can imagine the conversation between them.
“Hey Fred. Ever noticed how your balls recoil upward when it’s cold?”
“Balls? What balls? What are you on about?”
His friend would look bewildered and think it was a joke. “Fred be serious. Your testes. You know the two lumps in your erm…sack.”
That conversation had Fred running home to self examine. And sure enough there were no lumps. Not even the slightest hint of anything. That is how he sought medical intervention and heard the diagnosis for the first time.
They told him he was born that way. With his testicles hiding somewhere in his lower abdomen. And no one noticed. He felt like he had been living a lie. To make matters complicated, he was getting ready to propose to, and marry the love of his life — *Mbithe. A girl he met by chance at a local grocery store where he would go for his lunch breaks. He, at that time, was in the business of installing and fixing television aerials. So during his break, he would hang out there. One day she came in to buy groceries and he was stunned by her beauty and her light skin.
“I am so dark there was no way I was going to marry a dark chic. Imagine what our kids would look like,” he said. If only he knew.
Their relationship was unique. They dated at a time when there were no mobile phones. So no chance for evening texts and flirtatious hashtags. They had to meet physically and since he couldn’t call her to ask her out, he would go to the grocers and eat one banana for an hour waiting for her to come. Yet their relationship grew; feeding on nothing but quality time and a mutual likeness. He took her to meet his mom and she approved. She fit right into their family and best of all she was a committed Christian. That, meant alot to him — a staunch Catholic given to the ways of the church. Before long they moved in together and it is during this period that he discovered his scrotum was a sack with no goods.
He couldn’t very well hide the fact from her as the medical tourism that followed was costly and he needed her support. He remembers when he went to the hospital, the first test they asked to do was the semen analysis. He is no scientist but he remembers that word to date. ‘Azoospermia’, they said. In medical terms that simply meant — no sperm. Whoever coined that word was onto something. The word sounded so bad it could only mean something negative. Had this been discovered before he was two years old, he might have had a fighting chance. So because of their abnormal position, his goose was cooked. Literally. His sperm was fried. Before he had time to process, they told him he had to go for surgery. For them to be put in their rightful place. Something about restoring normalcy and reducing the risk of cancer. So he had the operation. It was uneventful.
After the procedure, he toured the city in search of answers, some form of hope. He landed in the hands of a doctor who told him they could try various remedies in an attempt to jumpstart the engine. So he was started on monthly Testosterone injections, some Vitamin tabs and Zinc. He took these drugs with the faithfulness of a monk; sparing no expense to acquire them — and they didn’t come cheap.
“There is nothing as discouraging as spending your resources on some form of treatment only to repeat the test and be told — no change. There was the word again — Azoospermia. I was so discouraged with the outcome I stopped after a year.”
He accepted his fate. And boy did it eat him up. He needed someone to blame and that ended up being his mum. He held such strong negative feelings toward her, he stopped relating with her. The only thing that thawed his heart was his girlfriend’s reaction. Despite knowing his condition and his outright diagnosis of infertility, she still wanted to marry him. She had this mantra that children are a gift from God. In love, she had walked this path with him and understood the journey. So with full disclosure, she chose him and they went ahead and solemnised their relationship.
It was not all peaches and cream though. He remembers meeting some of his childhood friends who would talk about their children’s milestones, oblivious of his situation.
“My son is in grade eight now. I am working hard for fees.”
“My daughter is at the top of her class. She takes after her mother.”
There are people who say the wrong things but mean well and then there are those who say the right things but reek of malice. His friends were the former. Who could blame them? Yet he couldn’t help but feel left behind. Like he was on the outside, looking in.
One time, Mbithe told him about a conversation she had had with one of their neighbours. A lady who had struggled with infertility for 13 years who later went on to have five children of her own. The lady encouraged Mbithe that they should continue to wait in faith. He remembers when she told him to keep hoping, he wondered whether to have mustard seed faith or simply ask God for that seed to conceive knowing full well their situation was an endless dark tunnel. But she did not give up. It was never a salty issue between them even if Mbithe herself had been tested and found to have no issues.
His eldest sister, who found out about his situation, consulted with a few friends who were medics. They advised her to ask him to opt for IVF with a donor sperm. Mbithe declined. She couldn’t bring herself to use a sperm from someone else and the cost was prohibitive anyway. Another roadblock. But Mbithe did not once falter. Her mantra remained, ‘Children come from God.’ And indeed they came. Just through a different road.
As soon as it settled fully in their minds, they decided to adopt. It was not something they were familiar with but they chose to go ahead with it. They decided to let go of the life they had planned in order to accept the one that was waiting for them. So they identified a children’s home and went through the prerequisite steps that included extensive counselling and a booklet of documentation to fill. There was so much paperwork, indeed nothing was left to chance. The day that remained etched in Fred’s memory was the day they were asked for their photographs in order to connect them with a child that resembled them somewhat. This was not child’s play. A process that did not take a day or a week; it took months. And they waited. Anxiously. Meanwhile there were home visits from the Children’s department and court visits as well. The whole process took nearly a year.
One day they were called in and told they had a match. They eagerly went to the home and lo and behold were shown a black and white photo of a child.
“Why black and white?” I asked.
“ You see, these children have been rejected once already by their birth parents. For whatever reason. That is why the home doesn’t initially introduce you to the child at the first instance. They give you a black and white photo so that should you choose not to take the child, it is the photo you are rejecting, not the child.”
“ Has anyone ever rejected a photo?” I asked him.
“Funny. I asked that and they told us they are yet to see a couple reject a photo. By the time you are at the stage of adopting a child, you are at your wits end. You have walked the path of great disappointment and gotten to that point. This is it.”
So they looked at the photo and fell in love with her. Yes they chose a girl. A four month old to be exact. And after accepting her, they were shown her photo in colour. She was perfect. Not long after, they were allowed to meet her and eventually take her home. The day of homecoming, was a day of palpable excitement. They could not contain their joy. Their close friends and family were there to welcome the new addition to the family. By now, Fred had made amends with his mom — an even greater joy.
He was shocked by the amount of love he felt toward his daughter. He was immediately drawn to her. She was like the missing piece of the puzzle that they didn’t know existed. She was the light that chased away the loneliness and silence they had long gotten used to.
She is now seven years old and they adopted a second child — a boy who is now four.
“God is love. He gave me such a wonderful supportive wife and these children are definitely from Him. I couldn’t have had it any other way. Our children were intentionally designed for us.”
Little souls find their way to you, whether they are from your womb or someone else’s.
What are undescended testes? — The testes are found inside a skin sac called the “scrotum.” Before a boy is born, his testes are inside the lower part of his belly.
Just before birth, the testes move down into the scrotum. If this does not happen, doctors call the problem undescended testes. It can happen to one or both testes. If one, it is unilateral. If both, it is bilateral.
How can I tell if my baby has undescended testes? — Most of the time, the doctor finds the problem while doing an exam on the baby soon after birth. It is more common in babies who are born earlier than normal.
How are undescended testes treated? — In most cases, no treatment is needed because the testes move down to the scrotum within a few months after birth.
If that does not happen, treatment involves surgery to move the testicle or testicles into the scrotum. Surgery can be done as soon as possible after the child is 4 months old. It should be done before he is 2 years old.
Can undescended testes cause other problems? — Men who had undescended testes in childhood are more likely to have:
●Cancer of the testes
●Infertility— This problem is more common in men who had 2 undescended testes. The process of making sperm is affected rendering them infertile. A condition called Azoospermia.