So your testicles don’t work: Our IVF Journey

 
Bet I got your attention =)
 
Well friends it’s time to share a story, and as you can infer by the title; it has to do with infertility. Never really thought I’d have to think about it. Just another one of those things that pops up and shifts your life in an unexpected way. After months of vigorously vigorously trying to conceive, nothing was happening. Michelle went to the doctor to get checked out and her ovaries, in a phrase uttered many times since then by health professionals, are robust and young. 
 
It all started with a home sperm test that gave me an abnormal result, a sperm count below 20 million. Immediate concern fell over me and a weight griped my chest, “My God it’s me”. I waited a few minutes to call Michelle as I had to compose myself with racing thoughts of every bad scenario imaginable. We talked for a while, she told me she loved me, and whatever it was we would work through it together. I married the right woman, she is incredible. How incredible? More to come in a moment. 
 
A count of 20 million sperm is normal, normal enough to allow a male to conceive naturally with a healthy female. Below 20 million could mean a lot of things. The home test didn’t tell me much other then at least this test was somewhere between 0 and 20 million. It could be 18 million, it could be 5 million, it could be none. After hanging up with Michelle I immediately made an appointment with a urologist, supposedly the best man for the job in San Diego. They had an opening in one week. At that time it was the longest one week I’ve had in a long time. 
 
Am I fertile? 
What if I don’t have any sperm at all? 
Will we ever have a family? 
 
Each day consumed in that thought…what if this, what if that. It’s almost maddening. Through it all Michelle was there telling me it would be alright. 
 
A week later I walked into the urologists office, sat down, and waited to be called. Other guys were there, some looking down at the floor, others on their phone, all of them not wanting to make eye contact with anyone else. Now from here it gets a bit sketchy only because I’ve lost count of how many times a guy with latex gloves has handled my balls. It’s almost become normal. I mean I ordered an amazon dash button for latex gloves for Christ sake. 
 
My test result came a week later and it was low, much lower than I expected. 1.5 million to be exact. The doctor said there was no chance of me being able to conceive naturally. Of course he did his due diligence, attempting to find out if it was something that could be fixed. It couldn’t and in the end I was diagnosed with severe oligozoospermia. Artificial insemination wasn’t even on the table, that’s how low it was. Fortunately I did have good sperm in there, not enough of course, but enough for IVF. 
 
Now it’s a weird feeling to have, a thought process if you will, of knowing that the only way you will ever have a family is dependent on an insurance company approving you for IVF. Knowing that someone is in an office somewhere, holding your file; and they will check a box that essentially says “Yes, you may have a family” or no “You are denied coverage”. 
 
It’s scary, it’s heart wrenching, and life changing in that one of life’s most intimate decisions you make with your life partner, is not yours to make. 
 
So here we are today, 4 months into the process, with 6 more months to go until we are out of the thick of it. Michelle has put her body through hell to do this. IVF isn’t a simple process, it isn’t pregnancy light, it’s not “designer baby” central, nor is it a shortcut. It’s sleepless nights wondering if everything will be alright, wondering if we will ever be able to meet our child. 
 
For a woman it’s three self injections a day of medicine. It’s putting your body at risk for cancer and the total loss of fertility. It’s a fluctuating roller coaster of emotions, depression, and happiness as your body struggles to adjust to an unnatural level of hormones. Your ovaries grow to the size of softballs that push against your pelvis and spine. It’s daily doctors visits for weeks on end. There are small victories, set backs, and lots of waiting. And the waiting is often times the worst part. Those are the moments your mind races away from you with all the scenarios that might happen. Nothing is guaranteed. 
 
Last week Michelle underwent egg retrieval surgery. Of the 40 eggs that were extracted, 36 were fertilized. Of the 36 that were fertilized, 25 grew into embryos. Of the 25 embryos, 10 grew to a size that could lead to a viable pregnancy. 
 
Those 10 embryos are currently undergoing genetic testing and we are hopeful that we will have at least 2 healthy embryos out of the 10. Wether it’s IVF or a natural pregnancy, it’s a miracle either way. A miracle of science and maybe a little help from up above. But Thank God for Science. 
 
So this is where we are at, a little farther a long, a lot more waiting, and holding out hope that everything will be alright. 
 
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