Thursday, July 14, 2011

How we got here

My husband, "Buddy," and I got married in October, 2009 and decided to start trying for a baby in April, 2010. I'd been on birth control for 10 years and had no idea what my cycle would be like, so I bought Taking Charge of Your Fertility and a thermometer and decided to chart my cycles to make sure I was ovulating. After a few months without luck, I decided to try using OPKs, as temperature only confirms ovulation, but gives no indication of when it's coming. Still no luck. I stopped with the OPKs because it was added pressure and it wasn't helping anyway. In January, we avoided because my due date would be close to my best friend's wedding.

From February to April, the clock felt like it was ticking. I knew that at 12 months, I would be eligible for infertility testing, but I didn't want to have to make that milestone. We put in extra effort in those last few cycles, using OPKs again, trying to make sure timing was great. When my March cycle ended after only 20 days, I decided it was time to call the doctor to start testing, because something wasn't quite right.

I met with a new OB/GYN in May, and she ordered our testing: an HSG and bloodwork on CD3 and 7DPO for me, an SA for Buddy. I actually felt relieved. Hopefully, we'd have some answers as to why this wasn't easy for us.

We got the first blow when my 7DPO results came back. I had very low progesterone. Progesterone is the hormone that supports early pregnancy. Without enough of it, a woman's luteal phase is too short and an embryo may not have time to implant before the uterine lining begins to shed. I was heartbroken. All sorts of things ran through my head. I was officially infertile. What if we couldn't correct it? What if other hormones were out of whack and I was a mess? What if we'd achieved conception only for my body to have flushed away our baby? I cried hard in the shower that night, and frequently found a lump in my throat over the next few days.

I'd just had time to wrap my head around and accept the low progesterone and celebrate my 30th birthday the day before we got our second blow. Buddy's SA revealed low numbers across all three testing parameters: count, morphology, and motility. Diagnosis: severe male-factor infertility. We both were crushed. Thankfully, the appointment I'd made with the RE was only a little over a week away when we got the results from my OB/GYN, so we tried to just calm down. It was hard, though. The results on the test, and everything I found in my reading indicated that with no improvement in the counts, we would need IVF with ICSI; a costly treatment, both financially and emotionally. On top of it, any embryos created with the poor quality sperm would also be of poor quality and unlikely to thrive. Basically, we'd have low chances with a high cost. Because of these facts and other personal decisions, we solidified our previously discussed decision that if it came to IVF, we would instead be child free. That's been a pretty difficult conclusion for me and Buddy to be faced with at the ages of 30 and 26, respectively.

Our RE appointment was 4 days ago, and it went better than hoped. Dr. RE indicated that he thinks it's realistic to hope that - with vitamins, supplements, and lifestyle changes - an IUI procedure would be successful. We were very relieved, but we have a wait ahead of us. Dr. RE wanted us to re-tests Buddy's sperm right away, but it doesn't make sense to us. It takes sperm 72 days to mature. We'd rather wait the 72 days and have 100% of the sperm reflect the changes. If there are none, or not enough to make IUI feasible, I don't know what we'll do. Wait and test periodically, I suppose. If there are good changes, we'll move forward. We've decided to enjoy our summer and focus on something other than baby-making for the first time in 15 months and re-test Buddy in late September or early October. Until then, we wait.

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