The beginning

Hi! I’m Patty. I’m 34 years old and about to embark on our first (and most likely only, regardless of how things turn out) IVF cycle. My darling husband (abbreviated to DH here) is 36, and we are parents to R and M, our beloved almost 7-year-old twin boys.

I remember crying and complaining about the 6 months – yes, 6 months – it took to conceive our sweet boys. I want to slap me of almost 8 years ago, but she wouldn’t appreciate it or learn anything anyway.

So yeah, we tried for 6 months and got twins! All by ourselves! Obviously we were a fertility god and goddess. Obviously. 

When we got married (10 years ago next month), we planned to have “3 with the option of 4” children. When the boys were born in June 2006, we said, “Oh, look! We already have 2! 4 for sure.” When they turned 3, we started trying again.

We tried.

And tried.

And tried. 

By August 2010, just over a year after we’d stopped preventing and 8 months after we were full-out, taking-temperatures-and-charting-and-peeing-on-sticks TRYING to make a baby, I was at the OB getting my hormone levels checked. They were fine. We went back to trying.

June 2011 found me back at the OB. It had been 2 years … why in the world wasn’t I pregnant yet? “Maybe you just need some Clomid,” my doctor reasoned. “Before I give you the drugs, you need an HSG and your husband needs a semen analysis – just to make sure everything’s okay.”

The HSG hurt.like.hell. But my tubes were clear; my uterus looked good. 

In July, DH went for the semen analysis. They didn’t call in “just a couple days” like they promised. I started to get nervous.

I called my OB. “Do you have my husband’s numbers? You said you’d have them last week. I’m sorry to be a pain, but I’m just really nervous.” The nurse said she did have them, and when I asked if I could come in to get them, she agreed.

Late that afternoon, right before the office closed, I rushed in with my then 5-year-old boys in tow. “Hi, I’m Patty, we spoke on the phone. I’m here for my husband’s semen analysis numbers?”

The nurse went back to find the paper. She handed it to me and said, “oh good, everything looks normal!” I saw that too – the fertility clinic that had run the testing had made a mark and drawn an arrow all the way down the rows of things they test for in the “normal” column.

But then the nurse looked closer. “Oh my God,” she said. “That’s a zero.” 

I looked closer. The mark was a “0” with the slash through it. “Oh my God,” I said, fighting the panic in front of my boys. “Does that mean they found NOTHING?”

The nurse snatched the paper back and scanned it more thoroughly. “Yes,” she said finally. “I am so, so sorry.”

I blinked, hard. “Thank you,” I said, and I still remember how clear I kept my voice. I grabbed the paper and the boys’ hands and headed to the car. 

I had awful, crazy thoughts on the way home. I had the radio on, so the boys could sing along with all the songs they liked, but I remember almost nothing of that drive home except the panicked thoughts that filled my head. The worst? “Oh Jesus. Did I have an affair I don’t remember? DO THE BOYS NOT REALLY BELONG TO DH, SINCE HE DOESN’T HAVE SPERM?” (I didn’t. They do.)

Somehow I got home without getting us into an accident. I sent the boys to play. I sat DH down and explained. His face drained of all color. I cried, and he held me. We didn’t understand.

The phone rang; it was my OB, who was horrified by how I’d received this news and was calling to talk with me. She was kind and gentle. She gave us the name of the RE their office preferred. She suggested we talk to a urologist. 

I won’t bore you with more. DH underwent testing that was embarrassing and uncomfortable. We went to our RE and had another SA done. This one showed 1.3 million total sperm (normal is 40 million or more), with only 8% of those motile, or alive. (normal is 50%). With those numbers, we were told IVF was our only option.

At the time, DH was working *4* jobs, and we still weren’t keeping our heads above water, financially. Fertility treatments were not going to happen, not even with some insurance coverage, which we are lucky enough to have because we live in a mandate-to-cover state.

A few months later, I got a job. Yeah! So in April 2012, we did another SA to see if his numbers had improved. And they had! This time he had 17.9 million, with 18% motility. Much better. So much better, that after a consult with our RE, he agreed to let us try a Clomid insemination cycle.

In July 2012, our first IUI attempt was cancelled b/c I wasn’t responding well to 100 mg of Clomid. OH MY GOD I was furious. In August, they bumped me up to 200 mg, at which time I had one lonely little 19 mm follie along around CD17 or so. I triggered (= took the HCG trigger shot, which makes any eggs hanging around in follicles release), and showed up for the IUI, which was a disaster with an AWFUL sample. 

While I was still lying on the table bleeding from the insemination (my cervix is an angry, disagreeable little minx), the RE told me we better start thinking about other options – those options just being the one, IVF. I was amenable to this idea, except for one huge sticking point: In vitro fertilization requires every-other-day monitoring at a doctor’s office, including bloodwork, vaginal ultrasounds, and exams. I do not have the kind of job where I can just leave randomly every other day for a month. I told them I’d see them in June.

And now. Here we are. We’re giving it our best shot, just to make sure no one else is out there waiting to join our family. I want to look at my boys’ sweet faces over the Thanksgiving table in 20 years and say to myself, “I did everything I could to make more babies happen, and this is exactly who’s supposed to be sitting here with me.”

Organization (and how I suck at it)

Among the many things an IVF cycle demands is organization. Take this med at this time. Get this test run here at this time. Do not forget to get your pap and your cultures and your bloodwork. 

I’m … not so great with the responsibility. This is a wretched thing to admit, as I have 2 children and teach. I’m supposed to be very grown up at all. But look – it’s Memorial Day, 11:45 p.m., I have to work tomorrow, and I’m typing in a thunderstorm and drinking caffeinated diet pop (I promise to stop doing that before stims begin).

I keep telling myself that since stims start the day after I get out of school, I will become magically responsible and organized. All my meds will be in responsible places, and I won’t be injecting myself in the middle of the dining room with a big open window (no one wants to see that.) 

A girl can dream. And honestly, doing IVF requires quite a bit of suspension of reality as it is. I’m learning this more and more.

Good night … off to Lupron it up. And then I guess I should check the boys’ backpacks – school tomorrow and all.

P.S. Sorry this blog is totes hideous.