This is pretty personal, but I’ve never shied away from using this blog as therapy. Please do not use this post as a forum for discussing the ethics or medical risks of IVF. As many of you know, my wife and I are beginning the IVF process this month. But things really started happening months ago. We both knew that we wanted to have babies together right from the start. We both were ready to start right away. We tried the old fashioned way beginning when we first got married, but a couple months in we read an article that said my anxiety meds could cause problems with fertility. It’s super cheap to test the guy, so we thought what the heck.
Well, it wasn’t good news. My numbers were all bad… low count, low motility, bad morphology. Basically, I had 12 million retarded swimmers that were stupid and going in circles like a dog with three legs. The threshold for “low” is 20 million, with normal being more than 60 million. Nicole’s had a baby before. We knew she was OK. I’d gotten a girl pregnant, but that was 15 years ago. So here we were three months or so into our marriage and I found out that for some reason or another, I was broken. I know the folks out there that have been through this already can relate to how I felt. Defective. Inadequate. Worthless.
And then angry – angry that others that don’t want babies can accidentally get women pregnant while I can’t get my wife pregnant within the bounds of a loving marriage. That’s a pretty wide spectrum of feelings, none of which are good. Being sad, depressed, and angry all at the same time is not exactly healthy. If I’m being honest, although I’ve come to accept that this must be part of a grander plan, I still sometimes struggle with those feelings, particularly the feelings of inadequacy. I hate feeling like I’ve let my wife down (although she has NEVER been anything but supportive to me).
Even after we found out I had low numbers, we still continued to try. I was diagnosed quickly – vascular, and surgically fixable (although the fertility doctor scoffed at this option). The urologist recommended other things. I started taking a “fertility” supplement, and I switched to boxers, cut out caffeine… and we prayed. After three more months I returned for a follow-up test. My numbers had fallen to 5 million, and they were still retarded circle swimmers. IVF was our only viable option. IVF has very good success rates these days… upwards of 70%.
There are no guarantees, and it costs a lot of money. But given the biology, I had to accept that we needed intervention. I struggle with the fact that Nicole has to take so many risks because of my medical issues. She has all of the nasty meds, surgical procedures, and associated risks. The risks to me are, ummm, very low. Through the process we’ve come to find out that we are both contributing to the infertility, but I still feel solely responsible.
If I was normal, we’d be able to conceive with just a few meds – no IVF would be required. I do believe there’s a plan. We’ve been blessed with the ability to try IVF, and we’re learning plenty about ourselves and each other through the process. In this new year my desire to live in the moment means I can no longer obsess about my feelings of inadequacy or my anger.
We will take this process one day at a time, do what the doctors tell us to, and the rest is up to God.