Wisehubby and I had been TTC for a while and, on a hunch, discovered his severe male factor infertility--basically, he has an army of mutant sperm. I'm also mutant; I have a clotting disorder: Factor V. We were on the IVF with ICSI track, and I gave birth to a beautiful boy after IVF #2. We've tried varicocele repair, too--ugh. Our frozen embyro transfer ended in miscarriage at 9 weeks 1 day. We don't know where the quest will take us from here.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Seven Months Post-Op Visit

We visited with Dr. B(alls) a while ago about Wisehubby's latest semen analysis at his seven month post-varicocele repair visit. The news was mildly more encouraging than last time. Wisehubby's numbers have bounced in most of the major categories into a normal range. Only his morphology is holding on at a big, fat goose egg.

As a reminder, morphology is the shape of the sperm and is important because it can effect the sperm's ability to penetrate reach and penetrate the egg. A man only needs his normal count to be 4% or greater to be considered fertile, so the standard is set pretty low. Unfortunately, 0% normal morphology is considered to be just about terrible; you get a "Do not pass Go; report straight to IVF with ICSI" card when those are your results.

Dr. B(alls) counseled again that we be patient, as we were seeing improvement in Wisehubby's numbers, but the wait is not too far off at this point. He is hopeful that we may be able to get Wisehubby's normal morphology up to .5% or even 1%, which could mean less painful, invasive, and expensive ART treatments. How great would it be if we could do an IUI instead of IVF with ICSI?

We're not really hopeful that things are going to get much better; we are prepared mentally, emotionally, and financially for another round of IVF.  However, the increase in the rest of his numbers does at least make us feel as though the decision to pursue the varicocele repair was the right one. As Dr. B(alls) pointed out, science does not yet know what makes the inside of one sperm more viable than another when creating an embryo. Since we were able to improve quantifiable things about Wisehubby's little swimmers, then maybe the crazy mutants are healthier now than they used to be! This could help us have a more successful batch of embryos; we might even get to freeze a few. This could also help the transferred Wisebabies implant successfully, something that did not happen with our first round of IVF.

All in all, we are in a better place now than we were in a year ago. Yes, IVF is still looming on the horizon, but we're older, wiser, and varicocele free.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Would you like my leftover meds?

Today I got to visit with a friend of mine who has been battling infertility for over seven years; let's call her my Infertile Warrior Friend, or I.W.F. for short. She and her husband had just finished a long year of unsuccessful infertility treatments and moved halfway across the country. Just when they weren't looking, they conceived naturally. A lucky, but painful, cyst on her ovary helped keep her progesterone levels up to help support the early pregnancy and avoid yet another heart breaking miscarriage. Her HCG levels have risen well, and they've even been fortunate enough to see the little nugget on ultrasound. I.W.F. is not out of the woods on this one by any means, but she's creeping up on eight weeks of a healthy pregnancy. All of this is making me so very hopeful for our own story.

This week, I.W.F. is in town visiting family. As an act of faith, she brought her spare meds with her to give to me for my upcoming IVF cycle. Since prescriptions for infertility are a horribly expensive (not covered by insurance) part of the process, I gladly accepted this beautiful, generous gift. Right now, Wisehubby is cataloguing our stash of meds (I.W.F.'s and our own) so that we can take it to our appointment in September with the male Dr. B.

I tell you all of this because I am so grateful to have a growing network of support in my real life. It is hard to open up about infertility, but once you do, you might just be surprised by who in your life can help to hold you up and provide realistic hope when things are tough.

When I put all of our IF questions on the back burner this spring, I didn't stop my campaign of honesty. Through that, I learned that a friend from church had struggled to conceive her two beautiful baby boys. When it seems like everyone at church is trying to overpopulate the planet, she'll sometimes lean in with a snarky or sweet comment that hits the spot. These infertile friendships have meant more to me than most anyone could ever know, except for maybe the brave women who have opened up with me.

Pay it forward might seem cliche, yet I look forward to a day in the near future when, after conceiving and seeing my own little Wisebaby (babies?) on ultrasound, I can take my own leap of faith, call up Dear Friend and ask her, "Would you like my leftover meds?"

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Time off for good behavior

After my last post, Wisesister called and suggested that my coping mechanisms weren't doing the trick. She commended me for using Twitter and Blogger to express my feelings, but pointed out that I was becoming increasingly negative and hopeless. She suggested that I take a break from the internet, talk to a counselor, and focus on the positive things while we waited for Wisehubby to heal. I was skeptical at first, but Wisesister gives the best advice, so I took it.

Wisehubby and I called the male Dr. B's office and asked for a referral to a counselor. We set up an appointment with Ms. B--no joke, we found another infertility medical professional with a last name beginning with B. It was a good visit, and it served to ease our fear that we were not communicating or handling our struggles in a constructive way. She commended us for being on the same page, and recommended that we try to take some time off to focus on our relationship. Our homework was to spend our summer vacation relaxing together, setting aside time once a week to have infertility check up chats. Her advice sounded shockingly like Wisesister's, so I felt a little silly for needing to spend some money to hear a second opinion.

We did great with focusing on our relationship this summer. Wisehubby and I have had little pool parties where we watch trashy TV or the Olympics several times a week. We went to movies and made new recipes. We drove 2,400 miles through Texas, New Mexico, and Colorado, camping for four days where we could not get cell phone reception.

When we were off of the grid and seeking shelter from an afternoon rain storm in Mesa Verde National Park, we talked about what our life would be like without kids. We could travel, spend time volunteering, give ourselves over to our students and Godchildren, spoil our dogs rotten, and generally have a good time. I think that talking specifically about how we could not just survive but ENJOY having our dream of children permanently deferred allowed us to relax about the future. We still want to conceive more than anything, but we know that no matter what, we've got a happy family, just the two of us.

We're nearing the end of summer, which brings new challenges to our plate. I'm at a new campus doing the same job next year, and Wisehubby is starting a new position after two years of chasing that promotion. We're also looking at the nine month post-op mark at the beginning of September, so I scheduled an IVF planning session with the male Dr. B today. It brought back a whole flood of feelings, but it wasn't overwhelming or depressing in the way it was four months ago. After all, taking time off for some good behavior was just what the doctor (Wisesister) ordered!