I’ve spent more than half of my life loving my husband. We met when we were impossibly young, too young to know that we would love each other forever, at least by all realistic standards. And yet, over fifteen years later, our love has grown in ways I could never properly articulate, because the words would never mean enough.
We attended college together. We’ve lived in four states, run a startup marketing business, inhabited five homes, gained friends, lost loved ones, raised a pug, raised another – all together. We took the steps we found appropriate on our journey along the way. Steps like: get a degree, start a career, find a place to live that both equally excites and challenges us. We’ve enjoyed many years of just the four of us, and for awhile, this lifestyle was enough. Until one day when it wasn’t.
This day – or better described as a feeling opposed to a specific point in time – came around five years ago. The desire to have kids was not new (we both agreed in college that we wanted a large family) but the timing finally felt right. We were living in St. Louis and ready to move from our city apartment to a home on the edge of the suburbs. We both dreamed of what the extra two bedrooms would someday hold. We knew which one we’d put the baby in – the front room with the most soothing morning light. We told those closest to us that we were “thinking it may be time”. I went off birth control the year before in preparation for this step. Months went by and our efforts failed us, and although disappointing, we were still okay. Our dream was still out there, our issues yet defined. We were hopeful and patient, and in no big hurry quite yet.
An opportunity arose to fulfill another dream, so we packed up our bags in 2015 and moved to a place we were both dying to explore – New York City! During this time, we put baby-making on the back burner. We were devouring our new lifestyle, adjusting, and taking it all in. It was a great distraction, an easy way to “relax and let it happen.”
About six months into living in Brooklyn, in an extremely family-friendly neighborhood (Park Slope), we were ready to get serious again. So we tried. And tried. And timed. And waited. Moved into a bigger apartment with a second bedroom for our baby, and waited some more. After another eighteen months went by, and countless close friends families’ began (and continued) to grow, we knew that it was time to seek help. “Something must be wrong” was an underlying feeling neither one of us could shake. I found an OB-GYN that I liked and trusted, and in November 2017, I confided in her our inability to conceive. She was extremely proactive, administering a series of initial tests to essentially see where my husband and I were at in our reproductive departments. The results were a little worrisome, but not entirely gut wrenching, although my husband took his news harder than me. A pain I wished I could take away. A worry I prayed he wouldn’t have.
In short, my results were seemingly “normal”, aside from a slightly elevated FSH and hypothyroidism – a condition we would find out about later in our journey. My husband, however, had varicocele veins in each testicle, meaning his sperm was directly affected by the added heat filling the area – or otherwise known as “hot balls”. This impaired not only his count, but also his morphology and motility. He spoke with two urologists who both strongly recommended he have surgery to get this corrected. The thought of it understandably a little scary, we asked what other options we could explore at that time. My doctor pushed us to try an Intrauterine Insemination (IUI), since his sperms’ disabilities would not be as much of an issue when other factors, like travelling up the fallopian tubes, were eliminated.
We did our first medicated IUI cycle in March of 2018. A few pounds of weight gain and a touch of depression later (thanks Clomid), we had yet to conceive. In April we tried again, completing IUI number two. Another month of nasty side effects with no baby and I needed a break. In fact, we both needed it. We turned our frowns upside down (literally) and in June 2018, we did our third – this time unmedicated despite my doctor’s advice.
The unthinkable happened – we had conceived!!! We were only able to revel in this incomprehensible joy for three weeks before we experienced the greatest loss we’ve ever felt. Broken, defeated, pained, crushed – we were all those things – but the feeling of being pregnant and the love that we had for something that had barely begun led us both to know, that without question, we had to immediately try again!
My body is extremely regular and my period returned exactly four weeks from the date of the miscarriage. We made an appointment with NYU Fertility immediately following our loss and began treatment under their watch in August of this year. To no real surprise, our Doctor advised we begin IVF sooner-than-later. She said she was happy to administer another two or three rounds of IUI’s, but acknowledging our patience was fleeting, she thought IVF was the best option at this point.
As a researcher and general “need-to-know-the-facts” type of girl, I had already done my homework, so it was no real surprise when she broke down the numbers. Our cycle, with genetic testing and initial egg freezing, would be around $28,000. This number, although vast, wasn’t what jarred us. We were willing to pay ANY amount to have our baby. It was the fact that the clinic offers no form of payment plan. I had assumed that there must be a monthly plan to make this accessible to all people in need of help creating life. For so many it comes without cost, so for those of us who experience infertility, surely there was a plan in place to ease the financial burden of it all? The crushing reality that it will all be due “up front” was as disappointing as could be. We left the appointment feeling discouraged and a little more heartbroken than before.
It was time for alternative options. We were not giving up. So we decided to be proactive in enhancing his sperm quality and scheduled another IUI, both would cost us around $5,000 – $10,000, but should help with future fertility and felt like the right moves in the moment. My husband underwent surgery the first week of October. We are grateful that it went well, but we are not expected to see full results or improvement for up to a year. Our fourth IUI in November was unsuccessful. A series of further tests and medications were administered in the months in between (HSG, thyroid, genetic panel).
With our patience fleeting and hope draining, we signed up for our first IVF cycle in January 2019. We attended the instruction seminar on our eighth wedding anniversary and began with medications in February.
The cycle was expensive, exhausting and taught us both so many things about not only ourselves but the two of us as husband and wife. I can say that without a doubt, we are more grateful for one another than we have ever been before. A love grown deeper than we knew possible.
Today we sit here two months later and are so excited to announce that we are pregnant again! Our FET was successful and we (God willing), will have our baby boy in our arms come December.
This time however, we are moving forward with caution as we know too well that nothing is guaranteed. We also know how it feels to be on the other side of the coin and will continue to fight for and spread awareness toward this disease that affects far too many.
We wish everyone out there struggling the strength to carry-on and pray for their happy endings. Infertility attacks the mind, body, and heart and absolutely cannot be tackled alone. “Together, we can change how others view infertility. It begins with being part of a national movement, National Infertility Awareness Week®. This week unites millions of Americans who want to remove the stigmas and barriers that stand in the way of building families.”