Chandler (USA): IVF- Azoospermia to Biological Baby
My husband and I met in our 30s and meeting someone who had never been married without children in Utah…. well, it’s almost unheard of!! He truly was my unicorn. We were engaged in five months and married 18 months later in a perfect mountain wedding. We both knew that we wanted kids and started trying a month before our wedding. Things haven’t always come easy for me and I had a gut feeling this would be another hurdle. I never imagined the road would be this difficult!
I’m a recovering alcoholic with eight years sobriety and my husband, as he puts it, is a recovering food addict who had lost 140lbs before we met. As the months of negative tests rolled by I began to worry I wasn’t capable of conceiving a child. I saw several different doctors with no diagnosis besides borderline PCOS. A year in, all my tests continued to come back normal and it was my husband’s turn to be checked. We were beyond devastated to discover he had zero sperm count. To this day, that moment still makes me cry. To find the person you were meant to be with and not be able to have biological children with them felt like the cruelest joke.
With our official diagnosis of Azoospermia, my husband underwent several months on the highest HCG dose and the urologist had no doubt his sperm would return. Four months later his count was still zero and we began the grieving process. I’m adopted and grew up not looking like anyone in my family. Carrying my own child was more important to me because I wanted to see myself in another person. Knowing this, my husband and I made the very difficult decision to use donor sperm with IUI. My husband made this sacrifice selflessly and said if I was any part of a baby he’d love it. We underwent four IUIs, which all failed.
The second year we tried to conceive was the most difficult of our marriage: the loss of not being able to conceive a biological child, the heartbreak of each failed IUI, and the mental exhaustion of not being able to do what our bodies were made to do. It was a hard year, but we survived through communication and taking care of ourselves, both individually and together. We traveled and did the things that may be more difficult with a child.
After our second IUI, with no explanation for his diagnosis, my husband decided to work towards bringing his sperm back naturally. He reduced stress, focused on diet and exercise, did regular meditation, and took natural supplements. After our fourth IUI he was checked again and had 127 sperm!!!! Just like that, our dreams of having a family came rushing back. He was able to do what modern medicine couldn’t!!!
IVF was never something I wanted to do. Cost was a major factor, but also what the hormones would do to me, but once we had a fighting chance I was willing to do anything! We switched physicians and began our IVF journey on 12/23/17. The nightly injections weren’t bad at first, but as time continued I came to dread them. I was on the verge of tears all the time, bloated, and as my ovaries started to grow, even sitting became difficult. My husband was so supportive and thanked me daily for what my body and mind were going through. He was the best support system a gal could ask for! IVF is not for the faint of heart and our baby will know just how much we wanted them. You are getting multiple nightly injections in the abdomen, blood draws every other day, multiple vaginal ultrasounds each week, and if all goes as planned, ovaries the size of grapefruits that house the precious eggs that will hopefully become a baby.
Our egg retrieval surgery was on 1/05/18 and went routinely. They were able to get nine eggs, which was more than I had expected so we were egg-static! Due to my husband’s sperm situation, we did ICSI which is when the sperm is injected directly into the egg, manually fertilizing it. Of the nine eggs, eight fertilized, five progressed to day three, however by day five only one stood standing. That entire process and we had one…which means if it didn’t take, we would have to do it all over again. No pressure, right?!?!? Luckily our one was perfect and we proceeded with transfer on 1/10/18.
The transfer process was truly incredible and made both of us so grateful for the technology modern medicine is capable of. When we entered the room, the Ghostbusters theme was blasting on Pandora, which certainly made us laugh. Our embryologist who carefully watched after our embaby was a New Orleans native, which is one of my favorite cities! We joked that our baby would come out with a southern accent and craving for jambalaya. We watched the live video stream of the embryologist carefully extracting our embryo, which was the size of a speck of dust, and bring it into the room. The process was very short and we breathed a sigh of relief as the doctor pointed out our embryo now floating around the abyss of my uterus. Now it just had to stick.
January 11, 2018, one day after transfer and I was back at work in a meeting. I suddenly felt a very sharp poke in my low abdomen that lasted no more than 5 seconds and for some reason I just knew our baby implanted. We got confirmation 11 days later that I was in fact pregnant! A beta number over 100 indicates pregnancy and mine was 1,002. I am currently 11 ½ weeks pregnant with our little girl and so grateful for every moment. Through all the pain, heartbreak, and major pregnancy symptoms, I remind myself that it’s only a moment in time. It will pass, we will dust ourselves off, and always keep moving forward!!