Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Beginning

A bit about how we got started on this crazy road of IVF. My wife and I were married in the summer of 2005, shortly after I graduated from grad school with my MBA. A new job, new house, new degree, new marriage and new lifestyle were all adopted in the span of ~2 months. Getting married is the single best thing I've ever done. I have a beautiful wife (WAY out of my league), she's my best friend, and I would do anything to make her life even a little bit better. I can't wait to get home to see her at night, to spend my weekends with her and to just enjoy the ups and downs of life with her at my side. Things were great (and they still are ...) We decided to start "trying" for a baby after about 1.5 years of marriage. We expected to have no difficulty at all. This all happened at such a rapid pace that I didn't really have much time to think about what a huge endeavor we were embarking on. When things didn't "take" as we expected them to, we began to get a little concerned (more so my wife than I ... I'm more laid back about these major life events, and was okay if it took some time to achieve success. I'm super anal about our finances, and welcomed the incremental time to save for college, 401(k), Roth IRA, student loans, etc. How do people survive financially these days?) After about a year the frustration began to grow in me as well. I stopped drinking alcohol (not that I drank that much, but my father-in-law and I like to make homebrew together, and enjoy the fruits of our labor via a sweet 4-tap kegerator that he keeps in his basement - yeah, I married REALLY well!) We did everything we thought possible to increase our chances, with no luck. After a vacation over the 4th of July this year, we decided to make some doctor appointments to see what was the matter. I was up first.

I went to my doctor, described the problem and was met with some skepticism - "What is your rush?" she said - "You're so young, just give it some time!" ... then she referred me to a urologist to have a male exam. Uh oh. I went, talked to this nice English doter (Seaman, in Ann Arbor) who examined me VERY thoroughly while a young resident watched. Not much fun having your balls cupped by an old man while another guy who's exactly your age stands by and watches - very embarrassing and during a certain part of the exam, very "lubey" and uncomfortable. Yes, he checked my prostate. Not as bad as I thought it would be, but I was counting on deferring these types of exams until my 40s. I want to make it very clear: I didn't like it ... at all - if I had a tail, it would've been between my legs when I walked out of the examination room. Anyhow, part of the process was a semen analysis. Another embarrassing stop.

I went the Oakwood Hospital laboratory in Dearborn for this analysis. I've had to do this routine several times since, and it seems without fail that the staff of labs that do semen analyses are comprised entirely of women ... young women. So, you show up and say "I'm here for my semen analysis" They "prepare" the room (by fanning out a significant amount of porno magazines), hand you a cup and give you your space to provide a sample. After you're done you walk out with your sample in hand (in the cup, of course) and give it to the girls at the front desk. Incredibly humiliating, but if you can appreciate the awkwardness of it, pretty funny stuf. They put on a rubber glove and escort your sample to the lab while you get the hell out of there hoping to never run into these people in public.

The results came back to show my morphology was the issue. According to the criteria used by Oakwood's lab to assess morphology, I was 14% normal (just shy of the 15% mark separating fertile from borderline infertile, again, by the criteria used by this lab) Dr. Seaman described me as being "just on the cusp" of fertility ... very English. He was a super cool guy though, calling me personally to report my results after both tests - in my book, a sign of a very good doctor. I went in for the second assessment a few weeks later, as is procedure (to ensure adequate sample size and diminish possibilities of one-off circumstances leading to higher, or lower counts) Same results.

We took this as sort of a mixed bag: We weren't told that I was infertile, but we were told that it would be a bit more challenging for us than it would be for a "normal" couple. Bummer, but not the end of the road.

After this we tried, unsuccessfully, for a few more months via natural means. Fun for me, but frustrating for my wife. Soon afterwards we went to the IVF clinic to discuss our options, and to have my wife checked out. More to come on this in future posts ... there would be more tests, for me, for my wife, insurance screw-ups costing us several thousands of dollars, painful tests for my wife, shots, medications, flex accounts, job changes, puppies, homes for sale and all sorts of things along the way. More on this as my blog continues.

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