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I had been married to my wonderful wife and trying to get pregnant for a little over a year before we decided to see an infertility specialist. Being in my late thirties was a definite factor in making this decision. As a medical doctor I understood that statistics were that there was a 67% chance the problem was with my wife. I did not consider myself a factor at all, because men are not supposed to have problems --or so I thought.
The first test done was a semen analysis on me. It was embarrassing to go in a room in the back office where pornographic magazines and videos were available to “assist” me in the process. But for both of our sakes, I knew it had to be done. We were called in for the results and the only thing I remember was being told that I had low numbers across the board. My heart sank. I thought “how can this be, I am still fairly young and healthy?” The doctors did a repeat test to confirm the results. I returned to the back office after three to five days of being abstinent. I had no problem being abstinent at this point. With this kind of news who could perform? I was certain that this time the numbers would be different.
Once again we were sitting in the doctor’s office awaiting the results. This time the numbers were worse. As my wife and I were sitting trying to absorb this information, the doctor went over our options including IUI and IVF. Before we made any decisions, we scheduled an appointment with a urologist. I was checked out completely; no infection or varicocele. My wife and I talked, cried and finally decided to perform an IUI procedure. We knew that this treatment may not work on the first try but we were very optimistic since my wife had no issues with her reproductive tract.
I spent time researching the best holistic approach to increase my numbers and was taking up to seven pills daily to improve different parts of my sperm analysis. We were ready and it was time to try our first IUI procedure. After the procedure, my wife limited her activities hoping not to jolt her body and undo what the doctor did, even though we were assured that she could continue normal activities. The waiting began again. A few weeks later we received the bad news that the pregnancy test was negative. We were told that the average patient got pregnant within three IUI’s trials. And so, we tried again. Unfortunately, we were dealt the same negative results. We were devastated but thought “three times a charm.” The third round produced more heartbreak.
We were speechless but our doctor was very optimistic regarding success with IUI so we decided to go through a fourth and final round. We were both eating healthier, losing weight, exercising more and taking herbal and vitamin supplements to enhance the slightest chance. During the fourth IUI cycle, the doctor on-call said, “you should have considered other options since this did not work the last three times, and probably will not work now either”. He took every little hope we had and crushed it in seconds. The results came that once again we were not pregnant and we shed more tears. ”Are we ever going to have a family?,” we cried.
My wife and I decided to seek advice and treatment from another fertility center in the same city. I also went in for a second opinion. I was told that I had an absent left seminal veiscle and I should be tested for Cystic Fibrosis and consider surgery to correct it. In addition, I was given a high dose steroid prescription to take for six months. As a doctor, I understood the side effects of the medication and I was not comfortable taking this medication for such a long period of time. I discussed my concerns with my wife who was very supportive of my decision. We decided to seek the best medical care of both infertility and urology, to correct my male issues.
After much research, we traveled to New York City and did more testing with another clinic. I was relieved that everything checked out and all my parts were present, except for my “swimmers,”--those were still missing in action. My wife and I were told that our chances at IVF with Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) were very good but if the procedure did not work after one try, the doctors would take the sperm directly from my testicles.
At the new fertility center in our city, we met with our new doctor and immediately knew we were in the right hands. He was sincere, warm, caring and we established good rapport. We were beginning again. He told us that with my sperm numbers IUI had no chance of working and our best hope is IVF with ICSI. I was put on Clomid for six months to enhance my numbers. My wife endured many shots to prepare her body for the procedure and a strict diet.
The day finally came, a little more than three years since our first visit to an infertility specialist, to perform the IVF with ICSI procedure. After retrieving 23 eggs from my wife, they kept the embryos that looked most viable. We were left with five good embryos. We decided to use two and freeze the remaining three. Our doctor was hopeful that one embryo would work if not two. Again, I went to a back room, but this time with much more enthusiasm and hope. My wife was waiting in another room for the procedure.
For six weeks we prayed, thought positively and prayed some more. We bought baby clothes, only two articles, for wishful thinking. My wife cried herself to sleep almost every night, or posted her thoughts on the Internet when she could not sleep. I felt less than a man especially with the thought that I was the cause of us not having a family. During these six weeks my wife would feel strange at times, have weird dreams and would believe that she is pregnant. I did not want to burst her bubble, but deep inside of me I was feeling that this procedure failed just like the others.
I remember when the phone call came from the nurse regarding the Beta HCG results. My wife was screaming for joy on the phone into nurse’s ear. We cried, hugged each other and thanked God for answering our prayers. On our first ultrasound, the technician showed us the tiny little heartbeat of our baby inside my wife. It was magical. We were both teary-eyed. The technician checked to make sure the baby was developing normally and then we heard “and here is the second heartbeat!” My wife and I could not believe our eyes and ears. We were being blessed with not one miracle but two.
Exactly seven months after the procedure, God blessed us with our angels, a healthy baby boy and a baby girl. This was a long and difficult road but the end results erased all frustrations. We have three frozen embryos waiting for us to complete our family once we are ready again.
LPT, a psychiatrist from the South.