Written by Becca Lang, guest blogger
My husband Mike and I met in medic school in 2010. We sat on opposite sides of the classroom, were never placed together in a group scenario and had limited interactions. I was one of three women in a classroom of 25. It wasn’t until almost two years later that we ended up doing our internship for the same ambulance company. I was excited to be working with a familiar face, we finally spent time together outside of the classroom and it was then that our relationship began to grow. We were great friends who would eventually fall in love. I remember we would leave little notes of encouragement for each other in the back of the ambulance for the other person to find at the start of their shift. He was one of the smartest people I knew, his compassion and drive to help others and serve his community was what I loved about him the most. It was after the completion of our internship that we started dating. We spent almost every day together that summer and it was one I will never forget.
Mike and I got married in February of 2015, it was that August that we decided to start trying to grow our family. I always knew I wanted to be a mother and I was excited to think now was the time to make that happen. As a young woman, I had struggled with reproductive issues for years. I was officially diagnosed with endometriosis at the age of 19 after battling my own body for what had seemed like forever. I would frequently develop ovarian cysts, some would pass of their own but others had to be laparoscopically removed. It was at my third and final surgery that my doctor said my left ovary was not functioning properly and was doing more harm than good. They would eventually remove it at the age of 22.
Fast forward to 2016, it had been 7 months of trying and nothing had happened yet. Mike and I decided to make an appointment with my OBGYN but were told we needed to wait until at least a year before we could be seen. Five more months had past, I had spent month after month getting my hopes up every time I would take a test only to ever see one line. Every month came the same emotional rollercoaster. Grief, sadness, blame and confusion as to why this wasn’t happening for us. I was stuck in a state of frustration with my own body. “Just relax”, “It will happen when you stop thinking about it”, “stop trying so hard” were some of the things we would hear repeatedly. A year had past, and we were finally seen by a specialist for our fertility trouble.
One test. A simple semen analysis was all it took to finally get the answer we had spent the last year trying to figure out. I had spent all this time blaming myself and battling my own body just to be told that Mike most likely had some sort of block seeing his count came back at zero. We were referred to a fertility specialist and had an appointment booked within just a few weeks. Unexplained severe male factor infertility was the diagnosis we were given. The staff at our clinic was amazing. Both Mike and I felt like we were finally in the right place. They were welcoming, compassionate and sympathetic to the frustrating year we just had. A plan was put into place at our very first appointment and that is where our journey to parenthood began.
Donor sperm or no donor sperm? Such a fun topic of conversation, am I right? To get that answer Mike would have to undergo a procedure called TESE (Testicular epididymal sperm extraction) I may be biased, but he handled it like a champ. Twenty-four pokes later we left the clinic and patiently waited for our results. Out of the 24 areas they extracted from, 22 had viable sperm. We knew that although we had a long road of IVF in front of us, we could genetically have our own children, and for that we were beyond grateful.
That brings me to today. I am a week into the start of my medications, the injections themselves seem to be getting a little bit easier every day but the symptoms keep growing. Our protocol includes fertilization with ICSI, and PGS screening for a frozen embryo transfer. To be given this opportunity to do IVF has been such a blessing. We are lucky enough to have an amazing support system from our family and friends and to say we are thankful would be an understatement. I hope this brings awareness to those struggling with infertility. Male factor especially, for such a simple test I don’t believe there should be a regulated time frame that you must endure just to get an answer. Infertility is a battle in itself and can be extremely detrimental to some relationships. Let’s speak up, have uncomfortable conversations and make this process easier for those who are struggling. Thank you for taking the time to read about our story. For those of you who are battling infertility, I hope our story gives you encouragement, strength and determination to keep up the fight.