Since I’ve decided to share our infertility journey with the world, it is time for another update on what’s happening in our quest for a family. It’s about to get real, y’all. Hope you are ready for some up close and personal sharing.
During our first consult with Dr. Dunaway, we learned about sperm antibodies and the difference those can make on the type of fertility treatment we choose. Without getting into details or the extensive medical explanation of sperm antibodies, Dr. Dunaway simply described them as little helmets that attach to the sperm which can cause issues with sperm travel and/or penetration of the egg. Bottom line…we were hoping Andrew’s sperm didn’t have helmets. The whole time I’m envisioning sperm with hard hats swimming around, smiling all the while.
I couldn’t find the exact image from my mind for you but you get the idea. We have to find laughter in all of it somehow, right? If Andrew’s blood work showed the presence of antibodies, Dr. Dunaway mentioned IVF would be the only option for conception. There was a small chance we could attempt an IUI but Dunaway leaned more towards IVF because the success rate is better with Andrew’s type of male factor infertility. We left that initial appointment feeling pretty confident IVF would be the route we were going to take because we didn’t want to waste money on IUI procedures that may not work for our situation. At this point in the marathon of trying to conceive, we have begun to look at these scenarios in a more statistical manner. You become focused on the “goal” which is getting pregnant and ultimately, you want to choose the path that will get you closest to that “goal”. I’m realizing now the mania has already begun. For those who haven’t experienced infertility, it may seem unnerving to talk about IVF as a better investment than an IUI. We are talking about an embryo, a human life. I felt uncomfortable with that outlook myself in the beginning but I also never thought we would be here. No one does.
A few days later we received the great news that Andrew doesn’t carry sperm antibodies.
That piece of positive light in the tunnel of darkness that is infertility boosted our spirits a lot after that first visit. I could also sense that Andrew felt uplifted after feeling incredibly defeated with our diagnosis of male factor infertility. Dr. Dunaway wanted Andrew to continue the Clomid his urologist prescribed for sperm count and he would have another sperm analysis in a couple months. In the meantime, I was scheduled for Day 3 lab work during my next cycle.
After the hormonal roller coaster of my monthly cycle, I showed up bright and early for labs that Monday morning, got the usual needle stick and proceeded with my ultrasound. As I sat staring at the ultrasound monitor of dark spots and light spots that didn’t look like much of anything, I started to feel nervous about the sections she was circling. I didn’t know what I was looking at but I didn’t want to interrupt the technician as she ferociously clicked and zoomed. She finally confirmed my ovaries looked great and there wasn’t a cyst on either ovary. Another Hallelujah! Each little morsel of goodness gives me hope that we both aren’t as broken as we feel most of the time in all of this.
After the technician gathered her findings, one of Dunaway’s nurses met with me in a separate consult room. She started off letting me know they like to see at least 7 resting follicles total on an initial ultrasound before the use of fertility drugs. Resting follicle count reflects a woman’s fertility potential. Each woman is born with a certain amount of eggs in her lifetime and as we age, we have fewer eggs available, with fertility dropping dramatically after the age of 35. These resting follicles together with coordinating lab work are a good indicator of ovarian reserve. There was a long pause and I was waiting for the bad news. I was waiting for her to say I was inadequate and not good enough. But to my surprise, I had 7 resting follicles on the right ovary and 6 resting follicles on the left, making it a grand total of 13 resting follicles.
A gigantic smile started spreading across my face and the little girl inside was jumping up and down. These little successes are HUGE in the infertility world.
I patiently waited for my lab results and by the end of the week, I received even better news that all of my lab work was normal. My AMH, FSH, prolactin and thyroid levels were all within range. Because my labs were in good shape, Dr. Dunaway suggested starting me on Clomid and proceeding with intrauterine insemination (IUI) if we were interested in beginning with a fertility plan right away. Clomid is a mild fertility drug and would stimulate my ovaries, giving us a better chance of conception with the IUI.
We didn’t think an IUI was even in our realm of possibility after learning about the negative effect of Andrew’s count and morphology issues on our last visit. Morphology is tested during a normal semen analysis and is the size and shape of sperm. If they are too big, too small or deformed, they are unable to successfully penetrate the egg. They may reach the finish line but they are unable to burst through the tape! Poor little guys.
Of course Andrew isn’t really interested in attempting a procedure that has a small chance of success for his type of male factor infertility. He has the mindset of doing the best thing possible for conception which would be IVF. I agree with him but at the same time, I know everything that is entailed with IVF from my Sarah’s Laughter girls. It’s not easy nor is it cheap and the hormones and procedures are taxing on a woman’s body. What we think is the only way of conception may not be what God’s plan is for us. There’s always a chance an IUI would work and we could get pregnant.
We still have 2 more months until Andrew is finished with his Clomid prescription and he will have another analysis done. At that point, we will either proceed with our first IUI or IVF. Such big decisions we face in the future…
At a time when we are battling issues with our house and property, having a couple months to breath for a minute, allowing us time to pray and reflect on our next step is somewhat comforting. In this particular hallway of our infertility, I have started a new prayer study book, 31 Days of Prayer During Infertility by Lisa Newton I won in a giveaway from Waiting for Baby Bird. This arrived at the perfect time for me and has been such nourishment to my mornings. Her prayers and study give me the strength, courage and hope I need to get through some of the tougher days. Lord knows I have a lot of them lately.
I’m beginning to feel the weight of infertility lift little by little as I also lean on my infertility sisters of Sarah’s Laughter and I take care of the little girl inside of me. I think I really turned a corner when I recently stepped out of the infertility closet. That has been extremely freeing, more than I ever thought it would be. After posting my story last month, women reached out to me and shared their own infertility journeys. It was then that I understood God’s plan all along. Through our own struggle, a dialogue has started and our simple story is touching others and sending such a wonderful message to those hurting like us. Infertility isn’t something we need to be ashamed of and being united in our struggles gives us the power we need to push through. Being real, raw and vulnerable is difficult but those are the times that God shows me the beauty amidst the ashes. Those are the times when I find renewed faith in Him and I learn to lean into His promises.
In other baby news, we are still building our team for Baby Steps and have received so much support already. I want to thank everyone who has registered and joined our team already. Our hearts are overflowing knowing we have the support in the walk and the support of a ministry that is near and dear to us.
If you are interested in joining our Team Bayou Baby for the fun run, please click here. If you are interested in donating to our fundraising Team Bayou Baby to help raise money for Sarah’s Laughter, an incredible ministry for infertility and loss, please click here. If you or someone you know is struggling with infertility or loss and is interested in registering their own team for a chance to win either a $10,000 Family Building Grant or a free IVF cycle with Dr. Dunaway, please click here.
By the next post, I hope there will be an update on the never-ending drainage situation at the farm. Until next time…