Last Friday was the worst day of my life. I've dealt with some difficult circumstances before, but I can honestly say this was the worst. The fact is that I have to keep re-living the worst day of my life every month I find out I'm not pregnant. This past Friday was different. You see, I had my second IUI Feb 24th and was waiting two long weeks to see if my blood pregnancy test came back positive. I had a feeling it would be negative since the nurse doing the procedure was highly discouraged with Chris's sperm count. A minimum of 5 million are required for most IUI procedures and we barely scraped enough together. Normal is 20 million or more. I like to keep myself educated about things. The better informed I am, the more I feel in control. Being a physical therapist I have access to Medline so I looked up articles about achieving conception with poor sperm morphology. I don't solely rely on Google searches because not everything you read it true. From what I've researched, the chances of conceiving with our numbers has been 0%. Also, most articles suggest that IVF with ICSI provides the best chances. IUIs are virtually pointless for our problem. But I guess if you don't try, you don't know.
So anyway, I had my blood drawn at 7 am Thursday morning. I couldn't take the agony of waiting so I cheated and took a home pregnancy test the night before (13 days post IUI)...it came out negative. They say it's possible to have a positive test 13 days after the procedure but recommend waiting at least 2 weeks for accurate results. I was disappointed but in my mind I convinced myself there's always a small chance of a false negative. I went to work Thursday, didn't sleep but about 2 hours that night, and went to work Friday and waited....I waited 36 hours. At 3:05 I got the call from the doctor. I could tell from the minute I heard the sound of his voice that it was not good. He delivered the bad news. I wouldn't want that job. I felt like I was just told I received the death sentence or was given the diagnosis of terminal cancer. I was sitting at my desk at work and thank God was at the end of my day. I wanted to throw up and crawl in a hole. I mustered every ounce of courage I could to hold my head together and not cry. We talked for awhile and he confirmed my suspicions that the IUIs weren't working and we should consider IVF if we want children. I don't remember the walk to my car. I don't remember the drive home. I'm not much of a cryer, especially in front of Chris but these days the tears have been flowing endlessly. I do my best to keep them flowing in the privacy of my own home because I know it's awkward for others. I was so pathetic Chris had to pick me up off the bathroom floor after I sobbed my eyes out. The last straw was that I just started my cycle and the failure was again confirmed. How could this be happening again? My mind knew that the chances were bleak, but in my heart I let myself hope and believe it could happen. Again my hopes and world came crashing down in a split second. But I can't feel sorry for myself and I need to regain composure and strength in order to pick up the pieces.
So now what? Our first step is to complete another test called a sperm penetration test (SPT). This is the craziest thing I've ever heard but they use hamster eggs (yeah, the rodent we all had as childhood pets) and test Chris's sperm to see if it has the ability to penetrate the egg wall. If it does, there's a very small chance doing what we're doing now could work after a few years to months of trying (clearly it must take awhile since it's already been 19!). If his sperm are incapable of penetrating the egg, it confirms that they will have to have an additional procedure called ICSI with our IVF. For basic IVF, they harvest my eggs, retrieve them surgically with a long needle and then place them along with Chris's sperm in a petri dish to do their thing. Romantic right? Not the picture I had in my mind how I'd conceive my child. If his sperm can't penetrate the egg to fertilize it in the uterus, it won't happen in the petri dish either. To solve this problem they use a special needle and inject one sperm into each egg for and additional cost of about $1,500. Basic IVF costs about $10,000 per fresh cycle, excluding medication cost. Step two is to set up another meeting with the doctor to go over everything and then set up a meeting with the financial people to help figure out how we're going to pay for all this. While we want a family with all our hearts, we are responsible enough not to go into debt to do it. I want to enjoy my baby when it's here and not be stressed about money. I'd sell my liver if it would help. Step three is to save money by working. I work full time as a physical therapist and also have a part time job 2 Saturdays a month at another clinic. I've decided to take on a third job on the remaining weekends doing per diem work at the hospital. That'll mean working every weekend for awhile, but it's temporary and the only way. Chris will do overtime and possibly look for a part time job but if unable we've decided he'll have to be Mr. Mom and take over all household chores. We've thought of other ways such as fundraising money, borrowing from our retirement or even selling my eggs. So far nothing has panned out for alot of different reasons. Hard work and determination is our only ammunition to fight the battle. I haven't begun to think about any steps beyond that like what happens if I'm lucky enough to get pregnant, or what if it doesn't work, how will we afford this all over again, what if we have to live without ever having children? Right now I can only deal with this and we're doing the best that we can. I'm still angry that so many other couples have it so easy and seem to take what they have for granted. For example, I hear parents commenting how annoying it is to pull an all nighter for a sick child. What I wouldn't give to deal with a vomitous, cranky, sniffling child! So all you parents out there, learn to be thankful for what you DO have. You could be us.
I remember months and months back when we first started to consider trying how we were ever going to afford daycare costs in our area ($1000 to $1200 per month). I knew we'd have to make sacrifices and I was finally in a place in my life that I was okay with that. While it's important to be prepared, I realize how trivial all that seems. Now, that is the least of our worries. I can only hope and pray that if we are lucky enough to have children that I will remember these days.
We have a mortgage and are unable to refinance as our house is worth less than what we bought it for. We have little credit card debt, but unfortunately have school loans. Both our cars are over 10 years old so we are also worried about that. We have a few house projects we wanted to finish but they were started before we knew all this would happen. They'll have to wait. We were lucky enough to acquire a time share before all this happened and have talked about selling the whole thing, or even a week of it, however due to the economy that may not be possible. At the time we purchased it, we didn't count on having to save money for a fertility fund. I wish I could take it back, but hindsight is 20/20. We're going to try everything under the sun other than asking and begging on the street corner for money. That'll be our last resort. We want to do this the right way if at all possible. If anyone has any suggestions it would be greatly appreciated.
So temporarily until we can finish our last medical test and save money for IVF, we are in a holding pattern. For a little while we will not be able to receive any treatments. We are completely on our own, the way it used to be. The only difference is this is looming over our heads. While we save, valuable time is being wasted but there is no other choice. Most people needing IVF go through the same thing. In the meantime, besides working 3 jobs, I'm going to do some reading on the matter. I've even considered joining the support group at our fertility clinic. This has finally taken it's toll and I may have to break down and seek more structured help. Alot of people have been kind and supportive along the way (my mother in law, my sister Darlene, my co workers, and countless friends and even strangers that have learned my story from facebook). Thank you because without your little words of encouragement and interest in what's going on I'd be traveling down a much darker road than I currently am.
I plan on blogging regularly as it's therapeutic for me and also offers others to learn from my perspective how dealing infertility can change a person. It also provides me a way to educate people. Sometimes the things we fear the most are what we don't understand. I could take the path more travelled and keep my feelings to myself, but what good would that do? I'm choosing the path less travelled.