Chris did something most men would fear. Today he voluntarily went in for a surgery involving his genitals. There was never any question about Chris’s commitment to his goal of fatherhood. But if there were, when his junk went under the knife, I think that extinguishes all doubt.
Since Chris was born without a vas deferens, there is no way for the sperm to exit his body on its own. Upon hearing this, most people ask me bashfully, “So, does everything…er…um…work properly?” Yes. Chris ejaculates normally (or I guess I should say normally appearing), so we had no way of knowing this was an issue. Well…mostly…
We’ve been married for 6 1/2 years. During this time, we’ve never really used birth control. In the beginning, we used condoms. After a couple years, we became more lax about our pregnancy prevention. Then Chris started resorting to the “pull out” method. We never got pregnant using this method, but we thought that’s because we were so awesome at using it. My friend, who is a birth doula, once told me, “Heather, the withdrawal method is not an effective form of birth control. If you aren’t getting pregnant, there might be a problem.”
What? We had no problem! We were young. We were invincible. We came from fertile families. When the time was right, we’d have our baby. I remember being annoyed at the very suggestion of infertility.
Nearly two years ago, we started trying for our baby. Every month was a disappointment. Then, we got more serious. We purchased books about fertility and read up on tracking cycles, taking temperatures, testing vaginal discharge…you name it, we tried it. Nothing worked. We got incredibly frustrated, and one day I broke down and called the most highly regarded reproductive endocrinologist in our area.
Within a month, we had a diagnosis. We rode the waves of grief for another month. Feeling sorry for ourselves was easy to do when we looked around and saw our friends and family members having children so easily. Jealousy ran rampant at every birth announcement. Many friends on Facebook were unfollowed upon announcing they were expecting. Chris and I started arguing. It was an ugly place for us to be.
Chris and I are grateful for what we call our “emotional training.” Early on in our marriage, we struggled with communication, so we talked to a Marriage and Family Therapist. She changed our lives by teaching us how to show empathy for one another, how to TRULY listen to our partner, and affirm their feelings. I cannot imagine how tough it would be to face infertility if we had not learned these skills early on in our marriage. Our emotional training pulled us out of the rut of grief and sadness, and helped us move toward reaching our goals.
That brings us to today. Chris went in for his MESA procedure this morning. He received a local anesthetic, but was tough and didn’t ask to be knocked out. They made an incision in his right testicle and searched for sperm in his upper epididymis. After two tries, they didn’t find any sperm in this tissue, so the urologist made the call to search down inside Chris’s testicle. He found sperm!
At this point, we don’t know much about the quantity or quality of the sperm they retrieved. We know that they were not swimming, but were twitching. Apparently, this is normal from sperm that is not yet mixed with seminal fluid. His sperm will be incubated, then frozen, and checked again sometime within the next week. They may not get a chance to check it before my retrieval, which is supposed to be sometime this weekend. I’m trying to keep the anxiety at bay during the waiting time. The fact they found sperm is a huge success, and we are very hopeful.
Chris is on strict bed rest for the remainder of the day. He’s icing his balls and typing on his computer in bed. Since I’m on day 7, I’m starting to feel pretty sore from stims. The two of us are a comically slow-moving pair right now. Maybe this is a preview of our senior years together?
I have an ultrasound and blood work tomorrow to determine when I’ll be triggering and when my retrieval will be. It’s crazy that the shots are almost over! This part has not been nearly as bad as I imagined it would be. Hopefully the rest is smooth sailing, too!