IVF #2: Decision-Making Standstill


We met with our RE on Friday for blood work and an ultrasound. As he was speaking with us, he mentioned our PGS results and said, “Now you guys just have to decide which embryo you want to transfer.”

“Just one?” I clarified.

He launched into an explanation of higher risks associated with multiples, and how if it were his kid and his choice, he’d choose just one. He added that at my age (31) I’m likely to bounce back from a singleton pregnancy, but twins would do a number on my body. “You don’t want all that saggy skin,” he harped.

No, I don’t want saggy skin. Most of all, I don’t want to put my babies at risk. I don’t want to put myself at risk, either. What do I want? To be pregnant. To deliver happy, healthy, baby(ies).

This advice from our RE is a little unexpected. When we interviewed Dr. W, we loved that he said we could transfer two embryos, and we would. Why the change of tune? I didn’t ask, because I was in too much shock. Is it because we did PGS and filtered out the ones he knew wouldn’t stick? I’m so confused, and frankly disappointed.

Last time we transferred one embryo, because it was all we had. In return, we got nothing but a negative beta, devastation, and complete heartache. I really liked the security of transferring two this time. In my mind, it sets us up for a greater chance of success. I wonder how much more we have the ability to endure. Are we strong enough to go through that pain again? I am afraid it might break me.

Then I think it through and realize, the thing that would break me more is to feel like I made the wrong choice. Heaven forbid we choose to transfer two embryos, and that decision is at the cost of the health or lives of our babies. Damn you, infertility. Fertile couples don’t have to make decisions like this.

Chris and I have talked circles around what to do, and what the best decision will be for us and for our family. All we’ve concluded is that this is a more difficult conversation than we realized it would be. To be honest, we are pretty stressed about making the right choice, and that has resulted in us treating each other less than our best. I love that we’re aware of this, and we’re doing everything in our power to turn it around, work together, and get on the same page. We know we’ll figure this out together. Eventually. 😉

Mr. Hopeful Explains What It’s Like To Have A MESA/ TESE Procedure


The purpose of this post, dear reader, is to relay experience gained through two separate procedures—two MESAs and one TESE—in hopes of helping my fellow men who may be facing similar procedures as a result of male factor infertility. Prior to my first MESA procedure, I scoured the Internet trying to gain a sense of what to expect, yet all I came up with was technical jargon and basic explanations. As such, I’m providing this boots-on-the-ground narrative in an attempt to help shed light on the procedures and educate others as to what to expect.

Fair warning: the following contains graphic content. Prior to my first MESA procedure, I would have loved to read a no-B.S. assessment of what I was getting myself into. As such, I’ve written this post in the same straight-up, conversational manner that I’d use if talking to another man about the topic. I’ve used jargon that you may find offensive. There’s definitely TMI contained in the following paragraphs, and if you have a weak stomach, are easily grossed out/offended, or just plain don’t want to read a firsthand description of what it’s like to have a testicle cut open, you’d better skip this blog.

A note to all the women who may read this blog: I am under no false illusions that your involvement in the IVF process is immeasurably harder and more physically uncomfortable, humiliating, and demanding that mine—and that’s before you (hopefully) carry and deliver a baby! In no way am I trying to diminish your contribution by describing what I have been through; I’m merely trying to accurately convey my experience in hopes of taking some of the fear and mystery out of the procedure(s) for the benefit of other men. I’ll be the first to admit that men are tough…but women are much, much tougher!

OK, now that you’ve been warned/notified, let’s get started:

My first procedure was scheduled to be a MESA—short for Microsurgical Retrieval of Epididymal Sperm—or, as I read it in my head every time, “Mildly Embarrassing Sperm Acquisition.” Those of you who have followed our blog will likely remember that I was born with congenital absence of the vas deferens, meaning that I don’t have any tubes connecting my nuts to the rest of the system. Translation? I produce sperm but don’t deliver it, meaning that in order to get my half of the IVF recipe, my urologist needs to physically retrieve it. Lucky me.

Dr. W is without a doubt one of the best male fertility specialists in the business. At about six-and-a-half feet tall, he’s also likely one of the biggest. I felt comfortable from the moment that I met him, and he assured me that he would do everything in his power to make the procedure a successful one.

My balls—and our reproductive future—were soon in his large and competent hands.

Although I’ve done this procedure twice at two different IVF clinics, both times Dr. W traveled to the clinic to perform the procedure. For the sake of eliminating redundancy, I’ll describe the second, more successful procedure, adding in notes from the first when relevant.

The day of the second procedure also marked my wife’s retrieval, since we didn’t want to have to freeze my sperm. She went first, and I sat quietly in the waiting room and kept a good thought for both of us. I have had a number of surgeries in my life and wasn’t too nervous, but I definitely felt my adrenaline spike when they asked me to come in back and start getting ready.

Heather was already in recovery at that point, and I filled out paperwork while doing my best to take care of her. Pretty soon, the nurses opened up the curtain divider to reveal another hospital bed, and asked me to get changed into a gown and socks that were sitting in a neat pile. I couldn’t help but laugh at the nurse’s attempt at modesty when she came back and asked through the curtain if I was changed and decent. Really, lady? I thought. You’re about to see my junk under an 800 lumen light, and you want to make sure I’m dressed? I played along and after kissing my still-drugged wife and taking a quick piss for good luck, it was off to the operating room.

Dr. W had already arrived and was prepping his tools while singing along to an obscure ’70s hit song that was blasting through the overhead speaker in the room. With the help of a nurse, he directed me to lie down on the main operating table with an array of pillows jammed underneath my head and shoulders to keep me from moving around (and, I suspect, watching).

At this point, I asked for a blanket for my chest. Now, my cold tolerance is insane, but I have very little body fat, and the room was cool enough that I knew I’d be shaking like a jackhammer in about ten minutes if I didn’t have more insulation (normally I’d be content to just shiver, but given that in the next ten minutes I’d have needles and razors applied to my scrotum, I opted for the snivel gear).

With the same casual familiarity of a professional chef flipping a pancake, Dr. W flipped back the gown to reveal my family jewels. I glanced at the nurse to gauge her reaction; she looked about as unsurprised as a librarian walking past a shelf full of books. I took this to be a good thing and tried to prep myself for what I knew was coming.

The first thing Dr. W did was compliment me on the job I’d done shaving “the area.” I’ve had enough surgeries to know the drill, and he seemed as happy to not have to shave my sack as I was. Next, Dr. W warned that things would get “cold and wet” and proceeded to dump what felt like a 5-gallon bucket of ice-cold liquid iodine on my crotch. I felt myself inhale sharply as the iodine ran down my legs and all over the place, and soon Dr. W was smearing it around in as professional a manner as one can when smearing a slippery liquid over another man’s crotch. Next, Dr. W used some scotch tape—yes, the same stuff we all used in elementary school to hang up pictures—to tape my shaft to my stomach. I was happy to have it out of the way (not that either he or the nurse would slip with a kitchen knife—but hey, better safe than sorry!).

Dr. W then asked if I was ready to get started, and warned that I’d feel a “pinch and a burn” as he numbed the area. Now, there are many ways to describe having a needle stuck into one of the most sensitive spots on your body, and pinch and a burn is not the first that comes to mind. I bit my lip and reminded myself that my wife has had to endure similar experiences, and at a far greater frequency than this. Dr. W numbed the area to his liking. While I couldn’t feel the incision—or anything in that general region, for that matter—I could feel it in my stomach (every guy knows that if you get hit in the balls hard enough, your stomach hurts. This came on as a dull but bearable ache that remains for about a week or two).

At this point, Dr. W’s next actions aren’t entirely known to me, since I wasn’t directly watching (nor did I want to be) and, thankfully, I couldn’t feel much more than a muted tugging and slight pressure. I could tell that he was cutting into my skin and epididymis to retrieve a sample. The first time I had this done, the clinic-supplied nurse was borderline incompetent. While Dr. W pushed “fluid” out of the epididymis, she sucked it up with a syringe. Or, at least she pushed it around while Dr. W futility attempted to coach her through the process. Later, when she left the room, I asked if she was qualified to do this procedure. He said that she was but I could sense his frustration at her inability to do what he needed her to do.

Fortunately, the second nurse—whom I’m guessing is an employee of our current IVF clinic—was an absolute pro. She did exactly what Dr. W needed her to do, and soon he was leaving the room to view the sample under a microscope with the lab techs. I noticed that a second female nurse had entered the room. All modesty had left us at that point; whether she was there to help—or just view my fine china—I really didn’t care. We made awkward conversation while I stared at the vent in the ceiling wondering what bacteria was flowing into the room and my still-splayed-open nutsack.

The first time we did this procedure, Dr. W came shuffling into the room 10 minutes later and explained that he’d only found dead sperm. In the next few minutes, my MESA procedure became a TESE (Testicular Sperm Extraction or, as I came to refer to it, Total Emergency Sperm Exploration) as Dr. W went directly into my nut to try to get what he needed. Several trips back and forth to the lab and he had a few “twitching” sperm, but I could tell he wasn’t pleased.

Fortunately, my second procedure was completely different. I’d been taking daily fistfuls of supplements for months in hopes of raising my sperm quality; in the process, I’d become incredibly moody and I’d put on about 8 pounds of muscle (understandable, since my testosterone was through the roof and I was, in effect, juicing). But this regiment of chemicals resulted in a body composition change that fired up my little swimmers in a big way.

Soon, Dr. W came bursting into the room like Kramer from Seinfeld and proudly announced that I had millions of sperm. Millions! He said that the lab techs were high-fiving each other, and the sample looked so good that it could have come from a normal ejaculation. Words cannot convey how utterly relieved we both were to hear this result. As Dr. W jostled some tools and papers around the operating room, my thoughts returned to my wife, who had since left the clinic under the care of a friend to get some much-needed rest. I couldn’t wait to tell her the positive news, and that I felt like we were “back in the game” as far as becoming parents to our own children. Coincidentally, I noticed that the song that was now blasting through the overhead speaker was “All You Need Is Love” by The Beatles. I can tell you this: if this cycle is successful, that song will never sound quite the same as it did before this procedure.

It wasn’t long before Dr. W began buttoning things up. He was smiling and very upbeat; I was pleased to see that he was truly invested in a positive outcome for us. Now that the pressure was seemingly off, we began casually conversing about a variety of manly topics—our shared affinity for martial arts, the folly of trying to out-swim a Navy SEAL BUD/S instructor, and the prevalence of Kalashnikov rifles in third world countries were all discussed as he stitched up my still-numb junk. The tough-guy conversation was likely not unintentional; I suspect that it was our shared way of acknowledging each other and saying, Look, this is as close to pillow talk as IVF gets. Neither of us particularly enjoyed this, but we’re both damn happy with how it went. Let’s get this done and be through with it.

The administering of the sutures was unpleasant (each time he tugged on the string, my boys momentarily left the surface of the table, like an adult-themed puppet covered in drying iodine). Again, Dr. W’s competence and professionalism ruled out, and he was finished before I knew it. The nurse left the room, and without further instructions I gently pulled all of the blankets to the ground and, after a sincere thank-you and a firm handshake with my towering doctor, I shuffled for the recovery room, where I quickly ditched my iodine-and-who-knows-what-else-stained gown and donned a set of tri-shorts (I’ve found these offer the best post-procedure support; jock straps can be a little too tight and actually hurt a little if they get out of place). The nurses gave me a few ice-packs, which I gratefully shoved down my shorts, and after waving off additional pain meds and throwing on the rest of my clothes, I was soon out on the curb and grabbing a ride from our friend. We then drove to pickup my wife, at which point I got behind the wheel and piloted us home. You’re technically not supposed to drive after this procedure, but if I was going to be sitting, I figured I might as well drive. Plus, my dear wife was still looped out from her procedure.

This photo was taken of my immediately following my first MESA procedure. As you can see, I was a little rattled by the experience.

This photo was taken of my immediately following my first MESA procedure. As you can see, I was a little rattled by the experience.

As the local anesthetic wore off and we arrived at home, I found myself in quite a bit of pain, but nothing that lying down and icing—combined with a single Tylenol—didn’t fix. In the next 24 hours, I ran a few errands to pickup take-out and to get my antibiotics from the pharmacy, but otherwise I stayed put and let the ice do its work (frequent icing is key to managing the swelling). Walking was a ginger affair for about two days, but within four days I was back at work (which entailed me being in disgusting, dirty, frigid ocean water while wearing an exposure suit doing mock emergency swimmer ascents from an imaginary submarine. Hurray for antibiotics!) Suffice it to say, nobody at work knew what I had been through, and within five days of my procedure I was riding a mountain bike (much to my wife’s chagrin. But to be honest, she knew what she was getting into when she married me).

Final note: I slept with a pillow between my knees for about ten days. The stitches go away on their own after a few weeks. About the time you get used to them, you realize that they’ve fallen out or dissolved or something.

And that, my friends, is what it’s like to have a MESA procedure. Let’s hope that it wasn’t for nothing!

IVF #2: Cycle Update and PGS Results

Aunt Flo decided to grace us with her presence on Monday. TMI alert: this month she’s been ugly. Super heavy flow, horrible cramps…pretty much miserable. I know it was heavy after our first IVF cycle, but I don’t remember it being THIS bad. Regardless, sometimes in IVF seeing your period is pretty exciting.  It means things are rolling again, so bring it on!

Our transfer date is scheduled for September 21st. In preparation for transfer, I started taking birth control again, and I’ll be on that for about 10 days. At the beginning of September, I start Delestrogen injections, which I’ll do every third day. This is different than my last doctor who had me on estrogen pills. The medication is in castor oil, and it looks super thick. It’ll be interesting to see how that feels to inject. I’ll also be taking Endometrin vaginally 3x/day (which means I get to take it to work–oh how fun!). Additionally, I will be taking Progestrone lozenges 3x daily underneath the tongue. They are weird looking purple squares that smell like grapes:

Lovely lozenges 😉

Our nurse called this morning to tell us our PGS results were in, and ask of we’d like to know the genders. In this crazy process, I try to look for all the cool aspects. Of course I want to know the genders! That’s not something fertile couples get to know right away. I want all to experience all the “perks” IVF has to offer, because let’s be honest, there aren’t a ton!

Of our seven embryos, all are boys expect for ONE! Of the seven, FOUR are normal. I’m grateful to say, my one little princess is among the “normal” ones! It’s always sad to see embryos not develop, or develop abnormally. We’re really happy to have four still, but there’s a little bit of heartache that comes with learning some of our embies have chromosomal issues.


Our PGS results in detail.

I’m so grateful we decided to do PGS. I feel like it will ultimately save us a lot of heartache. It’s really fun to know the genders, and to think about what decision we are going to make regarding transfer. We would like to transfer two embryos, and we’d love at least one boy and one girl in our family. I’ve always wanted a little girl, so I am really hoping she is a strong fighter, and makes it all the way. Of course, we wish that for all of them. 

We keep going back and forth about which gender combo to transfer first. There are benefits to both. If we transfer two boys, and are lucky enough to deliver two bouncing babies, they’ll have a built in playmate for life. If we transfer a boy and a girl and both make it, it’ll be really amazing to raise boy/girl twins who have an understanding and compassion for the opposite sex. Hopefully our doctor can help guide our decision a bit further with embryo grading information. We’re feeling pretty torn about which direction to go, but so thankful to feel like we have a choice. 💙💗



IVF #2: Embryo Report

Our little miracles have been growing away in the lab, and the time has come to announce our final count for blastocysts for round #2! On day five (yesterday) of development, we had a total of five blastocysts. The embryologist decided to keep watching a couple other slightly slower growing embryos into day six, and we gained two more. Our grand total for round two is SEVEN blastocysts!!! We are elated! 

I am still in shock. The sting of our first round made me so cautious with my emotions. IVF #1 was traumatizing. This result for round two feels surreal. I know we still have a long way to go, and it’s far from over, but we are definitely seeing signs of wonderful progress. We are staying super positive, and hope this good news keeps coming!

Next on the agenda is PGS on all our blastocysts. We’ll get the results back in about two weeks, which means a bit more waiting. However, having several blasts gives us reassurance. We are confident there will be some very healthy little embabies in the group. Best case scenario, we’ll never have to do a full round of IVF again. Wow, I like the sound of that!

We’re not sure of our transfer date at this point. I am supposed to phone our nurse when my period arrives, and we’ll go from there. Nothing is certain, but I have a really good feeling about this. For the first time in months, maybe even years, I feel confident about our future as parents. 💗

IVF #2: Fertilzation Quickie Update

After a very excited, relatively sleepless night, I was jarred awake by the sound of the telephone. One look at the area code, and I knew it was the doctors office. I took a deep breath and answered. 

The nurse told me she had great news, and she wasn’t kidding. Of our 25 eggs, they were able to perform ICSI on 19 of them and 17 fertilized. 

17!!!!!! Is this real life?!

We’ll update after the blastocyst report on Wednesday. We hope the news continues to be this mind-blowingly awesome. 😊

IVF #2: Egg Retrieval and MESA Results are in!

 What do the following have in common: the number typically reserved for the best slugger on a baseball team, the atomic number of the element manganese, and the minimum age for candidates for the United States House of Representatives? They all represent the same number–25! That’s ALSO the number of eggs we got at our retrieval today! In IVF #1 back in May we had 15 eggs, so we’re happy to have 10 more chances at embryos this time around. That’s great news, but the good news doesn’t stop there. 

As we’ve previously shared, Chris has congenital bilateral absence of the vas deferens. Simply put, it’s like being born with an irreversible vasectomy. We have to do IVF in order to have kids because his sperm doesn’t come out of his testicles when he ejaculates seminal fluid. Those of you who followed our journey with IVF #1 might remember last time around, Chris’s procedure did not go very well. During round one, on the day of his MESA, the urologist could not find any sperm in the epididymal tissue. He had to dig deeper, making the procedure a last-minute TESE. After taking a biopsy of Chris’s right testical they only found one twitching sperm. Over a few days of incubation, they were able to find more twitchers, but the quality and motility was very poor. This resulted in only one viable embryo from round one. It didn’t implant, and we were devastated. 

After taking Clomid and Naturally Smart for Men for several months, Chris was hopeful his sperm quality would be better for round two. The urologist started the procedure off as a MESA, once again. This time, they found sperm in the epididymis, and not just a few…MILLIONS! The urologist said under the microscope they were darting around like normal, ejaculated sperm. He told Chris the technicians in the lab were literally high-fiving one another! This makes their job with ICSI so much easier. We are thrilled!!!

Tomorrow we’ll find out how many of our eggs fertilized. Next Wednesday we’ll hear how many are blastocysts that will be frozen. Then, the blastocysts will be biopsied for PGS, and we will get those results back in two weeks. It’s crazy that in two and a half weeks we’re going to know a lot of info about our babies. 

We know from personal experience that IVF can be times of very high highs, and others can be very low lows. We don’t have our head in the clouds, and are staying very grounded. However, this news makes us feel like there is hope for us. We’re not out of the game. That is definitely something to celebrate. 

Thank you for all the good thoughts and prayers. We feel your love, and we are incredibly grateful for all the support! 💗

IVF/ICSI/TESE #2: Tomorrow

The past 24 hours have been a complete blur. We received the sad news that Chris’s uncle lost his battle with cancer late yesterday. Chris has been such a pillar of strength for his family throughout his uncle’s treatment and hospice care. Today has been rough on him. We’re comforted by knowing his uncle is now in a much better place; free from suffering and pain. We haven’t been able to slow down to fully process this loss, as our plans with IVF are in full swing at the moment. 

I had my first trigger shot at 12:15 AM, and my second at 12:15 PM today. My first shot was an hCG/Lupron combo, and the second shot was solely Lupron. The nurses performed a blood test to make sure that my body was responding well to the hCG in the trigger. Everything looks like it’s on track, and going smoothly, and we’re very grateful for that. 


We hope all these little vials will aid us in creating the love of our lives!

Chris spoke with his urologist, who performed a blood test to see how his body had been responding to the Clomid and antioxidants. In the words of the urologist, he’s responded to the meds “ridiculously well.” Testosterone levels should be at about 1200, and Chris’s testosterone levels are currently at 1204. The urologist cautioned us that this cannot be a complete predictor for sperm quality, but we’re still incredibly encouraged by this news.

It’s a big day for us tomorrow. First, I will be admitted for my egg retrieval which will take place around 11:15 AM. Then, Chris will have his TESE procedure sometime around 1 PM. After that, the lab will be immediately performing IVF via ICSI. This is the most involved form of IVF, where the lab will directly inject a single sperm into each mature egg. Then, the waiting begins again. We’re ready for a weekend on the couch, watching movies, taking it easy, and being together. 
After five days, we will know how many embryos have made it to the blastocyst stage of development. These will be frozen for future transfer, as my body recovers from all the hormones. We’ve also opted to go with pre-genetic screening (PGS) of each embryo this round. This will automatically filter out the embryos that are not healthy, or fit to transfer. We’ve chosen this option as a way to protect ourselves from the pain of a loss, although PGS does not completely rule that out. We are sincerely hoping for the best, while simultaneously trying to keep a realistic perspective. 

Thanks in advance for keeping our family in your thoughts and prayers. 💗

IVF #2: Quick Follicle Update

My follies are getting close, but need at least one more night of stims, according to our RE at our ultrasound appointment today. He said we have 16 growing, which is a healthy number. He said couples with the greatest success in IVF typically have 7-15 follicles, so we’re almost in the “sweet spot.” These are odds in our favor we will happily accept. Come on, lucky 16!

An update on the Ganirelix: the medication doesn’t hurt at all, but I find the needle to be somewhat dull. It’s hard to puncture the skin, and isn’t very comfortable to fully insert, or withdraw. For a medication that is over $100 per syringe, you’d think they could improve it a bit.

My stomach is really sore from all the pokes, and I’m looking nice and bloated so I’d love to wrap it up soon. Our egg retrieval and TESE procedures will likely take place on Friday of this week if all looks good at our follow-up ultrasound tomorrow. Please send good thoughts our way!

Mr. Hopeful Opens Up

“It’s OK, Cornelius. You can cry.”

Earlier today, my wife and I attended our first peer-led infertility support group. She found the group on Resolve’s website, and it just so happened that today they were encouraging spouses, husbands, and partners to join in. The meeting itself was held in an unassuming two-story community center with ample parking, a neatly-trimmed hedgerow, and two long, deep trenches in the sidewalk from where my heels had gouged the concrete as my wife dragged me in the side door by my shirt collar.

Am I supportive of my lovely bride? Absolutely; I’d march straight down to hell and bite the tongue off the devil if she asked me to. But was I excited for the support group? Not in the least. It’s not that I’m not a social person, but I really don’t like being put on the spot. During our drive to the support group, I imagined myself sitting in the middle of a circle full of coffee-swilling strangers, being peppered by questions about my infertility. And for a knuckle-dragging Alpha-male like myself, exposing to strangers my inability to reproduce is leaps and bounds more embarrassing than showing up in my boxers would have been. Maybe I would have felt differently if I wasn’t the reason that we are doing all of this in the first place, but as it were I was perfectly content to keep my support group attendance in the same category as my vas deferens—ABSENT!

Now, to Quentin Tarantino this story and jump to the end, I walked out of the meeting 90 minutes later and delivered to my wife the four simple words that every woman in the world delights in hearing: “You were right, dear.” As it turns out, I couldn’t have been more wrong about the support group. In no way was it like any of the support groups in Fight Club; nobody put me on the spot, there was no coffee, and I didn’t end up having to hug any strangers (no offense to strangers, I’m just kinda partial to my boundaries).

The truth is that the meeting was amazing in that it made me realize that there are other people out there who feel the same way that my wife and I do. Looking back, this sense of community shouldn’t have been as astonishing as it was, but I truly was caught off guard by how safe I felt the minute the talking started. As each individual and couple took turns sharing their story, I felt less like an alien and more….well, normal, I suppose. Those of you who are infertile can probably relate to the feeling of seeing children in public and feeling like an outcast, a misfit, and a failure. But when surrounded by others who are dealing with similar situations, I began to see that while there was a lot of sadness in the various individuals in the room, there was also a ton of strength. Each and every couple that spoke had clearly been tempered by the fires of loss and despair, and yet had bounced back up to try again (and, in some cases, again and again and again). My heart broke as many of the women burst into tears while talking, and yet I was encouraged by the compassion that everyone in that room showed. These may have been strangers, but they clearly had each others’ backs—and ours.

When it came time for us to share our story, my wife gave me an encouraging nod and I began recounting our journey, beginning with the phone call from our doctor on my 30th birthday letting me know that I had zero sperm. Interestingly enough, I sensed that I had more in common with most of the women in the room than the men, simply because the majority of the couples there were dealing with female infertility. I’d like to think that I gave the dudes some insight into how to hold their wives emotionally—primarily because I’ve got a bit of training in this regard, and also due to the fact that my wife has been such a complete and total rockstar throughout this process, having handled me in a very loving and empathetic manner and never once causing me to feel guilty or blamed for our infertility. One thing that was cool was that after I spoke, another husband in the room shared his story of infertility, and as he was talking I was reminded that I am not the only man on the planet who cannot have children the ‘natural way’. I understood what this guy had gone through, quite possibly better than his own wife in some ways because I could connect with the roller-coaster that we had both been on individually. Finding another person who had endured this pain and survived was strangely comforting, and I could feel the icy wall of isolation that I’ve felt for the past few months begin to melt away a tiny bit.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by this experience. Previously, any sense of community that I’ve felt during this process has been limited to online blogs and awkward, wordless encounters with other patients in our IVF clinics. But to sit at a table (not a circle of chairs, mind you) and discuss the issue with other living, breathing humans who truly understand what we’re going through was a very good feeling. As we exited the parking lot, I was struck by a profound thought: every single person in that room who showed up to participate would make an award-winning parent.

I pray to God that each and every one of us gets that chance.