After 8 years trying to conceive, with a diagnosis of male infertility with low count and low morphology, Jenny’s story gives hope for happy surprises when all hope was lost.
I should note that despite wonderful stories like Jenny’s, I make a point to correct my friends if they suggest that “just relaxing” could be the cure for infertility. But sometimes, “luck can be a lady” after all.
This is Jenny’s story:
My husband and I have been together for 10 years, and married for 8. Five months before we tied the knot, we decided to throw away the birth control pills. It felt so incredibly daring to do; particularly since I was 23 and he was 21 and we were both just graduating from school that fall.
We knew it might take a few months to get pregnant and we figured it was best to start early. Little did we know that it would take much more than just a few months.
First off, after stopping taking the pill (I had been on it for approximately two and a half years), I suddenly didn’t get a period for four months. I can’t even tell you how many pregnancy tests I took during that time, all of which were negative.
Month after month I didn’t get pregnant. We kept telling ourselves we just weren’t doing it at the right time, or that we weren’t having enough sex. We had absolutely no idea that there could possibly be something wrong, it never crossed our minds.
A year went by. I still wasn’t pregnant, not that we were really paying attention to ovulation or anything like that, which made it easy to make excuses. Looking back, I marvel at how much we truly didn’t know about conception.
Sometime within the first two years of being off the pill, I went to see a couple different gynecologists. One wanted to put me back on the pill for three months to “regulate” me. I remember getting very upset with him and he nonchalantly said, “Oh honey, when we see you again in five months you’ll be pregnant.” I promptly burst into tears in the office and left.
I then called a second gyno at a different office for a different opinion. I had been reading up and wanted clomid. In going into that appointment, I was pretty forceful and told the doctor exactly what I wanted and basically told him if he didn’t help me I’d seek help elsewhere. He gave me the clomid.
We were so sure that this would be the answer to our problems. I remember taking ovulation tests and getting positives and thinking that this was totally it. How could we possibly fail? But each month provided to be failures.
I was an emotional wreck by this point. And we were reaching the age where our friends were starting their families, so we were constantly inundated with pregnancy announcements and then children’s birthday party invitations. It was depressing.
I remember in on particular instance a coworker announced her pregnancy to us and it caught me off guard. I literally cried for three days about it. My boss and coworkers knew I was a mess and while it was embarrassing, I couldn’t quite tamp down those horrific feelings of being a failure. Shouldn’t having a child be easy?
And in blissful ignorance, my husband and I kept coming up with excuses about why we weren’t getting pregnant. Finally, five or so years into being off the pill and still not achieving pregnancy, I decided it was time to seek a fertility doctor, which was probably the scariest thing ever. Because I was admitting we had a problem.
My cycles have always been irregular and because of that I was certain it was me. I’d done a lot of reading and was pretty sure I had PCOS. I convinced myself that my tubes were full of cysts and that was why I wasn’t getting pregnant.
We went in to do all of our testing, and much to my surprise, all of my test results came back flawless. In fact, my hormone levels and tubes were so perfect it was ridiculous.
And then one day in May the nurse called with my husband’s results. Not only was his sperm count low, but his morphology was .5%. So of the low count he had, only .5% of them were even shaped normally. I was in shock, and the nurse gently asked if my husband was taking any prescriptions that could possibly cause his count to be low. I told her no and then we hung up.
That night I told my husband about his results. He was silent. I remember spending a few days crying quietly to myself. I didn’t want to cry in front of him because I didn’t want him to feel like he was a failure, because even though he had been quiet about it, I knew he was upset and felt as though he had failed us.
We met with the doctor and he gave us a vitamin regime and told us he’d see us in three months. At that point, we were looking at options about what we wanted to do, and realized we had some saving to do if we wanted to have a child.
I’ll readily admit, I went through a long period of anger. Anger because something that so many people have happen so easily was going to cost us thousands of dollars. Anger at what life had handed us.
And I’ll also admit that it was at this point we wondered whether it was really worth it to become parents, particularly at what it would cost us, in stress and money. We put off doing any treatments or even doing a follow up appointment. We kept talking about saving up and trying again, and at one point about two years ago my husband excitedly said he wanted me to start tracking my ovulation so we could start trying again, because he had been taking the vitamins again and wanted to try.
I think that was when I hit rock bottom. Tiredly I told him that I wasn’t even sure I wanted to go through the work of trying, it was so much work to track my ovulation each month and sex wasn’t even fun anymore because it was just work. I’m sure I disappointed him but I was just so tired.
In January of 2012, 7 1/2 years after we decided to throw caution to the wind and try to have a baby, I made a resolution to take care of myself. I started eating healthy and going to the gym. In March I signed up for a personal trainer; a year’s contract with two sessions a month. In less than six months I dropped 25 lbs.
When my health insurance was open enrollment I only signed up for $300 on my flex card, because I was going to focus on myself instead of worrying about starting a family. The lady asked me if I wanted to do more in case of potential children and I looked her dead in the eye and told her my husband and I were infertile. She had no response to that.
In the beginning of June 2012, my sister and I had a heated argument about whether I was ever going to pursue treatment. She told me she was afraid I’d put it off too long and run out of time. I told her I wasn’t even sure we would ever have children and I was starting to be ok with that. I wanted to focus on myself.
It was then that I started having weird symptoms. Symptoms like suddenly napping for no reason in the afternoons, yet I was still sleeping 9 solid hours a night. Stuff like my allergies suddenly flaring up when they never do during the summer. And then it was the off and on sore breasts when normally when I’m about to start my period they are sore and then a week later I start.
On June 21, 2012, I randomly decided to take a pregnancy test. I was getting ready to go out of town with a friend for a book conference. I honestly don’t even know what made me decide to take a test. I hadn’t taken one in well over a year. I had just felt off and wanted to rule out pregnancy (like any other month) and move on with my life. I had even went to the store and had bought pads the day before in preparation.
Imagine my shock and disbelief when my test came back positive. In fact, I was so shocked I called my best friend to confirm two lines indeed meant a positive. I was a bawling mess when I called my husband to tell him the news. I ran out to the store to pick up digital tests because I needed to see the word “pregnant.” And lo and behold, when I took that test it came back pregnant.
After nearly 8 years of using no protection, and giving up all hope that I’d ever be surprised with a pregnancy, I was pregnant.
On February 10, 2013, I gave birth to our first child, a son. He is more than I could have ever hoped for. I feel so incredibly lucky and blessed to be given a child after all of our struggles. I stare at him often in wonder and am amazed that we created him. And even though it took us almost 8 years to conceive our child, he was so very much worth the wait.