When I found out that IVF was our only option, I wanted to hear as many stories as possible about those people who “got lucky” on their first try with IVF. In the end, I wasn’t one of the lucky ones myself, but Tina’s story shows that even with severe male factor infertility, and only 20 sperm collected from TESE surgery, there’s hope for “beginner’s luck” with IVF.
This is Tina’s Story:
My husband and I live in New Zealand. We are both teachers and had always talked about wanting children. My husband wanted to start ASAP after meeting in 1997 but I wanted to do everything the right way. We traveled and lived in London for 6 years, got married in Las Vegas, returned to NZ and bought a house, got two dogs and started trying to conceive in 2005.
After a year or so nothing had happened and I had a feeling something was wrong. My husband had suffered with testicular cysts on a number of occasions so we went to a GP for tests. They all came back in the normal range so we carried on trying to conceive for another year. I took my temperature every morning, I did weekly acupuncture and basically tried every technique I had ever read about.
Finally I admitted defeat and made an appointment with a Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE). It was such a relief after all this time to hand it over to a professional. I had tried everything and we were exhausted.
We were not prepared for my husband’s first sperm analysis. There was almost no sperm found and they froze the sample and unfroze it again and found no sperm had survived freezing. We were told that IVF was our only option. Our RE said it was due to varioceles that my husband had had for many years which had now caused testicular failure. (In easy terms varioceles are like variocous veins in the testicles that cause the area to heat up and this kills off the tissue, meaning it is unable to produce sperm.)
We were told IVF with ICSI was our only option to have a baby but we needed to find sperm first. My husband took fortnightly samples, with a plan to freeze sperm as a backup in case no sperm could be found on the day of egg retrieval using TESE (Testicular Sperm Extraction). Unfortunately, no sperm was found frozen in those samples.
In New Zealand, we have an opportunity for up to two free government cycles of IVF if you meet certain factors eg. BMI, non smoking, severe Infertility, less than 40. So with a bit of weight loss and an 18 month wait-list we were ready to go.
My husband gave me my shots which included him in the process. He found it hard that after the Male Factor Infertility (MFI) diagnosis everything was then happening to me. The cycle brought us closer and we were finally ready for egg collection.
The first hurdle was to get sperm as we had not been able to freeze any as back up. We were brought in early so we had time to try and collect two fresh samples before they would operate on my husband to try and get some sperm from a biopsy. We were elated to get 20 sperm. (My husband had been on a supplement called Menovit which we believed helped.)
At egg collection, we got 12 eggs and 9 fertilized. All 9 were all grade one on day three. I had asked for a day three transfer, but my RE and embryologist convinced me to go to Day five. It was a nervous wait but we transferred one beautiful blast and froze 3 more.
I am a POAS-Holic, so at 6 days past my transfer I saw my first ever second line on a First Response test and I cried like a baby. I woke my husband up and we were so happy. During my time trying to conceive I had joined many infertility groups online and in real life, and I knew that a BFP (big fat positive in infertility lingo) did not necessarily mean a take home baby, so I was extremely anxious. The beta confirmed the pregnancy and the repeat betas increased as they should.
I managed the anxiety by seeing the pregnancy as a list of hurdles. As we reached each one I looked just to the next. I chose a private OB that worked out of my RE’s office. This was amazing, because I had continuation of care, I could still see my nurses and I got reassurance scans at each visit. I had an anterior placenta so the kicks were harder to feel and i felt them later than most.
I had a sort of survivors guilt, as many of my fellow infertility sufferers were still trying for their take home baby and it had worked first time for us.
April 19, 2010 was the most amazing day of our lives when we welcomed our daughter by c-section due to her being transverse and because I had signs of pre eclampsia. She was everything we had dreamed about and everyday we felt blessed.
As part of our funding we had our blasts frozen for up to 18 months (we would take over storage costs after that) and every transfer would be paid for if we wanted to use them for an indefinite time-frame.
So when our daughter turned one we decided to do a frozen embryo transfer (FET).
Again we were blessed first time and found out we were having a boy. I had a hassle free pregnancy and had same obs who delivered my son by c-section on January the 6th 2012.
I feel incredibly lucky to have my gorgeous children but don’t feel completely done, so in 2014 we will go visit our RE again to see if we can be incredibly lucky and have a third child from one of the two blasts frozen back in 2009. Fingers crossed our luck holds out.