We received the diagnosis of male factor infertility when I was about 35 years old. We had been trying for a year and half and were told our only option was in-vitro fertilization with intracytoplasmic sperm injection (IVF with ICSI). Knowing that our chances were slim, but not wanting to pursue IVF because of the cost and the high tech conception, we opted to do a few unmedicated intra-uterine inseminations (IUIs) first.
We got pregnant with our son on our second IUI. I was so surprised that I briefly entertained the idea that the sperm got switched in the lab. Twenty-seven weeks later, we gave birth to our son after going into pre-term labor. His birth defects caused the labor and he was non-viable outside the womb.
Since we had conceived our son relatively easily, we thought we could do it again. We started trying again as soon as I got my next period — about two months later. We did many IUIs as I spiraled into depression. The grief of losing our son coupled with the grief of not being unable to conceive again took a great toll on both of our lives.
About a year after our son was born, we found a good counselor who helped with my depression and helped us take the next step and see an reproductive endocrinologist (RE).
We started our first IVF with ICSI cycle when I was two weeks past my 38th birthday. I was convinced it would work. After all, IUI worked for us, surely IVF would.
Over the next two years, we did four fresh IVF cycles and had two early miscarriages, one chemical and one negative beta. Although I responded well to the drugs and always had at least one top grade blast, we were not successful and given my age — now late into my 39th year — my doctor suggested donor eggs.
It was a very difficult decision. Although I believe that nature and nurture are intertwined, I believe that nature has the stronger influence. Added to that, I felt some resentment over our decision to pursue IVF instead of IUI with donor sperm, to preserve my husband’s genes. Again, I was experiencing a great deal of grief.
Although I was still grieving the loss of my genetic connection, we jumped into pursing IVF with donor eggs. Fortunately, this part of the journey went fairly quickly. We found our own known donor via a mutual friend. We cycled only two months after meeting and conceived our daughter, who was born exactly nine months after the egg retrieval.
Our daughter is now 4 months old. We continue to heal from our six years of infertility and the loss of our son. I have come to believe that there will always be some pain associated with the battles we fought – and so often lost. At the same time, we love our daughter with all our hearts and we are happier than we have been in a very long time.
We are currently saving to attempt another donor egg cycle. We have one frozen embryo from the previous cycle, but suspect we will need to do another fresh cycle. Our donor is excited about trying again, if needed. We hope to have two children, but recognize that one may be all we have. Having faced the possibility of living childfree, I am firmly of the opinion that one is better than none and two is icing on the cake.