April 13, 2006

Speaking of Sperm...

My posts have been utterly devoid of humor lately, so I thought I’d share a couple of amusing sperm-related anecdotes. (After all, who doesn’t like a good sperm story?)

The first one happened a couple weeks ago, when the container for R to do his sperm DNA fragmentation test was delivered. As the Fed Ex driver carried it into our foyer, she looked at me with a puzzled expression.

Her: This doesn’t look like horse property.
Me (a bit confused): Um, no, it’s not.
Her (now a bit confused herself): But, isn’t this horse sperm? (motioning to the container)
Me (surprised): Ummm, nooo.
Her: Huh. Because I just picked one of these containers up yesterday from a house that had horse property. The woman told me to be real careful not to lose it because it was the sperm from her prize stallion and it was really important that it gets to where it’s going.
Me (at a loss for words): Oh.

She stood there, clearly expecting some sort of explanation. I’m not good at telling people “none of your business,” but over the past few years I’ve become pretty good at being blunt about infertility, so I finally decided to go that route with her.

Me: Well, there’s nothing in there at the moment, but tomorrow it will have my husband’s sperm in it.
Her (a bit taken aback): Oh. Um. Oh. Well, we deliver a lot of these. I guess you never know what’s in them.

At that point, I proceeded to launch into an explanation about the test, the lab it was being shipped to and what the results would mean. I figured, heck, if she’s curious enough to ask, she deserves answers, right? Her eyes kept darting back to her truck, no doubt trying to figure out how she could make her escape from me, the crazy infertility lady.

But I’m betting the next time she delivers a container like that to a house that isn’t on horse property, she won’t ask any questions.

Sperm-related anecdote number two happened this week. R and I made the trek to our out-of-state clinic so he could freeze some sperm there for our future IVF cycle.

After we got back home, I was having a conversation with my mom. She’s learned a lot of the infertility lingo during these past few years and can actually follow along pretty well with the medical jargon.

She asked how the trip and appointment went. She knows why we were there, and that he has also frozen sperm in the past at a local clinic.

I assured her that everything went fine. Then she lowers her voice and asks, with concern, “It doesn’t hurt him when the people at the clinic do that to him, does it?”

Oh, my! Talk about a reverse flashback moment to the preadolescent “birds and the bees” conversation she and I had. I must say, “how sperm is collected for storage” ranks at the top of the list of Things I Never Thought I’d Have to Explain to My 71-Year-Old Mother.

April 04, 2006

A Bright Spot

There has been a bright spot in our reproductive lives recently, but I’ve been so focused on not feeling well that I completely forgot to tell all of you about it. And then the bright spot got even brighter yesterday, on top of which I had a really good day in general. So now that I’ve completely confused you with my gibberish and you’re wondering if I’ve truly, finally gone mad, I will tell you all about it.

First of all, the bright spot from a week and a half ago: R has sperm again!! I try to avoid the overuse of exclamation points, since it is one of my grammatical pet peeves, but this is truly multiple-exclamation-point worthy.

How could I have forgotten to mention the sperm news? I’m not quite sure, but I did. Anyway, thanks to a drug called Arimidex, his counts have gone from practically zero (no exaggeration) to the best they’ve ever been - more than 130 million per ml, with pretty much normal motility and morphology.

Last week, he did another DNA fragmentation test, and we got the results back yesterday. His fragmentation levels went from 68 percent last fall to 27 percent. (Anything below 30 percent is considered normal.) So, YEA!!! We’re going to be traveling to cycle, and we’ve decided it would be best if he freezes the sperm at the clinic where we will cycle rather than freezing it locally. We’re going to be making a quick trip within the next week so he can do that.

Before this latest round of testing, we knew that we had three vials of his sperm that appeared to have normal levels of fragmentation. This news means we should have much more sperm to work with, which means we don’t have to depend on those three vials to build our whole family. The breathing room that gives us is a huge relief.

Given his counts and my age, we could try a couple more IUIs before trying IVF, but I’m not really inclined to spend any more time on that. We would do it at the new clinic, and our new RE, Dr. Fabulous, would put me on a different protocol, but I’m just not in the mood for something that gives us only a 15 to 20 percent chance per try. I want to get this show on the road. Now if only my GI tract would cooperate with that sentiment.

Oh, and before I forget, the counselor yesterday seemed good. It was kind of hard to say for sure, since the entire hour was spent by me trying (as quickly as possible) to recap our three-year journey through Infertility and Adoption Hell, and she mostly listened and didn’t really say a whole lot. But at least I got through it without shedding even a single tear.

Based on the limited comments she did make, she has a clear understanding of infertility and adoption issues. (She even knew the WHO standards for sperm.) And she was very nice. So next week it will be interesting to see what happens when she spends more time talking and I spend more time listening.

April 02, 2006

Hanging in There

Okay, I admit it. I need help. You’ll be glad to know that I’m hauling my sorry behind to a counselor tomorrow.

Unfortunately, the counselor I had been seeing when the first adoption fell apart is no longer on our insurance plan, which means I have to find a new one. Finding a good counselor is not an easy task, as any of you who have tried probably already know.

The first two I called, I wound up eliminating without even talking to them in person. If you can’t manage to sound warm and pleasant for 15 seconds on your voice mail message, there’s no way you’re going to manage to get through an hour of my whining and sobbing in any sort of sympathetic fashion, so let’s not even waste our time, shall we?

But the third time may truly turn out to be the charm in this case. A very nice sounding person answered when I called the third counselor on the list, and she put me through to the counselor so we could chat for a few moments. And, get this! The counselor even sounds like she gets it, like she understands infertility. She was warm, she was kind, she was sympathetic. We’ll see how long she lasts with my hysterics tomorrow.

I was starting to feel better physically until last weekend’s adoption shenanigans, and then things went on a downhill slide again. But I’m hanging in there.

I saw the gastroenterologist this week. He ordered a couple more tests that will be done over the course of this month just to rule things out, but he expects they’ll turn out normal. And then there was another little trip to the emergency room on Friday when I really started feeling crummy again.

The consensus seems to be that what I’m experiencing is “physical manifestations of extreme psychological stress.” On one hand, if that’s truly all it is, that’s great. On the other hand, the “physical manifestations” are causing more “psychological stress,” so I seem to be stuck in an unpleasant little circle of “sick-stressed-more sick-more stressed-more sick-more stressed” that I haven’t figured out how to break out of.

On the bright side of things, while my 20 pounds in 9 weeks plan didn’t happen exactly as planned, going around in this circle has caused me to drop 14 pounds. So at least I’m making progress on some front.

And, thank you once again for your kind words. As much as I seem to be in a pit lately, it helps to know there are others out there who can relate. I appreciate you all very much.