Another eventful week last week.
Monday was a crazy day. It started with me being yelled at by a potential client’s parent for something that was absolutely not my fault. What a way to start the week. Then Bob and I had a phone conference with Dr. E about the pros and cons of keeping the appointment with the urologist. She explained to us that we have been on this journey for too long, that she only has this one shot with us with this donor, so she wanted to gather all the information necessary to make the best decision. A visit with a urologist would tell us whether or not Bob had varicocele in his testes that contributes to the borderline abnormal DNA fragmentation test results and the urologist’s recommendation. If a surgery is recommended, recovery will only be two weeks but the DFI results take about 6 months to improve. Dr. E reassured us that our donor who is not available after September will be available again in January. So if we really need a surgery, we will not lose our donor. That was such a reassurance that did put my mind at ease.
You know what else happened? On that same day, a dear blog friend of mine who lives on the East Coast notified me that she knew of a pregnant woman who was due any day and was considering finding a Christian couple who wanted to do open adoption. My friend knew that we hadn’t definitively talked about adoption but she thought of us immediately when she learned about it. She asked, “If a baby fell into your lap, would you be open to adopting?”
I had never anticipated that I would be asked such a question. My first reaction was YES I would welcome any baby that God entrusts to us! I immediately asked Bob who enthusiastically said, “Let’s do it! I’m all in!” I just love this man and his willingness to be open. We knew that this particular baby would be of a different racial makeup than us but we didn’t care. We were genuinely interested and were humbly following where God might lead us. After understanding more about the situation, which I don’t have the liberty to share here, we decided to write the pregnant woman a letter to let her know who we were, what brought us to this point, and our desires to be parents. It wasn’t an easy letter to write. How does one begin to write a letter to the mother of your potential baby? I decided to just be myself and wrote a letter from my heart detailing about ourselves, our dreams, and our trust in God. I could only imagine how difficult it must have been for this woman to consider adoption. I prayed for her and the situation before I started the letter. After the letter was forwarded to my friend to forward to the mother, I prayed again for her for wisdom that would come from God. I felt at peace with whatever that might happen and just wanted to do God’s will.
That was Monday. And what has happened after that? Absolutely nothing. We haven’t heard from the pregnant lady and I haven’t checked with my dear blog friend about the situation. If it is meant to be, it will happen. Maybe this lady decides to parent. Maybe she has found another family. Whatever happened, I just pray that it is for the best interest of the baby and the mother. But I did allow myself to daydream about having my baby in my arms in the immediate future. It was a nice dream and I don’t regret putting ourselves out there being vulnerable at all. Our reaction to this potential offer tells us a lot about how ready we are to have a baby whichever way God plans for us to start and complete our family.
Fast forward to Thursday, our appointment with the urologist. The doctor is a big name in the city who seems to be known by many people. He was very nice and sounded very caring. He complained a little about us not sending him any medical records. I actually didn’t know that we needed to send him any records. Bob was the one dealing with the medical history and paperwork. I guess he didn’t take care of that part. D. Big Name was happy that I was there because I remembered all the details about our many many cycles. I also brought the fertilization records of the cycles with Dr. E so we had the semen analysis there. All the semen analyses were normal. Bob is healthy. Apparently there is a small percentage of men who are healthy and have normal semen analysis who do have DNA fragmentation problems that are caused by varicocele, which is an enlarged vein of the testes. He was expressing regrets that we had done so many cycles with our own eggs and donor eggs without consulting with a urologist about any male factor problems. He thinks that a visit with the urologist should be done before any treatment begins.
Before the appointment, I had a feeling that Bob did have varicocele. Don’t ask me why. I just had a hunch. We have everything stacked against us for so long. I had a feeling that we would be on the wrong side of statistics again. Dr. Big Name and Bob went next door for a quick physical exam. When they returned three minutes later, Dr. Big Name was busy searching for articles from his file cabinet without saying a thing. That took another minute. I was anxious to know the results. He finally stopped being busy and said that Yes, Bob did have varicocele on the left side, which is the usual side for varicocele. My heart sank even though I had anticipated it. I just kept on thinking what else could go wrong?
Dr Big Name went on to explain how varicocele was formed and the reason for a surgery. He showed us pictures and graphics on the computer. When he got to the slide of the surgery on the screen, he skipped it over and told us that we were actually going to talk about the reasons we should NOT do the surgery. The next slide showed a picture and the term Physiological ICSI, or PICSI. In his opinion, this technique of selecting sperm is going to help us find the sperm that is not damaged by DNA fragmentation and is good enough for us to proceed with our donor egg cycle. If I were any younger and trying with my own eggs, Dr. Big Name thinks that a surgery would make sense to increase the chances of natural conception or the success of IUI. But we are already going to use DE and we have been on this journey long enough, he thinks that PICSI is a great alternative for us to select the right sperm and thus help us bypass the DNA fragmentation problems. Since Bob has a large quantity of sperm, 31% DNA fragmentation plus 6% (normal range) of something called High DNA Stainability means that over 60% of the sperm should be normal. Following that logic, there should be good sperm for us to choose from. He is happy that Bob has been on supplements and thinks that it is safe for us to proceed with our donor cycle in September. I asked if it is possible for sperm to not bond in the PICSI process and in turn no sperm would be selected. He said that it does happen in some cases but in our situation, highly unlikely. He said that of course urologists would want to operate on people but he is there for care. Looking at our overall situation, he thinks that this is the best course of action. He doesn’t think that Bob needs to repeat the DNA fragmentation test. If the results are better, we may feel encouraged. But if the results are worse, we may get discouraged but in reality they don’t matter since PICSI and supplements are enough to help. At the end of the visit, Dr. Big Name said that he was amazed at how well I was doing given our long complicated history. He looked me in my eyes, shook my hands, and asked us to keep him updated.
We feel fortunate that surgery is not recommended. I mean, Bob would do it if it was required. But it is a relief that we can move forward. However, we are disappointed that no one had ever mentioned about this potential problem that could have been fixed a long time ago. Dr. Big Name came from our previous clinic and is familiar with the REs there. He commented that Dr. No Nonsense, my former RE, is not a believer in sperm DNA fragmentation and its potential effects on embryo quality. We would have held off on the frozen donor egg cycle had we known about his varicocele and sperm DNA fragmentation problem. In the world of reproductive health, females’ eggs are quick to be blamed and male factor problems are not taken as seriously. Originally Bob was not comfortable with me blogging about this. But he eventually agreed to let me share about it because he really wanted a public service announcement for those who are considering doing IUI or IVF cycles to also check male factor problems that are not obviously shown in a regular semen analysis. It could really play a role in the success of your cycles.
Dr. E has already given us the donor’s calendar. She is happy that Dr. Big Name recommended the same treatment plan as hers and we are good to go. The tentative retrieval date is set for September 1st. It is exciting but at the same time nerve wracking. I just want some embryos to transfer. We are currently in the process of reviewing the donor agreement drafted by our attorney. The donor-related fees have already been sent to the escrow company. We also have a lead for a potential surrogate with the Christian surrogate agency that we mentioned about. I will write more about that in the future, but it is an exciting time that if everything falls into place, we could have a transfer in September.
I am trying my best to not get stressed out about things as these things take so much coordination and everything is at stake here. But I always remind myself to take a step back and be thankful for this moment to which God has brought us. We are both healthy. We are blessed with the means to make surrogacy happen. Sometimes the stress does get to us. Bob is definitely feeling it and it is manifesting itself in every aspect of our lives. However, I am going to take it one day at a time and choose to believe that God has His hands in all of this. I choose to believe that one day soon we will have our baby in our arms.