We were married on December 22, 2007. During our engagement, and even prior to, we had discussed having children. Nate has an older brother and a younger sister, and Jenny is an only child. Given this, we decided that ideally we’d have four children…two boys and two girls. That way, they’d all always have somebody to play with and someone to be able to relate to. Of course, things don’t always go how you planned them. This, and following posts, are the story of how nothing went as planned for us. However, as you’ll read in a future installment, we are very pleased with the way things turned out. It just took us a long time to get to where we are today.
In December 2007, Jenny had a job as a ballet teacher. The pay wasn’t good, but she really enjoyed it, plus it was a pretty flexible schedule. Nate had just started a new job as a salesman for the country’s oldest yearbook publisher. Again, it was not a great paying job, but he had great bosses, really enjoyed learning about and teaching yearbook publishing to the students, and there was at least the prospect of higher pay as he increased his account load. Due to our financial situation at the time, we decided to put off starting a family until we were on a little more stable monetary footing.
Finally, in January of 2009, things were looking up for the prospects of starting a family. So as not to go into too much detail, we’ll just say that the first round of “fertility treatment” did not work, so we were forced to look at alternatives to getting it done naturally. Unfortunately for those who are like us (impatient people), most insurance companies make you wait a year after first trying to have children before they’ll pay for any assistive reproductive technology. Therefore, in January of 2010, Jenny’s OB/GYN was finally able to refer us to a reproductive endocrinologist at our local hospital.
We were hopeful that with a little bit of medical and technological help, Jenny would soon become pregnant and we’d be on our way to starting the family that we had looked forward to for the past two-plus years; and that we had been talking about for probably five years prior to this point in time. Sometimes it hard to stay positive when you don’t know what the cause of your infertility is (and as you’ll see in subsequent posts, we didn’t always manage to do so), but we remained hopeful and Jenny continued to prepare for motherhood by reading books such as What to Expect Before You’re Expecting, What To Expect When You’re Expecting, and Every Drunken Cheerleader: Why Not Me? while Nate prepared for impending fatherhood by reading How to Raise a Gentleman and How To Raise a Lady.
“We encourage you to go home and have intercourse, and of course, if it works, we like to think that we played a part in that.”
In any case, before we could have our first round of IUI treatments (Intrauteran Insemination), Nate had to provide a sample of his “genetic material” in order to rule out a low count or “slow swimmers.” That ended up not being the cause of the infertility, so the next step was full-blown IUI cycles. And let us tell you…IUI cycles are no walk in the park.
First, Jenny had to let her doctor know when her cycle began. Two or three days later, she went in for bloodwork and an ultrasound; these two procedures are collectively known as “monitoring.” Subsequently, on day five, she started a five-day round of an oral medication; the first time, it was Clomid. The next time it was Tamoxifen. Either of these medications help to stimulate production of egg follicles. Then on day ten, Jenny had to go back to the doctor’s office for monitoring at which point the ultrasound determined the size of the egg follicles. Because the follicles were mature, the doctor directed us to administer a trigger shot of Ovidrel, which Nate administered. There are other HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) injectables, but this is the one our doctor decided would be best.
This shot triggers (see why they call it a trigger shot? :-)) ovulation 36 hours later, at which point, Nate produced a “sample” for use in the treatment. The trick with the sample is that it needs to be in the lab within an hour, so it needs to be produced that the doctor’s office. Either that, or the man needs to live close enough and/or drive fast enough to get it there in time, all the while keeping the specimen cup close to his body in order to keep the temperature as close to 98.6° as possible. Luckily, we only live 15 minutes from the lab, so…
Anyway…in any IUI treatment, after the genetic material is harvested, the lab technician then puts it into a centrifuge to prepare the sample for the final step. This spinning off of the sample is known as “sperm washing.” For an IUI to be performed, the semen sample must be washed free of debris; white blood cells, and prostaglandins, which can cause the uterus to contract. The processing removes dead sperm and concentrates the sperm into a small volume that can easily be handled by the uterus. Finally, the concentrated sperm concoction is injected into the woman’s uterus by way of a pipette.
Jenny endured two IUI cycles (a month apart). The trips to the doctor’s office to complete each cycle of IUI were relatively unremarkable, however, there was one moment during the first visit that was particularly comical when the doctor suggested, “We encourage you to go home and have intercourse, and of course, if it works, we like to think that we played a part in that.”
Of course, this wouldn’t be much of a story if it had worked the first, or even the second time. However, it did not…and then, the unexpected happened. The company that Nate worked for, the one that carried our health insurance, restructured their regional managers. This itself is not particularly newsworthy, but what ended up happening next was. Without warning, the new regional manager decided to clean house and lay off the whole Massachusetts sales force. Nate was without a job and we were without the health insurance which would’ve allowed us to continue with fertility treatment.
To be continued…