After years of separation due to training, deployments, schools and just military life in general, we would finally be in the same zip code and under the same roof. By this point in life I graduated college, had a stable career, a house, a spouse, and it was now time to grow our family. I returned to the states to find that my husband had purchased a complete nursery for me as our anniversary gift. In short we were ready to make our baby. I approached baby making as I had most things up to this point in my life, with a sledge hammer.
For three months we tried unsuccessfully, to grace the world with our offspring. At this point more annoyed than concerned, for years my biggest fear was becoming pregnant and now that I wanted to be pregnant it was taking forever!! In hindsight I was an idiot, three months was just a blip in my timeline. Undeterred, I decided to add ovulation strips to our timed intercourse, still nothing. Month six came and small voice in the back of my head started to suggest that there may just be an issue.
Dr. Google informed me that it takes an average of three months for most couples to conceive, but a year before a health couple, under the age of 35, with no history of miscarriage, is considered infertile, and are able to seek treatment. Three more months went by with nothing. By the time month nine came the voice was no longer a small whispering maybe, it was now screaming something isn’t right. That month I went in for my annual exam. We were still under the year mark so it was considered too soon for us to be referred to the specialist but I mentioned it to the doctor anyway. He submitted my husband for a semen analysis, it was a start.
To conduct a semen analysis he could not ejaculate for three days prior, so of course I made him wait until after my ovulation window, then he was free to have at it by himself all he wanted. The specimen must be dropped off within 30 mins so to the hospital bathroom he went to give his sample. A few days later his results came back, and overall were good. Mobility and motility were good but the doctor suggested numbers were on the low side of normal.
In addition to semen analysis I began to record ovulation results, cycle days (CD), my LH phase, and the dates, time and frequency of sex, this was all to ensure the doctor had as much information as possible to work with. My husband referred to it as the least erotic sex journal ever written. Looking back I think it was type A way of controlling a situation I had not control over, while also being able to communicate to the doctor that we were serious about seeking treatment.
The day my cycle began that 12th month I contacted my primary care doctor for a referral. I was one of the few months I wasn’t overly concerned about starting my period because I knew is what was needed to move forward. Lucky for me this is one of the few times being stationed at Fort Bragg was working for us. Fort Bragg is only one of a handful of duty stations with a military hospital that has a reproductive endocrinologist and offers fertility treatments.
My primary care put in the referral and some of the tests she thought I would need. A few weeks later I had my first appointment with the specialist. I was excited for my first appointment but the waiting room for the reproductive endocrinologist was closed that day due to short staff. The RE office is directly next to the OB/GYN waiting room, full of pregnant women and babies. Basically the last thing most women trying to have a baby want to do is be surrounded by pregnant women and their brood of children. My anxiety levels were a little high but if this is what I had to do to get knocked up then so be it. I was finally called up and put in an exam room. The doctor came in and reviewed my husband’s previous semen analysis. There are a number of odd situations and even stranger conversations I have found myself throughout my time in fertility treatments and while this wasn’t my first one, I would have to say it was the one that served as a turning point for me. This conversation made me realize just how much of the private details in my bedroom I would be giving up over the next few months.
The doctor ran through a serious of questions about my physical and sexual health. When was my first period; what were my cycle lengths; have I had any STDs/STIs? He then moved on to the sex questions you would expect; How often did we have sex? How long had we tried? Thanks to my sex journal, I aced that portion of the exam. He then informed me that he had taken a second look at my husband’s analysis. He was quite for a moment, as if trying to figure out how to word his next question. He took a breath and then asked, “ Um, When your husband……ejaculates, would you say there is a…….large volume of fluid?”. In my head I had to laugh. He I was a 30 year old women in a cold sterile exam room, talking to a 50+ year old stranger about the volume of my husband’s ejaculate.
Welcome to fertility treatments. Up next meds.