image
 
image

 
image

             

Natalie's Story

When we started trying to conceive, I was sure it would go quickly. My period was exactly 28 days and never late, even when I was under a lot of pressure. So, the first month we tried, I was already peeking around in baby stores and thinking what clothes we'd buy if it was a boy and what ribbons we'd put in her hair if it was a girl. I even set my eye on a specific crib that I liked. I got my period exactly on the 28th day that month. And the next month. And the month after. I asked my regular doctor how long we should "try" before I start to worry and he said to wait a year. We waited a year. Nothing happened. I never even bought a pregnancy test -- I never had to, my period always came on time.

When a year had passed, I made an appointment for a gynecologist. He sent me for blood tests on the 3rd day of my cycle (which for me just meant another lost cycle) and everything was fine. When I went back to him with the results, he gave me a slip for my husband -- a sperm analysis. My husband chuckled a bit, but agreed to do it. When we got the results, even without any sort of medical knowledge, we knew it was bad. The motility was zero. Zilch -- nothing moving. The sperm count was very low too -- 3 million per cc. Our doctor said that the results "don't look so great" and told us to repeat the test in a few weeks, after 3 days of abstinence. In the second test, there were a few sperm in motion, but it wasn't forward motion and it didn't look too promising. The count had gone up to 4 million.

They investigated the problem -- checking for varicocele, blocked ducts, hormone problems, etc. Our doctor decided to try hormone therapy (FSH) even though they didn't discover a problem. A few months later, when my husband repeated the test, there was no real improvement.

Our doctor said it was useless for us to try IUI and sent us straight to IVF with ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection -- where they inject the sperm straight into the ovum). We were told that even with no motile sperm, there was a good chance of pregnancy.

I went through a total of 7 IVF cycles. In some they aspirated only 2 eggs and in one particularly successful cycle, they aspirated 5. Each time they raised the dosage of medicines they gave me, until they felt that I was in danger of hyperstimulation. In only 3 cycles were there even embryos to transfer.

Before the last treatment, my husband and I had already made the decision that it would be the last. That if it didn't succeed, we weren't going to try again. The danger to my physical and emotional health was too great. I was pretty sure that with a decision like this we would succeed. But when I went for that last pregnancy test, I was already bleeding and I understood that once again the treatment had failed.

The same day we got the results of our last treatment, my husband got an offer to transfer to the United States (from Israel). It was a good offer at a good time -- it set us into a spin and got us thinking about things other than our recently failed treatment. Less than two weeks later, we were on our way overseas, to a new beginning.

I suddenly found myself with a lot of free time (I still didn't have a work permit) and quickly my dream of having a baby resurfaced. And intensified. In the past we had considered donor sperm, but being far away from home made the idea seem less frightening. We went to a private clinic and told them our history. They told us that they would match the blood type with my husband, so that from a simple blood test it would be impossible to know that the child wasn't his biologically. In terms of features, they would match the body build, eye color, skin color and hair color as best they could. We had walked into the clinic thinking it was all theoretical. We walked out with an appointment for insemination the following week. Two weeks passed and for the first time since I was 14, my period was late. The home pregnancy test was positive. I was pregnant.

I was scared. I knew that my husband and I both wanted a baby, but how would he feel knowing the baby wasn't his? When he came home from work, we sat together. We cuddled, we cried, we drank champagne... The next day, my husband bought me a book about pregnancy with early pictures of embryos. We looked at the pictures together. My husband was with me at every test and every doctor's visit. We took childbirth classes together and found it to be an amazingly rewarding experience. By the time we were nearing the birth, I realized: it's our baby. When our son was born, we both cried. We sent pictures home and everyone told us how much he looked like... his father!

Our baby is almost a year old now and we are planning another. The clinic saved sperm for us so that our children will be a full-biological siblings.

Update - Nov 21, 2005:
Our 2nd IUI was successful and we are expecting a little girl in January 2006!

Public service ad:
Channel 4 launching campaign to encourage sperm donors – can you help? - anyone involved in the DI process should check out this link.

 

 


image
image
image
image