Sunday, May 07, 2006

No. 183 - The Male Facts and Factors

How many of you ladies categorize/define yourself as infertile when your conception woes are due to male factor (MFI)? How can a medical diagnosis for one individual spill out and entwine a second who on their own, or with a different partner, could be free of the heartache - and stigma - of infertility?

It was a couple of comments from my last post that reminded me that I should not be carrying this burden on my own, especially when so little of the initial load is mine. It wasn't my bloodwork or ultrasounds that sent us down the path of IVF, it was Mr. DD's SA. I don't have his exact numbers but his initial SA last summer was borderline on all counts, but above the levels that made both my GYN and RE feel that IUI was enough to get us pregnant. When the first IUI failed, I was informed that the sperm quality was not good. On the 2nd IUI, it was even worse. That's when we were told we should do IVF.

I actually didn't want to go to IVF. I thought it was overkill for what the problem was. When Mr. DD and I had our first consult with the RE, Mr. DD was not opposed to donor sperm, however he honestly thought it would never come to that. When it did, he backpedalled on me. No sperm donor and no adoption. Ironically it is the fact that we have X that solidifies Mr. DD's stand that there is hope and he will only consider another child that is 100% biologically ours. If we didn't have X, he would not take a 5% chance of getting pregnant on our own and consider that enough (I'm pulling that percentage out of my ass, as I don't know if it wouldn't even be that high).

So I subjected myself to the injectables; the mental torture of time; and the feelings of failure when my ovaries didn't respond as hoped while on the stims. But I did it because it was the only way I was going to have another baby and that's why I wasn't really surprised when IVF # 1 resulted in a positive. As far as we knew, the problem was never mine. The loss of Baby May was due to a genetic fluke for which we have both tested negative for, so if we could get a fertilized egg in my uterus, I figured the rest was a no-brainer.

The first nail in the ART coffin came when we ended up with a chemical pregnancy. Our RE told us that it was probably because something was wrong with the egg/embryo. And when none of the frozen embryos could get past blast stage, it became apparent that the problem did not solely lie in Mr. DD's sperm. The proof was in the pudding with IVF #2.

Why did we decide that the 2nd would be the last? I was very lucky to even get that far, as Mr. DD hated watching me go through the anguish and pain of another miscarriage as it left him powerless to change it. We really had convinced ourselves that IVF #1 was just a warm up and that # 2 would be proof that practice does make perfect. I would go again for # 3, but Mr. DD won't. He has joined the chorus of family and friends that unnecessarily remind me that I "should be happy that I have X," if I'm not. X is probably the biggest reason I have for wanting another. He's a thorn in my side one moment and he is why I remind myself to keep breathing the next.

So I have decided before my next cycle starts he will definitely be getting another SA done. He needs to face the reality of what the odds really are and we can then discuss what his expectations are. Hell, right now maybe he's just trying to con me into more sex and dammit, he might just get his way for a while.

There is also the money issue. All of this has been out of pocket. Roughly $20,000 has been been literally pissed and bled away in 6 months. On my last beta day, I broke down in front of my carpet rep (who we barely know socially) and told her what hell we had been through. When I mentioned that the money should have been spent on X, do you know what she said? "You did. You did spend that money on X, just not in the traditional sense." And she's right. If X asks why he doesn't have a baby sister or brother, we will never have to look away and shuffle our feet in the dirt or try to change the subject to hide our guilt. We will honestly be able to tell him we really, really tried but it just didn't happen.

Right now I am trying hard not to be angry and disappointed about Mr. DD's stubbornness and pride especially when I think that the money we spent on IVF would've paid for 4 more IUI attempts with donor sperm and I can't help but think that it probably would've worked even if my eggs were borderline crap. But that's a "what if" question that will never be answered, much less ever asked.

27 Punches:

At 7:22 PM, Anonymous Leggy said...

Great post DD. You should not be carrying this burden on your own- no one should, no matter who the biological IF lies with. DH needs an SA and you both need an honest assessment of whether to hold out hope every month.

I'm sorry there is so much pain and anger over the differences in opinion re: donor sperm, another IVF, adoption, etc. I hope you and Mr. DD can keep talking and working through it.

At 7:51 PM, Blogger Suz said...

Yes! Get another SA!! My husband had several when the first one came back so bad. They can vary quite a bit and it's important to know. I'm so sorry that you're going through all of this.

At 6:46 AM, Blogger Beagle said...

This post SO hit home with me! I try really hard not to resent my DH, but it is hard sometimes. I also find myself thinking of myself as "broken" when there is not anything (that we know of) wrong with me. How can I not feel "unwell" when I am at the doctors every other day and I have a virtual pharmacy of drugs with MY name on them, while he whines about taking the vitamins I insisted on??

Not to hijack your comment section but this post really hit me. My first choice was adoption but here I am on IVF #2 with an injured bladder as a bonus insult! DH doesn't want to adopt unless we "really have to."

I also blame the docs a bit (at least in our case) they downplay sperm issues it seems to me. They keep pointing out my age (37) and I feel like saying yes, but my eggs are great and the sperm is crap so why do you keep looking at me??

I can totally relate to what you wrote, especially that first paragraph!

Good Luck working this all out in a way you can BOTH be at peace with. (Then e-mail me the secret!)

At 6:47 AM, Blogger Beagle said...

God, that was way too long, sorry!!

At 6:53 AM, Blogger Pamplemousse said...

DD, I feel for you and I am in the camp where there is no blame, as we have both factors in our IF. I hope you and your husband can come to some resolution with this that you are both happy with. It will not be easy.

At 7:51 AM, Blogger Well-heeled mom said...

I'm wondering how hard it would be for Mr. DD to handle having "inadequate sperm". Ya know? I know many men who could "never have a vasectomy" because of the loss of their manhood. How ridiculous is that. Of course I am not defending him in any way. You should know and I don't blame you for wanting to know.

At 8:02 AM, Anonymous mm said...

I love how men are content to watch their wives suffer through shots, surgery, bloating, early mornings at the fertility clinic, raging hormones and pain but then have to be coerced into having a f'ing sperm analysis, which consists of wanking in a cup. I know I should be more sympathetic to the fact that he's afraid that the RE will confirm that he's lacking, but I just want to tell your husband to grow the Hell up on your behalf, DD.

At 8:03 AM, Blogger One Mother's Journey said...

I'm voting for another SA! I'm sure this is really hard for him. He probably doesn't want to accept the fact that he's a contributing factor in your (your meaning you as a couple) IF. Maybe he's in the denial stage.

Honestly I really believe that women just "get this" quicker than men do - probably because it's in our face everyday. We're the ones that have to *deal* with the treatments, test, planning etc. Another SA might put it in his to speak.

I hope you can come to a meeting of the minds soon.

At 8:14 AM, Blogger Sarah said...

This is a huge burden and you shouldn't be forced to carry it on your own. We know that the sperm quality is poor, but I also lost the last pregnancy with no explanation, so there could well be something wrong with me too. In a way, we both feel responsible which is perhaps better. Saying that though, it is hard not to think about what you said in your first paragraph about the unfortunate twist of fate.

At 8:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm really struggling with this post. And understand - my perspective is from one who has always dreaded becoming pregnant when she didn't want to, not from someone who has ever fought to have a baby when she DID want to.

I feel like it doesn't really matter who has the problem with infertility. I view it as kind of a "community property" issue. Together, you are currently unable to make a baby, either by natural or artificial means. It feels like, in trying to assess blame in either corner, you're putting the problem (or the desire for a baby) ahead of the health of the marriage.

I know when we (as women) are more likely to show our emotions, and when the men in our lives don't show the same emotions, we think they're not feeling it as deeply as we are. What I've learned from Zack is that he feels everything as deeply or more so than I do, but because he feels he has to be the "strong one", he doesn't show it. Perhaps that's Mr. DD's way too...he's not showing it, and in his pain and frustration, maybe he feels that just going back to trying "the natural way" takes that stress off. It doesn't mean he wants a baby any less than you do...just that he's tired and frustrated with the stress you've been through with all of this.

I just know one thing for sure - baby or no baby - you and he have X to worry about, and your relationship needs to come first. Your love for Mr. DD has to come first - and in assessing blame, or feeling like the burden isn't being shared together, that's damaging to the relationship. I'm not coming down on you or saying your feelings are invalid. Just that maybe Mr. DD is saying he wants some time for you two to focus on your relationship and loving each other - and healing these hurts you both have.

(formerly of AboutDamnTime)

At 9:13 AM, Blogger Cricket said...

Good for you, getting the ball out of your court. (Is he taking vitamins and herbs? He needs to own this, not pass it off on you.)

The concept of a couple's IF may be community property, but it is not an equal physical community property burden. To fix almost anything, the burden falls to the woman, not to mention that the trials of pregnancy and childbirth also fall to the woman.

Most guys have a keen sense of fairness. Maybe tap into that.

At 10:02 AM, Blogger soralis said...

I am so sorry that you have been through so much. Infertility can sure be cruel.

Take care

At 10:18 AM, Blogger kati said...

I can understand where you're coming from, and yet or because of that, I am struggeling with your post a bit too. I think it's because it supports some of my own fears of blame. It's something I'm struggeling with a lot. But I probably should blog about this myself. Thanks for being so open about it though. I think that's important.

That aside, I, too, think it's very reasonable to ask Mr. DD to get another semen analysis done. I hope the two of you can find a way through this shitty mess of infertility together.

At 10:36 AM, Blogger N said...

It's hard not to blame. I never say it out loud. But I do blame HIM and I do dream what it would be if I hadn't fallen in love with HIM. Yet I don't want to be with anybody else. Ever. And yes, I am infertile, it's his fucking sperm that doesn't do the job. It is in most cases a couple that is hit with infertility, even though oftentimes only one gets the physical diagnosis. I could probably get really drunk (ha easily - on the Bulldog thing), and get a shag somewhere and end up pregnant. But I don't want that! I want to be pregnant with HIS baby.

The Better Half has so much guilt going on, somewhat different from your situation, that this makes things hard at times too. The anger you have towards Mr. DD for not getting an exam or for not wanting a second child more, is hard to deal with, and I am glad that I don't have to deal with it. The resentment (OK, very hard word) we have deep inside towards our partners for not getting us pregnant one way or the other, is the same though.

Infertility fucks with you, with the mind and the body, and you are never alone in it. It's always you and your partner.....and it sucks so bad.

Thanks for posting about this....Do you think you will be able to discuss this more with Mr. DD and possibly change his mind/attitude towards another IVF or DI in the future?

Take good care!


At 10:37 AM, Blogger N said...

Note to self: Must write shorter comments....sorry!

At 10:43 AM, Blogger goldmoon said...

What a great carpet rep!!! Knew exactly what to say at the right time, huh?

At 1:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I understand your resentment. Most days I feel awful that the IF is because of me even though Jeremy is a champ and always refers to it as ours (back to the community property bit). I resent that he isn't more open about adoption. We aren't at odds about it, but only because I'm not yet ready to say anything. I wonder sometimes if the infertility were due to a male factor would he be more open to alternatives? Would he feel as guilty as I do? Would that guilt motivate him to consider adoption? It's redundant to wonder any of that. I'm the barren one. And even though he vocally and emotionally owns the infertility as well, I still feel alone.

At 4:32 PM, Anonymous Jennifer said...

Men can be so frustrating. When it comes to infertility, so many of them turn into little ostriches and bury their heads in the sand. I was beginning to think that I would have to trick my husband into his first SA like tricking a dog into going to the vet. Luckily in the end I did not have to lure him into the car with promises of power tools and Home Depot. However I did have to listen to the whining.

Not much help, but I'm thinking about you.

At 2:33 AM, Anonymous Kath said...

I won't be much help either, DD, but I just wanted to say that I feel for you. This is such a tough knot of love, expectation, blame, anger, frustration, hope, planning, disappointment, resignation and guilt that it must be well-nigh impossible to cope with. For both of you.

If he had completely ruled out donor sperm, what would be your feelings then? It seems to me as if his actions are showing an overwhelming reluctance to go down that route. If he does the SA, and it turns out there's no way he can father another baby, maybe he's afraid that he'll be "guilted" into a taking a step that for emotional reasons he just cannot accept. Maybe he's afraid that it will just be the beginning of another round of treatment, and he doesn't want any more, for either of you.

I'm so sorry, DD. I hope you two manage to talk about this, in a way that leaves no factor unexplored.

At 5:30 AM, Anonymous Mary Scarlet said...

DD I'm having such back-and-forth responses to your post. On one hand, I am SO in the same place where my husband won't talk about options and I can't decipher what that means. Is it denial, and he really does think a natural and successful pregnancy will actually happen? And therefore denial about our challenges (both of us have factors)? Or is it a pretense to avoid having to talk about other options: adoption, or, in your case, donor sperm? On the other hand, I don't want to face the functioning issues. I agree you should have the repeat SA, so that you know. Since we knew about my issues first, and they are more severe and the primary cause of our infertility, I have been avoiding the "whose issue is it" questions. It's more important for me to be a parent than to be pregnant or to have a genetic link to my kids. Thus: adoption makes sense for me, and donor egg (and/or sperm) doesn't. This comment is not helpful at all, I realize. It's confusing. And so hard.

At 10:42 AM, Blogger Trish said...

Before our issues were discovered and resolved, I was willing to entertain the idea of a surrogate mother carrying a child with half of husbands dna and half of hers.
His balls shriveled up at the idea of me carrying 'another mans baby'
That was about 10 years and many heartaches ago.
We did not have to go that route, but I guess what I'm trying to express is that in the big picture I've figured out recently that when I give up my dreams not because it heals me, but because it foster someone elses egotism or lack of something, it's going to hurt me in the long run.
I feel for you. I hope it's something you can keep working on.

At 10:44 AM, Blogger Alli said...

My husband has also had several SA's and there were a couple of times they told us we were lucky as hell to have any children at all. Then another would mysteriously be better. I can understand where you're coming from.

At 1:13 PM, Blogger Demeter said...

DD, I am sorry both of you are going through this, and although science has not yet proven that it is a man or a woman's combo that doesn't work, you hear it all the time, this couple I know was diagnosed with unknown infertility, she divorced him and she had babies with another man, and he did too, with another woman. Nature has its ways of twisting our minds and our bodies.

At 7:22 PM, Blogger MAMB said...

Why do we (we being women) always take the lion's share of the blame in IF situations (internally if not from others)? I do it. Most women I know do it. I can't tell you how many times I cried and told my husband I was sorry I couldn't give him a bio child. Fortunately, he never blamed me (at least I don't think so). He also didn't want to watch me putting myself through endless procedures in pursuit of the baby dream.
I'm sorry you are stuggling with this...and I hope you both find some resolution that will bring you peace.

At 1:26 PM, Blogger Kim Strahan said...

During our almost 2 year struggle with IF it was MF. In a way it made it harder for me to deal with it because I felt like I had to hide the disappoinment I felt every month with my period. I grieved the lack of child by myself so my husband would not think I blamed him. I did not blame him, but it did not make the pain of wanting a child any less (if that makes sense). DH was diagnosed with a varicocele and he had surgery to fix it. He never had a follow up appointment because I became pregnant three months after the surgery.

Please think about going to an urologist who specializes in MF infertility. It might be something fixable.

You are in my heart!

At 4:05 PM, Anonymous TB said...

I tried to comment on this post several times this week and couldn't get blogger to cooperate. I wanted to say that when we were first diagnosed, the problem was with Jeff and not me. At the time I still considered myself infertile, I was still dealing with all the emotions and stresses and monthly heartbreak that anyone who wants to have a child and can't dealt with. But I felt funny about commenting on infertility blogs because I didn't understand exactly what it was like to be the one whose body wouldn't cooperate.
Then another seven months went by after my husband's problem was fixed and we realized that I have an issue as well. It doesn't make me feel better to know that. It's all hard, no matter who the issue rests with. It just all so hard. As far as I am concerned, as the one with the fertility issue now, I am willing to do what it takes to solve the problem. I feel a heavy burden knowing that something in my body is keeping us from getting pregnant.
I hope your husband comes around and sees how important additional testing could be.

At 2:26 PM, Blogger Peeved Michelle said...

Good luck. My husband and I have decided to skip all that and just adopt from the county.


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