Monday, 4 March 2013

Adoption Journey: Our Story Pt 2

(continued from part one) I kept asking these people at what point is it safe to say it's not going to "happen when it happens", or how long do we let it go before we're not "still young". You're never too young to seek fertility help. I know you're trying to make us feel better, but you don't, it's better just to not say anything, and nod along when we're telling you how frustrated we are.

Us at Machu Picchu on our honeymoon in Peru, where I got to pet a baby llama!

It was July before I made a doctors appointment, and December before we got an appointment at the Fertility Doctor's. I was hoping we'd be one of those couples who somehow miraculously get pregnant before we even had an appointment (you know like that friend of a sister-in-law). We weren't. They did their tests; blood work, semen analysis, internal ultrasounds and all that fun jazz. Everything for me seemed to be checking out fine, so we were waiting to hear back from Jason's semen analysis, and I had to have more bloodwork done to make sure I actually ovulate. A week before my appointment I got a phone call saying, "is your husband able to come with you to your appointment, we have his semen analysis back." Well hmmm, what the heck is that supposed to mean. I wasn't really worried, because so far they'd had us come to all the appointments together and told us our results with both of us present. Although I still couldn't help but think that they'd found something abnormal. Perhaps his motility was low? Or maybe his count was a bit lower than average. I knew that an average sperm count for a healthy male range from 20-40 million per mililitre of semen. I also knew that they usually didn't do an IUI unless there was around 5 million, so I was hoping he'd have enough for that and we could just do an IUI. Thankfully it was only a week for me to have to stew in my own thoughts.
   Jason likes to do things in his own time, there's no rushing him in anything he does, he isn't lazy by any means, but if he didn't have to do anything he'd be ok with that, sleep is his favourite pass-time, and having to make decisions probably his least favourite thing. I on the other hand am opposite, I like things to fit into my plan, and heaven forbid if you don't make a decision when I want you to, I'm also not really sure what sleep is, since I don't get much of it. Which is why many friends I had in high-school couldn't understand why I was still with him, after a month when he still hadn't kissed me. As anyone who knows us, knows it took almost two months for him to finally pluck up the nerve to kiss me. So, while it was extremely frustrating that he still hadn't proposed after 4.5 years of dating (and 2.5 years of talking about it), it wasn't really all that shocking. My frustration was more than beginning to show, as most of my friends could attest, I talked about it probably more than was respectable. It wasn't until I suggested threatened told him I was going to propose to him, that he finally got around to popping the question. It was totally unromantic, there was no bended knee, and he left 45min after I said yes, but it was completely, totally us, and it was perfect. I often joked that his sperm were just so in-tune with the rest of him, that they were taking their sweet little time like he always did
   The doctor called us in to his office, and we sat down on the couch, taking mental note that there were Kleenex on the couch this time, which made my heart skip a beat. First he told us that all my blood work checked out ok, and that (at least that month) I ovulate. Then he wheeled his chair so his knees were between us, he was clearly braced for our reactions. He started by asking Jason a bunch of questions about when he did the sample, how long before he gave it over, etc. Then he said, "we don't really see this all that often, but the lab was unable to find any sperm." Well, huh! I looked at Jason, then we quickly averted our eyes, trying not to laugh. Seriously, no sperm eh. Then the doctor started talking about blood work Jase would have to have done, to check his ovary function, to which I naturally had to make a sarcastic remark about "no wonder we're not pregnant if you have ovaries." Then Jason came back with an equally sarcastic remark, because that's how we roll. Then, my favourite part of the whole appointment happened. The doctor rolled his chair back a bit, gave us a quizzical look and said, "you two are handling this remarkably well." To which I had to laugh again, because I had images flash through my head of a wife leaping across the office at her husband to pluck his eyes out - or possibly even his balls since they're nothing more than decorative at that point. He explained that the lab couldn't find anything under a few million, so there was still hope, he'd just have to go for a more in depth test where, if they could find even as many as 12, we would have something to work at. Naturally, I snorted at that, thinking of the mighty Spartan's fighting the Persian army, and had an immediate desire to watch the movie 300. Pretty sure the doctor thought we were unhinged as we left his office smiling. A nurse came to make our day better by asking us if we knew how to go about getting a Monash - which Jason thought was a small deciduous tree, and I thought was perhaps an old style dance move - but is actually what the more in depth sperm analysis is called. 

 the summer we got engaged on the homeward stretch of our two week road trip out west - this is at Kakabeka falls in northern Ontario

Monash results usually take around six weeks to get results, but since we had to contend with Christmas/New Years it ended up taking more like nine! Which sucked. But since I always try my hardest to look on the bright side, or for the silver lining, (or whatever corny cliche you want to throw in there) I was happy that it gave us more time to talk about our options. The doctor had mentioned the possibility of using a sperm bank, which neither of us were overly keen on - although we're planning on going to a support group type thing, because I want to get a grasp of how other women who had to make that choice felt about the matter. Again we were joking that it shouldn't be too hard for us to find the right match, because how many 6'4" ginger's can there be that donate sperm right? I received a call while we were waiting for the results to again let me know that everything was looking good from my side (which can make you feel a little guilty), the conversation regarding Jason went a little something like this:
  Nurse: We found in Jason's blood work that his FSH is a little high.
  Me: OK, well how high is high?
  Nurse: I'm not sure, it just says high.
  Me: Uh, right. Well, what does that mean?
  Nurse: I'm not really sure, I just know what all the female blood work means. 
  Me: Okay...well do we need to make an appointment to go over things then?
  Nurse: Nope, we'll let you know when the Monash results come in, then the doctor will go over things with you.
Right, that seems legit, I was left wondering what in the hell was the purpose of the phone call, if all they did was make me turn to the internet to try and figure out what it all meant. And any hypochondriac or someone with munchausen can tell you, the internet is chaulk full of a plethora of frightening things pertaining the simplest of ailments. Turns out FSH is "Follicle-Stimulating-Hormone" and it's basically in charge of stimulating the growth of sperm, and if it's too high it's because the testes aren't producing a hormone called inhibin. What does it all mean? Basically that there's been some sort of testicular failure - which could be because of a pituitary problem, or some sort of trauma, or a number of other things. And basically unless you can find out why this FSH is elevated (and that the cause is treatable) there's not a whole lot you can do about it. So at this stage, all I could do was hold out hope that they would find a small Spartan army ready to go to battle.  

 Us showing off our glorious sun burns in Cuba (and yes, Jason's shirt does say, "The lawn gnomes are stealing my sanity")

  We had always talked about adopting, it's always been something we were going to do. Both biological children and adoption were always our Plan A. Call us crazy, but we always planned to have four kids of our own then adopt one or two children. Well, in case I hadn't already learned, plans change. With Jason's either extremely low or non-existent sperm count, we clearly weren't going to have any biological children without sinking considerable amount of money into something that came with no guarantees. We decided that regardless of what the results came back as, we weren't going to go ahead with any sort of fertility treatments. We just didn't have the money to be pursuing the ICSI IVF - we're looking at anywhere from $6000 - $9000 per cycle. Doesn't everyone have an extra 8G they can just fling at a procedure that isn't going to guarantee you anything? We weren't looking to go into debt, so it was apparent that we were going to have to change our plan. We figured if it's going to cost us as much (if not more) to conceive a biological child as it is to do an international adoption, then we're certainly going to go for the option that comes with a trip. In case you couldn't tell (or don't know us) we really love to explore, we've got a few notches on our continental belt, but we'd like to add a few more. Although at this point we decided that a domestic adoption through CAS was what was right for us. So I sent off the email, saying we were interested. 

(Read part one and part three)

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