Male infertility is involved in approximately 40% of the 2.6 million infertile couples in the U.S.
For me and Amy, there was always more hope, always another chance to get pregnant.
The next peak in the Fertility Himalayas, ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection), was a technique developed in 1992 for severe cases of male infertility in which healthy looking single sperms are literally inserted into healthy seeming eggs. The goal is multiple fertilizations.
The fertilized eggs can then be frozen and preserved, or returned to the womb to (hopefully) develop.
ICSI took place in a private hospital. For sperm collection, the hospital had its own "room." And contrary to everything I had experienced so far, it was an actual room, a hospital room, with its own bathroom.
And let me say, they did not skimp. Not only were there an assortment of magazines for inspiration, there was also a TV/VCR unit which played—with no apparent irony—a tale of two blond nurses who become overly fond of each other.
ICSI was yet another emotional roller coaster.
Each month filled with hope: 18 eggs produced! 8 eggs fertilized! Four fertilized eggs implanted, and the other four stored for potential future use! Whoopee!
When the pregnancies did not hold, we crashed, only to have to start the climb all over with the next fertility cycle.
We had been married for eight years. We had been trying to get pregnant for six of those years and between IVF and ICSI had gone through five fertility cycles. We knew we could get pregnant but we didn't know if we could stay pregnant. We had spent over $200,000, and all we had to show for it was a glossy photo of four egg cells.
That photo still sits in the drawer of the night table besides out bed, buried there. We're unable to look at it—or dispose of it.
Other friends who were on the IVF merry-go-round and got pregnant, had their children. Some had their second child while we waited and tried again. Every couple who had a child swore by their doctor, their method, their technique—success was its own affirmation.
By contrast, we were dishrags, totally wrung out by our six-year quest to have a child. Sex was no longer fun, but it wasn't just that—it was that sex was no longer for fun or procreation. We had gone from meaningless sex to sex having no meaning.
One day Amy came home saying, "We need to get a baby in the house—by any means necessary,"
"Baby in the house," became our new mantra.
The adoption process and how I came to embrace it is its own tale. I can't tell you how many people told me that if we adopted, we'd immediately get pregnant. "Happens all the time," they said.
Secretly, I believed them, thinking adoption was a last resort we would never arrive at. All the more because in the midst of the adoption process, we decided to go through one more IVF cycle and ICSI procedure. In my heart of hearts, it felt like buying non-refundable plane tickets.
It didn't take long before we were notified about a potential birth mother, who was five months pregnant. We met with her, and hoped that she would choose us. And on the other side, we returned to science, to drugs, and to the hospital for one last round. I gave my all to the container — it sped to the lab and was injected into eight eggs that were implanted into Amy. We waited for the results.
On the same day that we learned that the birth mother had approved us, we also learned that Amy was pregnant.
What to do? Amy wanted to go ahead with both the adoption and the pregnancy.
"Really?" I asked, overwhelmed.
"We have to," she said, not wanting to give thought to the negative, to the awful possibilities of "What if?"
The next eight weeks were an out-of-body experience as the two pregnancies developed. Our doctor did double duty, staying in contact with the birthmother's doctor while continuing to monitor Amy.
Each day was like hopping from one large egg-shell to another, hoping no cracks emerged. Every day we felt our odds were improving—until they didn't.
The doctors couldn't explain why the cells of our embryo stopped growing. But because the other pregnancy was proceeding, it was different this time.
Yes, we mourned. But this time there was no talk of having another IVF. We switched tracks.
A sense of surreal anticipation set in. We began to do things together, bonding over all the things we suddenly needed to learn (and of course, the things we needed to buy). We were drawn into a vortex of "Holy shit! This is happening!"
We were about to become parents.
Which is how late one Sunday night we found ourselves sitting in the waiting room of the Seventh Day Adventist Hospital in the Simi Valley, about 30 minutes from our home, waiting with an assortment of folks whom we knew not at all but with whom we would soon share a connection.
At five of midnight, we heard a cry and then were allowed in the room to hold our daughter. From the moment I held her, I felt complete. Our daughter had made us a family. The next day, not even 12 hours later, we drove home with our baby.
In embracing the adoption, I finally had the "motility" that I was missing. I had moved—in mind, spirit, and geography.
That's when I realized: the reason I moved to California was to meet my daughter.