Our D-Day

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It was finally Monday, what I refer to as our D-Day~October 14, 2012. Yes, it is a day that will live in infamy for us. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t anxious to get the results, but I had no inclination of what was to come. I figured, if anything, there’d be a simple fix and we’d be on our way to parenthood. I vividly remember giving my principal a heads up, as we walked into a staff meeting, that I was expecting an important call and may need to step out. I sat clenching my cell phone in my hand for what seemed to be an eternity, but made it all the way down the stairwell and just outside my car when the phone finally rang.

I don’t even remember a “Hello-how are you?” All I can remember hearing is “Are you somewhere you can talk?” This can’t be good, I thought to myself. Nothing good ever comes out of “Are you somewhere you can talk?” My OB preceded with, “We’ve gotten your husband’s results back and he has something called Azoospermia.” What? “Zero Sperm.” The next few minutes of conversation were basically just a blur. She asked some questions, like “Do you know if he ever had a hernia? Undescended testicle?” She attempted to reassure with some information about another patient with a similar diagnosis. I was barely hearing what she was saying. There were all these terms I was frantically writing down: ICSI, natural vasectomy, IVF.  I just kept thinking to myself, I know nothing of this, but zero sperm can only equate to zero chance of having a biological child. Not low sperm, not immotile sperm, no sperm. I even mustered up enough courage to ask a couple questions like, “Was there anything he did that caused this?” {I knew that was going to be the first question he asked me when I told him.} She replied, “Absolutely not.” I then asked about next steps, and she discussed my options of choosing our local hospital fertility department or opting for private. She said to discuss with my husband and call her in a few days when we had decided.  When we went to hang up, she said “Stay positive, but also be realistic…there’s a lot of factors involved-time, money, putting your body through a lot and there’s other options.”

“Ok, I will,” I muttered trying to mask the tears, but she knew what was happening on the other end.  Even now, writing this, I have that same lump in the back of my throat. I have that same empty pit in my stomach that I had as a I pulled out of my work parking lot that day, fighting back tears, as they streamed down my face. In that two-mile car ride, everything about myself and a baby subsided and my only concern became my husband. My poor husband. How was I supposed to tell him this? How was I supposed to reassure him that it wasn’t his fault? How was I supposed to hide my own sadness and disappointment to ensure he didn’t feel like I was upset at him? I didn’t know how in that moment, but I did know it couldn’t be now. We were heading to a wake in less than an hour and I couldn’t let him see that I had been crying because then he’d know. So instead of going in my house, I ran into my sister-in-law’s who lives across the street. She’s more than my sister-in-law and neighbor-she’s my sister, my best friend {I’m lucky enough to say both of my sister-in-laws are.}. I just collapsed to the hallway floor, her holding me in her arms. She could barely understand what I was saying as I tried to explain it through the shortness of breath that only the deepest of sobbing can ensue. She just listened. She tried to tell me it would be alright, but I could see it in her face-she didn’t know if it would be. I knew I had to get it together before the wake, so after some time she helped me to my feet and I high-tailed it into our shower before my husband could see my face.

We got in the car with my in-laws and it took every iota of my being to not break-down. I tried to carry on the small talk, but even that just seemed too much. I blankly stared out the car window, my mind racing a thousand miles per second, biting my bottom lip as to not let the tears fall out. We waited in line, gave our condolences and I tried to put it in perspective. After all, nothing is worse than death, right? That’s when the guilt first started. It could always be worse. But could it? I’d rather die than imagine myself childless, but was that selfish of me? The gamete of emotions that swept through my head that day were actually the same ones that I felt throughout different phases of our infertility journey. {Look for a future post titled, 50 Shades of Infertiilty, for more on this topic.}

Then, as we returned home, it was time.  “Turn off the TV,”  I said.  Another line that means it’s serious.  He knew in that instant that something was terribly wrong.  I’ll never forget his worried little baby face, his eyes filling up.  I explained it just the way the OB told me-it’s not his fault, it’s nothing he did.  I encouraged him to be positive, each of us folding in one another’s arms and he just repeatedly kept apologizing.  But I didn’t want him to feel the need to apologize.  I love him and I’d marry him all over again, even if I knew there was a great chance that we’d never be able to have our own biological baby.

Our own biological baby-I hope this phrase that I keep using doesn’t offend anyone.  I’ve gone back and erased it half a dozen times.  But the truth is, if I’m going to be honest and raw here, then it must be said…I wanted our biological child: 50% him, 50% me.  We had been together since we were 16 and 18 years old.  We have had our children named since high school.  We have had all those discussions: parochial vs. private, spanking vs. time out.  We had even discussed what attributes we’d want our son or daughter to have from each of us: his selflessness, my drive, his eyes, my metabolism.  I mean we thought we had it all figured out.  But in the realm of infertility, maybe even outside of it, there is some unspoken guilt in desiring your own biological child.  Had we then, and if we ever, adopt, would I love that child just the same?  Of course.  I’m quite certain of it.  Yet, I felt a shame in yearning for our own biological child and in some ways still do.

The only way I could move forward from our D-Day and all the days that followed was having a plan and knowing our next step.  Having a next step of contacting a fertility doctor and setting up an appointment is what gave me maybe three hours of sleep that night.  Which, in turn, caused me to wake up fifteen minutes late, unable to get contacts in my swollen eyes.  I thought to myself, should I go to work?  How will I get through the day?  The year?  My life-if  we can’t have a baby?  What do other women do when they get this kind of news?  As I sat in the bathroom, and caught the ovulation prediction kit sticks out of the corner of my eye, I began sobbing. I just wanted to go back to sleep and wake up having had this all as a bad dream.

Instead, I came to my senses, called my boss and explained that I needed the day off and may need more in the future as I was having issues getting pregnant.  She offered encouraging words and inspired me to crawl out of bed.  My focus was on the next step.  In order to get there though, I needed to know everything there was to know about Azoospermia and Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI)~or as Google defines it, a fancy way of saying inject sperm into egg!  But I needed more than the internet and studies that I didn’t understand or came out with confounding findings.

I decided to go to the closest Barnes & Noble and after pacing back and forth aimlessly, I finally gained the strength to ask an associate, “Do you have any books on infertility?”  She directed me quickly (but why would there be any books on male factor infertility?!), ran a search and handed me a list of books with that look of sympathy-if you’re new to this world of infertility, you’ll soon become very familiar with that look.   I got back in the car and thought I might as well go to Toys “R” Us to pick up a few gifts for my niece’s birthday. Huuugggggeeee mistake-consider yourself forewarned.  When I saw the “Parking for Expectant Moms” sign I lost it.  Would I ever be expecting?  Could I ever park there?  What would a childless life be like?  I foolishly went in and of course perused the baby section (after all, I had been doing that for months).  Finally, I sat back in the car, looked at myself in the mirror, and wiped the blotches of smudged mascara from beneath my eyes.   I refocused myself.  I called another Barnes and Noble with the same results.  I decided to make the trek out to a small bookstore on the shoreline-still no luck.

Then, other than a close friend’s house, I went to the only other place I knew to get some sort of solace-my parish.  I sat in the pew, kneeling and sobbing all alone in a cold, barren church.  My sniffles seemed to echo and while no answers came to me, I was at least able to go home and resume the motions of life~dinner, dishes, laundry, a little TV, and of course some google searching.  In that moment, I thought to myself how will I be able to go on?  Yet, unbeknownst to me,  my journey was still another 500 plus days ahead.