ICSI treatment experience report
In this article you will find:
- Consultation appointment
- Family & friends – who knows?
- Pain, complications & setback
- The miracle
“You can’t have children the natural way” …wuuummmms – right to the heart.
And I’m falling…. I’m not falling like I’m free-falling on a skydive – I’m just falling into the bottomless pit. I try to keep myself under control and look over at my husband….
As we enter the doctor’s office, I can already tell that something is coming and I try to prepare myself for her to say something to me.
We sit down and she looks at me, she greets us and then she puts on a serious face and looks at my husband…at my husband – because it’s not my diagnosis, it’s his.
Diagnosis: Kryptozoospermie, male infertility.
I have to swallow, try to control my emotions & look at my husband knowing he feels the same way. I see him trying to keep his composure.
I try to focus on what she is saying: simply put, at this moment I understand that it is impossible for us to get pregnant naturally, that there are a few sperm, but the concentration and the number are not in the least sufficient for it to be quasi close to “nothing left”.
I don’t even listen to the doctor for the rest of it. My brain is rattling. This can’t be true, I can’t breathe. Outside the clinic, then tears from both of us.
It was clear that we were going to get a diagnosis here, but for the emotional roller coaster of the coming months, we were not prepared…..
Since then, we have stood even closer, even more united together. No guilt, just the two of us. Hardly allow other thoughts, and are focused on our common desire – to exhaust all possibilities.
Tears from me because I am overwhelmed with the situation and the sacrifice & so much strength from my husband, who shows me how I can draw strength from situations that paralyze me. The emotional roller coasters in situations like this, between hope & disappointment, are so close that I had to learn how to deal with it first & I still do – every day. Where do I find the inner strength? How can I am not let my feelings overwhelm me? That’s what I always asked myself in the beginning. To accept a situation and still look forward – only now am I learning how much strength that actually requires.
But what does that mean for us exactly?
We have been trying to have children for years. We want to exhaust all possibilities and go the distance. Naively and hopefully, I thought to myself at that time: “Okay, sperm are there – I’m healthy, it must work”.
She explains that ICSI therapy is a possibility for us. In this therapy, a single sperm is injected directly into the interior of a retrieved egg. To obtain as many (but not too many) eggs as possible, the woman injects herself with hormones, delays her natural ovulation and then triggers it with an injection as well. For me, a certain “cocktail” comes into question. Injections that are ready and some I have to mix myself.
When she explains the costs to us, it is a bit like choosing from a menu. Do we have the eggs/sperm cultivated one day longer, do we want to do another separate test with me, do we want assisted hatching etc….the cost of a treatment adds up to several thousand euros per treatment & of course, you want everything?
Point cost absorption & cost relief. Quite simply, we are to get married. The health insurance companies cover half of the costs for married couples, and in Brandenburg there is a small subsidy that can be applied for.
When we leave the clinic, the decision is made. Of course, we are getting married. And yes – I have a huge problem with the whole thing. Purely emotionally, marriage means a lot to me, and I also had this romantic idea in my head.
Later, we think about whether we want to celebrate the wedding, but at that moment we decide against it. We wish to marry for love and for our child, yet the timing is forced. We decide to marry only civil, to catch up a celebration with friends & family regardless of Fertility.
By the way, this is also the time when we start to place the issue with our family and also friends.
Family & friends – who knows?
In the exchange, I hear again and again that the big question is: To tell or not to tell? As everywhere in life, there is of course not THE answer. But I would like to tell you about our experiences.
In fact, we decided to talk about it relatively quickly. At the time, I thought to myself that it would give me space. I didn’t want to hear any more questions a la “when are you guys due?” (I also generally find such questions invasive of privacy).
We first told my parents, who responded with so much empathy, warmth and also tears. In the time we were in treatment, the relationship with my parents became incredibly strong. In retrospect, I think it was because my mom sees plenty of things rationally. She’s not an emotional person like me. When something doesn’t work out or is difficult, she looks at it and gives a solution-oriented opinion. This has sometimes thrown me for a loop, but has helped a lot in an incredible number of situations. Just because I was already very emotionally burdened by the overall situation.
Unfortunately, I can’t report anything positive about the rest 🙄
I felt for the first time that people tend to withdraw when they sense that someone is in a very difficult situation. Many didn’t know how to deal with the issue, did an egg dance around us, and tended to exclude us. Others didn’t show any consideration at all and continued to post happy baby photos in family groups.
Many things hurt me very much at that time and I built up a distance to some people – but with others the relationship has become very close.
So my tip to you is: If it helps you, and it feels right, talk about it, but let the person know what you expect from them. Do you expect an exchange, that the person is there for you, or how exactly should they show consideration?
At that time, we did a lot of educating in our circle of friends and family and in conversations we often heard that people stopped contacting us “because they didn’t know what to say” – “because they wanted to leave us alone, and we should concentrate completely on ourselves” …..
Pain, Complication & Setback
In the ICSI treatments I had, among others, two very severe complications.
During the 1st treatment, I had an incredibly strong over stimulation after the retrieval. There were far too many eggs in my body. 21 (!) eggs were retrieved. I had so much water in my abdomen and so much pain that I could not move or breathe at home afterward. My husband had to call an emergency doctor, and I was hospitalized for days. In the end, we could only use 2 embryos. After the transfer, my body reacted with a kind of rejection reaction, and I spent the night hunched over the washing machine in pain.
During the 2nd retrieval (14 eggs) I was injured. At home, I had the same symptoms as the 1st ICSI, which is why we hesitated to call the emergency doctor. At that time, I thought, “this can’t be that bad again…this can’t happen again”.
Unfortunately, it got very bad. So bad that my body couldn’t stand the pain and I passed out. We told the emergency doctor about the suspicion of over stimulation. However, he had an intuition at the hospital and had me checked thoroughly right away. I had internal bleeding – I was injured during the extraction. In the end, I lost several liters of blood and had to undergo emergency surgery on the spot.
I left the hospital with 3 scars on my abdomen. We took a long break from treatment after that, so I could recover. My body had to recreate the blood and I had very severe pain and impairment for months….
BUT: I remember very clearly the moment in the hospital when my husband was allowed to visit me again. It was also the day when we learned how many eggs were fertilized.
I remember lying in that hospital bed, crying desperately and saying to him …. “please have good news” – and he says to me …. “yes – 10 eggs were successfully fertilized….” 💙
With the remaining fertilized eggs, we wanted to try. After the severe complications, I had decided not to go through the process again from the beginning, and we went into the transfer positive and confident. After that, we went straight on vacation – I skipped the blood test, wanting to keep everything as natural as possible.
And….today you are 18 months old.
So many mornings we have been able to wake up and look into your smiling face. How you lie there and babble with your stuffed dinosaur. Every day I say goodbye to you into the night with “Thank you for being here. I love you. I’ll see you in the morning.”
Not a day has I forgotten the way so far, and definitely I will never forget the pain and despair. But yes, with every smile from you, with every full drool on my shoulder and with every instinctive trust with which you look at me, you give me everything back – you give us everything back.
No one can be taken for granted, but you are far more to us than our very greatest treasure. You are our courage, our fighting spirit, our with-your-head-through-the-wall, all our love. You are all our good qualities.
❤️ Dear ones – I hope I can send you courage, confidence & strength. I know every fiber of this process.
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