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In-Vitro Fertilization to Adoption

By Rocky DeLorenzo

Struggling with the physical and emotional trauma of infertility and in-vitro fertilization.

On January 11th Susan and I have our consultation with Dr. Shapiro regarding our first, and hopefully only, IVF. This entails much the same as the IUI except more mediations, injections, treatments, stress, fears, and hope. The procedure itself involved retrieving eggs from Susan and placing them with my sperm in a laboratory dish to enhance the likelihood of fertilization. The eggs once fertilized, are then transferred back where her ovaries are primed to produce the maxim number of viable eggs. We begin the preparation on Susan's next menstrual cycle. Over the next several weeks I inject so many different drugs into her system that her ovaries are about to explode. Susan is even lucky enough to have to give herself injections. Then it's back and forth to the doctor's office for the ultrasound examinations, which are now getting to me, not physically, but mentally. I have never seen anything more degrading and humiliating being done to Susan... Does it get any worse than this?

On March 3rd, I take Susan to Dr. Shapiro's office. Today is the day he is to retrieve the follicles from her for fertilization with my prepared sperm. Five days later we return for the Transcervical Embryo Transfer. Whereas two people, after making love, roll over and lie next to each other. Susan and I are put into a room where she lies on her back and I get to sit next to her and hold her hand. It is not the most romantic moment, but at this point, who cares. Just let it work. Despite all the negatively that has consumed me during the infertility journey, I'm actually excited about this procedure. I allow my feelings and emotions to flow freely about becoming a father. Once the resting time is finished, we head back home to the melee of medications, injections, and blood work. We hope that within two weeks we'll get the phone call informing us that we are parents. We are playing it safe by not making the same foolish mistakes of guessing how many there are or telling too many people.

Two weeks later I'm sitting in my office when I receive the phone call from Dr Shapiro. In his usual detached bedside manner he tells me that the procedure was unsuccessful and that he wants us in for a consultation. Then he says goodbye. His part is done rather quickly; now I have to break the news to Susan. No problem. Susan, did you feed the dogs yet? Oh, and by the way, the in-vitro didn't work. I sit in my office hoping she didn't hear the phone ring. I have no idea what to say to her. My mind is spent. I would love to bring up the topic of adoption but don't dare to. Several minutes pass until I find the courage to tell Susan that the one great chance of her getting pregnant didn't work. She's in the garage looking for something when I approach her. The look on my face causes her to ask what is wrong. It doesn't take long for her to guess - she has seen that face so many times before. We are both at a loss for words. There's nothing like going on a long tedious journey only to fid that when you reach the end, you've taken the wrong path. It was all a waste of time and energy. And let's not forget about the thousands of dollars we spent. For the next several hours I'm answering, "I don't know" to all of Susan's "Why?" questions.

The infertility emotional roller coaster ride we're on is now totally out of control. Not knowing how or why, we manage to undergo three more IUI attempts - all unsuccessfully. When is enough, enough? I have to talk to Susan about the other alternative. One and a half years of our lives have been wasted. We're right back where we started, this time, though completely beaten down. I see a frantic change in Susan. No longer is she the fun outgoing, and carefree person I married. Infertility has deadened her heart, mind and soul. Her innocence has been taken away. She's developing a very negative, angry, and bitter attitude, which is so unlike her. She doesn't want to talk to or be bothered by anyone. I try to stay positive and upbeat around her, but I notice she's becoming more reclusive with each passing day. She's giving up on herself both physically and mentally and doesn't' seem to care much about anything. I'm starting to see a side of her I never knew existed. Gradually she withdraws from everyone, including me. Whenever I try to console her, she says that since I'm the "man," I cannot understand what she's going through. Maybe not physically, but emotionally, I feel a sense of emptiness - a sense of loss. I know I'm hurting too, but I must focus on Susan. We're like two strangers trying to survive together. The communication is pretty much gone. When we do talk, the topic is always infertility. Whereas the timed intercourse and ovation kit had taken away the intimacy of our sex life, the artificial insemination and in-vitro fertilization takes away sex altogether. We're like roommates who happen to share the same bed.

One afternoon I walk into our bedroom and see Susan standing there. She has a look of hopelessness on her face - something is desperately wrong. Her eyes filling with tears, she quietly turns to me and says, "I can't go through the infertility treatment anymore." I feel a tremendous sigh of relief; Susan has finally reached her end. I am even more surprised when she continues with "I want to look into adoption." I reply, "Are you sure?" Susan confirms, "Yes." I give her a hug and tell her we're doing the right thing. She reluctantly agrees. I know her head is prepared to move on; it's her heart that not ready to give in. I have a little hope that I'm on the right path of getting Susan back. It's going to take a lot of time and healing.

Rocky DeLorenzo is the author of Infertilty to Family: One Man's Story, a poignant account of his family's struggle with infertility and journey to international adoption. This passage is excerpted from the book, with his permission
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