We finally got to the day of our appointment with the Urology department. We had heard all about this man and how he was the person to see when you were diagnosed with Male Factor Infertility. We brought all of Akiva’s medical files with us, and we were full of emotion. Fear of what he was going to say, relief that we were finally seeing someone who could probably give us answers, and even, dare I say it, excitement in what the future might hold.

He came into the exam room, did a physical examination, and went through all the old records. He told us how we should not focus too much on what past doctors had missed or failed to test for. He said it is not worth the stress and frustration, as we cannot change anything. This was very important for me, because it made me realize that from that point forward we need to focus on the future.

When the doctor told us his diagnosis, I was in shock. I had learned about this diagnosis in school, and Akiva did not fit the parameters at all. I pushed back and the doctor told us that while that was the previously thought of presentation, we now see patients with this diagnosis present in so many variations and many are in the midst of leading full and productive lives.

The doctor told us our only real option was doing IVF in conjunction with Micro-TESE (or Testicular Sperm Extraction) where they would go into the Testes and remove the sperm directly from the area where they are created. The surgery is only done at Cornell four times per year, and so we were put on the schedule for that November. Which was a short seven months away.

A month later I went to my first appointment with my doctor, he went through our entire history and I willed myself not to cry. Akiva was very busy at work that day and I had to go to the appointment alone. It was terrifying and lonely and completely overwhelming. He told me I had to come back in a few weeks once the test results were in for another test.

Akiva came with me to the second appointment. We sat down with the doctor and he told us from where he was sitting it didn’t look like there was anything wrong with me and that our IVF cycle should be pretty straightforward. He told us about a few more appointments that we needed to do before the cycle, but the next few months were spent just waiting and anticipating what was laying ahead of us.

We hoped that miraculously there would be a chance that we wouldn’t need to do the cycle. Maybe I would get pregnant on my own. Maybe they would find some sperm in a sample that Akiva would give in. Maybe there would be something somewhere that would allow us to not have to go through with this crazy experience. Thinking about the fact that we would probably never have a surprise pregnancy, that any time we want to have a child we need to go through this invasive and overwhelming experience, gave us a lot of anxiety and frustration.

People who have never gone through waiting month after month for that cycle don’t realize how long it feels. Seven months may fly by when life is happening, but when life is on pause for such an extended period of time, everything seems to stand still. Each day, hour, minute takes forever to pass. You want to live in the moment, but at the same time you want to get to your goal and nothing else seems to matter when that is your focus.