Dealing with infertility is filled with so much mind-crushing doubt and anxiety that it will be nice, for this post, to think back to the start of this process, before all of the stress crept in.
Eight months after we started trying to have kids, I went to see a urologist. My GP told me to try for six months, then make an appointment, but I spent two months in denial: “Let’s see what happens this month… I’m fine… it will happen this time.”
So there I was, with my pants around my knees, as Dr. Seaman checked out my junk.
“Does anyone ever point out to you how funny it is that you’re a urologist named Dr. Seaman?” I asked.
“Only about once or twice a day.”
“Well, glad I could help you reach your quota.”
“Yup. Things look good. The next step is to provide a sample. Now, you can do it here, right now, and we can discuss it in twenty minutes, or you can provide one at home and bring it in.”
Provide a sample. What a lovely euphemism.
“Let’s do it now, I want to know what’s going on.”
“Ok. A nurse will come in to explain everything and I’ll see you shortly.”
The nurse entered the exam room, and there I was with a giant smile on my face. She looked at me like I was a creep, when, in reality, I just couldn’t stop thinking about Leslie Nielsen in Naked Gun 33 ⅓.
I have a habit of laughing at the most inopportune times. It can be both a blessing and a curse. Sometimes my laughter helps: friends are in an argument, I start laughing, and it breaks the tension. Sometimes it’s wildly inappropriate: a buddy of mine rear-ended another car on one of New Jersey’s infamous traffic circles and all I could do was laugh hysterically. I don’t think he appreciated it.
And so, with scenes from Naked Gun running through my head, I looked like either a complete pervert or a thirtysomething with the maturity of a ten-year-old. Neither option is good.
The nurse handed me a plastic collection cup, pointed to a portable DVD player in the corner of the room, and said, “Have fun.” Yes, she really told me to have fun, but all I wanted to ask as I tried to control my laughter was, Do you have Spartacus?
For the sake of propriety and my dignity, I will limit further details about what happened in the sample room, but I will say that, after you provide a sample there is a special couch, just for guys who have provided a sample to sit and wait for their results. One couch, just for us sample providers. That couch is a tome of awkward male silence, where I sat with my eyes fixed on my phone until my name was called.
Finally a nurse came to get me. “Want to see your sperm?” he asked.
See my sperm? This is a thing? He wouldn’t invite me to look at the sperm if there was something wrong with them. This is a good thing.
“Sure, why not.”
The nurse led me into a small room with a microscope. I peaked in and there they were: SPERM. Just swimming around with nowhere to go. It was interesting, yes, but there was no possible information I could gather from looking at them.
“How do they look?”
“Good for the most part. Doc will talk to you.”
Good for the most part? What the hell does that mean? He probably says that to everyone.
I took a seat in the doctor’s office and waited. I was surrounded by pictures of the doc and his wife. Doc and his kids. Doc and his glamorous doctor-y vacations…
“Miiiister Andersen,” he said, like Agent Smith from The Matrix. “Do you get that a lot?”
“Only about once a day,” I replied.
The question remained, would my sperm make me THE ONE or not?
The doc handed me my semen analysis results. My eyes immediately scanned the top of the page: “Sperm Count: > Normal.” Above normal. Above normal! That’s it. Victory! Fuck Keanu Reeves, I am THE ONE!
“Sperm count is above normal, that’s great. Motility, above normal, also great.”
I was riding high.
“But your morphology is zero.”
“Zero? Like zero percent?”
“Morphology refers to the shape of your sperm.”
“So my sperm is deformed.”
“Don’t say that. There is something about the sperms’ chemical makeup and shape that is keeping it from binding with the egg.”
“So, my sperm is deformed.”
“The good thing is, just because there’s an issue with the chemical makeup and shape, doesn’t mean they create a baby with a problem. The DNA information inside the sperm is just fine.”
“But my sperm is deformed.”
“You’ll also notice here on the sheet that you have excessive round cells in your sperm.”
“What are round cells?”
“White blood cells.”
“Oh, they’re good right?”
“They are good in that they fight infections and kill bad cells in the body, but because there are excessive amounts in your semen, they’re also attacking your sperm. The good thing is, this could be causing your zero percent morphology.”
I left the doctor’s office with a prescription, a piece of paper explaining what pyospermia was (turns out there’s a name for having white blood cells in your semen), and an appointment to retest my semen six weeks later. I had a plan of action but, for the moment, all I could think about was Leslie Nielsen.