Johanna & Matthias
In love, engaged, married — children? The topic of “children” was already high on the agenda of Johanna (32) and Matthias (31) when they got married. Both wanted children right from the beginning of their relationship and never made a secret of it. However, they did not expect that their child wish would take such a long time. Here they share their experiences with intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) with us.
Experiences with ICSI: Interview with Johanna & Matthias
The interview was conducted by Johanna Kohnen
When and why did you get the idea to go to a fertility clinic?
“In our 13th exercise cycle (after just under 1.5 years) we finally got pregnant. Unfortunately, our little star said goodbye far too early. Even before that, we had an appointment at the fertility clinic. But after the appointment we decided to give it another try. After the loss, however, it was clear to us that we needed help, which is why my gynaecologist referred us directly to the fertility clinic.
However, the road to the fertility clinic was rocky and sobering. The first appointment was just a fact-finding session and the doctor said that we were still young in our early 30s. So we decided to give it another try. After our little star unfortunately didn’t want to stay with us again, it was clear to us that we never wanted to experience something like that again and that’s why we wanted to get help again.
But the next appointment was not very emphatic either. The doctor said that we had won the lottery. But the wish for a child and an appointment with another doctor showed us that there is another way. Since then, we have insisted on being treated only by this doctor.”
What was your diagnosis and what treatments were carried out?
“Matthias has OAT I syndrome, which means that he has too few sperm (oligo), too few motile sperm (astheno) and more malformed sperm (terato). The doctor explained to us that this is common nowadays that we don’t have to worry so much about it. Johanna has an egg maturation disorder, which is treatable with medication, but as this should only be taken over a short period of time and no pregnancy occurred in the 3 months we had sexual intercourse according to plan, we were advised to have ICSI. We were told that our chances of getting pregnant naturally would only be about 5%.”
Did you get pregnant through any of the treatments?
“Actually, we were incredibly lucky. Johanna’s body responded very well to the medication and we were pregnant after our first ICSI attempt.
The 3 years until we got pregnant tested us as a couple. So many friends of us got pregnant and each time it hurt us a little. But the childbearing years brought us together as a couple. Our anchor was our monthly date night. An evening just for us without the topic of wanting children.”
To what extent did you let your social environment (friends, family) in on it and were able to deal openly with the topic?
“We told our closest friends about it. My best friends also suffered a lot, especially after our starlet left. When things got serious at the fertility clinic, we also told our parents. They supported us as much as they could. We often noticed how difficult it was for those around us to deal with it, because they didn’t really know how to talk to us about it. Maybe that is also a reason why we are so opened about it now. Matthias also talked to his boss about it shortly before the ICSI and got a lot of understanding from him.”
What would you have liked to know before the treatment?
“Oh, so many things! Our doctor explained everything to us, but when you go through with it, it’s really intense. I had a lot of pain after the puncture and I also came to the hospital because of overstimulation. Of course we were aware that it was a medical procedure, but I think it was glossed over a bit at that moment because the desire to have a child was so strong.”
What 3 things would you give to other couples who want to have children?
1) Talk to your partner!
We both had so many thoughts on the subject and it was good to talk about it. For example, we realised that having a child was incredibly important to us, but we wouldn’t do everything for it. We wanted a child from each other, so sperm donation, for example, was out of question.
2) Involve those around you!
Even if many people can’t handle it. It was good for us not to be asked any more, and when will it finally be time for you? Don’t you want children? We opened up more and more in the course of the process and talked about the fact that it is more difficult for us to get pregnant and then many people accepted that.
3) Seek help or counseling
Johanna: At some point I looked for help on the internet, simply because I was really done. On Instagram, I found a huge Kiwu community that was insanely supportive. Suddenly there were hundreds of women who felt the same way I did. They had had the same fears and the same worries. Even during my treatment at the fertility clinic, the girls there were a great help to me.
Would you go down this path again, for example for a sibling?
“After the treatment we would definitely have said no. It was a really exhausting path. But now that we get to enjoy the happiness of being parents and our sunshine makes us incredibly happy every day, we originally said we would go back to the clinic for counselling at the end of 2019. However, we played the lottery again and the 5% chance happened. We are expecting our second miracle in December and are still blown away by the news.”
Social freezing: success rates
What is the ideal age to freeze my eggs? This is an often asked question in the context of social freezing. A simplified answer would be that it is generally better to freeze at a younger age than at a later age. However, it is not quite that simple.
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