Trying to Get Pregnant, Husband Learns, Can be More About Dollars Than Sex
"This is crazy..."

This is what I'm thinking as I get a crash course on how babies are created in a petri dish.

I'm sitting with my wife, Jill, in a consultation room at IVF Florida, a Margate, Fla., clinic that specializes in reproductive medicine, particularly in vitro fertilization, aka IVF.

IVF is a medical procedure by which ripe eggs are removed from a woman's ovaries, fertilized with sperm and grown into embryos in a lab. Up to three of the embryos are then implanted into the woman's uterus.

So we are learning about things like ovary-stimulation, clean sperm, frozen sperm and ethical dilemmas, including what to do with leftover embryos.

Again, this is crazy.


For the better part of three years, Jill and I have been trying to conceive a child ... just one. Not a herd, not a litter, not a gaggle, not even twins. Just one.

And for five morning-sickness-riddled but blissful months in the summer and fall of 2007, we had a child on the way.

A sudden, unexplained illness compelled Jill to deliver prematurely at 20 weeks and three days, and our child was stillborn.

That kind of grief never leaves you. You cope. You deal. You keep living.

After a year or so of trying again, Jill and I decided to explore artificial means of having a baby.


"Normal" ovulation - the release of ripe eggs from the ovaries - for a woman is equivalent to a sparkler being lit at a Fourth of July picnic. But IVF (and the similar artificial insemination, aka IUI) involve a woman being pumped so full of medicinal stimulants that ovulation becomes a full fireworks show, with a greater number of eggs being produced than happens naturally, thus increasing the odds that fertilization will take place when they're joined with sperm.

Sperm is then "cleaned" - the mental image still disturbs me - and, for IUI, is inserted directly into the uterus. For in vitro, sperm is taken to a lab and joined in scientific matrimony with the removed eggs. Sperm and eggs grow - hopefully - into embryos after a few days, and are then re-implanted into the uterus.

The rest, in both cases, is a waiting game.

In both procedures, the possibility of multiple births is very real, though more easily controlled with IVF, since the doctor can limit the number of embryos implanted.

Nadya Suleman, aka "Octomom," the California woman who made headlines last month for adding eight IVF-grown kids to the six she already had, was implanted with six embryos. She ended up with eight babies because two embryos split.

But that is not the norm. The industry standard, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, is no more than two or three embryos implanted at one time.