Rebekah #FlipsTheScript

Rebekah is fearless. I know this, not just from the fact that she fights a mean game of dodgeball, but also because she is an infertility warrior. 

Rebekah is here to #FlipTheScript for national infertility awareness week, here’s her story...

img_3328

First of all, tell us a little bit about you and your partner….how did you meet?!!

Hi! I’m Rebekah, 32, an Aussie living in the USA!! My Hubby is Will, we seriously have the most unconventional love story…it started as a nightmare. Christmas Eve 2014, I thought I would treat myself to a bathroom remodel. A few weeks later when the construction workers didn’t turn up to start their demolition work I called Will, the project manager from Home Depot overseeing my remodel. I was furious! Not one of my greatest moments, but let’s just say my vocab was very colorful. Six weeks later, two burst bathroom pipes, a leaky shower pan, new downstairs carpet, new ceiling drywall and paint, Will would manage to calm me down from this bathroom disaster every day. He became my new best friend.

img_3326

When did you realize that you were facing a diagnosis of infertility, how did you find out and what were the issues that you faced?  

In 2004 I went for my annual OBGYN checkup, I specifically remember the doc saying “oh, wow are you pregnant? Your uterus is quite large!!” Not something a single, 18 year old really expects to hear! I went for an ultrasound, and it seemed like the longest ultrasound of my life – I knew something was wrong.  I was in there for two hours waiting for an explanation.  It wasn’t until my follow up appointment that I found out that I had a 10cm x 8cm x 9cm mass on my left ovary.

I needed surgery. The first question I asked when I woke up from the procedure was “Is my ovary ok?”  They told me they had to remove it. I was left in tears wondering what this meant for my future as a mother.

As well as losing my left ovary, I was diagnosed with Poly-Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).  I didn’t truly understand what PCOS meant until several years later when I was 22.  I married young, and began my journey to have a baby. I was on Clomid and stimulants for almost a year, but the pressure of it all contributed to our break up. The stress of timed sex, and not knowing if I would get pregnant caused so much strain on our new marriage that it ended just 8 months after our wedding. For me, it was actually a blessing in disguise.

I suffered from endometriosis and over the years had several more surgeries to remove as much of it as possible, and then another two more surgeries on my right ovary for large cysts. Luckily, my one remaining ovary remained “safe.”

When I was 28 I started to panic, I lost 80lbs in order to try to preserve my eggies and one ovary from any more cysts.  That was when I ventured to the fertility clinic specialist to get a baseline of where I was down below.  I wanted to know what the future held and how I could become a mother.

Although I was single at the time, I realize now that I put too much pressure on myself .  I wanted to be a mother so badly. The yearly surgeries took a toll on my body, and emotionally, I was a wreck.  I thought that freezing my eggs would at least take some pressure off the fact that Mr. Right hadn’t come along yet, and give me the chance to be a mother.

My Reproductive Endocrinologist doctor was amazing; I didn’t get the news I wanted, but she reassured me about it all,: I had low AMH, low progesterone and estrogen, and with just one ovary, I was facing a lot of challenges.  To add to it all, a Hysterosalpingogram (HSG) revealed a mass in my uterus and meant more surgery to remove.

By this point, Will and I had only been dating a month!! It felt weird to involve him so early, but I wanted to be transparent with him since not having children could be a deal breaker for some. Three months after my surgery to remove the uterine mass I went for a checkup…

…and there it was…the big 55mm cyst engulfing my ovary, my nightmares come true. The whole reason I was at this clinic was to be proactive in saving my ovary and getting eggs, and now it might not even happen – I was devastated.

I started hormonal treatment, but when I went in for a checkup we found it wasn’t working and the only choices was MORE surgery.  But as I was prepped for surgery I finally got the good news I had been waiting for, the cyst had finally started to shrink!  So the doc cancelled the surgery and when I went back for a follow up appointment, not only had the cyst continued to shrink, but I was about to ovulate! WHAT! I couldn’t even believe it!! And this was my opportunity!

I was faced with the ‘now-or-never question’…do I get a sperm donor? Do I see if my new-ish boyfriend of a few months is willing to do the deed??!

I took all the information I needed discussed it with Will, and well, he was 100% on board.  I got pregnant that cycle with my now 2-year old son, Wyatt!

Where are you on your infertility journey now?

After I gave birth to Wyatt, I knew I wanted more children. I had a complicated pregnancy and birth, but we returned to the fertility clinic at 6 months post-partum to discuss number trying for number 2. But as I stopped breastfeeding I got pregnant, without intervention. Unfortunately that pregnancy ended in an interstitial pregnancy (this is a uterine, but ectopic pregnancy: the pregnancy is located outside the uterine cavity in that part of the fallopian tube that penetrates the muscular layer of the uterus.) I didn’t even know what an interstitial pregnancy was.  I went for a D&C (Dilation & Curettage, a surgical procedure to remove the fetus) and also opted to take Methotrexate.  This is a drug usually given to cancer patients, but as the pregnancy was in a challenging location the drug ensured that no more cells from the pregnancy would remain.

Two weeks after the treatment I began to experience severe pain on my left side (keep in mind I didn’t have a tube or ovary on the left).  I discovered that my hCG beta levels were still rising, and not declining like the should have been; this meant that I was pregnant but they didn’t know where. I presented to the Emergency department with severe pain and they admitted me for pain management. Being that I work in healthcare I knew this was a “BS” diagnosis, they didn’t believe I was in pain and in their eyes had done everything- Ultrasound showed no internal bleeding, D&C and Methotrexate- what else could be done?

The doc told me “well I can take you to surgery but I’m going to pull your right ovary if we do.” My heart sank, I was in pain, but I did not want him to just pull my ovary because that would put me in to auto-menopause and shut down my baby factory.  I went to bed to try and sleep off the pain. At 2 am I woke- I thought I was dying. I have never experienced pain like it in my life. I rang the buzzer and the nurse came. She was cold and heartless, standing at the door she told me “your Dilauded isn’t due for another hour.” I knew I didn’t need more pain meds, I needed a doctor, RIGHT NOW! The pain was like no other. 45 minutes of excruciating pain, I finally I found someone to help me as they walked past my room, they called rapid response, and within 10 minutes I was being prepped for the OR. My uterus had ruptured and I was bleeding internally.  With my 6 month old baby and husband at home, I didn’t even know if I was going to see them when I woke up – not to mention having more children. I was terrified.  Thankfully I am still here to tell my story. With another surgery under my belt, my journey just got even more complicated.

Four months post op I returned to the clinic to talk about trying to conceive #2… again!! I was scheduled for another HSG to check the integrity of my uterus after the surgery, but amazingly against all odds, I was actually pregnant with my now 7 month old daughter, Miss Emma.

img_3333

Has infertility changed your relationship with your partner? 

Will has been super supportive. But given he had “no issues” I always felt guilty for having all the doctors’ appointments, the bills and meds. I don’t think it really changed our relationship, but at times I did feel like I was a bit of a burden.

How has infertility impacted you financially? Did your healthcare insurance provide coverage for infertility treatment?

It makes me nervous to even think about how much we have spent between surgeries and medications! When I was on progesterone to support my three pregnancies, each time it was about $800/month.   My insurance didn’t cover anything; and to date we have spent about $40k.

How have you taken care of yourself physically and emotionally during your struggles?

After my first miscarriage I ate my way through every emotion. At the time, it seemed like a great idea until I found myself weighing in at about 240lbs. I knew I would never get pregnant weighing that much with PCOS, so I lost 80lbs, it was life changing. Emotionally, I felt so much better, and physically I knew I was helping my body.

How have your friends and family supported you through your journey?  Have you had any experience of lack of support or misunderstandings?  

Looking back, I wish I had seen a counselor or therapist to help deal with my losses, but sadly I didn’t have much support from friends and family, I was left to cope on my own. The whole miscarriage topic is so taboo, I was scared to even bring it up, and felt like I just had to sweep it under the rug and move on.

Telling someone who just lost their baby or is trying to get pregnant that “it was meant to be”, “God has other plans” or “everything happens for a reason” did not help.

I had this longing for a baby and I couldn’t understand why this would happen, it was horrible. I wouldn’t wish any of this on anyone.

What has been the hardest point of your journey and how did you deal with it?  

I think knowing that some things are just out of our control (as hard of a pill that is to swallow sometimes) taking things one day at a time, and just trusting the process helped me keep faith. Not giving up on my hopes of being a mother was my inspiration.

If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself?

I wish I had been gentler with my emotional health, and been more public about my journey. I am amazed at how many people have been through the same thing, and instead of hiding it and pretending like it isn’t an issue we should support each other.

As it’s national infertility awareness week, what message do you want to share about infertility to the general public? 

The most difficult part about my journey was when people told me “don’t worry it will happen.” Thankfully my story did happen, but I have friends that haven’t had their sticky bean yet.

Is there anything else you would like to share that I haven’t asked you about?

While I was going through my journey I loved reading your blog, it gave me so much inspiration and peace knowing there are others out there that are also in a similar situation ❤

Rebekah, I think you have made me cry twenty times already.  Through all your battles you have come out of the other side every time a true fighter.  It might not have felt like it at the time, but I can see it from how you never really gave up.

img_3324

Please leave a comment or message of support below for Rebekah and Will 🙂

Advertisements

Alisa #FlipsTheScript

When I first met Alisa and Gloria they were about to embark on their first round of IVF – they had so many questions about the grueling treatment they were about to embark on.  I was struck by their strength as they had faced incredible set backs on their journey to build their family.

Alisa is here to #FlipTheScript for national infertility awareness week, here’s her story…

img_3318

First of all, tell us a little bit about you and your partner….how did you meet?!!

Gloria and I have been together for 8 years this summer and married for 4.  We were the young age of 19 when we met (I’ll be 30 this year ahh).  I had been working as a preschool teacher for several years when Gloria started working at the same school.  I actually met her family before as I was her little sister’s teacher.  We spent several years as best friends before we started dating.  Gloria has been in the Navy a little over 4 years which is what led us to Virginia.

img_3310

When did you realize that you were facing a diagnosis of infertility, how did you find out and what were the issues that you faced?  

When we decided to start a family the only obstacle we thought we would face was the obvious one, two females and no male.  Surprisingly, there are many companies that sell the necessary components to help lesbian families or families with male factor infertility.  We originally met with a Reproductive Endocrinologist (A doctor specializing in the art of conception, all things reproductive and the disease infertility) but only because he specialized in helping same sex couples start a family.  It never crossed our minds that we would actually need him for his specialist knowledge on infertility.

I went through all the initial testing before we did IUIs (Intra-Uterine Insemination), some results were a little off but the doctors were not concerned.  After several failed fertility treatments which included rounds of birth control and hormones they started to question why I was not getting pregnant.  With further testing the doctors discovered a very large cyst on my ovary.  I always had extremely painful cycles as well as some other symptoms that at the time we did not know were related.  My mom was diagnosed with Endometriosis at a young age but she had three kids so the thought never crossed my mind.  We decided it was time to do a laparoscopy to see what was going on.

I remember waking up from surgery and asking Gloria how bad it was.  All she said was “stage IV.”  My heart sank I knew there was a huge possibility of this diagnosis but I never thought it was that bad.  I learned that I have what is called a frozen pelvis –

I had so much scar tissue that all of my reproductive organs are fused together.  Although it was a relief to have a diagnosis my world came crashing down.  The doctor said I had less than a 5% chance of getting pregnant with the current treatments we were doing and he suggested IVF (In-Vitro Fertilisation).

We took some time to think about it but ultimately decided it was what was best for us.  Since Gloria is in the military we were able to go to Walter Reed for the IVF treatment.  We spent two weeks in a hotel room going to early morning monitoring appointments.  The five days we waited to find out how many embryos we had were the longest drawn out days we had faced thus far.  We ended up with 6 beautiful 5 day embryos.  Our first cycle we did get pregnant, but our numbers were never high enough for viability.   We went on to do 2 more frozen embryo cycles. In total we did 5 IUI’s and 3 rounds of IVF.

img_3308

Where are you on your infertility journey now?

Gloria and I are happy to share we gave birth to twins on Christmas Day last year!  We have a boy, Jensen, and a girl, Reese.  We still have two embryos left and have talked about trying for more children, but for now we are enjoying our two beautiful babies.

img_3309

Has infertility changed your relationship with your partner? 

I think you are crazy if you answer this question with a no.  I was terrified this journey would tear us apart.  I read so many stories that couples went their separate ways after years of infertility.  In the end this brought us closer than I ever thought it would.

How has infertility impacted you financially? Did your healthcare insurance provide coverage for infertility treatment?

Infertility is expensive!  We were lucky enough that many of our diagnostic procedures were completely covered by insurance, largely due to the coverage from Gloria being active duty.  However for IVF treatment we had to go to Walter Reed who offer military families a “discounted” price.  It was still extremely expensive but nowhere near what some couples pay.

How have you taken care of yourself physically and emotionally during your struggles?

Towards the end of our journey I started acupressure and it was the best thing I could have done for myself.  I had become so desperate that I was willing to try any secret or tip that would get me pregnant.  And believe me, I tried them all.  I never realized how much it would help me, both emotionally and physically. The woman I saw weekly was amazing and I left each appointment feeling like a new person.

How have your friends and family supported you through your journey?  Have you had any experience of lack of support or misunderstandings?  

Most of our friends and family did not understand the magnitude of what we were going through.  Like most people, they thought we were two women trying to get pregnant and our only struggle was lack of a male counterpart.  Or if they did have some understanding of our situation the idea of infertility was such a foreign concept they didn’t truly comprehend our struggle.

Even after several failed treatments and surgery we still had a hard time relaying what exactly was going on.  We were met with harsh words and lack of empathy.

It did not help that we were constantly surrounded by pregnant woman.  I remember attending a baby shower for a friend, sitting next to another pregnant friend, waiting to find out the results of our first IVF cycle and a lady saying to me “you probably won’t ever had kids because you have two dogs and people with two dogs don’t have kids!”  I sat in the bathroom crying, trying to compose myself because we all know the worst place for an infertile person is a baby shower.  Looking back I realize how insignificant the comment was but at the time it was heart breaking.

We were also interrogated every time we joined in a conversation about children. Our fertility struggles would come up, and we would be asked why we do not “just” adopt. I am not certain if all couples struggling have heard this or people seem to think it is appropriate to tell a lesbian couple to “just” adopt. I could go on for pages about how this is one of the most insensitive comments that was just freely thrown around.  For couples going through infertility, I know most have thought about adopting, however, “just” is not fair to the children that are in the system. This is a disservice to these children. It also does not account for the families to take in these children as their own, to later have them ripped out of the homes that were built around them. We have discussed adopting children, as we want a larger family. We also know that when the time comes, it will be as hard as our journey in the last 3 years, with a possibility of it being even harder.

I would like to give a shout out to my little sister.  I can’t even tell you the amount of crying phone calls she received from me.  And she would always answer whether it was 3 in the morning or 8 at night.

I would call her with my crazy symptoms and she would google them so I wouldn’t read all the horror stories.  She always checked on me to see how I was, even when I was at my worst. She was the first person I called when we found out we were pregnant.

What has been the hardest point of your journey and how did you deal with it?  

The hardest part of our journey was after the loss of our first IVF cycle.  The doctors gave us such hope that it would work the first time we really never expected it to fail.  I was sitting at my desk when I got the call from the nurse that our numbers were not doubling like they would expect and I should prepare for the worst.  I texted Gloria that I needed her to come home and by some miracle, she was able to get out of work early.  It was the first time she cried. We just sat there holding each other in disbelief. I told her that day I didn’t want to try again.

I was done and my body couldn’t take any more.  I spent almost a month saying we were done, just feeling so angry and alone.  Shortly after was Christmas, I remember hanging up our stockings and thinking I want to hang up stocking for our children.  I told Gloria I wanted a baby for Christmas the next year.  And boy, did she deliver!

If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself?

Just breathe and have a drink! Don’t obsess over all the details so much and just take each day at a time. Most importantly, do not give up hope.

As it’s national infertility awareness week, what message do you want to share about infertility to the general public? 

I would like the infertility community and the general public to know that the LGBTQ community is in this too.  Gloria and I met so many people that just assumed we did not understand the heartache and loss of infertility. We are not different to any other couple that wanted to start a family and faced the heartache of experiencing fertility issues.

Please leave a comment or message of support below for Alisa and Gloria 🙂

I said NO…am I crazy?

The on-call doctor called me first thing this morning and apologised she had not called yesterday with my results (she did have them yesterday after all and gave no reason).  She said my beta hCG levels have risen again and she wanted me to come in today to take the methotrexate shot.  I asked her if she had spoken to my doctor (- no she hadn’t) because my doctor had said she would keep monitoring me up to 7 weeks for a visible confirmation of ectopic before administering the methotrexate.  7 weeks was her cut off point.  The on-call doctor said it was ultimately my decision, but it would be against their recommendation not to take the methotrexate today.  She also checked with the other senior doctor who was there with her, and he said it was OK for me to wait – despite it being against their recommendation.  I said OK and asked when can I come in for another ultrasound, she said it was up to me.  My doctor isn’t back in the office until after the holiday weekend, Tuesday.  This is when my doctor said her cut off point was.  So I told the on-call doctor that I will wait for my doctor to come back.  I also asked what was my actual hCG level because she hadn’t told me up to then – it was 1300 (up from 1066 48 hours ago).  That was a lot less than I expected.  I have a feeling it’s tailing off.  Here is my chart:

Normal hCG levels compared to my hCG levels

Normal hCG levels compared to my hCG levels (Note this is on a Log scale)

The on-call doctor told me to call her anytime I wanted to change my mind, and please look out for any pain.  After I got off the phone, I panicked.  Chris was still asleep in bed at the time of the phone call so I woke him and basically cried at him.  He says he supports my decision, but wants me to take the methotrexate.  Ultimately I feel like crap right now.  I have had SO MANY unknowns from encounters with doctors and I am sick and tired of it:

  • When I was 18 I went to ER because I had a random massive vaginal bleed.  They couldn’t tell me why.
  • When I was 19 I spent a year in and out of doctors trying to diagnose my abdominal pains.  I was eventually diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), but there is no test to confirm this, it was their last thing in the box (I know I do have IBS, but really we don’t know why – and no one really knows what causes IBS).  I could have endometriosis too, but IBS explains the pains too.  They couldn’t tell me why.
  • When I was 20 I ended up in an ambulance being taken to ER because I passed out from abdominal pains.  I freaked out a lot of people.  They suspected that it was IBS related after eating 3 days of ration pack food in the field whilst on Army Exercise.  But really – they couldn’t tell me why.
  • We can’t have a baby without medical intervention.  We have unexplained infertility.  They can’t tell me why.
  • I’m pregnant, but they can’t see anything on the ultrasound at 6W4D and hCG level of 1300.  THEY CAN’T TELL ME WHY.

What is wrong with my body?  It’s like I have a black box body of unknown-ness.  Am I actually an alien??!

Honestly, I think I might be going crazy for not taking the methotrexate, but there is something that just doesn’t feel quite right about it.  Why don’t I want to take this drug? Because I’m very afraid of the side effects and being put through this unnecessarily if the abnormal pregnancy is in fact just growing slowly in my uterus and not one of my tubes.  Methotrexate can really mess with your gut, and my gut really is bad enough as it is.  I am not even bothered by the fact that we have to wait 3 months before trying again – I will WELCOME this after everything we have experienced the last 2 weeks.  Chris thinks I should take the shot so we can end this right now, mostly for the psychological pain, plus of course he is worried I will end up in hospital. Aghhh.  This truly sucks.

Patience is a virtue

No matter if you have been trying to conceive for 3 months or 3 years, there is something about the two week wait (2WW) that makes us question every single little pain, change in body, or change in any bodily function.  Is it a sign?  Is the pain normal?  Is my body supposed to do this?  I am currently in my 2WW and I have been thinking about early pregnancy symptom watching.  I have also been thinking about how different my 2WWs have been between a medicated 2WW, a ‘natural’ 2WW and just an ordinary last two weeks of a cycle (i.e. without trying to conceive).

Last cycle we took a break from trying to conceive – I gave my body some respite.  I noticed a lack of pain, but I did have a couple of twinges that were likely to be PMS or IBS.  I felt like I was also pretty good at not actively looking for any changes in my bodily functions.  Except for the associated period pain, overall, last cycle I was painless.

This cycle we have been trying to conceive naturally, without any medical intervention whilst we wait for IVF….because there is still a chance we can do this on our own!  I have not done any ‘temping’ or ‘peeing on a stick’, so I am not really sure exactly when I ovulated, but I know, give or take a day, that I am 9 Days Past Ovulation.  Having been through 17 2WW, I’m starting to wonder whether every single niggle and pain I have ever experienced is just my imagination?  It is probably more about the fact that I am looking for a sign.  I’m impatient.  I want a sign.  So my brain is telling me to look for a sign.  This 2WW I have experienced short sharp pains, but not as painful as I have had them in the past.  These don’t feel like IBS type pains (By the way, the doctor suspects I may have endometriosis, but I have not ever had it confirmed, so the pain just may be that).  I have been tired, yawning a lot (I just yawned as I wrote the word yawn – weird) but I can’t tell what is jet lag or otherwise.  I have been very emotional, random bouts of tears.  Also a few nights ago I had the strangest dream.  I dreamt that I gave birth to a baby, the placenta followed, and then the baby ate the placenta.  It was a pretty gruesome and a graphically detailed dream.  So far, my 2WW has been eventful in comparison to my last cycle, but not as eventful as when I was taking the medication.

So, do I just ignore all these niggles, pains and possible early symptoms of pregnancy?  Well, I probably should – after all, the only real way to tell if I am pregnant is with a blood test.  But I know at some point I’m going to google it.  And google usually confirms most of my suspicions.  (I know – google usually can confirm ALL suspicions, like “Am I an Alien from space?” google tells us “probably”)  Yes, all of the above I experienced in this 2WW could be early symptoms of pregnancy.  So I tell myself today:

“Dani, just be patient.  You’ve waited this long, a couple more days won’t hurt.”

I’m not very patient when it comes to queues (lines) or being in crowded places trying to get somewhere, I’m afraid patience is my weak spot.  I’m going to have work hard at it, I’m going to have to learn to deal with it.  Maybe, this is one of the positives to come out of infertility – learning how to be more patient.

Surprise surprise!!!! IVF!

Well my blog post title has given the game away, so in summary…our next step will be In-Vitro Fertilisation!

This morning we met with our RE who reviewed our progress so far, or lack there of.  Our tests were all normal, the three IUIs all went according to plan (except of course for the pregnancy part), I responded well to the letrozole with 2-3 follicles, Chris had awesome sperm.  We remain unexplained, but she does still suspect endometriosis.  If my period pains were so bad that they affected my life and I wanted that to change then she would recommend a laparoscopy.  This surgical procedure comes with risk, side effects and can take several months to return to normal, so if my periods were so bad this would be the way forward, however, in my case the benefits are unlikely to outweigh the downsides.  So she recommends we move straight to IVF.  She explained the overall process:

Week 1 to 2 – after menstruation I start birth control pills for about 14 days, these help to control my hormones

Week 3 – start injectable medications to control ovulation and stimulate follicles to grow – many many more than the 2-3 that were stimulated with letrozole in order to get the best chance of retrieving some ‘good eggs’.

Week 4 – continue injectable medications…have ultrasounds every other day to monitor follicle growth, along with blood work to monitor hormone levels.  When the follicles are ready, we will inject the hCG Ovidrel trigger and 36 hours later I go for egg retrieval surgery.  Under sedation my eggs are extracted from my ovaries.  Chris provides his sperm and my eggs are fertilised in-vitro.  After the eggs have been fertilised, the embryos grow for a few days under close watch.  Then if they survive, one or two embryos are transferred directly into my uterus.

Week 5-6 – start injectable progesterone until the big pregnancy test either says – “woohoo you are preggers”! then I stay on progesterone, or…”booooo it’s a BFN my friend”, then we will…..well, let’s not go there right now.

This is everything I expected her to say, except for two things slightly different.

  1. First, I need to go for a hydrosonogram.  This procedure will produce a 3D ultrasound of my uterus.  I will have this last test because I have a severely retroverted uterus they could not see it very well on the HSG X-ray, they want to double check that there is nothing preventing the implantation stage.
    My HSG X-ray with my retroverted uterus (it's hard to see because it's hiding behind the catheter)

    My HSG X-ray with my retroverted uterus (it’s hard to see because it’s hiding behind the catheter)

    I have been promised this does not hurt quite as bad as the HSG.  THANKFULLY!!!!

  2. Secondly, she thinks it would be a good idea to do Intra-Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) because we are ‘unexplained’.  ART_logoThis is a procedure where a single sperm is selected and injected directly into the egg rather than normal IVF where the sperm is placed near the egg.  This procedure is an extra $2,420 so we need to check whether our insurance would cover this or not.

Talking of costs….it is going to cost $9,075 for the IVF which includes office visits, endocrine monitoring, ultrasounds, retrieval, transfer and first pregnancy test.  Plus, it is an additional $400 for the anaesthesia. Medication will be approximately $4,000 to $6,000.  Then the ICSI procedure is $2,420.  Cryopreservation is $1000 then $60 a month for any embryos frozen.  Yikes!!!!  But we roughly knew this anyway, it’s just a bit scary seeing it listed out like this.

So for now, we start the negotiating with our insurance and the diary planning. It’s looking like a late June start.

Ultimately, today I walked away with this one key figure she gave: for us – a 50% chance of success.  In my mind that is pretty amazing.  I’ll take that.  I’ve always been a glass half full kind of girl, lately it’s been half empty, today I think I’ve been topped back up 🙂

Thank you for all your support and kind thoughts so far, I’m feeling pretty encouraged this will work!

Diagnosis – Taking The First Steps

When do we seek help?

The typical time to see a doctor when you are concerned about infertility is after a year of TTC (Trying To Conceive) if you are under the age of 36.  Both Chris and I are 32, we had discussed when we would seek advice, which was of course as per the guidelines suggests.  But ten months in, Chris had a new doctor’s routine physical where he explained our dream of becoming parents.  The doctor recommended a routine blood work up; this is when we found out that Chris’s testosterone levels were very low.  And so as our doctor provided a suggested specialist fertility clinic.

In the UK, things may have gone a little differently.  We probably would have had to wait a year and at least one minute to be able to get any tests unless we had symptoms.

Research….research….research

So after a serious amount of research, including finance checking, we made an appointment with the Jones Institute for Reproductive Medicine – this organisation was the pioneers of IVF.  We took the first appointment we could get, and so after 11 months of TTC we were taking the first steps towards a diagnosis.  This was pretty scary.  I was in denial, I really did not want to go to the appointment.  Chris was eager, with his testosterone levels being so low, I understood why it was important for him.  Within the last eleven months we had experienced twelve of the dreaded two week waits.   (Those two week waits deserve a whole blog on their own, so I won’t talk about them right now.)  I can have a very short cycle of 22 days so we were able to pack a few extra chances in 🙂

A bad history with doctors

Why was I so nervous?  Well my history with the doctors in the UK is not a great one.  I spent several years in my early twenties making numerous trips to the doctors to diagnose the cause of my sharp, random, abdominal pains, painfully heavy periods and diarrhea.  After many tests ruling out anything serious, my doctor concluded that my pain was either IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) or Endometriosis.  To diagnose Endometriosis I would require a laparoscopy – the last resort – and not a favoured diagnosis method for someone so young.  Therefore, she recommended I first try an exclusion diet to rule out foods that might cause the pain.  After four weeks of experimenting with my diet I discovered a notable correlation between my pain and eating potatoes, wheat and acidic type fruits such as pineapple.  The pain also got worse with stress a notable IBS symptom.  There is no test you can take to diagnose whether you have IBS or not.  But it fitted my symptoms and so I tried many treatments.  My IBS was very bad at university – I had spent two days out the field training with the Army, eating the Army freeze dried ration packs (packed with potatoes and wheat!!!), this plus a particularly stressful moment tipped me over the edge, the pain was so excruciating I passed out and woke up in hospital.  When I told the hospital I had IBS, they discharged me immediately with no further questions.  And since then I have managed my IBS through diet (and recognise that stress is likely to be a bad day for me!!).

So why do I not like the doctors?  My experience with doctors in the UK has always been one of a feeling that I am wasting their time.  I have yet had the opportunity to experience them here in the US as I have in the UK.  So far so good…..the major difference is that I am paying a lot of money for the doctor here in the US and I have a choice, but in the UK it was ‘free’, and beggars can’t be choosers (although much has changed in the NHS over the recent years, there is more choice available now)!

Our first appointment with the Fertility Clinic

wish

I can tell you that I felt sick to the stomach about going to our first appointment together, I must have gone to the toilet at least three times in the hour before.  I knew it was a ridiculous feeling to be having, but this time I had Chris to hold my hand with me, and after discussing the first steps with our new doctor, it wasn’t all so bad.  In fact, I left with a feeling of huge relief.