Invoice

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A few weeks after attending the Baby Expo, I received an invoice in the mail.  It wasn’t something I was expecting but I knew why I received it and had forgotten about it.  It was an invoice from Fertility Institute of Hawaii regarding our 5 embryos.

No, I had not informed Fertility Institute of Hawaii that I was pregnant.  No one called to follow up with me and I didn’t feel the need to tell them I was pregnant.  It’s not a big deal to me, that’s just how it happened.

Anyways!  The invoice was to preserve the 5 frozen embryos for a year.  This cost $628.27 ($600 + 4.712% tax) to be exact.  Seems like a lot of money for something that can’t be see with the naked eye.  Lol.  Well, that’s how much it costs and here are our options:

1.  Pay the $600+ to preserve our embryos

2.  Not pay the invoice and choose to discard or donate our embryos

Oddly enough, this decision was much harder than we thought.  My initial thought was that we would discard the embryos.  Paying the more than $600 was not appealing to me and it wasn’t a decision I really wanted to make while I was pregnant.

It’s not any easy decision to make but it had to be done.  In discussion with my husband, we talked about the pros and cons of both options available to us.  It took us 2-3 weeks during various times, to finally make a choice.  In the end, we decided on option #1 and paid to preserve our embryos for a year.  That will take us to May 2014 and we would go from there.  I know there’s no guarantee that we would have an easy time becoming pregnant again.  I suppose the best option for us at this time is to keep our options open, thus preserving our embryos.

I understand that this option is not available to everyone nor does it mean that anything will come of this decision.  We may be able to conceive on our own again or we may need to rely on assistance through IVF.  But since we paid the invoice to preserve our embryos, we have the option available to us.  We will have to see how it goes.

Next post: Low to High Risk


Something Different

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I hope you’ve enjoyed a wonderful Christmas and are looking forward to a great New Year! 🙂

It’s nearing the start of a New Year, a time I’ve had to wait for in order to move forward with another IVF cycle.  What will the New Year bring?  I don’t know, is it important for me to know?  No, it’s important for me to have faith in Jesus Christ.

In November, after seeing Dr. Frattarelli – the OB/GYN, I knew something had to change.  Despite having to anticipate my January menses and experience IVF again, I honestly didn’t want to do IVF again.  Of course, with the 5 embryos that we have, I figured that was our only option.  However, I didn’t want that option.  I wanted us to become pregnant without assistance from technology.

I came up with an idea and proposed it to my husband.  He agreed so we went forward with our plan.  The plan was fairly simple…we would fast and pray for a baby, a miracle.  Realistically, the plan was not that easy to execute.  Just as a reminder, I saw Dr. F (ob/gyn) on Nov. 1, which was a Thursday.  Fast Sunday at church is the first Sunday of the month, which means that our plan was formed and solidified in 3 days.  On November 4th, Fast Sunday, we needed to move forward with our plan.  We fasted and prayed for a miracle.

A miracle wasn’t the only thing we fasted about.  We also fasted about a job – for me.  I hadn’t heard back from a place I applied.  I was hoping that during the month, sometime, I would be called for an interview.  We would see.

Interestingly enough, that Sunday in church many people bore testimony of miracles and faith through personal experiences.  This continued through the rest of church and for a few Sundays afterwards.  It made me wonder if miracles still happen.  I knew the answer to my wondering, yes, miracles still happen.  I didn’t know if my faith was strong enough to believe the Lord would grant unto us, a miracle.  Around this same time, my husband and I were concluding our reading of the Book of Mormon.  It was very intriguing to me that in Ether and Moroni (the last 2 books in the Book of Mormon) there are a lot of references to miracles.  Here are some of the scriptures:

Ether 12:12 states: “For if there be no faith among the children of men God can do no miracle among them; wherefore, he showed not himself until after their faith.”

Moroni 7: 29, 33, 37 explains, “And because he hath done this, my brethren, have miracles ceased?  Behold I say unto you, Nay; neither have angels ceased to minister unto the children of men.

33 And Christ hath said: If ye will have faith in me ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me.

37 Behold I say unto you, Nay; for it is by faith that miracles are wrought; and it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men; wherefore, if these things have ceased wo be unto the children of men, for it is because of unbelief, and all is vain.”

These are not the only references to miracles in the Book of Mormon, just the ones that stood out to me at the time.  I did read more to ponder about and listened to friends share experiences.

I knew that although our plan was fairly simple, it would require a lot from us.  For me, I think faith was a critical element to our fasting and praying.  Faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ requires work.  I can’t just sit around and say I have faith.  Faith expresses trust and love, it requires humility and expands our understanding.

I knew the Lord would hear our prayers.  I didn’t know whether He would bless us with a miracle.  I trusted Him and knew that whatever was right, would happen.  I have learned that I don’t just tell the Lord what I want, I share my desires and wait upon the Lord.  I know the Lord knows what is best for me.

Next post:  Thanksgiving


Considering the Options

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Well, understanding and considering all the options available to us takes a lot of time.  I don’t know if I can adequately express or explain the amount of time and thoughts involved in this process.  In my last post, I explained the options and costs:

1.  FET

2. IVF

3. Natural Cycle with meds

You know, my husband & I have spent many hours discussing the options…the costs, the time, the what ifs, etc.  You name it, we’ve talked about it.  Of course, this also includes the consequences of each option as well as reality.  One of the realities of each option is that it may not be successful.  It’s not being pessimistic, it’s being thorough.  Being thorough is necessary because if you can’t deal with an unsuccessful pregnancy, FET, or IVF cycle…it makes it more difficult to cope with.  It’s already hard as it is, you don’t need more pain to deal with.  You need to talk about the possibility of things not going the way you plan or desire.  Here’s the thing about being thorough, you need to consider all the options, whether you want to or not.  Of course, you always hope that everything works out good but that is not always the case…believe me, I know…just read my last few posts.

I never thought I would experience all 3 of the options available to us.  Honestly, considering these options with experience in mind, was just a tad bit easier.  Having had experience helped because I knew the processes and what to expect.  Two of the important factors for me were cost and pain.  Lol.  I truly had to wonder if I wanted to do injections again and actually, I was ok with it.  Most people cringe when I explain the injections to them, but in reality, it’s 10-12 consecutive days at the most.  In the big picture, I feel like it’s doable.  You may think I’m crazy but it’s really not that bad.

The prices for all the options was a hard decision for us.  Spending $4K is quite an expense, considering it’s not covered by insurance.  Plus it’s only a little bit more than a fresh IVF cycle (covered by insurance).  The other thing we considered is that a FET can be done whenever you want…with at least 2 months notice.  The embryos are frozen, you can thaw them anytime you want.  We have the option of thawing them for an FET cycle years from now.  I hope that makes sense.  The option is good, the price is ok – meaning affordable, and long term – it’s a good option because the embryos are still the age of retrieval.  So, for example, if I was 35 when they are retrieved, then they will be 35 five years later when if we decide to do an FET then.  Of course, I’m not that age, hence it’s an example.

With all that said, we knew and still know all the options for us.  It’s a matter of waiting for when we’re ready to do it.  It also matters what Dr. F recommends.  So, this means I will call on Day 1 and schedule a Day 10 exam.  Based on that exam, we’ll go from there!

Next post:  Day 10


Now What?

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Wow, I can’t believe it’s been 2 weeks since my last post.  I’m sorry for not posting earlier.  I’ve been quite busy with a variety of projects.  I’m planning to post them on my other website soon.  Anyhow, I hope you are all doing well. 🙂

Coincidentally, the last post I wrote was the day I met with Dr. F to discuss our options.  Prior to our meeting, here are the options I thought we had:

1 – Do another FET, which FYI, insurance does not cover.  It’s an out-of-pocket expense that costs $4,000.

2 – Do another IVF cycle, which I estimated would cost another $3,000+.

and 3 – Nothing.  Take a break from all the medication and wait.

In my last post I mentioned that I was done and I didn’t want to continue trying anymore.  I felt that way because I was so hurt and the process is time consuming.  I recognized that a break was necessary but I didn’t want to take it.  Honestly, I wanted to do another FET but I knew what I needed to do…option 3…Nothing, at least for a little while.  Choosing to do another FET right away would have been more draining.  I knew my body needed to rest from all the medications and the emotional stress I experienced.

Doing another FET seemed to be only option but the price was not inviting.  Plus, money is always considered, whether or not I’m working outside my home.  I knew that we could afford to do another FET but I really had to think about whether that would be a smart decision.  I thought about the options we had and was still usure of what to do.  My husband & I discussed the options and decided we would wait until next year, 2013 to do anything, whatever it would be.  Of course, our decision also depended on Dr. F. recommendations.

The night before the meeting I wrote a couple of questions in my phone so I wouldn’t forget to ask them.  I really didn’t know what the objective of the meeting was and I didn’t know what to expect.  I figured we would discuss the FET and options, obviously, but other than that I didn’t know.

The day arrived for my follow up appointment with Dr. F.  I went by myself because my husband had a work meeting and was unable to attend.  When I arrived, they were apparently busy.  I knew I would be waiting a little longer than usual.  It wasn’t a problem because they have a TV and I have my phone to do shopkicks on.  When ready, Dr. F. and I walked to his office.  He shut the door and then talked with me while looking through my folder.  He allowed time for me to ask questions.  I only had 2.  The first questions was in regard to my endometriosis and if I should consider removing it.  I don’t remember the entire answer but I remember him explaining that removing it would be helpful if I experience a lot of pain.  I remember thinking that I do but I didn’t say anything.  I just thought about it.  The second question I had was about my menses.  I wanted to know why I didn’t get it prior to the blood test results.  Dr. F explained that during a normal menstrual cycle, a drop in progesterone levels would initiate my menses.  So, because I was still taking the progesterone I didn’t get a period until after I stopped the medication.  I was like, “Oh!”  After that I felt dumb because I felt like I should know that.  Lol.  After answering all my questions, we carried on with our discussion.

Dr. F. apologized for us not having any success.  I didn’t know what to say.  I felt he was genuine and I played it off by telling him, “it’s ok.”  That was awkward for me.  It wasn’t ok but I knew we both recognized that success was important.  Instead of dwelling on the lack of success, Dr. F focused on the embryos.

Dr. F used an analogy that helped me understand his perspective in the process, including our options.  I’ll call it…The Olympics.  He showed me pictures of our remaining 5 embryos and compared them to the olympics.  Seeing the embryos renewed my strength, hope, and purpose.  I completely understood the analogy and was again reminded of the risks involved with every step.  To make it to the freezing, each of the embryos are really good.  They’re the best athletes!  When it comes to the day of competition, you hope for an elite performance but never truly know how they will perform.  I may have exaggerated a little more than Dr. F, but you get the point right?  Dr. F. explained that he would expect 3-4 babies from the 7 embryos we originally had and with the 5 left, he still has that same expectation.  I know each embryo must meet a specific criteria so it was intriguing to me that the same expectation applies to the 5 remaining embryos.  Pretty cool actually!

We continued our meeting by discussion our options.  I was pretty accurate in my guesses for options.  Dr. F reviewed all the options, including the ones I thought about.  Dr. F, he’s so nice.  One more than one occasion, he’s told me I’m young.  Lol.  Sometimes I don’t feel young when I think of trying to have my first child at thirty-something.  But I am young! 🙂  Just a little note here…if the Dr. tells you you’re young, soak it up!  Lol.  Anyways!  Here’s a brief description of what we talked about:

1) FET.  Cost: $4,000   Begin: whenever we want.  This option is always available as long as we have frozen embryos…and we pay the storage fee.  Ya, I know, it reminds me of the all the storage facilities that have popped up on Oahu over the past 5+ years.  Except my embryos require much less space.  Lol.

2) IVF.  If we switched insurance companies we would get another “free” try.  Dr. F office would not charge us a copay for this second cycle.  Not sure if you remember but the copay price begins at $3,000.

3) Natural cycle with a little medicine.  I was not expecting this to be an option.  I told Dr. F that we weren’t planning to start anything until next year, end of January at the earliest.  He was respectful of that, which I really appreciated.  Now that I think about it, I don’t think we talked about how much this option would be.  I’m assuming that it is much cheaper than the other options.  I’m guess it’s like an IUI, which is a few hundred dollars.  Dr. F requested to do an ultrasound after we finished our discussion.  He wanted to see what the lining of my uterus looked like without medication, during a regular cycle.

Our meeting was done.  We walked out of Dr. F office and into an exam room.  I had a few minutes to change before he and my IVF coordinator knocked and came in.  During the exam, Dr. F inspected my uterus and remarked that it looked good.  What a relief!  I was hoping it would look ok.  I was so enthralled that Dr. F could tell I ovulated by the looking at my uterus.  It was amazing to me.  Dr. F wanted to see the lining of my uterus at different times during a normal cycle.  So, I have to call to schedule a day 10-12 exam.  Looks like the natural cycle is an option for now.  Yeah!

Well, those are our options.  I feel good and comfortable with them.  Another good thing is that I didn’t feel pressured from anyone to do anything.  The decisions were and are completely ours.  You know, after the FET was not successful, in some ways I felt like our options were limited to FET or IVF.  I’m glad that I had the opportunity to meet with Dr. F.

Still not sure what option we’ll choose.  We’ll see.

Next post: Considering the Options


Frozen Embryos

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After all the excitement, stress, and relief of finding out how many eggs were fertilized we were now waiting for the next pivotal step…knowing the # of frozen embryos.

Since the change in plans with the embryo transfer, we were hopeful that there would be a sufficient # of embryos for freezing.  Because the embryos need to meet a certain criteria before freezing, they are given a few days to grow before they are rated, measured, and frozen.

So, as a little reminder, there were 10/12 eggs fertilized.  Five days later I was notified by phone that 6 of the 10 eggs were frozen.  (More on that # in a later post.)  I felt blessed and relieved because I knew 6 was more than sufficient.  You may be wondering if I had to pay $1,500 for freezing, after all, we agreed to freeze any remaining embryos.  Nope!  We didn’t have to pay for the freezing, yet.  If our IVF cycle went smoothly or as planned, we would be paying for the freezing immediately after the embryo transfer.  Since our embryo transfer was postponed, we did not have to pay for the freezing.  Once we do the transfer we will pay $1,500 to have the remaining embryos frozen.

I’m not sure how many embryos will be transfered, nor do I know how many of the embryos will survive thawing.  Only time will tell.

Well, I received a calendar specific to the embryo transfer (ET).  I was surprised to find out that the ET was scheduled for July 25th.  I assumed that I would be doing the ET on the next cycle.  I was disappointed that I had to wait 2 months but after I thought about it and looked at all the medicines I still had, I knew it would take more than one cycle.

I was instructed to call on Day 1 and see the doctor on Day 3.  He wanted to see how the lining of my uterus looked.  So, of course, when I go in for my appointment, the lining looked great.  Lol.  And as usual, I had blood drawn.  The doctor also put me back on the birth control (active pills only) to maintain the lining of my uterus.

Two days later, I was informed (by an IVF coordinator) that my thyroid was low and I needed to take a blood test.  I, in turn, informed my PCP and did a blood test that same day.  The results revealed that my thyroid was in fact low…meaning I needed to increase my dosage.  How frustrating.  I knew it was related to the medications and changes my body experienced because of it.  The main reason for the frustration is that it usually postpones everything.  The thyroid is a priority but it can be frustrating when progress depends on it.  If you have to take thyroid medicine, you’ll know what I mean.  And, if you change dosages you pretty much lose a month.  The thyroid medicine takes 4 weeks to know whether it’s the right dosage or not.  If not, it needs to be adjusted and then another 4 weeks.  I hope that makes sense.

Since my ET was scheduled for July 25th, I had time to take care of my thyroid.  It was good and I was able to get my thyroid within the normal range. 🙂  In the meantime, I was still taking the active birth control pills.  During this time, emotions are quite calm and relaxed because there’s a lot of wait time.

A month before my scheduled ET, I followed my calendar and went in for an appointment.  I was surprised to find out, upon arrival that I was not on the schedule.  It was definitely a miscommunication.  Apparently they were awaiting the results of my thyroid test, which I received but had not given to them.  So, that day, I called my PCP and asked that the results be faxed to the fertility specialist.  My PCP’s nurse called me requesting that I sign a consent.  I was like, seriously?  I drove to the clinic, signed the consent, and it was faxed.  As soon as my IVF coordinator received my tests results, she called me.  She emailed me a new calendar (2nd) and scheduled my next appointment…exactly a week later.  My IVF coordinator informed me that the doctor would be doing a scan and SIS – test.

Blood is drawn each appointment and you squeeze the stress ball.  At one of my appointments, the lady who drew my blood asked if I wanted to take a stress ball home.  I reluctantly agreed.  It’s quite funny, I think.  Here is a picture of the stress balls.  I hope you get a great laugh, like I did! 🙂

Next post:  My SIS


Are You Serious?

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Where was I?  Oh yes, my next appointment.  I think I may have mentioned this but each time I went in for an appointment, I had blood work.  So, not only was I injecting myself, I was being poked in the arm every few days.

Anyways, getting back to my appointment.  I was still bleeding and I made sure to ask the doctor about the pain I felt over the past few days.  He attributed much of the pain to coming off birth control (having been on it for almost 2 months).  I just went with it, even though I felt like something was wrong.  What were they going to do?

The ultrasound revealed at least 10 follicles growing.  I can’t remember the exact number.  I was quite amazed to see all of that.  The doctor would call out numbers that confused me…I didn’t know what some of the numbers meant.  For example, if the doctor said “one twelve, two tens.”  What he was doing was counting the follicles and measuring them at the same time.  So, one twelve meant that there was one follicle that measured 12mm.  The same for two tens, that meant that there were 2 follicles, 10mm in size.  Make sense?

After the ultrasound, the doctor talked to us about the lining of the uterus.  It wasn’t doing what they want it to do…grow!  At my first appointment the lining of my uterus was thick, that was before I got my period.  At my second appointment the doctor expected me to get my menses.  At this third appointment I was still bleeding and the lining of my uterus was not cooperating.  So, the doctor discussed the option to freeze the embryos after the egg retrieval and transfer them at a later date.  It wasn’t part of the plan, but it made sense.  If the doctor transferred the embryos the probability for pregnancy would pretty much be zero.  The lining of my uterus was not thick enough to support an embryo transfer…they wouldn’t have anything to attach to.  It would be a wasted IVF cycle.  The decision wasn’t finalized, we just had a discussion about it.  We would have to see how the next 1-2 appointments go before deciding.

At the end of this, my third appointment I was given further instructions by my doctor and IVF coordinator.  I was going to start a second injection…Ganirelix.  If you’ve read some of my previous posts, you would have seen a picture of this injection.  It is in a clear glass syringe and pre-filled.  The purpose of this injection is to prevent ovulation.  Oh boy!  Now I had to keep track of both injections!  It’s not that hard, but 2 injections in one night?  Oh dear.  One is already enough.  Having to take 2 would be much more interesting.  Since my follicles were growing it was important that my body not ovulate on it’s own and release and unknown amount of eggs…hence the Ganirelix.

My next appointment (4th) was scheduled 2 days later.

Before I get to that appointment, I want to talk about the Ganirelix injection.  The Ganirelix shot was so sore!  I haven’t figured out why yet.  The box says that it’s the same sized needles as the other injections.  It hurt and caused bruising…not fun.  Since I had the other injection, I did that one first and then the Ganirelix.  I alternated sides, not injecting anything into the same side or near the same injection site.  So, I had to do the same thing…pinch the skin about 1-2 inches to left or right of the naval, alcohol prep it, and then inject.  I took a deep breath between the injections!  The Ganirelix injection needle hurt going in, but injecting the medicine didn’t hurt at all.  That shot was the most painful injection.  I knew that I had a limited supply of the Ganirelix injection, phew!  After that first Ganirelix injection, I wasn’t sure how I was going to make through 3 more!  Yikes!  Luckily, I only did one more Ganirelix shot!  It hurt the second time too!

There was something else going on…the lining of my uterus.  So, despite having to do all the injections, the lining of my uterus was going crazy!  I didn’t know what was going on!  At random, the lining of my uterus would shed…and I needed to be near a bathroom or my clothes would be completely soaked in blood.  I first noticed it at the end of my work day (in between my 3rd & 4th appointments).  I was in a meeting and I felt this surge of blood.  It was weird.  My meeting ended soon after and I went to the bathroom…where a huge chunk of the lining of my uterus came out.  This continued at random for 2 more days…with the same pattern, a surge of blood and then a chunk or more of the the lining of my uterus.  I didn’t know what to do.  I thought it was a side effect of the all the medications.  Since I was scheduled for an appointment the next day, I decided to bring it up then.

So, I did.  At my 4th appointment the doctor confirmed that it was most likely a side effect of the medications.  Just as I suspected.  When the doctor did the ultrasound I couldn’t keep up with the number of follicles, there were just SO many…I gave up counting.  I was reminded to take the injections one last time…one more Ganirelix and one more of the Bravelle and Menopur mixture.  It was at that appointment that the doctor decided we would freeze the embryos on egg retrieval day.  We would instead focus on the follicles.  On top of that, I was scheduled for an appointment…the next day.  That was not on the schedule.  I didn’t expect to have an appointment the next day but I just had to go with it.  Like I’ve mentioned before…flexibility.

I wasn’t too happy about having to postpone the embryo transfer because I knew that meant I would have to wait longer to know whether the IVF cycle was successful or not.  I was frustrated though, only because I had to wait.  I felt as though I’d waited for so long already.  I thought, “You have got to be kidding me!”  There’s really nothing I could do about it.  The follicles and the lining of my uterus were the new focus and priority.

So, that night after my appointment, right at 6:00pm I did my last 2 injections!  Well, not exactly…but close enough.  I knew I still had 1 more injection, the HCG shot.  The Ganirelix still hurt but I was relieved to be done with that.  Up to this point I had done 8 consecutive days of injections, 10 total injections.  The last 2/8 days were 2 injections each.

Ok, the next day I went in for my 5th appointment.  It was a Sunday and due to the time of my appointment, I was unable to attend church.  Just in case you’re wondering, we went after we came back.  Getting to the appointment was little different.  The building where the doctor is located is closed on Sundays.  So, we had to call so they could let us in.  I think it’s more work for the employees because they have to run around everywhere and be available for the next client coming in.  We made it and everything went smoothly.

The ultrasound went well and I still lost count of the number of follicles.  I didn’t care at that point, I knew it would be enough when it came time for the egg retrieval.  We left with more instructions and injections.  The doctor made me a special dosage of HCG and added a second injection of Lupron.  While he made those for me, my IVF coordinator talked to me about the antibiotic (Doxycycline).  My husband and I were given the same instructions to take one pill each that night and the next (2 days total).  It was an antibiotic to prepare us for the egg retrieval.  The doctor gave me the 2 injections with instructions to refrigerate them until it was time to inject them at 9pm.

Here is a picture of the antibiotic Doxycycline (left), and the alcohol prep pad.  I used an alcohol prep pad for each injection.  A little further down you’ll see the last 2 injections.

  

The HCG shot makes you ovulate and it is given at a specific time, 36 hours before the egg retrieval.  Lupron is used to treat endometriosis, which I have.  So, at 9pm that night the shots were injected one at a time.  I have to say, I think the needles were smaller.  I didn’t feel anything.  No pain, nothing!  That was awesome and such a relief after the Ganirelix injections!

Below you will see the 2 injections.  The injection on top is the Lupron and the one on the bottom is the HCG.  They are not labeled so I’m guessing here. But I’m pretty sure I’m right because the one on the bottom is a higher dosage (75 units), exactly what I was prescribed for the HCG injection.  The one on top is a thinner syringe that has 35 units.

The next day I went in again just for blood work.  I also brought in my HCG shot.  Since the doctor made one for me, I still had one at home.  He said I could give them mine, so I did.  That was one less medication to worry about.  The lining of my uterus stopped shedding.  I believe it was the Lupron injection that stopped the random shedding for 3 days.  That was a blessing and very helpful.  We took our antibiotics that night and reviewed the instructions for the egg retrieval.

As promised, here is the video!!  It shows how to mix the injections.  I’m just going to apologize in advance, it’s a long video.  I’m not a professional.  Lol.  I hope you have a better idea of how it’s done.

Thanks for reading and watching! 🙂

Next post:  Egg Retrieval Day


Our Decisions…

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Do you ever wonder what will become of the decisions you make?  I do, that’s why I find it necessary to contemplate, pray, and wait for an answer.  And when you get an answer, trust it!

In my last post I went over all the costs and time that would be associated with IVF.  Well, when it came to deciding whether to do ICSI or not, it was a tough one.  I understood the repercussions of choosing ICSI or not.  Of course, I wanted the best possible chances, but we needed to make the best decision for US.

We decided to do the regular IVF cycle, which did NOT include ICSI.  So, we paid the $3,000 and waited a month until our IVF cycle was scheduled to begin.  We felt confident about our decision and were determined to stick to it.  In the meantime I was still taking the birth control pills.

The other decision we needed to make was about freezing our embryos.  Although we were not sure how many eggs would be retrieved or fertilized, we decided that we would freeze whatever we had left.  This would cost $1,500 but not until embryo transfer day…we had a couple of weeks to pay for it.

It seemed like some of the hardest decisions were made and I was looking forward to the next steps.

During the month, I was reminded by my IVF coordinator that the doctor had recommended ICSI.  I was also reminded that my success rate would be low, meaning less eggs would be fertilized, because I chose not to do ICSI.  At first I felt bad, but then I thought, no, we made the right decision.  I wasn’t about to back down or change my decision, especially when I knew in my mind and in my heart we were right.  Plus, we’re the ones paying for it.  It was around that time that I realized, this is a business too.  It made me wonder whether ICSI was recommended to every couple.  I don’t know the answer to that, but I DO know that we were not going to change our decision…no matter the consequences.  We would live with it.

The month seemed to trot along slowly until about 2 weeks before my baseline ultrasound.  My IVF coordinator called and requested that my husband do a semen analysis, which would cost $95.  I think I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s still an important part in the journey.  I guess the 1 year old semen analysis was not sufficient or current enough.  Well, my husband did the semen analysis and two days later, the embryologist called me.  She reviewed the results of the semen analysis with me over the phone and I recorded as much information as I could.  Everything was good, until she mentioned “morphology,” referring to the shape of the sperm.  She said that for IVF they would like it to be 14%.  My husband’s was at 11%.  She continued to explain that it was normal and that I should not be alarmed or worried.  After our conversation ended, I quickly went into research mode.  I found that the shape of the sperm was unrelated to fertilization or that eggs were still fertilized with less than 11% morphology.  As I read more, I learned that for IVF there is a higher expectation for sperm.  That sounds funny.  Lol.  I also learned that there are a variety of semen analysis tests and different criteria for those tests.  I’m not exactly sure about what test was used for my husband’s semen analysis.  I’ll admit, I was still a little worried that I may get a call and be recommended again, to do ICSI.

Well, my IVF coordinator called giving me instructions to pick up the rest of my medications.  We briefly discussed the semen analysis and she asked if the doctor called me.  I told her he did not, so she informed me that the doctor recommended ICSI.  At this point I was quite annoyed.  I listened to what she said, but our decision was made and like I said, that decision was not going to change.  I was getting tired of hearing the same thing over and over again.  It’s almost like a guilt trip, except it wasn’t working on me…instead, it was annoying me.  The purpose of her call was about the medication, which I picked up the next day.  Here is a picture of the medications I picked up!

I know, it’s crazy!  I wasn’t expecting to take all of that out of the pharmacy…good thing I brought reusable bags!  In my next post I’ll go over all the medications, their purposes, and how much their worth…leading up to my baseline ultrasound!

Ooh, I’ve added a picture….what do you think it is? (Sorry if you think it’s disgusting.)

Next post:  ALL the medications


IVF Preparation

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There is SO much preparation for IVF…much more than I ever expected.  After my IVF Consultation appointment, I went in the following the week to begin the IVF preparation.

While sitting in the waiting area, I was asked to fill out a questionnaire.  The questionnaire was about 2-3 pages pertaining to family history.  It was a genetic testing questionnaire.  Based on our answers, yes, my husband had to contribute too, we would be recommended accordingly.  I was instructed to hold on to the questionnaire until I was called in for my appointment.

A few minutes later, I was called in for my appointment.  I knew this appointment would include a power point presentation specifically about IVF.  I was prepared for that.  We met with the PA, who asked more questions pertaining to our personal and family histories.  She reviewed the questionnaire and then informed us that it would cost $300 to have genetic testing done.  It was our choice and it was not covered by insurance, hence, the $300 price tag.  We decided not to do the testing because we did not have a history of many of the items listed.  I have a copy of the paper that was provided, which lists everything the genetic test would cover or look at.

We viewed the power point presentation slide by slide and the IVF process was explained very thoroughly.  We listened and answered questions.  I felt good and comfortable with how the In Vitro Fertilization process would go.  The hardest part to swallow, for me, was the medication.  When I saw the list of medications I would be expected to take, I thought, “Oh my goodness.  This is crazy.”  I couldn’t pronounce all of them and remember all their purposes…and it didn’t matter to me.  I knew I had time to familiarize myself with everything.  Our appointment took about half an hour to forty-five minutes.  The PA gave me an envelope from my IVF coordinator, who was unable to attend the presentation.  Following the presentation, we went to another office to chat with the billing person.  Although IVF is covered by insurance the first time, I knew it wouldn’t be entirely covered.  I knew it would cost us between $3,000 and $6,000, depending on the options we decided on.  So, the billing person gave me a paper that had a break down of all the costs and options.  She explained everything on the paper, we all signed it, and then took it with us when we left.

When I got home, I opened the envelope.  It contained more information.  Enclosed was a calendar, a consent, and a letter.  The letter was an overview of the plan reminding me of important dates.  The consent was 7 pages long, that’s right, 7 pages.  Of course, I read it in its entirety.  It was very specific and thorough.  I was actually quite surprised at the length of the consent, but as I read it, I realized it was necessary.  One of the questions included at the end asked about frozen embryos.  So in the event that a couple separates or divorces, what would be the outcome of their frozen embryos or who would be responsible for them.  There are a lot of things that need to be considered, hence the lengthy and detailed consent.  The calendar reiterated some of the things contained in the letter.  It was a visual reminder of my complete IVF process.  The calendar helps tremendously!  But, it comes with the understanding that dates can change.  I wouldn’t worry too much about it, just be aware of the dates.  You should have sufficient time to prepare for the IVF cycle, it doesn’t start immediately.

So, now it was time to wait.  Nothing was going to happen until Day 1 of my next menses.  I had a lot of time to relax and do other things because I knew IVF wasn’t going to start right away.  I knew in some ways it would be similar to the shots but also much more than that.  It was somewhat relieving, just to know what to expect in the coming months.  While I waited, I periodically thought about the IVF process and different experiences I may have.  Of course, this was all speculation because I hadn’t started that journey yet.  Waiting was the easy part! Lol!  There was much more to come!

Next post: The Beginning of IVF