IVF for Baby Camp
Hey everyone! Just wanted to write a quick update for you all wondering how it came to this. My previous blog post contained a more detailed timeline of my infertility journey up until now if you are interested, but basically what you need to know is that my sixth and final round of Clomid recently failed.
I went in for a blood draw pregnancy test on Friday...Day 34 of my cycle, which turned out to be negative. My period started the next day. If I have learned anything from this whole process, it is that you NEVER test too early! My hopes have been high every time and that BFN hurts alot.
Because I was not pregnant, our appointment the following Monday was more of a consultation visit to determine what comes next. I was extremely grateful that Ben's new schedule on the floor as a firefighter allowed him to come with me this time. Dr. Fisch patiently reviewed everything we had done up until that point with my chart in front of him and talked to us both in depth about our concerns. He has been the best communicator this whole time by teaching us in a simplified and factual way from a realistic standpoint.
The doctor explained that while I do have the polycystic ovaries, I also fall into the category of "unexplained infertility" now as well, since none of the times that I did, in fact, ovulate on Clomid resulted in successful implantation or pregnancy. This is where things get tricky. He told us that it is common for women with PCOS or Lean PCO, like me, to have "stale" eggs, because of the amount of follicles floating around in the ovaries for however long. To be completely honest, I don't exactly know in scientific terms what "stale" eggs means, but it sounded like that meant that they could have a tough outer shell for the sperm to get through, or they likely didn't plump up fully the way they needed due to a lack of hormones, or something like that. Many of these possibilities that fall under the umbrella of "unexplained" are resolved via IVF, even though it is difficult to pinpoint exactly what the problem was in the first place, the testing just doesn't yet exist.
He told me that the next rung of the figurative infertility ladder would be IUI, or intrauterine insemination. This process gives the eggs and the sperm a better chance at meeting. It costs a bit over $2000 per cycle and the doc said that with my background, that would give us about a 7% chance of success each time, versus the 2-3% chance I had on Clomid. Some insurance companies require this before IVF, but since my insurance covers nothing at all it was up to me whether or not to give it a shot. The numbers sounded pretty terrible and we know that Ben's sperm is healthy, so we decided to forego IUI. When we finally got around to talking about IVF, he warned me that it would be expensive first off, but he also disclosed that success rates would be closer to 70% per cycle, which is a huge jump! In our minds, it made absolutely no sense to waste any more time on treatments with such low success rates, so we chose to save the 2k per month and apply that directly towards the full cost of IVF as soon as we could save the full amount needed for it.
The package that we are most interested in at this time is $19500 + $600 for anesthesia + $3-4000 for meds, so just over 20k total. It includes two fresh egg retrieval cycles with ICSI and unlimited frozen embryo transfers. We like this package, because for just $2500 more, than the single cycle package, we can basically get a full year's worth of treatment (if needed, hopefully not!) and MUCH more peace of mind.
The IVF process is that they stimulate your ovaries with fancy drugs for the first half of the month and then go in and surgically remove all of the matured eggs. I have 30+ follicles floating around in there already, so in that aspect at least PCOS helps to increase chances of a high egg retrieval count, which is good. Most of the eggs won't fertilize, so the more retrieved the better off we are. Of these retrieved eggs, they will inject a single strong swimmer into each and babysit them to fertilization. The eggs that properly fertilize then become embryos and we hope for 4+ good ones of those. If you have an extra $4000 sitting around, you can then send the embryos off for testing to determine sex and risk factors before choosing which to implant. Or, in our case, you choose two fresh embryos and hope for the best! (From my research, transferring two embryos increases success rates by almost 20% versus just one, although it is controversial) The remaining embryos are then frozen for use in the future should the first cycle fail, they will then begin to use up the frozen ones. Fresh and frozen transfers have similar success ratings, surprisingly! SO, if we go through all the frozen embryos from one fresh cycle with no success, then you do another fresh cycle and start all over again. Hopefully it will never come to that, by I don't think anyone with a happy, healthy, baby ever regretted paying a couple thousand more dollars for more chances just in case.
I am not a doctor or a scientist, and most of the details of IVF fly right over the top of my head, but I am trying very hard to understand it better all of the time! Please be patient with my lack of a good explanation. At this point, it has come down to the fact that a 70% success rate per cycle is looking really great and we also feel really great about moving forward towards IVF and put a lot of trust in our fertility specialist's immense knowledge and care.
For the record, I have always considered adoption and greatly admire women everywhere who have chosen to adopt. I've done some fairly extensive research and learned that newborn adoption costs can reach upwards of $35,000. So, in our case, IVF is actually significantly cheaper. Ben and I feel that we need to exhaust all efforts at having a child through pregnancy first, but would never take adoption off the table. If, for some reason, IVF fails for us, we plan to enter the foster system to adopt, which is much more affordable, and even if IVF DOES work, we may still do that additionally down the road!
Emily and Haley have been the best of friends by helping to start a GoFundMe campaign for me to raise money to assist with the cost of IVF. I am beyond grateful for everyone that has donated! The campaign has already generated almost $2000, which is 10% of our cost and a HUGE blessing! We are so so happy to have so many loving friends and family surrounding us and appreciate the support from those of you who we may have never even met in person! You are all helping us to achieve our ultimate dream of becoming parents <3
To those of you who have also struggled with infertility and repeated heartbreak, I want to tell you to not give up! It is so hard to understand the struggle without actually going through it, but now that I have I can greatly relate to the heavy toll that infertility can take on emotional, spiritual, mental, and even physical well-being. This has been the greatest trial of my life, but I also believe that it will lead to the greatest blessings. I firmly believe that family is the most important thing in this world and that it extends into eternity and I constantly remind myself of this when times get tough. I also believe that the universe conspires to help each one of us to achieve our righteous desires in some way, at some time, whether in a conventional way or unexpectedly. Love you all! Please reach out to me if I can help any of you even a little bit on your journey <3.