CCRM · donor egg ivf · donor eggs · estrace · infertility · ivf · ivf grants · ivf loan · lupron · progesterone · San Diego Fertility Center · sdfc

SDFC Phone Consult

We had our phone consult with the donor coordinator (Jenna) at San Diego Fertility Center yesterday afternoon. She was incredibly informative, was ready to answer all of our questions, and really put our minds at ease. I don’t have a single doubt that if we chose to go to SDFC, we would be in the best of hands for completing a donor egg cycle.

She walked through the process with us, detailing each step of a donor egg cycle. We would have to do a trial run cycle, in which I would start estrace (estrogen) when my period began to increase the lining of my uterus. I would have to have 3 total ultrasounds (one baseline and then 2 more at one week apart) to check to make sure my lining was increasing. Throughout that cycle I would increase the estrace gradually to see how my uterus responds. Then I would take progesterone to make my period start, start birth control pills to link up my cycle with my donor’s cycle, then begin to process again to build up my lining to prepare for transfer. Estrace and Progesterone: my two least favorite of the drugs! And then when I actually do the cycle, they will add in lupron (the shot that burns as I remember it!) Ah well, the things we do!

I asked if they had a bank of frozen eggs available. She said that they didn’t really do a lot of donor egg cycles with frozen eggs because the technology hasn’t developed enough to successfully freeze single cells. She said that they are constantly trying to develop new ways to make it more successful, but their thoughts are that using frozen eggs at this juncture does not have enough success for them to promote it. I found this information very helpful since that was one of the things I liked about the Chicago clinic ($15,000 cycle for a frozen donor egg cycle). I remember Dr. Surrey at CCRM saying something similar, so it’s easy to trust her: they have found great success with freezing and thawing embryos, but eggs just don’t have enough cells to keep them viable.

Ryan asked her to explain what should make their clinic stand out above the rest. He explained that we were doing a little bit of shopping around, and while we love their customer service (so to speak) San Diego is certainly not our cheapest option in regards to treatment or travel expenses. She said that they are really the pioneers in donor egg IVF. She said that CCRM is known for their successes in IVF and embryo testing: they have an impeccable lab and are on the front end of developments in IVF treatments and protocols (exactly!). Basically what she said, although not in these exact words, is that SDFC is for donor egg IVF what CCRM is for regular IVF. Their founder started donor egg IVF something like 24 years ago, and the first ever donor egg baby is not 32 years old (I don’t know if those are the exact numbers, but you get the gist). Basically, they’ve been at it for a lot longer than most clinics.

So, right now, they are top on my list and I think Ryan agrees. He was very pleased with the consult yesterday. We both know it will probably be a while though because we have to figure out the money issue. SDFC does have an agency that they partner with a lot who does infertility loans. Jenna is supposed to send me some information on that. I’m also looking into grants some more because now I know that they will accept money from third party lenders (CCRM wouldn’t so I didn’t want to go through the grant process if they wouldn’t accept the money – a lot of grants want to pay directly to the clinic).

I also have to get this polyp removed before we can do anything else. I have an appointment with my new OBGYN on March 22, and we’ll hopefully be able to schedule the removal for soon after. It looks like this is going to be a pretty long process. I would be thrilled if I could get pregnant this summer, but it’s looking more and more like it will be closer to a year from now.

Thanks for hanging in there with me!

Advanced Fertility · Chicago · donor egg · donor egg costs · donor egg ivf · fresh donor egg · frozen donor eggs · infertility · ivf · ivf costs · San Diego Fertility Center · sdfc

Comparing Clinics

So I have been spending the last several days searching and comparing fertility clinics across the US. My head is swimming with information. I have gone on the SART website and checked the stats on any fertility clinic in any place that either a. has family in that city or b. would be a cool place to visit. I have looked into the top 5 clinics on the list of “best fertility clinics for donor eggs.” I have little notes all over the place for each clinic where I have jotted down prices, donor information, etc. It’s been crazy!

San Diego- I have continued to be in contact with the nice lady at SDFC. She has been incredibly helpful. We have a phone consult with her on Monday afternoon to discuss more specifics. The problem with SDFC is its location. Out of all of our options, it would be the most difficult for us to get to. It would probably be an expensive place to stay as well. What I do like about them is their large donor database, and obviously the friendly coordinator who has been so accomodating.

Chicago – Looking at the SART website, Advanced Fertility Center of Chicago’s numbers really look good. In 2015, they did 45 donor egg transfers with a 91% success rate. 45 isn’t a big number of transfers (compared to San Diego’s 88), but 91% success rate is hard to look past. The other pluses for this clinic is that it would be fairly easy to get to from here, and we have family in Chicago which means a free place to stay. The other thing about this clinic is they have a fairly large frozen donor egg bank. This would mean a much lower cost (I think the cost quoted on their website is $15,900) and a lot less planning (I wouldn’t have to sync up my cycle with a donor). I’ll probably post about frozen vs. fresh donor eggs at a later time – I really have to look more into this. I hadn’t even thought about it before I saw it on their website. The annoying thing about this clinic is the nurse I have been in contact with hasn’t been the most approachable person. Granted, I have only talked to her through email, but she hasn’t been very forthcoming with answers to my questions. I have just emailed back a questionnaire she wanted me to fill out, so we’ll see if we can get a consult scheduled with them soon.

New Jersey- They are the second on the list of “best fertility clinics for donor eggs” and their stats look good. I have called them and gotten some pricing. Their prices for their cycles are about the same as SDFC. Who wants to go to New Jersey anyway? I’m going to keep them in the back of my mind, but I just don’t really see that being worth it.

Dallas- I have emailed and called them. Still no response. I’m a little annoyed by that. Looking closer at their stats, they have an 88% success rate for fresh donor eggs, but only did 40 transfers in that year. I still think those are good statistics, and it sure would be convenient. I just want them to call me back already. The real deciding factor there would be the cost and amount of donors in their database.

So that’s what I have for now. I’ve looked at several other clinics, but these are the top 4 at the moment. It makes me sad to be officially saying goodbye to CCRM, but 7 donors in the database at $40,000 just isn’t going to cut it. We have a follow up phone consult with Dr. Surrey next Thursday. I’m debating whether or not to cancel it. It seems silly to pay another $100 to tell him we aren’t going to be seeing him again. Although I still have some questions for him regarding my Doppler test on my uterus. We also haven’t gotten the whole report on the semen analysis yet. I guess I should decide pretty soon what to do about that!

infertility · ivf

Go Fund Me

I have started a go fund me account. I really hate that it has come to this, but I’m desperately trying to figure out ways to pay for all of this. I’m posting it here mainly to see if the link works and to get advice on what y’all think of it. I’m not quite ready to put in on Facebook yet. I know eventually it will have to be done, but I need to warn some people about that first (like my mom!) Let me know what you think. Seriously, criticism welcomed!

blocked tubes · dealing with infertility · DOR · infertility · ivf

Sometimes I have to let myself be sad – just for a minute

My co-teacher told me today she’s pregnant. I’m happy for her – truly I am. She has been trying to get pregnant for a while now, and she isn’t someone who gets pregnant at the drop of a hat. She has wanted this for a long time. She has a beautiful little boy already. She’s a great mom and a good person. I am happy for her.

But I’m sad for me. Is that ridiculous? It makes me feel so selfish. I have my beautiful little girl and I feel so incredibly lucky – really blessed – for that miracle baby. I just feel like my family is not complete yet and it makes me sad that it won’t ever just happen. I have come to terms with this, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes I just have to let myself be sad about it again. When I hear stories (like I heard today) of someone taking a pregnancy test just because they felt like it and then surprising her husband because he had no idea it was even possible, it makes me sad that I will never get that. I know I have so much to be thankful for, and I have my own story of taking a pregnancy test and finding out I’m pregnant. Believe me, I don’t ever forget how lucky I am, and it does ease the blow SO MUCH! It’s just sometimes I want my story to be a little different. Sometimes I wish I didn’t have to figure out how to get $30,000 to make a baby. Sometimes I wish I didn’t have to make decisions about fertility clinics and donor eggs. Sometimes I hate the fact that I have these deformed tubes. Sometimes I just want to be able to have sex with my husband and get pregnant.

Okay, rant over. Sorry I had to put all of that out there. I know it’s not a fun thing to read, but this is my safe place and it’s better that I rant here instead of to anyone else.

On a happier note, one of my students walked in this morning with a giant stuffed zebra for Anadine – his Valentine’s gift for her. Talk about making my heart melt. It was just about the sweetest thing I’ve seen in a long time.

costs · ivf · San Diego Fertility Center · sdfc

San Diego Fertility Center

Just after I wrote my last blog post, I contacted both of the clinics I mentioned – San Diego Fertility Center and Dallas Fort Worth Fertility Associates. I went to their websites and filled out their online inquiry forms. No lie, 30 minutes after filling out the form for SDFC, I heard back from the donor egg coordinator there. I was pretty impressed by that (I still haven’t heard back from Dallas – I may put a call in this afternoon). The email the coordinator sent me was so nice and informative. She attached all the forms that would be necessary to become a patient and switch my medical records over from CCRM. She also gave me some price points for donor egg cycles out there. And, most importantly, she gave me access to the donor database. Y’all, their database is so much bigger! You can search for certain qualifications – hair color, eye color, etc. (it feels a bit like online dating). I did a search for Caucasians with blue eyes and there were 12! TWELVE! I know that may not seem like a lot to choose from, but compared to the 7 total donors (only 2 Caucasians) on CCRM’s list, I was quite impressed. I read through a few profiles, but didn’t do a whole lot of digging just yet.

As for the pricing, it is much cheaper than CCRM – although still very expensive. The baseline price for a donor egg cycle seems very reasonable ($18,700) at first glance, but then there are a lot of costs not included in that. For example, compensation for an anonymous donor is $5,000-$10,000. It also doesn’t include the cost of the meds – injections for the donor, progesterone for me, etc. – which ranges $4,000-$6,000. So we’re really looking at about $27,000 for one donor egg cycles at SDFC. It’s still much cheaper than CCRM, but it’s also still a lot of money! They have other guarantee plans, like I mentioned in my last post. For $26,278 you can have all the transfers from a batch of embryos necessary to get your pregnant or your money back. The only downside to that plan is they require you to transfer 2 embryos. Ryan is pretty adamant about not having twins. I personally would be okay with twins, but I totally support and understand not wanting it! Two would be very hard (you moms of twins amaze me)!

Anyway, we still need to talk to Dallas and see what they are all about. And then we need to start figuring out how to get all of this money. We are both a little overwhelmed with the idea and pretty stressed about it, to be honest. I can feel the tension between us and it kills me. I’m going to research grants and things, but I’m concerned people will be less willing to help since we already have a child.

antral follicle count · CCRM · costs · donor eggs · pros and cons · San Diego Fertility · uterus

One Day Work Up Results

Well, we are back from Colorado with a lot to think about. I want to apologize ahead of time for this long post, but there is a lot going on in my head right now. Any feedback is greatly appreciated, especially from anyone out there who has had to make similar decisions.

I didn’t get the clear cut answers I was hoping for, though I didn’t really expect to. I was hoping to go have these remaining tests done, and Dr. Surrey would be able to give me a clear cut yes or no as to whether we could try again with my eggs. He didn’t necessarily do that, but he did make several things pretty clear to us. So here is what we do know post one day work up…

My uterus: We first did an ultra sound to look inside my uterus, check the lining, and check for blood flow with the Doppler. This is also where they did the antral follicle count (more on that in a minute). The lining looked good and thick. She did see a water filled cyst on one of my ovaries, but she said that’s common after ovulation (remember this was cycle day 17 for me, so that makes sense). The blood flow wasn’t great though. It wasn’t terrible by any means, and she said that it may have been caused by the Claritin D that I had been taking all week. She said that if Dr. Surrey was concerned about it he would tell us more at our follow up. He actually never brought it up in our follow up, and we completely forgot to ask. We have another phone follow up with him in a couple of weeks though, and I’ll be sure to remember to ask him about it then. I think that lessening caffeine intake as well as starting acupuncture for the purpose of increasing blood flow to the uterus will greatly improve things. More in regards to my uterus – we also did a hysteroscopy with Dr. Surrey. This was where he looked at my uterus with a scope and also did a trial transfer to see how my uterus will react to the process. All looked good, except I do have a fairly large polyp on my uteran wall. This will obviously have to be removed before transferring an embryo. I’m due for a yearly pap anyway, and Dr. Surrey said that my OBGYN can do it in his office. We’ll just have to get a pathology analysis on the polyp, although Dr. Surrey didn’t think it looked malignant. I’m wondering if this could have caused the abnormal blood flow reading earlier in the day? (I can’t believe we forgot to ask about it!) Dr. Surrey also said he could remove it during an egg retrieval, if we use my own eggs and do a frozen embryo transfer (more on that in a minute, too).

Semen Analysis: I just received a phone call from ccrm (following up about something else) and I asked if any results had come in about the semen analysis. They haven’t gotten the chromatin report yet, but have gotten the basic semen analysis results, which look good. His morphology (the shape of the sperm) is a little low – they like it to be 3 and his was 2, but the nurse didn’t seem concerned with that. I didn’t get any other report about it other than it was normal. I’m not too concerned about it and will wait to get all the details when we have the rest of the results in.

And now, for the EGGS – the big question to be answered: The ultrasound actually showed 10 resting follicles, which was a bit of a shock since 5 years ago we had 9. So that was actually a pleasant surprise. However, we have to be practical and know that just because there are 10 follicles, does not mean I would grow 10 eggs in a cycle. We also have to keep in mind that my FSH is pretty high, indicating poor egg quality. I keep going back to the fact that 5 years ago we retrieved 7 eggs and only 1 of them survived. Those odds just aren’t that great.

What the Good Doc. Said — Dr. Surrey said that it certainly wouldn’t be impossible for us to get pregnant with my eggs, but it wouldn’t be an easy road either. He said he would strongly suggest the CCS testing with a frozen embryo transfer. We didn’t do this last time because we assumed my eggs were healthy, even though I didn’t have a lot of them. Now we know a little more (1 out of 7 survived). So the CCS testing would test all of the embryos made to check for the correct number of chromosomes. Most people I know who have gone to CCRM have done this testing, so it certainly isn’t an unreasonable plan. However, the chances of us ending up with an embryo that a. can make it to the 5 day mark to be able to be tested, survives the testing, and then survives thaw and transfer is minimal. My fear is that we would go through the process and end up without any embryos that tested normal, and we would have paid the 7,000 extra dollars for something that we could find out by just transferring and seeing if the embryo takes (usually non viable embryos do not implant). Of course, that has it’s own trauma associated with it. I would still end up with a failed IVF cycle. Either way, chances of success are slim with my eggs. We have the problem of growing them, first of all, but then most importantly getting a normal, quality embryo is the toughest part. So basically, to finalize Dr. Surrey’s theory, our chances of being successful with IVF using my eggs and CCS testing is at 40-45%. My chances of being successful with donor eggs is 85%. Honestly, I wanted the numbers to be more spread out than that, if we were to decide to go the donor egg route….like I wanted him to tell me I had a 20% chance of success. That would make the decision SO MUCH EASIER!

We also met with a donor egg counselor, which was actually pretty great. I expressed my fears about what others would think about us using donor eggs, including the comment my mom made to me about it. She really reassured me that usually people get over those feelings, especially once the baby is born. Ryan and I talked a lot about it this weekend, too, and decided that we will most definitely not keep it a secret. Talking about my struggles has always been how I cope with infertility, and not talking about it, or hiding a piece of it, would make it seem like I was ashamed of it. If I do end up getting pregnant with a donor egg baby, I would want to make sure I never let that child think I was ashamed of his/her origins. I wouldn’t hide it from the child, so I certainly wouldn’t hide it from family members or friends. My mom and I have a big conversation to have if we end up going this route, and I’m certain everyone will come around. And as the counselor pointed out, if they don’t come around to the idea, then screw ’em!

My/Our thoughts: If this was my prognosis before having Anadine, I’d probably go for it with my own eggs. I would be in the mind frame of wanting to give it my all before trying something else (in fact, that is basically what I did 5 years ago). But now, we really only have this one shot. We simply do not have the money to spend up to $30,000 on an IVF cycle and then (assuming it would fail) spend another $40,000 on a donor egg cycle. I hate to base my final decision on money, but that really is what it boils down to – that and the fact that I really have come to terms with the idea of using donor eggs and I’m okay with it. Ryan and I talked a lot about it over the weekend, and I think we both agree that donor eggs will be the most effective (cost and otherwise) way to go. We haven’t made any final decisions yet, but that’s kind of where we are now.

Here are the pros and cons we came up with:

Pros of using own eggs:
-DNA is the same
-Don’t have to explain to family
-Don’t have to explain to potential child about origins later down the road
-Less expensive (assuming it works)

Cons of using own eggs:
-little chance of success
-injecting all of the hormones into my body (increases cancer risks, etc)
– mental stress – which probably wouldn’t be very helpful for success

Pros of donor eggs:
-more of a sure thing
-easier on my body
-less time consuming as far as the actual cycle goes
-we have more time to prepare because it doesn’t matter that I’m losing more eggs each month
-younger, healthier eggs (less chance of birth defects)
-will most likely have many embryos to work with, or possibly freeze for later children (??) or if it doesn’t work the first time. 

Cons of donor eggs:
-not my DNA
-have to explain to family/future child
-Very expensive!

It’s such a tough decision and we don’t really know how to make it, except to trust our insticts. And both of our instincts tell us to just use donor eggs…because all of those cons (except for the expense of it- more on that though later) don’t matter to us. I’ll still be able to carry the baby, deliver the baby, and love the baby with every ounce of my being. The  fact that he/she doesn’t have my DNA just won’t matter. The pros to using donor eggs are just so much more appealing – especially the idea that we’ll have several embryos to use/choose from/use later. A frozen embryo transfer will be much less expensive than doing an entire cycle, should the first one not work.

Okay, so now to talk about the expense of a donor egg cycle (prepare yourself). If we were to do a donor egg cycle at CCRM (using an anonymous donor), it would cost us close to $40,000, not including travel expenses. In addition to that, CCRM’s current donor list consists of 7 donors, only two of which are Caucasian. A girl in my CCRM Facebook group, who also ended up using donor eggs, told me that I should look into San Diego Fertility Clinic (where she ultimately ended up going and has a beautiful little girl). They have a donor egg guarantee plan that costs $26,278. With the plan you get all the transfers necessary to get pregnant from the batch of embryos created with your donor, and if you don’t get pregnant, you get your money back. I don’t know what this means regarding if you get pregnant on the first transfer, if you still get to freeze the remaining embryos to use at a later time. I also don’t know how their donor database compares to CCRM’s, or if they are as picky as CCRM in accepting donors (one of the reasons CCRM’s list is so short). These are all questions I plan to get answered soon. But I can tell you this, I don’t know if they can tell me much that would justify us spending $20,000 extra to stay at CCRM. That does break my heart a little because I do love CCRM and have a very special place in my heart for it, but business is business and if I use donor eggs, I don’t see the  need to use CCRM for it.

There’s also a fertility clinic in Dallas, which would be pretty convenient, that I’m going to check out. When I googled “best donor egg fertility clinics in the US” the one in Dallas came up as number 1. I don’t know much more about it than that, and I don’t know what they criteria was in choosing it as number 1, but it is something I think is worth looking into. Dallas is only a 4 hour drive from here – talk about cutting down on travel expenses!

So basically both of these other options take away that last con of using donor eggs (the expense of it). Honestly, the $26,000 at SDFC is still less than a regular IVF cycle at CCRM. We are also going to look into fertility grants and possibly setting up a Go Fund Me account. I hate asking for outside help, but it is just SO expensive and insurance companies generally don’t cover any of it. 

So now I have some more questions to get answered. We’ll have a follow up phone consult with Dr. Surrey on the 18th, so I’m making that my deadline to make some final decisions. Time to get going on my homework!

And that’s it — if you made it this far in this post you honestly deserve some sort of medal or something. Thanks for reading (and for your patience). And again, any thoughts are welcome!