IVF with donor eggs

NIAW: Listen Up

listen up

It’s National Infertility Awareness Week and the theme this year is “Listen Up.” And really, that’s what any person struggling with infertility needs, is for someone to just listen.

To Family Members and Friends:

Your advice isn’t wanted or needed, especially in regards to my treatments. I have received the following advice from various people along the way:

  • You should just adopt
  • Just relax and it will happen
  • I had a friend once who was told it was impossible for her, but then it worked
  • Isn’t one enough?
  • You shouldn’t do the treatments. It must not be in God’s plan for you to have children.
  • Go see a nun – she works miracles
  • You shouldn’t do the treatments because the hormones will give you cancer
  • Just wait – it will happen when it’s supposed to
  • You’re so young – there isn’t any rush
  • Why don’t you just use a surrogate?

I could go on and on. The problem with most of this advice, is it’s given without fully understanding what my problems are. And I get that. I didn’t understand how babies were made until I had to understand it. I didn’t know what Fallopian tubes do, or how ovaries work, or what a follicle was. I don’t expect for anyone else to understand it either.

So, just listen…

I am happy to explain what you don’t understand. The problem is, I need to know what you don’t understand. So ask me, and then be prepared to…LISTEN.

1993f-infertility2bneeds2bsupport2bmeme

 

To Insurance Companies,

Infertility is a disease. 1 in 8 people suffer from some form of infertility, yet none, NONE, of the treatments are covered by insurance companies most of the time. The thing that holds most infertile couples back from becoming parents is most often finances. Fertility treatments are so dang expensive! I remember being shocked by the $1,500 bill for the hysteroscopy to have my tubes checked out. It was the first ever test that was performed and I remember thinking “this better work!” And then we skipped a whole bunch of other steps and had to go straight to the big guns – $15,000 for one IVF cycle, plus the cost of medications, and none of it was covered. So insurance companies, LISTEN UP!

No-Money

To Politicians,

Signing bills like the Personhood Amendment doesn’t just make laws against abortion, it also has the potential to harm the field of infertility treatments. For those of you who are unfamiliar, this bill defines life at fertilization…not conception, fertilization.

There are so many things wrong with that statement, but mostly that, in most cases, fertilization happens at the very top of a Fallopian Tube, way before the woman knows she is pregnant (about 2 weeks before, actually). So you’re risking tubal pregnancies, early miscarriages, and a million other things that could happen, which could potentially be considered the woman’s fault under the guidelines of this bill.

But in regards to fertility treatment, IVF to be specific, fertilization happens outside of the body. So according to this bill, embryos made in a lab are human beings. And should anything happen to those embryos, someone is to blame – for murder. This bill has the potential to stop fertility treatments altogether because no doctor, or embryologist, is going to want to take that risk.

So politicians…LISTEN UP. We deserve to be heard.

embryo being fertilized

As with anyone who is going through some sort of struggle that is hard for the majority of the population to understand, we just want to be able to share, without judgement. Sometimes we just need a hug, or a shoulder to cry on. Sometimes we may want a prayer. Most of the time, we just want you to LISTEN.

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IVF with donor eggs

A Letter Written Years Ago

Sometimes, about once a year, I go back and read this letter. It’s a letter I wrote to family and friends who has been walking with us on our IVF journey to give them an update on how our third IVF cycle had gone. (spoiler alert- not good). I like to read it because it reminds me to be grateful. Grateful of our journey, of where we are, and of the outpouring love that we have received from the people in our lives.

It’s hard to read. It always brings tears to my eyes. But it reminds me to be grateful. So here it is. Side note: writing this letter is also what inspired me to start a blog. When that IVF cycle failed, I couldn’t stand the idea of calling/texting/emailing every single person who knew about it and repeating the news over and over again.

So here it is —

Dear Family and Friends,

This is for all of you who have been my support group for the past several months/years. Many of you unknowingly volunteered for this position by giving me unconditional love, prayers, and support. Most of you fell into the position (whether you wanted to or not) by just being around me every day and not being able to escape it; and some of you had no choice because you’re a relative. (sorry!) Regardless of the reason, I want to thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for being there for Ryan and me. I wish I had the time (or really the emotional will-power) to write each and every one of you a personal, handwritten note – but I just can’t put myself through that (I am certain you all understand!) You have all, in your own ways, been a true blessing to me. I cannot begin to tell you how much it means to me to have your prayers, your words of encouragement, your shoulders to cry on, your ears to listen to my screaming frustration, and your gentle hearts and faith to help me carry on.

This is a letter I started writing for myself, just to get all of my ideas out of my jumbled mind. But as I was writing it, I felt that I needed to share it with all of you. After all, you have been through this entire journey with me, and I felt as if you deserve to know what I’m thinking – I don’t always express myself too well with spoken words, and sometimes I think I come across as more of a doer than a feeler (if that makes any sense.) Basically, I just wanted you to know, because you deserve to know, how I am feeling.

This has been the most difficult 2 ½ years of my life. Ryan and I have been through the heartbreak of trying our hardest to have a baby “the old fashioned way,” only to be disappointed each month for a year and a half. I have charted basil body temperatures, been told by doctors to just be patient -“sometimes it takes people longer”, “your temperature charts are textbook perfect” they said. Then, after referring myself to a Reproductive Endocrinologist 10 months ago, it has been a whirlwind of even more emotions. We have found out I can’t have children naturally due to blocked tubes, I’ve been through 2 IVF cycles that got canceled due to poor response to the medications (after doing all of the injections, I might add) and then, after more hormones and blood tests, found out I also have the egg supply of a 40 year old. Through all of this I have watched all of my married friends get pregnant without really trying – “just to add salt to the wound” as they say. (please don’t take offense to that for those of you who are so very blessed with babies!)

The past month has been the most difficult – Ryan and I have been to 2 funerals of close family members, I have stuck myself with a needle twice a day, swallowed a countless supply of hormones in pill form, been through a painful medical procedure, to then start having shots given to me by Ryan or Mom with a 2 inch long needle every day (talk about the feeling of helplessness)- with thick enough medicine to give me welts and bruises on my back. I have gained close to 10 pounds due to the countless number of hormones that I’ve been subjecting my body to, my face looks like a 16 year old’s, and my ovaries still feel like they have golf balls inside them. My entire body aches, the bruise on my left arm from all of the blood work makes me look like a heroine addict, and my eyes are constantly blood shot from all of the crying. I have gone to talk to a nun who supposedly performs miracles, especially dealing with infertility (one of the most terrifying experiences of my life, by the way) and have spent countless hours on the Internet on message boards of people who have done IVF, Googling my diagnosis (yeah I know – terrible idea) and researching clinics across the country who may be able to better help me. I have gotten my hopes up one day: planning a nursery, figuring out important pregnancy dates (even the week that I would get the glucose test done – I know I’m weird), to then bawling my eyes out because I didn’t have any “symptoms.” And don’t even get me started on the money we’ve spent on all of this – the medical bills that I will be paying off of my credit card for the rest of my life (or so it seems!) and the miles that I have put on my poor car driving back and forth to our RE’s office which is 2 1/2 hours away. I spent the majority of my Thanksgiving break on bed rest, spending countless hours looking at the picture of our little 4 cell embryo, and praying for a miracle. Regardless of the praying, regardless of what “Papa” told the nun, regardless of doing everything right, I found out today that I won’t be having a baby in 9 months – my arms will be empty.

Still, after all of this, I’m ready to start again. Whether it’s with my own eggs, through donor eggs, or through adoption – I will be a mother and Ryan will be a dad. We don’t know why God has challenged us with this, and we are both pretty angry with Him right now. However, we also know that He is all we have left. He is the only being that we can truly depend on right now. I’m not sure I have ever needed God more. As angry and confused as I am about why He has chosen me for this challenge, and as much as I feel like He owes us a miracle, I know that it is ultimately up to Him. No matter how much I beg and scream and throw my fist, He will answer my prayers when He is ready. Finding the patience is the most difficult, especially when I know that every month we don’t do IVF, is every month that I’m losing eggs from my diminishing supply – they’re just going to waste.

But I can say – when it does finally happen for us, I won’t ever take it for granted. I will cherish every moment of my pregnancy (oh how I pray for morning sickness and back pain), every moment of delivery (although I will be getting an epidural, I don’t want to remember it that badly!), and every sleepless night with my newborn. I will sing to the heavens when my baby starts teething, crawling, and walking. I will delight in my two year old’s tantrums, potty training, and moodiness. I will be grateful for every lost tooth (and I HATE dealing with teeth!), and every skinned knee (oh yeah, and I don’t do blood very well either!) I will praise God for a 16 year old that hates me, and I will thank Him for the countless debt from his/her college tuition. I will watch my children get married and bless me with grandchildren and I will tell them all how much I love them and am blessed by them every single day. I will cherish the bad moments along with the good. I know there will be moments when I will be tired and feel like complaining, but I won’t for a second miss the days when I wasn’t a mother.

I’m not really sure what our next steps are. We know we will keep trying. We know we will never give up. We will spend every last penny we have, and we will travel whatever distance it takes. Because I know, from the deepest place in my soul, that I am meant to be a mother.

I love you all so very much. Please continue to keep us in your prayers. And please know that I thank God for all of you every night. I have never felt so loved – and that is the blessing that I can take from all of this. It has made me closer to my husband, I have discovered who my true friends are, and I have never appreciated my family more. I will forever be grateful for that.

IVF with donor eggs

While We Wait

I follow a group on Facebook called something like Parents Via Egg Donation. I joined it hoping I would connect with a network of women who were also going through donor egg IVF, but I’ve discovered that it’s really a group that posts articles about IVF, Donor Eggs, Surrogacy, etc. Sometimes the articles are blog posts that people have written, other times it’s research that’s come out, and other times it brings in politics regarding women’s rights, etc.

There are times when I just skip over them because either I’ve read it before, or have no interest in reading it. I usually do read the blog posts, because that’s what I really wanted from the group. But then sometimes an article catches my eye and I not only read it, but feel the need to share it – here of course! This one touched a lot of things that many people have questions about, but the part that I liked reading the most was the idea that some genetics can be passed from the mother to the embryo through the embryonic fluid. This doesn’t necessarily mean that my donor egg baby will look like me, but there may be certain traits, especially behavioral traits, that I will influence while he/she is in my womb.

For your reading pleasure…

http://lehmannhaupt.com/2016/01/06/becoming-a-solo-mom-via-assisted-reproductive-technology-donor-eggs/

finances · IVF with donor eggs · legal · small victories

Small Victories

Well here is an update on our legal fees situation!

I received another email about an hour later from Katie (bless her!) that said our lawyer (bless her, too) had spoken with the other lawyer and explained our unique situation, and the other lawyer (bless him, three!) agreed to drop the charge from $500 to $350. So we still lost a good bit of money, and we are still paying a lawyer $350 to spend 30 minutes on the phone with our donor, but it feels good to know that people are working with us. It feels good to win a battle, even if it’s just kind of winning it. It feels good to save $150, even thought it’s such a little amount compared to what we are paying for so many other things.

But hey, I will smile for now. Even the little victories are worth smiling about.

IVF with donor eggs

What the Embryologist Had to Say

We had our phone call with the embryologist yesterday. Here is what we learned…

1. If we have strong feelings about only transferring one embryo as opposed to two, and if we have strong feelings of having one gender over another, then she strongly suggests PGS testing on a donor egg cycle.

Both of these apply to us. She said that any other donor egg cycle, she would not recommend it, but PGS testing definitely helps with getting a positive pregnancy result the first time.

2. They can do PGS testing on embryos that have already been frozen (ie. if we decided later that we wanted to test embryos that had been frozen) BUT she does NOT recommend it. She said it’s pretty rough on the embryos to be frozen, thawed for testing, refrozen, and then re-thawed for transfer.

3. The PGS testing, if done with skilled hands, has little to no affect on the embryos. If it does affect them, it causes no implantation, or perhaps a very early miscarriage. Damaged embryos will not result in say learning disabilities later on.

4. Yes, PGS testing is super expensive – she asked if we had any other questions and Ryan asked “do y’all have any specials going on right now?” She thought that was pretty funny, but the answer is still no.

So we still haven’t made a decision. I guess we have a while, except that we need to start getting money together if we decide to do it. I honestly don’t know how I’m feeling about it right now. I guess I just pray on it and hope that an answer comes along.

In other news, I emailed Jenna about the $500 to the lawyer. I knew she was out of the office this week, but I hoped that someone checking her emails could help me out. Sure enough, someone named Katie responded to my email and explained that she totally understood. She said that she would contact our lawyer to see what she can do. So now we’re just waiting to hear back about that. I hope something can be done. It would be such a relief to win one of our battles!

UPDATE
I just received an email from Katie. Apparently since we requested that another lawyer be used for our donor, there’s not much that can be done in regards to their fees. Our lawyer said that she could have asked for a discount of sorts if it was the same lawyer. I replied back and said that I wasn’t aware that we had requested another lawyer, but that must have been from the conversation Ryan had with Jenna after our donor backed out on us. It’s interesting the things that they remember and the things they don’t. So, I guess we owe another $500. I’m getting really frustrated. I just feel so defeated.

donor egg ivf · financial · ivf · lawyer fees · San Diego Fertility Center · sdfc

I knew this was coming…

So even though we won’t have egg retrieval until July, I want to go ahead and get everything needed for legals complete so we don’t have to think about it. So I contacted the lawyer, explained that we had found another donor, and asked that we go ahead and start the process. So once she got the go ahead from the clinic, she sent over our retainer letter which we have to sign… along with $500 to pay the new donor’s lawyer.

UGH!!!!!!!!!!

When I read that, I just started crying. I knew it was a possibility, but when I asked Jenna all of those questions, it sounded as though there was hope that we wouldn’t be out any money. I just forwarded it to Ryan and said “I want to fight this.” The problem is, we don’t know who to talk to about it. This is a fee that doesn’t go to my lawyer, or SDFC, but to a completely different person with whom I don’t have any contact. I decided I was going to email Jenna about it and see if there is ANYTHING she can do – maybe she can talk to the donor’s lawyer and explain our situation? But Jenna is out of the office until the end of this week. I just didn’t even reply to Alison (the paralegal). I couldn’t. I’m just so tired of this mess.

But then she emailed us on Friday to make sure we had gotten her email. I replied to her and said “I’m sorry for my late response. We’ve been trying to figure out what to do because we weren’t expecting to pay another $500 for the donor’s attorney – especially since the  last time we paid that $500 our original donor backed out on us. I’ll get back to you shortly.” It’s a little snooty. I feel kinda bad about it…kinda.

In the big picture, $500 isn’t all that much. But it’s just so frustrating that we completely lost $500 – I mean we paid that other lawyer to do a terrible job last time. It probably took 30 minutes of her time to have a phone conversation and not convince these people that they’re freaking out over nothing. So I’m going to complain about that. If nothing else, SDFC should cover the cost for us. Am I being ridiculous?

Today we have a phone call with an embryologist at SDFC. We just have some questions about PGS testing. We’re wondering if it’s really worth the $4,000, especially since we now have to pay $4,000 extra for our new donor. We originally signed up to do it for “family balancing” – basically we want a boy this time. But we are realizing that $4,000 is a steep price for that kind of thing. So we basically want to find out if we don’t do it now, and end up with another girl, could we do it later with our frozen embryos for a third pregnancy? I just felt a little sick to my stomach when I typed those words. Ya’ll I’ll be 36 in September – a THIRD pregnancy?! And I have had so many people tell me – “Another girl would not be the end of the world,” “Girls are great – boys are gross,” “But Anadine would love a sister.” Yes, I understand all of this. But when you can’t get pregnant easily, when you are 35 trying to have your second child, and when you have been through everything in the world to have a baby and you are simply trying to find any positive in the situation (and, yes, maybe gender selection could be that positive) then you have to consider it. I know the other side, too… Maybe we’re playing God too much. If we could get pregnant easily, the idea of having another girl would not hinder us from trying again. These are the debates we have back and forth all the time. I’m leaning more towards not having the testing done, but I’m also the frugal one.

I mean, y’all, we are crunching numbers right now. We found out we owe over $2,000 in taxes this year. Now we have this giant loan, added costs, and have to find the cash to get out to San Diego when it’s time. I wish I could just win the lottery. Or get a huge raise. Or get invited to ELLEN! HA! I mean, where’s Oprah when you need her?!