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!

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!

CCRM · donor eggs · estradiol · FSH · one day work up

Follow up with Dr. Surrey RE: day three blood results

Before I get too much into what the good doc said, here is information regarding my hormone levels, more specifically compared to my levels in 2011.
FSH levels (determines egg quality and ovarian reserve)
Normal: below 10, Mine in 2011: 9.7, Mine now: 14.4
Estradiol (estrogen levels)
Normal: below 50, Mine in 2011: 78, Mine now: 48
AMH (determines egg quantity)
Normal: 1.8, Mine in 2011: 0.9, Mine now: 0.8
Okay, so the biggest difference is my FSH level. It has risen quite significantly. According to the doc, this obviously isn’t great, but the good news is that my estrogen levels dropped to a normal range. He said something about how the FSH levels and estrogen levels work together and if one is high, you want the other to be low and vice versa…I didn’t really follow and the more research that I do online the more confused I get. From what I can tell, low estrogen levels aren’t a good thing and it just means I’m closer to menopause, but I suppose I’ll trust the doc for now and ask more questions when the time is right. My AMH levels haven’t changed much, which is good, although they are very definitely in a not so great range. Dr. Surrey said that from what he’s looking at right now, I’m not in the range where he’s going to say no way, no how. But, he’s also not fully confident in my chance of success. He said that considering in my last cycle, while it is obviously considered a success, it still wasn’t a great outcome in that I only retrieved 7 eggs, only 5 of those eggs fertilized, and of those 5, only 1 made it. And while we are glad for that 1, it doesn’t necessarily predict great success for another IVF 4 years later.
He then went on to say that there are two more pieces to the puzzle that will really give us a clear picture of what we’re working with: an antral follicle count and a glimpse into my uterus. Both require an ultrasound that they want to perform in Colorado. So then came the news I’ve been waiting for: he wants us to come out for the one day work up. I’m totally okay with that (even kind of excited). I remember feeling so informed after going for the ODWU last time, and I really feel like it would give me peace of mind.
Ryan and I did have a conversation last night about all of this and I shared what we discussed with Dr. Surrey. We are both pretty adamant that we don’t want to go through multiple IVFs to achieve our goal. I simply don’t want to put all those hormones into my body. It’s been shown that they increase chances of ovarian and breast cancer, among other things like making you crazy and fat!! That’s not saying we don’t desperately want another baby, but we’re just more willing to use other means to achieve that goal this time, like using donor eggs. When I mentioned that to Dr. Surrey, he said that using donor eggs would give me about an 80% chance of success, and could even end up being the most cost effective. However, he made it clear that he doesn’t want me to rule out using my own eggs just yet, at least not until we get the missing pieces to the puzzle at the ODWU. He did say that he would make sure we had meetings set up to discuss the donor egg process while we’re out there. It will be much easier to discuss all of these possibilities in person instead of over the phone.
So anyway, now I just wait for the nurse to call and we’ll schedule to go out there. I’m thinking it will end up being towards the beginning of February. It has to be done between cycle days 5-14, so that either means next weekend (eek!) or February. I just don’t think I can get my act together in time for next  weekend. Especially since this go around I have to figure out child care. So, now it’s just the waiting game. In the meantime, I’ll try to get healthy and prepare my body to be poked and prodded. I need to eat healthier, drink less wine at night, and drink lots more water! New year resolutions!!