Catch Up Post · IVF

New Things and More Waiting

I haven’t really had anything much to post as K and I consider our options. It’s been pretty quiet and super nice to not have to think about fertility stuff all the time. We have been slowly working our way toward a plan for IVF. I upped my short term disability plan for next year hoping that I will be pregnant then and actually need to use it. We are both taking on some side work to bring in some cash. K has a pretty lucrative freelance job lined up so that’s exciting.

Last week was our anniversary so I surprised K with a fun day trip to an island where wild horses live and you can collect large beautiful seashells. It was a wonderful day. We both enjoyed it tremendously. It rekindled our passion for travel and adventure. Since moving to the East Coast we really haven’t had much opportunity to travel. Last summer we had hoped to do a 3 week trip in Southeast Asia but it just didn’t work out. K was crushed. We took a fun trip to the Florida Keys instead. That sort of made up for it… sort of.

We’ve both been thinking for some time now that where we are living now is not at all where we want to be. We are longing to move from here, either back to the West Coast or to Hawaii. Of course that complicates the baby plans. K and I were chatting tonight about that and there are just so many directions we could go it’s hard to know which to choose. But as with any big decision in life, I’ve found it’s more about putting one foot in front of the other and being present in the process that gets you there. Plans are great but they can be crippling too because there is no way to control all of the variables and it’s easy to get paralyzed worrying about a potential barrier far down the line instead of focusing on making the decision that lies just in front of you.

All that said, which direction we choose will be heavily dependent on the baby timeline. There are a few things that we are working through in order to make that happen. The first is that our current fertility clinic for whatever reason is exorbitantly expensive. We live in a metro area but it is by no means cutting edge or a huge city. We do have a very prestigious university near us with sizeable medical and research facilities. However the university is not directly affiliated with the fertility clinic that we use.

I have looked around a bit at prices to see how our place stacks up. One thing I have learned is that the only consistent price for any of this is the medications. Those seem to be running in the $4-6K range no matter the clinic. Aside from that it’s wildly different from place to place. For example, we paid $1700 for our recent IUI. That price does not include the sperm. That was an additional $900ish plus shipping. Altogether, it was a stupidly expensive IUI cycle. For IVF at my clinic with a discount for being a “public servant” the IVF quote we got was $18K. I can’t remember if that included meds or not. Either way, that’s damn expensive. And that quote was for a retrieval and one fresh transfer. Additional transfers were $4K. They do not offer shared risk programs or package deals.

Knowing how different the prices can be I wanted to see what other options were out there. I found a fertility clinic about 2 hours away that has an IVF special where the procedure plus monitoring would be $7800 plus meds. That’s already about $5K cheaper than what my clinic is offering. Another place out of state offers a single cycle of IVF for $3900 plus meds. We decided to get a phone consult with the out of state clinic but they are booked until mid January. I had hoped that we could get the consultation and any initial testing out of the way now in order to time the meds so that we were ready for a retrieval in early January. I’m pretty bummed to put everything on hold for so long. My fingers are crossed that there is a cancellation so we can get things going sooner than mid-late January.

I will probably call the other clinic tomorrow if I have time to see about a consult with them too. It would be such a relief to get everything going as soon as possible so that we can start the new year with retrieval. Though it costs more I think it would still be a good option since it is closer– less hotel costs, no flight costs, etc. Plus, we need to have some options to decide which clinic we would prefer to work with and review their stats.

Thinking about moving, we might be crazy thinking of piling it on top of pregnancy and birth and new baby but what can I say? It’s really hard for us to sit still. But as I said, that decision is many steps ahead of where we are now. I’m trying to remember that so that the frustration of *more* waiting doesn’t creep in. Can you believe that it’s been nearly a year since K and I decided to try for a baby? Anywho, that was my stream of consciousness update, thanks for reading. 🙂

Catch Up Post

It’s been awhile!

Ok, so I need to get this blog back up to speed. It’s been about 8 weeks since  my last post and I had promised some details about our first insemination cycle. I will start there and then give further updates about my cycle and upcoming appointments. So, get a cup of tea and a snack it’s gonna be a long one.

So, the insemination… in short, it was weird. I’m a very private person. I’m introspective. I’m introverted (Except with K. She would say that belting out George Michael in the living room on a Saturday morning is decidedly NOT introverted). It took me months to fess up to K that I wanted to have a baby. Months. And then another few months before we talked openly about temping and OPK’s. And discussing TTC with my brand new gynecologist literally raised my blood pressure about 15 points and right out of the normal range. So, you can imagine that sitting in a hotel bed with a guy whacking it into a soft cup in the bathroom was probably one of the more anxiety-provoking experiences of my life. Our donor is a great guy and he did everything to make the experience as efficient and respectful as possible but all I could think is: “this needs to work!” Alas, it did not.

I think it failed for a couple of reasons:

1) I have an irregular cycle and I had not been temping long enough to establish when I ovulate. I assumed I would ovulate on CD16 but I actually ovulated on CD18 and have done so for every cycle since. This means that we did the inseminations too early. Rookie mistake. It was a costly lesson. I think we spent close to $1500 on that cycle with dog boarding, airfare, hotel, and car rental. I did get 4 inseminations from it which is way more than what would have been possible with a sperm bank, so at least there’s that?

2) My luteal phase is short– only 9 days. Once it was 8 days. So, while this cycle did not work it was a good practice run for fine tuning our process. I know now that even if the inseminations had been successful I probably would not have gotten pregnant with a luteal phase so short.

Which is a very nice segway into the remaining 6 weeks since I last posted.

When we got home from New England, I had a bit of a freak out that we went up there and blew all that money on inseminations that did not work. I was so ashamed that we timed it wrong and felt like I wasted everyone’s time by not having a better understanding of my cycle. Being the gestating partner is a lot of pressure. There are many people looking to you expecting you to have expert knowledge of your body’s esoteric processes. It felt overwhelming. It did not help that our sweet but bitchy dog got herself kicked out of day care for picking fights with not one, but two dogs while we were gone. Sigh. We still have not figured out a good plan for the next time we leave town.

Anywho, once I was done having my meltdown I realized that I needed to get my luteal phase sorted out and quick! I had previously researched all about lengthening it via Dr. Google and decided upon two options, vitamin B6 and Vitex. Both are known to support production of progesterone so I thought that would be a good place to start. There are other things as well but I won’t get into a big discussion over that because then I may as well call this a book and not a blog post! I decided against medication because I did not want to artificially produce progesterone, just support my body in making more naturally.

I started the B6 prior to the inseminations in February and was very hopeful that it would work to extend my luteal phase. I thought it worked because I did not start my period until the evening of DPO9. But I still started. Grrrrr. Not wanting to waste another cycle going the home remedy route I messaged my gyno to ask about prescribing progesterone or something else to address my short luteal phase.

You might be wondering what happened with the Vitex. Well, I’ll tell you. See, wanting to have the purest most effective form possible I stupidly ordered a vitex powder. The directions said to mix it with juice. I figured I could just add it to a smoothie. No. N-O. That stuff is fucking HORRIBLE tasting. And it’s not a powder that dissolves, since it’s you know, a ground up seed and not granules of sugar. So yeah. Just a heads up: Vitex is miserably bitter and gritty. Do not believe the directions to mix it with a glass of juice. You have been warned! I had to order the largest gelatin capsules I could find and encapsulate the Vitex myself in order to take it as a supplement. I was so put off by the taste I didn’t get around to it for a long, long while.

Ok, back to my gyno. It seemed like it took forever to get a response. But when she wrote back she did not agree to write a prescription like I had hoped. Instead, she referred me to a fertility center. I had been tip toeing around this, hoping I wouldn’t have to make an appointment while simultaneously wishing for the guidance that such an appointment might provide. That appointment is coming up on April 3rd. I am relieved and nervous about it. Especially the financial part. I need to call and find out how much I can expect this consult to cost since my insurance does not cover it. Ugh.

Right now, you might be wondering about my March cycle. In this long, verbose monologue about the woes of baby making not once have I alluded to us planning or executing insemination attempts. Well, as with everything on here there is a story about that. First off, I finally got around to ordering and encapsulating the Vitex so pretty soon after the start of my current cycle I began taking 3 large capsules of vitex along with the prenatal, 6,000 IU of vit D, and B6 every evening. A week or so into the cycle we began making preparations to have our donor ship sperm. I think shipping sperm probably needs it’s own post so I won’t go into a lot of detail, but we got him the boxes. He was wonderful enough to agree to shipping to us at least three times (have I mentioned that he is super committed and easy to work with?). Most donors only want to ship once.

Anywho, we had just spent a few hundred bucks sending sperm shipping kits up to Mike and were planning to begin shipments the next day. Cue the phone call. I didn’t answer–K went ahead and called him back and it was both a relief and, well… You see, our donor had suffered an injury. A masturbatory injury. There was blood. How do I know? He sent us a picture of the blood. Poor guy tore his foreskin. Ouch. So, needless to say, he had to seek medical attention and needed time to recuperate. So officially we were out for March. I was a bit relieved because my cycle and the Fertility Friend algorithm had been acting strange so I was afraid we were getting the timing wrong again. K and I thought about sending him a get well card and a bottle of lube. We still might. Any guys out there reading have strong feelings about brands?

That brings us up nearly to date. The last tidbit is that today is DPO11 and I just started my period. I finally made it past DPO9. 😀 I’m not sure what worked. I have been very consistent with the B6, vit D, and prenatal so maybe I just needed more time with that? I took the vitex for probably a week, maybe 10 days in the middle of my cycle and then ran out of filled capsules. I’ve been sick the last 10 days or so and the combination of mild cold fatigue, plus my typical PMS fatigue was amplified exponentially by the underlying MS fatigue. So there was no energy for anything beyond basic care and making it to work. I will continue with the vitex though. I’m hoping to extend my luteal phase into a much more healthy range for a pregnancy.

So, that’s the update on the last 8 weeks. 🙂 What have you all been up to the last 8 weeks? Anyone have a success in their TTC journey? Doesn’t have to be a BFP, maybe you made some progress on choosing donor sperm or you booked a consultation with a fertility center. Maybe you lengthened your luteal phase with herbs and vitamins too! Leave a comment and let’s give a little support to each other.