I.. to the V… to the F.. The beginning of our IVF Journey

Thinking about where to start documenting our journey has been a challenge.. Part of me wishes I had started writing at some point a year or so ago when it all began, but then again I could have never known we would end up where we are today. So I will start with what’s most current and work my way back as we go along, keeping things as up to date as I can as well.

I.V.F. the dreaded acronym that most everyone has heard of but so few truly understand. This is our first round of I.V.F. and with any saving grace from God it will be our only needed. Although, for those of you who are familiar with the world of infertility know, the odds are not in our favor.

Following our failed IUI cycle (which was just a hold over till our insurance approved IVF) we waited desperately to re-meet with our Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE) to plan next steps. Somewhere in-between the despair of hearing we had a negative beta test (aka not pregnant) and the days leading up to our next RE appointment I felt lost with emotions. Should I be upset and worried that our IUI was unsuccessful? Should I be hopeful and excited that this may be enough to get approval to move straight to IVF? Do I even want to do IVF? My thoughts swirled and it was all my husband could do to keep me on the ground and emotionally stable.

One second I was excited, the next, a nervous wreck, all followed by tears and depressed thoughts like “Why me?”, “I’ve done everything the ‘right’ way how did I end up here?”, “Why is life so unfair”, and so on. I was totally having a pity party! Roller coaster of emotions aside, our big day finally came and I found myself totally letting go of everything I thought I wanted to ask, or needed to know, and just listening to whatever was recommended by our RE for next steps. If you learn anything about me through this blog it will be the fact that ‘letting go’ pretty much isn’t in my vocabulary. Nevertheless, I made a choice right then and there to do just that… let go, and trust the medical professionals who have spent decades perfecting their practice.

During our appointment our RE discussed moving straight to IVF/ICSI, all we needed was insurance approval which she figured wouldn’t be too hard given our presenting dual factor infertility. Yes, you read that right, dual factor. As if having a baby isn’t already hard enough lets just go ahead and add a double dose of infertility to the mix. Lucky us! I will talk a bit more about our infertility challenges in another post as its too much to cover here. Anywhoo, provided we got approved we would  be one of the very very lucky few to qualify for full coverage. Just writing that makes me feel guilty, as I know through the hundreds of blogs I have read, and websites I have visited, that so very few people are blessed to receive any, let alone full insurance coverage for IVF. I guess you could call that the silver lining in all of this.

Following meeting with our RE and discussing next steps, we met with the nurse to go over medications including a full blown tutorial on how to prep and inject all of the proposed medications. Talk about overwhelming! She legitimately pulled out a big box of meds to demonstrate and by the end of the meeting with her my head was spinning! Thank goodness my husband seemed significantly more grounded. He had a close friend go through this process and had actually helped inject some of her meds so he was less concerned than me.

After meeting with the nurse it was now time for us to meet with the financial advisor. This is the part which I am sure most couples absolutely dread. If you don’t already know, most of the time IVF is not covered by insurance at all, and when it is,  its usually only partially covered. The costs of each round can vary between $8,000 to $20,000 or more depending on where you live, your medication needs, and your specific clinic/specialist.  Of course with any expensive medical procedure you are expected to pay upfront or at least pre-determine how you will cover costs of the entire procedure in advance. Thankfully, our discussion was limited to what was being submitted to the insurance company and how long it typically takes to get a response. Three to five days… Sounds manageable until you find yourself clutching your phone at all hours of the day desperately waiting for the call.

Speaking of which, I actually managed to have my phone on airplane mode when the call came and therefore I missed it. Looking back I was kind of glad this happened as it led to one of the happiest voicemails I have ever gotten thus far. It went something like this “Hi Joy this is Liz from CCRM calling, your insurance approved you fully to move forward with IVF so you are all set! You should be hearing from the nurse shortly regarding next steps”. I must have listened to this voicemail 10 times and I cried tears of joy (no pun intended). This was honestly one of the happiest moments of my life thus far. After all the waiting, the turmoil and uncertainty we were finally moving forward with the gift of science!

The next few days I was on cloud 9, that is until I realized that I hadn’t heard back from the nurses yet on next steps and I was hovering dangerously close to loosing the entire month of December cycle wise. If you don’t know how IVF works, you automatically loose a whole cycle to suppression and stimulation drugs so to loose another whole month due to a missed step was 100% unacceptable to me. Needless to say, I put my ‘advocate’ pants back on and started calling the RE’s office demanding information regarding next steps. (Might have been a tad bit over kill but eh hindsight is 20/20).

Low and behold I was told to start birth control that night for the next two weeks and then come in for a suppression check which would include an ultrasound and blood work. Suppression check came and I was happy to hear that everything looked pretty good. The birth control had worked to sufficiently suppress my system! (It’s the little things these days!) Next step would be to start my stimulation drugs.. aka injectables aka shots shots shots! Luckily, my STIM calendar wasn’t too bad, just two shots in the evening until it was time to start the antagonist shot in the a.m. I was put on lower doses of meds than many of the other blogs I have read for two reasons. One I am fairly young (just turned 31 to be exact) and two I was at risk for OHSS (Ovarian Hyper Stimulation Syndrome) a big no-no in the IVF world as it leads to canceled cycles and complications.

And so on December 24th, the night before my 31st birthday I began my medications. I guess you could say it was an early birthday and Christmas present. I would give anything to become a mother so sticking a few needles in me on the eve of my birthday just seemed fitting. Instead of a cheers with a lovely cocktail (vodka soda’s are preferred) I got to cheers with a cocktail of Menopur and Gonal-F! And so began my IVF journey round 1.

Since the 24th I have been continuing to take my Menopur 75 IU’s and Gonal-F 150 IU’s nightly. I have had two blood work and ultra sound appointments and actually just got the phone call that we are ready to add in my antagonist (Cetrotide) to the lovely injectable cocktail! My RE said everything has been looking good. My first STIM check showed approximately 20 mini follicles and my estrogen levels where in the 200’s. Today’s appointment showed that many of my mini follicles have grown and my estrogen level is now at 649. It’s truly fascinating to see how much can change in a mere 36 hours all with the magic of science!

So for the next three nights I will continue with my same p.m. dose of Menopur and Gonal-F but I will be adding in Cetrotide in the a.m. to prevent my body from spontaneously ovulating prior to egg retrieval day, which should be sometime in the next week or so!! This is all very exciting and I can’t wait to document it all moving forward.

If you have hung in there and read thus far, thank you! I know I have found reading other people’s blogs incredibly helpful throughout this phase of my life. I can only hope that you will find some comfort in knowing you are not alone in what can feel like an incredibly lonely journey.

Cheers to a new year and baby dust to all!!! Bring on 2018!!

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