Monday, May 20, 2013

Pregnant Until Proven Otherwise

When we left off, mine and Brad's reproductive goods had been gathered and combined. We had fertilization! The doctor's called me the day after retrieval to let me know that 19 eggs had been retrieved, 14 were mature enough to be fertilized, and 11 had become embryos!

Brad and I were looking at a potential 11 children. Joey Lawrence Whoa.

The office set up a tentative 3-day transfer, which would involve putting an embryo or two back in on Sunday.  Sunday morning rolled around and I received a call that seven of our embryos were on their way to becoming blastocysts (this is a good thing) and that our transfer would be Tuesday. By Tuesday I was a nervous wreck. Brad's mom took me to the hospital this time. I could have driven myself, but Valium was involved again.

Let's talk for a second about how nice it was to get Valium throughout this process. Normal couples can get drunk and have a baby. I got lots of hospitals and needles, but I got Valium.

Brad's mom got to scrub up and come into the procedure room with me this time. I wasn't expecting that, but I didn't mind. My mix CD came in handy today, too, and we were rocking out when Brad came down. He scrubbed in and held my hand as we implanted two embryos. Just like that, we were pregnant until proven otherwise.

I was on bed rest for the next two days and we began the scary progesterone shots. However, they were nothing compared to the two-week wait (until our pregnancy test) that stretched out before us.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Egg Free is the Way to Be

I had my egg retrieval on December 13. I know, you're so excited that I'm yet again blogging about IVF. :)

For those who aren't sick of hearing about my reproductive woes, here goes.

I got the call from my doctor Tuesday afternoon that we were a go for Thursday egg retrieval. That meant that I would take my normal shots at 8PM as well as an additional two shots at 11PM. People--I'm old. I wake up at 5:30AM for work, so I am definitely asleep by 11. I had to set a dang alarm for this shot. I was so paranoid that I had Brad set one, too.

That was an excellent move on my part because guess who shut off the alarm as a minor nuisance in her sleep? This lady.

Anyway, took my shots like a champ and went back to bed.

Brad went to work as normal the next morning and I waited for my dad to arrive to drive me to the hospital. Luckily, Brad works at the hospital where my doctor and all procedures are, so it works out nicely.

You know what else works out nicely? Valium. I got to take a valium upon arrival at the hospital along with the smallest sip of water. Then, I was taken to my "room" to put on the gown and wait. Dad waited with me and kept me calm. The valium probably helped with that, too.

When the doctor's were ready, I was taken to the procedure room. When they called to schedule this, they encouraged me to bring some music to listen to. I made a lovely mix CD of songs that reminded me of Brad and why we were doing this and it began to play when I was brought to the procedure room. The hooked up the pain meds to my IV to help keep me sedated and pain-free. A man named Steve opened a trap door from next door (the lab) and had me verify my name and birth date. Steve's job was to take the eggs, fertilize them, and grow them in my petri dish.

The retrieval itself is a bit fuzzy, as it should be, but recovery was a little rough. While I was still at the hospital, I managed to almost pass out and I did get sick. Dad stuck with me and Brad came to visit for awhile, so I felt well-cared for. Just rough. After they released me, I laid on the couch at home with Dad nearby. He wanted to stay with me until Brad got home from work. I was OK once I was released and I slept for a bit.

I had made it through that part and I had the knowledge that our children were conceived while Brad was at work and I was hanging out with my dad. How many people can say that?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Ovaries Like Footballs

I know I've been a total slacker about writing and I apologize. I've been a little busy, though, giving myself shots every night and winning battles with the insurance company.

Last you heard, the insurance company had informed us that we had zero coverage for IVF and they sincerely apologized for two months worth of telling us that we did. Well, that was ridiculous to me and we continued to fight. I asked for a document to review with my lawyer (not an empty threat) and they came back with a settlement offer. A very nice offer. We reviewed that with the lawyer and Brad and I agreed to sign it. They gave us the maximum infertility benefit as a lump sum in exchange for dropping the fight and agreeing to not submit claims. We're still waiting on the check (last I heard, it was mailed on Friday) and I'm so excited. The settlement is enough to pay for two tries and the new dining room chairs we ordered. Priorities, people.

My Follistim kit. Pretty user-friendly.
While we were in the midst of fighting with insurance, Brad's parents loaned us the money we needed to start the process. I was on birth control pills for three weeks in order to regulate my cycle and then I began nightly injections on November 30. For one week, I had nightly injections of Follistim. I began at 150 units, but had to double the dose in order to see results. Beginning on December 3, I've had every other day ultrasounds and bloodwork to check progress. I added another shot--Ganirelix-- on December 7. I've done really well with giving myself shots, which is a huge deal. My poor stomach has little bruises and I'm bloated, but I'm surviving and thriving.

Follistim pen in use. Well, not actually.
This picture was a bit staged as I need both hands
for my shots--one to operate the pen and the other to a bit of stomach chub.
At this point, I have around 16-20 follicles of varying sizes happening. Most are mature, which means they're huge. It hurts to sit sometimes and I'm wearing dresses the rest of the week for comfort purposes. Hence the title of the post. I know they're not really the size of footballs, but they feel big.  I've also had to increase my fluid intake to keep headaches at bay. And I cry. A lot. Pretty much, I'm a mess. I'm so optimistic about this, though, that it makes up for it. I'm going to add my trigger shot tonight or tomorrow and they'll harvest and fertilize my eggs on Thursday or Friday. That means that implantation could occur as early as Sunday or Monday. Guys, it's happening. We're moving forward.

I will keep you updated as we learn new things, but expect maybe some silence or fluff posts around January until we're OK sharing the news (either way it goes). Oh, and because they're gorgeous, here's our new chairs that United Healthcare paid for. Brad's dad is building us a dining room table for Christmas and I'm beyond excited for that, too. More frequent dinner parties are for sure in my future.
These beauties are from Industry West.
We have six of the tall ones and two of the short ones.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Sperm in a Coffee Mug

So, much like the title implies, we extracted Brad's sperm yesterday. Because he was born without a vas deferens (exit ramp, if you will), the doctors had to go in and manually extract from the source. Brad got to marinate in some local anesthesia (he also had a shot and some pills) and then they stuck a huge needle in there to gather his reproductive material. I, then, was handed a to-go mug with the vials tucked inside so I could drive it to the lab. People, this was real-life. I was driving around in the wind, rain, and sleet that was Cincinnati's Hurricane Sandy with a to-go mug of my husband's sperm.

We gathered five vials to freeze. They like to shoot for three vials, so Brad did wonderfully. Both the urologist and the lab immediately found the presence of sperm. Brad slept most of yesterday away and hasn't had to take any pain medication. He is a trooper! I know he's just thrilled that it went well and his part is completed.

My part is next. I'll start on the medication protocol in the next week or so and we'll go from there. Brad's parents are loaning us the $8250 we need for the IVF and I'm still fighting with United Health Care in order to recoup most of that money. Brad's procedure yesterday was $1200 and we plan on fighting with United Health Care for that and also relying on our flex spending account. Once we pay the doctor the $8250, they'll go ahead and prescribe my medications. Normally, they would run around $4,000. However, I was asked yesterday to be part of a research study looking at success rates for control women, obese women with PCOS, and lean women with PCOS. Apparently, it's hard to find women for the lean PCOS group, so they really need me. It doesn't mess with my success rates and pays for $2800 of my medications. There's an extra blood draw and a procedure to measure the size of my uterus (which I've been warned can be similar in discomfort level to the HSG x-ray). I'm in, I think.

I'm sorry for the sporadic updates. I'm still trying to figure out a balance in my life right now between work, Brad, IVF, and adoption training. Stay with me, please. I think it'll be worth it.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Monday, October 15, 2012

Scheduling a Date Night

Do you ever schedule a date night with your significant other or, after living together/being married/dating forever, does it just not really happen?

I have felt pulled in a million directions lately and I feel like my time with Brad has suffered. He feels that way, too. I don't want that. I don't want him to hurt because I'm not there. I don't want to NOT be with him. He is my favorite.

We scheduled time to hang out tonight, Wednesday, and Friday. It won't all be completely fun movie/dinner kind of stuff, but we just need any time together. Tonight we're tackling laundry and grocery shopping. We are also tackling our office this week. Our first home visit is scheduled for next week (Oct 24) and we'd like to make a dent in turning the office into a bedroom. We also need to clean and lock up medicines and booze, but Rome wasn't built in a day, y'all.

Our to-do list is overwhelming at times and we have dear friends going through their own hard times. We want to be productive and caring, but I think we need to hole up and play board games together. We need to sit down and eat dinner at the table. We need to ask how the day was and listen to the answer. We need to take the time to give an answer.

Above all, Brad and I are in this together. Even if/when we're blessed with children, they'll grow up and move out. Friends are there, but they have their own needs, too. We need to be sure to nourish our love and friendship. (Not that we don't. Please don't get the wrong idea. It's just something we're working on doing more.)

What do you do when life gets really crazy and hectic? Have you ever scheduled a date night?

Friday, October 5, 2012


So, I haven't really written here in a while and a lot has happened.

On September 16th, Brad and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary. We ate cake, bought me some flowers, ran out of gas on the highway, and had an amazing dinner overlooking Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. We didn't let the baby stuff get in our way and I'm so glad for that. I love that man so much. He is my favorite.
Fancy dinner time!
Since then, we have made a pact to not buy anything for birthdays or Christmas this year. Growing our family is our priority.
We had talked about adopting well before we even tried having a baby, so it wasn't any surprise to us that we went ahead with investigating that as an option. We've been attending our training class for three weeks now and look to be approved by February or March. The program we're going through will lead us through a straight adoption or a foster-to-adopt situation. The state of Kentucky pays for all costs associated with adoption, so that is saving us $20,000-$30,000. We like knowing that our approval will be in place so that we can adopt when we're ready.
We've also been chugging along with infertility treatments. I've been doing my homework with our insurance carrier to ensure coverage and even had appointments lined up. My insurance company set up a telephone conference with me for this past Monday just so we could clarify coverage. Overall, IVF was covered, but I was getting some inconsistencies as to the nuts and bolts of covered procedures.  Well, on Monday they called to clarify that IVF IS NOT A COVERED PROCEDURE.
I was pissed. I had two months of countless telephone calls (kept in a notebook with representative's name and reference number of call) that had confirmed coverage. Now, they were taking it all away and offering me a simple, "Sorry." I'm still so, so angry. The lady that I spoke with encouraged me to appeal and cited all of the documentation that I had.
Long story short, Brad and I are making a go of this this winter. We're scheduling the appointment to extract his sperm and I will start the first round of self-injectables in about seven weeks. By the time we do our first injectables, I need to pay the office $9,000. That doesn't count the $1800 for Brad's procedure ($1200 if he just does this with a local anesthesia) or the drugs I'll need (around $4,000). The cost is huge. One of my drugs is $3,000 alone. The office can obtain samples of that, but they're not sure they'll have them in time for me.
I'm a wreck at work. I don't feel like I'm doing my job to the best of my ability. Most people around me know what is going on and, in a women-majority workforce, they understand and help me out. It still doesn't mean that I feel good about it. I am trying to relax at this point. I'm going to start crafting the appeal letter now so that I have the letter and accompanying documentation ready to be mailed when we finish procedures in late December/early January.
The part that still creeps to the front of my mind when I'm trying to work and live my life is that there is no guarantee. Brad wants this to be a one-shot deal and I support him in that. He is supporting me through trying it once. Not only is the financial cost huge (and I hope to recoup $9000 of that back from the appeal), but the emotional cost is greater. We're going to ask for two embryos to be implanted, but there is no guarantee that we'll get good embryos to implant or that either one of them will stick. I am gearing myself up for that because I will still need to go through the appeal process. It will nearly break me, I'm sure, to appeal and fight for a failed IVF attempt. The emotional scars will be great.
I guess I'm asking for support right now. I need prayers. I need snark about insurance companies. I need letters of support and hugs. I need money. If you can help with any of the above, I'll be happy to give you my address. There is nothing better than getting a card in the mail and knowing that someone cares. I have two of those cards and they live in my files and doctor notes as a reminder that Brad and I are strong enough to get through this. That we're not the only ones going through it.
Thank you for reading this. I know a lot of people are curious as to how everything is going. I'm going crazy over here and trying to be strong. It's hard to write about everything, but I'm trying to keep you all updated. I still feel like we are supposed to share our story and I'm still working out how to best do that.
melaniemcb at gmail dot com