Thursday, February 23, 2017

My Journey Through Infertility Pt. 3, In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)

***Disclaimer: I'm getting down and dirty with my journey of infertility and the process involved. I will be using anatomical terms, sex and bodily fluids in my descriptions. Basically I want to paint as real of a picture as I can. If it's not something you think you can handle, I suggest you stop reading now.***

This is the 3rd part in a series about my journey with infertility. If you missed it, here is part 1 and part 2.

I left off with taking a pregnancy test and it showing as negative, we were left with a few options after that point. Adoption, going back to trying au naturale, doing a laparoscopy procedure to see if I had endometriosis, or in vitro fertilization (IVF). My husband and I were seriously considering all options. I'd always thought that I may have had endometriosis as I have nearly every symptom. Dr. F told us that if we went the laparoscopy path, that if any endometrial growth was found, it would be removed and there was a likely chance it would grow back. We decided against this option because what if I had endometriosis and they removed them, then while we were trying to conceive they grew back and we'd be right back in the same boat we are now minus $10,000.

Around this time we were still looking in to adoption. In all honesty, I'd always wanted to adopt because I was adopted myself and I think of where I would have ended up were it not for a family of my own. However, with the application process, home studies and the hefty $40,000 fee for a private adoption we were hesitant. We briefly considered foster-to-adopt, but were afraid of losing a child we'd fallen in love with.

We went back in and spoke with the doctor about IVF (colloquially known as artificial insemination). We went over costs, the procedure, and the odds of conceiving. The actual procedure of IVF itself was around $9,500 and medication that would need to be taken prior to would range from $3,000 to $6,000. Then there was an egg storage fee of $995 and an embryo transfer fee of about $3,000. If you are not a human calculator, that equates to $22,495 and there was a 37% chance of conceiving a child on the first go (at this specific facility). The doctor said that on average it takes around 3 times of IVF treatments to conceive and bear a child. If it really took us 3 times, than we were looking at a total cost of $67,485 (keep in mind, our insurance did not cover any of this, we would have to pay all out of pocket). The doctor told us we could finance the cost, but my husband and I didn't like the idea of taking our baby out on loan. Adoption was starting to sound like a good option as we would be guaranteed a child with the $40,000.

After a lot of discussion back and forth, Max and I finally decided to give IVF a try, but one round only. If that didn't work, adoption it was. Max's dad kindly gave us $10,000 towards the procedure. We found out for me, the cost of meds would be around $3,000. I had to sit with an IVF nurse coordinator who went over the entire procedure in depth. In short, I would start off with an ultrasound after my last period. Then I was given instructions about the medication I was to take. I would have to inject Lupron (a drug that basically stops your menstrual cycle and more importantly it stops ovulation, this way any eggs can fully develop and the doctor could control when they are released.) into my abdomen 2 times a day, once in the morning, and then again at night for the first 2 weeks. After that, I would start injecting both Gonal-F (a follicle stimulating hormone to promote ovaries to mature multiple eggs rather than just one) and the absolute worst injection ever, Menopur (helps eggs to mature). I lovingly referred to Menopur as liquid fire. That's what it felt like going in, it burned sooooo bad. So, all in all, I was injecting my self 4 times per day throughout the process.

When I first started the IVF process, I was right in the middle of training for the San Francisco Half Marathon and was told by the doctors, when I start the IVF treatments, I wouldn't be allowed to exercise. I begged and pleaded with my doctors if there was anyway I could still run the half. They agreed and said absolutely no exercise after July 31, 2016. I had a doctors appointment the Monday following the race and found out I had about 11 fully mature eggs I was carrying around and they decided it was time to start the egg retrieval process. I had to give myself one more injection, an hCG shot to trigger ovulation.

The egg retrieval (ER) process is a very vulnerable experience. I was completely out, under anesthesia, with my legs in stirrups and my husband was not allowed to be in the room during the procedure. I'd done my online research prior to the ER and a lot of women said when they woke up, they looked about 4 months pregnant because of all the bloating. A lot of women also talked about extreme pain immediately after. When I woke up from the procedure my belly looked normal. Yes, I was slightly sore, but nothing like what I had read. As the days went on, I did get a little more sore and a little more bloated, but again, nothing extreme. They were able to get 9 eggs from me.

During the next 5 days, the doctor combined the eggs he had taken from me and my husbands sperm and allowed them to fertilize and grow in a petri dish. After 5 days, I went back in to have 1 embryo transferred (Max and I were able to decide how many we wanted implanted at one time we went with one). They told us that they were able to fertilize 7 of the 9 eggs (the rest would go into storage for future use). During this procedure I was kept awake but given Valium to help me relax. I gotta say, me on Valium is pretty trippy. Everything felt like it was happening in a dream and not real life. Anyway, there were able to transfer the one fertilized egg directly to my uterus and I was told I would be on bed rest (they called them "princess days") for the next 3 days, then after that, I would be able to take a blood pregnancy test in 2 weeks.

I will leave off here as it's a good stopping point. My final post in the series will be how I felt during the 2 week wait and the results, which have already been spoiled multiple times by me :).

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