I just got home from our IVF consultation and all I can think of is – wait, what just happened? Information overload! Props to the doctor and nurse for covering everything and anything but holy shit that was a lot!
What will you do with the leftover embryos? What will you do with them if you die? What if your partner dies? What if you both die simultaneously? What if you get divorced? Will you donate them to research? Destroy them? Keep them forever?
Geez Louise. I went in there feeling so prepared with my list of questions nicely typed and printed out. Luckily the doctor covered 99% of the questions I had on my list without me even having to ask. I felt like everything I’ve been preparing for the past few weeks went out the window in those 30 minutes I sat in his office. I felt like a sponge trying to soak up every last piece of information he was throwing at us knowing as soon as I walk out I’ll forget everything! I better jot this down while it’s still fresh. To sum it up this is our plan:
- When my next cycle begins I will start by taking birth control. Yes, birth control. This allows everything to shut down and gives the medical team control over what my body does in the weeks leading up to IVF. The goal of birth control is to prevent spontaneous ovulation and hormones from interfering with stimulation. The last medication I thought would help me get pregnant was birth control but it makes sense now.
- During the birth control phase I will also be giving myself daily injections of Lupron which prevents a premature LH surge that would cause ovulation of the eggs from the follicles before egg retrieval.
- Stimulation aka multiple injections a day to make lots of follicles (my doctor expects me to make 14-17.
- Shot of HCG to mature the egg in the follicle and get it ready for retrieval
- Egg retrieval – eggs are surgically aspirated from ovaries. This is the part I am most nervous for. Just looking at this picture scares me. Like seriously, what.the.hell. That needle is giant.
- Fertilization – Brandon’s favorite part of this whole process cuz ya know. Well, you know…
- Embryo culture – growin those babies in a petri dish
- Embryo transfer – ideally the embryos are strong enough to last until day 5, if not doing well then transfer on day 3
After consulting with the doctor we sat with nurse who had us sign A LOT of paperwork regarding the care of our embryos and the agreement that we understood the risks of multiples. Yes. We understand.
The best news I received tho was our chance of success given my age, health, and diagnosis. Drum roll please…
For the first time in a very very long time I have hope you guys! Not just because of this percentage but because the wonderful and amazing things people have said to me since “coming out” with our story. The words of encouragement, the personal testimonies of successful IVF, and even the “hey I have no idea what you’re going through but I’m here for you” comments. All of that is what is pulling me through this and for that I am beyond grateful.
Another great piece of news I received was regarding our insurance coverage.
A little bit of history regarding our insurance: our insurance company is generous enough to cover 90% of all the procedures and monitoring but we have been fighting with our prescription coverage to cover the injections. You call one day and they tell you the medications are covered and you call 10 minutes later and you’re not. We ended up not getting coverage for the medications during our IUI. We were lucky enough to get Follistim samples through our fertility center but we had to pay for the HCG injections out of pocket. These medications are extremely expensive without insurance. IVF meds are like IUI meds on steroids – the list is a lot longer which = $$$$. I was really worried over the idea of paying out of pocket for all these medications (we’re talking thousands and thousands of dollars).
Anyways, the good news is that by some miracle of God, everything is covered! I feel like the stars are starting to align for us.
Things are finally starting to go our way. We’ll be starting our journey through IVF in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!
I took the first steps to getting some answers by making a general check-up with my gynecologist. Well, what would be my former gynecologist (they were awful). I told her my symptoms and she ran some baseline tests (blood work and ultrasound). Everything came back normal and in this clinic’s mind that was the end of the story. My problems with my cycles and difficulty trying to conceive didn’t seem too important to them so I moved on to another office. This doctor was a lot more receptive. She also ran some blood work to make sure everything was OK and even had Brandon take a “test” to make sure his uh, things, were functioning normal. She wanted to make sure everything checked out before starting me on Clomid (a drug used to stimulate ovulation). She was assuming the abnormality of my cycles was related to anovulation which is when a woman goes through a cycle without ovulating (this assumption ending up being correct). The only abnormality she found in my blood work was low levels of Vitamin D which isn’t uncommon especially for living in the Midwest. She told me from the beginning that I would do a max of 4 rounds of Clomid with her and if still no pregnancy I would have to see a specialist (a reproductive endocrinologist). I was certain it would work since I knew a good number of girls who had gotten pregnant on it and I was excited to get started. I think Brandon felt like he was on pins and needles the months I was on Clomid. I felt like a woman going through menopause on it. Horrible hot flashes and cranky mood swings. My doctor was really good about monitoring me while on it. She would do an ultrasound to check the number and size of the follicles growing (to lower the risk of having multiples) and then I’d get a progesterone check to make sure I actually ovulated. My body wasn’t responding the way we wanted it to and before I knew it I was already on my 4th round and as you can probably guess it didn’t work. I only ovulated 2/4 times. I balled my eyes out when my doctor told me it was time to go see a specialist. I knew that this was going to be a whole new world that I wasn’t sure I was ready for. I think I was so upset too because it made it really real. It was like I officially had a stamp across my forehead that said INFERTILE.
It worked out that I wasn’t ready to see a specialist just yet because it took me about 5 weeks to even get in with one. My appointment was September 19, 2016 (a day short of our 2 year anniverary ♥). The day of my appointment I had no idea what to expect and Brandon couldn’t make it due to work. I had so many thoughts and questions bouncing around in my head. Are we doing the right thing? Maybe we just have had bad luck and we should keep trying on our own. Do we start treament right away? What will “treatment” be? Do they care? Are they nice? It turned out that the appointment was a consultation with the doctor where I sat in his office and we talked about my history, what we’ve tried already, and what the very next step would be. He didn’t go too far into detail about what the plan of action would be because it all depended on how my blood work came back. Yes, more blood work but these tests were a lot more elaborate than what I’ve done before. They tested me for everything and I mean everything. Brandon even had blood pulled too. I think they drew about 6 giant tubes of blood on each of us. I also had an HSG performed which pretty much just makes sure my “plumbing” works. Finding out the results was another waiting game. I had to wait til my next cycle began for the appropriate time to have my blood drawn and then had to wait another 3-4 weeks to get in with the RE to go over the results with us.
These appointments with the RE are all on their timing and convenience, not ours, which I totally understand but it makes it hard with 2 people who work full time. My work has been understanding of what is going on and has let me take the time off that I need for these appointments. We were able to work it out so we could go on a weekday that Brandon had off but the only catch was that our doctor was in the city on the day we could see him. So to Chicago we went.
The day of the appointment brought a lot of nerves and excitement. I was really looking forward to hearing what our plan would be and for the first time in a while I was feeling hopeful that something might actually work for us. He started by going over our blood results – everything on Brandon’s end was normal and mine was pretty normal overall but some of my numbers did reflect that I have irregular cycles (nothing we didn’t know already). He then explained that the best step for us to take would be to try an IUI (intrauterine insemination). This included taking more Clomid and injections, BA! I’m ok with needles and I’m used to using them everyday at my job. I’m ok with all the blood draws and I was never one of those people who was scared of needles and I’m still not but the thought of injecting myself with said needles just creeped me out. The doctor laughed when I made a face and reminded me that I’m a vet tech and I’ll be just fine giving myself injections. Brandon, being Brandon, wanted to clarify his role in all this and in so many words asked the doctor if he just needed to “go in a cup” the day of our IUI. Him and the doctor laughed at how easy his part is in this process and it felt like I was sitting in the room with 2 frat boys talking about sex for the first time. This lightened the mood but at the same time I wanted to slap both Brandon and the doctor! The doctor said he would have me do up to 4 IUIs before moving on to IVF – of course depending how my body was reacting to the medications. After we were done talking with him we met with his nurse who sat us down and had us sign paperwork. The paperwork was pretty much an agreement that we understood the risks of multiples by going through this procedure. This was a scary part of this whole process. I started to envision myself as Octo-Mom. That’s not what I was signing up for! In all reality that couldn’t possibly happen with all the monitoring they put you through but still it was a tad unsettling thinking of myself with more than one baby at a time when I’m not sure how I’ll even handle one!
We left that day with a plan and that plan was an IUI. We waited for my next cycle to start and we began what would be the next big step down a long road.
The story of Brandon and I began on a Wednesday night in December of 2009. We met at an open mic night (no, neither of us were participants and if you heard either of us sing you’d know why). I would refer to Brandon that night as the “guy in the yellow shirt” because after a slew of drinks that’s all I could really remember him as 🙂 He likes to tell people he approached me first and even slid me a beer down the bar that I caught in my hand — what probably actually happened was friends brought us together because they were sick of us staring at each other from across the bar all the night and the beer bottle definitely ended up on the floor or knocked over cuz there ain’t no way in hell I was coherent enough to catch it in my hand. I won’t go into detail about the rest of the night (you’re welcome) but let’s just say we were inseparable ever since.
We got married on September 20, 2014. It was and still is the best day of my life. I went from Antonia Barren to Antonia Gabry. Wow, the irony of my maiden name. Barren. God was either sending me a sign of what was to come or playing a cruel joke on me. For 27 years I was a Barren and it wasn’t until I became a Gabry to realize I was actually still barren. Get what I’m saying?
There’s a lot of you reading right now who have absolutely no idea what we have been going through and that’s ok. It was our secret to keep and it’s also our secret to tell, anyway we want to — whether it be in private conversation, email, text, or a blog. I honestly didn’t want anyone to know for a long time. The journey of infertility really shows you the dumb shit people can say or the things people say that they think will help but in reality you wish they’d never open their mouths again when it came to this topic. I think I can write a whole post on the number of things people have said to me that would make you go – Are you fucking serious???
So why in the world am I writing a blog? Because I want to. Because this is how I would like people to know. Because this is how I can cope and get through it. This is our reality. Yeah, I could easily not say anything and keep it to myself but the truth of the matter is that 1 in 8 couples suffer from infertility. The first thing I did while going through this journey is read infertility blogs because it made me feel normal (whatever that is, right?). It felt so reassuring to see that couple who have been struggling for years to finally have their family, or the girl going through rounds and rounds of IVF but still no baby, or the family who decided to adopt, etc. If I can help one person relate by writing this blog than I did my job. Let me get a few things straight tho. This blog does not open the doors for anyone to discourage me or bring me down. It does not give you permission to sit behind your computer and type negative or rude comments. These are the last things I need right now so please, to put it simply, just be nice. This is our infertility story and this is how we’re telling it.
Brandon and I started to try for a family in September of 2015. Each month I would hope that this would be our time and would obsess over every little symptom I thought I had. What a sick joke that PMS symptoms mimic pregnancy symptoms. I would google everything looking for someone who had a similar story. It was a roller coaster ride of grief and disappointment with each cycle that came and went. As each month passed with a negative pregnancy test it started to become clear that something was wrong. I’ll be honest, before we started trying I was completely oblivious to the regularity of my cycles. I couldn’t tell you how far apart they were of how long they lasted. I didn’t care. I had no reason to pay that close attention. I quickly learned how important it was to become mindful of how my body was functioning. After monitoring for a few months I realized this was something that wasn’t going to happen on our own. We needed medical help.