It’s a date.

Pros and Cons

So we have a date for our second (frozen) embryo transfer. We have been so torn about this cycle over the past few weeks: we debated waiting until the new year – after all of the hectiness of the holidays was over – and weighed so many different pros and cons of proceeding now versus in January – a few of which are below (I’m chart obsessed if I didn’t tell you that before. Tables=my life).

Procon

I know that some of the pros and cons are silly – but I wanted to map out everything that has been floating through our heads recently so I could figure out what made the most sense. Of course: the first and most important detail is whether or not this try would be less successful by moving ahead now, versus waiting for a full second period to pass. After a conversation with our doctor, however,  who said that he thinks that my “natural” period, plus my second period that was the result of two weeks of birth control is enough to proceed, and he feels confident that all of my stats – coupled with my recent successful hysteroscopy – make me a good candidate for a frozen November transfer.

The Hysteroscopy

The hysteroscopy was on Monday – it was my first, even though most women have one before their first transfer. My clinic does theirs at a surgical center (which has limited availability and schedules months in advance, so if you recall from a few posts back: my doctor elected to forgo the hysterscopy the last time since I had a successful HSG, and then he did some sort of saline test with my mock transfer in his office and said I was safe to move forward at the time). He said this time they wanted me to have the hysterscopy because of our loss: to ensure that there was no scar tissue, or other problems resulting from the miscarriage that would prevent this next try from being successful. The test – which lasted about 3 minutes – was honestly no big deal overall. That is a LOT coming from me after my HSG ordeal. They prepared me mentally for a lot of cramping and discomfort, and I had a white knuckle grip on the exam table when the doctor inserted the speculum and then the tiny catheter camera that was subsequently pushed through my cervix to examine the inside of my uterus. They gave me the option of watching the procedure on a television screen, but I wanted to deep breathe and prepare myself for the ensuing pain when I saw the first flash of shiny, pink, inner body camera footage – but about 20 seconds and a few medical descriptions of what was on the screen later – it was over. No severe cramping.

I do think the fact that I took three advil this time – exactly 45 minutes before the procedure – helped a lot. Plus I have had so many internal exams – including my transfer – since the HSG test, that perhaps my body is becoming used to that “pain”. Either way: I was super grateful.

About 5 hours after the procedure, I developed some pretty intense stomach pain. My abdomen felt sore and tender to the touch – kind of the way your stomach feels after you’ve been dry heaving or maybe doing sit ups for a few hours. That pain lasted through the next day, and finally dissipated about a day and a half after the exam: still unsure if the two were related, but even with that pain the procedure wasn’t terrible. The good news is: both the doctor who did my procedure as well as our regular doctor both said that everything looked fantastic, and that I have the green light for a late November transfer if we want it (which I labeled as December above – same thing).

So…here we are. I had my baseline visit at the doctor’s yesterday and my ultrasound and bloodwork looked great (forgot to document the stats, this time). I told them I’d call them today with a definitive answer on whether or not we’d want to take advantage of this cycle for a transfer, and after a lot of deliberation, we decided to go ahead. We transfer in exactly two weeks! I started estrogen and baby asprin last night, and I will incorporate the PIO shots again next Sunday.

How many embryos?

We have decided to transfer one embryo at this time. If this try is unsuccessful, we will seriously consider two next time. We’ve actually read quite a few stories about couple’s highest quality embryo being a dud, and people having success as they worked their way down the line, so we are hopeful that what we experienced last time is a fluke, and that we’ll have success with the next try. Fingers crossed. Prayers up. Good vibes out to the world. “This could be good, this could be good…

So this is it…

We are equally thrilled, terrified, and I also have this weird feeling that I can’t entirely articulate. I feel like we haven’t waited long enough since that heartbreaking failure, or like maybe for some reason we don’t quite deserve this. Maybe its a protective mechanism so I don’t get my hopes up too much. I honestly don’t know and can’t shake it. I just keep telling myself that this is what it is and if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work, but the truth is: if it doesn’t work, we are officially $3k in the hole, as our next transfer won’t be covered by the initial plan we purchased, and we will be getting closer to that “WTF do we do” point as we will have gone through 2 embryos without success. But….WE HAVEN’T EVEN TRIED AGAIN, YET. I’m getting ahead of myself. We aren’t there yet. This could be great. We just need to breathe.

In the meantime, we are now fully immersed in my absolute favorite time of year. I have already started the Christmas music, the air finally has a crispness to it, I have a TON of time off coming up (thanks to a really busy year and inability to use much of my vacay time), and I am getting ready to decorate. I am trying to maintain a sense of peace among all of this craziness and soak up this time of year that I love SO SO much.

Hope everyone else is in a good place as well. ❤

I won’t give up.

I won’t give up on us
Even if the skies get rough
I’m giving you all my love
I’m still looking up

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Since the last time I posted, I left the window open and the light has continued to creep back in, casting a warm glow on everything in our lives again.

We have been laughing more, smiling often, spending time with friends and family, and we even took a trip recently. Not a true vacation – my wife joined me for a trip I had to make for work, but we got to explore a new city, eat some good food, and enjoy each other for a few days. Our trip started and ended a little hectically with a big storm delaying our trip by several hours and the airline misplacing our luggage temporarily on the way home, but we had a lot of fun and made some incredible memories (including getting to see an MLB playoff game!) so it worth the hassle.

We are still planning a year-end trip, and haven’t yet decided where/when to go, but with only a few weeks left in the year (um…can you seriously believe that?!?) we will have to decide, soon.

On the babymaking front, after what felt like the longest month of my life, I finally got my period. While we were away last week, I noticed blood after going to the bathroom and excitedly ran out of the room with my pants down (TMI? Eh…it’s a blog about our fertility story…I guess nothing is really TMI anymore) and my wife grinned ear to ear when I told her.

The next morning, the blood was gone and my heart sank as I began to worry that perhaps I hadn’t gotten my period and was expelling some kind of residual blood from the miscarriage. I’ve been terrified of experiencing problems from the procedure, so I have been watching closely for any symptoms of  potential problems.

The next day, I had dark blood, followed by periodic bright blood, but I only had a drop here and there – nothing major. Finally, about three days after that started, I began to bleed slightly heavier (which was still nowhere NEAR the volume of a normal period for me) at which point I called my doctor to tell them that I thought I was starting my “full flow” period. They brought me in for bloodwork and ultrasound, and the nurse who did my ultrasound informed me that my uterine lining was still pretty thick and that she thought I’d be experiencing heavier bleeding soon, and that the bloodwork would reveal if this bleeding was – in fact – my period, or some kind of random abnormal bleeding.

Fortunately, she called early in the afternoon to let me know that my blood work looked “perfect” and that my period had arrived. I was still a little nervous as I had NO cramps, and the bleeding was very light, but she insisted that it looked good and I included my stats below in case they help anyone else (and so I don’t forget in case I need them later):

Estrogen – 34

Progesterone – 1.3

FSH – 9.8

LH – 5.2

I have a hysteroscopy scheduled for two weeks from now (during which they will insert a scope through my cervix to examine my uterus and ensure that there is no residual content or scarring from the miscarriage) and as long as everything looks okay, I will stop my birth control (which I started this week) and they will begin my cycle of medication (exactly what I forgot to ask, but I am assuming will include estrogen, baby asprin, and injected progesterone again) in order to prepare me for a frozen embryo transfer….almost exactly one month from now!!

We are trying to keep our excitement at bay in case we get any bad news during the hysteroscopy (or in case anything else unexpected happens) but we were thrilled to have a date to look forward to (and one that is so close!).

I had to advocate for us again, as the nurse wasn’t prepared for any kind of date for the next potential cycle start, and simply told me to call with the next period after my hysteroscopy to begin discussions about dates, but I reminded her that my other nurse told me that a medicated 2nd cycle (using birth control) was possible to speed things along, and she consulted with the doctor who was in strong agreement based on how everything looked so far – as long as the exam doesn’t reveal anything unexpected. I was really glad that I pressed her on that, otherwise we likely wouldn’t have transferred until January as our clinic is closed in late December and they stop accepting new cycles for transfer after the first week of December. I did ask her several times if doing things this way (with medication, and also…so soon) would in anyway impede our success, and she felt very strongly that it would not, and that this was a great plan based on our circumstances.

So now… we wait two weeks, and pray that everything goes as hoped during the hysteroscopy.

In the meantime, my cramps commenced as my body began filling pads with blood that is roughly the volume of Lake Michigan, and since I’m still wary of using tampons or a silicone cup (my preference) I feel like a vacuum cleaner is pulling out my internal organs every time I stand up. Fortunately, I think I’m just about finished and definitely feel better knowing that this is a true period and reflects my normal monthly experience. I’d much rather feel normal than comfortable when it comes to this entire process.

My wife and I have been discussing the remote possibility of transferring two embryos. Our clinic has a policy of only transferring one (I think I may have mentioned this a while back – they believe it to be irresponsible to transfer two as they said that it only increases the overall odds of pregnancy by a negligible amount, but that it dramatically increases the potential for twins, which they discourage due to all of the problems with premature births and risks to the mother), but our fear is having another “bad” embryo (since that is what we now believe to have been the problem with the last pregnancy – all of our research led us to believe that what we experienced is “blighted ovum” which generally results from a chromosomal abnormality with the embryo). We fear that due to my wife’s PCOS that we could have more poor quality embryos (even though our doctor said that he does not believe that to be the case), and we just wonder whether transferring two embryos might increase our odds of success – especially since this is the last transfer that is covered by the package we paid for, and any additional transfers would cost us roughly $3K/ea.

We really don’t want twins, but we really DO want success, and if we do proceed – we would likely have to beg our doctor to do it (and I don’t know how firm they are on the policy, so it may not be a possibility anyway). Has anyone been provided research or stats that are any different than what our doctor provided? Anyone’s doctor feel as strongly as ours did about double embryo transfer? Has anyone’s doctor RECOMMENDED transferring two? We would love to hear about it, if so.

We still have a month to think all of this over, and have elected to do something a little differently this time around: we do not plan on telling ANYONE about this transfer. We had each looped one friend into our last cycle early-on and shared most of the details with each of them. After we were fairly certain of the impending miscarriage, we told our immediate families and a couple of close friends (which helped a LOT!), but we want this next cycle to be just the two of us…and of course: anyone who reads this blog. I am literally the worst secret keeper ever as I get so excited about everything, so if we didn’t document it here I think I’d burst from anticipation.

So…here we are. One month out. Hope time doesn’t pass TOO slowly (although with Thanksgiving coming up, I also hope it doesn’t fly) and here is to hope and good news.

Cheers!

“You took it all, but I’m still breathing.”

So I lied. I said I was going to take a break from writing. I suppose I thought it would help me feel better. In reality, for me – writing is like popping the top off of a champagne bottle: there is so much energy and pressure inside that needs to find a way out, and writing just does that for me – regardless of who reads it (though I appreciate every person who does). It lets a little air out so my heart and thoughts can settle.

So here I am.

It has been 13 days since I took the pills that ended my pregnancy. It feels like 13 weeks, or maybe 13 months, sometimes. Other times, it feels like it has been 13 hours. For the most part: it’s been just fine. I took the pills (vaginally), had cramps for about 48 hours, bled for about a week, and then it was over. So far, no other symptoms or pain – aside from my right hip/butt area that has become a combination of numb, itchy, and tender from the progesterone injections – which ceased 14 days ago. It’s kind of cruel if you ask me: I didn’t have any pain while I was pregnant, and now that its over, it hurts. Or maybe I was just so hopeful and happy that I didn’t notice the pain. Either way, it’s just uncomfortable and annoying – other than that I’m totally asymptomatic (par for the course, really.)

I was pregnant.

That sounds so strange to say, now.

I went back to the doctor’s office for a follow up visit last week. He said that everything looked as it was supposed to, and my HCG level dropped that day from 1500+ down to 50. Today, it finally dropped to 0.

I thought I would be relieved when I got that call. (I wasn’t). I waited for that name to show up on my phone so many times – waiting to hear about an HCG rise, some small amount of good news, some tiny glimmer of hope. I almost felt like I was cheating on myself when my heart skipped as the number came up on my phone’s screen. “This is good news after what you went through,” the nurse reassured me. “Now you should just call us with your next period and we’ll discuss next steps.” Good news.

I think the only news that would soothe my aching heart at this point is for someone to tell me that this was all just a big mistake and that I can still expect to have a baby in my arms sometime in late April/early May, but I’m going to go ahead and take her word that this is good.

Later this afternoon, another nurse called – interestingly, the nurse with whom I was assigned to work, who was absent during the last few weeks of this ordeal, and just happened to pop up again like one of those old friends you don’t talk to for a year, and just pick up with where you left off.

She let me know that I should expect to get my period sometime in the next few weeks and when I do, I’ll let them know, but in the meantime, she is scheduling me for another HSG test (you can only imagine the sheer joy on my face when she told me that. To relive the excitement of my last test, feel free to skip back 6-7 posts – it was a real treat!), and afterward, she said that they can put me on medication to “speed up” the process, and she left me with a tiny bit of hope that we could transfer again before December. At this point, though, it’s really up to my period. Fingers crossed that it’s fast and furious.

In the meantime, I rotate through a series of – now predictable – emotions: peace, happiness, sadness, and anger. I find myself crying randomly (usually when I’m alone in my office or the car) and sad songs really do me in. Damn you, self, for stumbling upon that random video of some girl doing an acapella version of Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” two months ago, and then downloading it to your phone’s music list, only to have it pop up in the playlist every few days.

I just don’t get it. They say that 1 in 4 women have miscarriages. I mean, I know that not a lot of people talk about this but…where the f*&k are they?!? This process makes me feel so incredibly alone – especially when I’m 31 years old and almost everyone I know is pregnant or has small children. Where are the 25% of people I know who get what this pain is like. I want to have a drink with them. Understand how they got past this. Figure out how they managed to not punch every person who told them that “this is only the first try – there will be others” or “you’ll get there” or “everything will be fine”. I need these women to teach me their ways. I need them to help me to be gracious, and grateful, and not be angry or envious when I see ultrasound after ultrasound flood my Facebook feed, and women skip happily out of the doctor’s office with their sky high HCG numbers and good news. I think I mostly want to know when they got to the point at which the tears stopped welling up in the corners of their eyes randomly, or when they stopped feeling anxious, scared, and alone.

And then – there is this completely other side of me – a side that says: buck up, buttercup. Earlier this week, almost 60 people lost their husbands and wives. Their grown children. Their parents. Their fiancees, boyfriends, and girlfriends. You lost a baby that you barely knew. 

I know. Sadness isn’t a measuring contest. A mother isn’t easier to lose than a child. A sister isn’t easier to lose than a fiancee. A small child isn’t easier to lose than a big child. Or, maybe I don’t know. Maybe one is worse than the other. It just all sucks. And it makes me sad. And it makes me angry.

And my wife and I (okay, mostly me, but she supports me and goes along with it) had big plans to do some volunteer work this month, but I just feel so frozen by all of this. It is like when there is a big task ahead of you, and you wonder how it will get done, so you just lay down and don’t even start. I know we just need to do it – the good will probably help more than the writing, but I just don’t know where to start anymore.

Ideas? Words of wisdom? Comforting recipes? A butt-kicking pep talk? Does anyone have anything that can help jump start my heart?

 

Champs.

My beautiful, strong, amazing wife made it through her retrieval today with flying colors. They pulled a really solid number of eggs, and we are waiting on a call tomorrow morning from the embryologist to find out how many of them were fertilized. I don’t know why, but I thought we’d leave knowing more – like how good the eggs looked, but we’ll know so soon that it’s not too bad.

We arrived at the clinic at 7:30 for her 8am appt, and we knew I’d be taken back at 8:30 for bloodwork and ultrasound. She signed in when we got there, and I set up my laptop to get work done – assuming we’d be waiting a bit, and my wife walked away to use the bathroom and a nurse came out and started calling my name. Since I hadn’t yet signed in myself, I didn’t respond and someone else then came out to ask if I knew my name was being called. They later explained that the doctor had a few moments before going back to start the two retrieval procedures he had lined up, so they wanted to take advantage of our earliness to squeeze in my ultrasound before he was tied up. I was so confused at that moment, though, and I didn’t know if I’d see my wife before her procedure. I just wanted to kiss her goodbye and tell her I loved her and was being escorted through one door for my ultrasound as she was being escorted into another across the room to wait for her procedure, and we were being separated while waving to one another like a scene in a sappy love movie.

After I composed myself, the doctor (not our usual guy, unfortunately) came in for my ultrasound. He popped in the wand with record speed and told me immediately that my uterus looked beautiful and that the fluid that had shown up on my last ultrasound was gone and my lining was at 10mm (which he was very pleased with). After he wrapped up, I met with a nurse who drew a blood sample and discussed my new medication calendar (which included the introduction of an oral steriod to prevent my body from rejecting the embryo) and progesterone in oil (a viscous liquid that is injected intramuscular-ly with a very long needle) in addition to my estrogen pill, prenatal vitamin, and baby asprin (a regimen I’ve been on for a few weeks, now).

I ended up back in the surgical waiting area with enough time to see my wife before her procedure (which was AMAZING) and after about 45 minutes of waiting (only about 20 of which were for the actual procedure) the doctor came out to tell me the results, followed by a nurse who brought me back to see her.

She was groggy for the first few minutes, but otherwise great. No major pain (just some abdominal cramping, which we expected) and she’s been chugging water and gatorade all day to try to keep herself hydrated and prevent the OHSS. She also has to monitor her weight as a key indicator of OHSS is rapid weight gain due to water retention, so I am keeping a close eye on her (not that she needs me as she’s tough as nails).

Tonight, I had my first progesterone shot (which I described above). We watched several videos on administering the shot, and followed tips that we found from fellow bloggers and online forums:

  • Iced the area for 5-10 minutes prior to injection
  • Warmed the bottle of the medication in a cup of warm water (it is an oil-based shot, and typically oils are more viscous at colder temperatures and become more thin and pourable at higher temperatures). That being said, we used warm water – not hot – as I wasn’t trying to cook my muscle tissue with hot sesame oil.
  • Laid down on the bed with some relaxing music (which was Rhianna for me tonight, haha)
  • Rubbed the area for a few moments afterward

I wanted to take a picture from my perspective of the shot, but my wife yelled at me because she was nervous so – no photo. Then I got nervous and began to dread the shot in the seconds leading up to it piercing my skin – though I’d been feeling fairly nonchalant about it all day. Turns out – the seconds of worry were for naught, as I literally could not feel the shot. Like – I kind of felt it pierce skin, and then I asked her what she was waiting for because I was starting to get nervous and she said, “I’m done!”

I totally thought she was kidding, but it was so easy and painless (and I am a HUGE baby when it comes to pain). I honestly think the ice helped a lot and where she injected the shot as well. They say you can inject the shot into any muscle, but the upper, outer quadrant of your buttcheek is the best place. Sooo…that’s my story. Hope the details help someone else to have a painless shot, too.

(Though I told my wife I’m partially nervous that she injected it into the wrong place and I’m going to end up with an issue from the oil in the wrong part of my body…but she swears it’s right).

So….5 day holding pattern. Monday is the big transfer and I don’t expect that much will happen between now and then.

We still have our eyes on that house, but are sitting tight to see how this all pans out, first. Still thinking of everyone else out there and hoping for good news for you all.

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Life is funny, but unfair.

Ya’ll: life is so unfair sometimes.

But before I get to that, I want to backtrack and cover the last 24 hours which were equal parts exciting and comical, which ultimately took us a step closer in our journey to becoming moms.

Yesterday, I was scheduled for my mock transfer and hysteroscopy (which replaced a test of a similar name that I was supposed to have at a local hospital, but there were no available time slots in the near future so my doctor ordered this one instead). These were intended to chart the path that the doctor will take with the catheter on the day of the actual embryo transfer, as well as scope my uterus for potential imperfections that would prevent the embryo from being able to adhere and find a cozy home.

The only time they had available was at 9:30, which is 1.5 hours into my work day, and I manage a team of seven people so continuing to sneak out for doctor’s appointments is starting to get challenging (but obviously that didn’t stop me from doing it anyway). I also work with two family members (long story – they are in other departments), so I’m REALLY trying to be sneaky, as we’ve elected to hold off on telling our friends and family until we have a healthy pregnancy to announce. So, I came into work, got my team set up for the day, and ran around putting out figurative fires and answering questions, before I realized that it was almost 9am and I was supposed to have consumed several glasses of water to fill my bladder for the mock transfer, so I promptly started throwing water back, and rounded up my belongings before *quietly* running out the side door of our building. I made it to the edge of the parking lot in my car when I attempted to call my wife – only to realize I’d forgotten my phone in the office (which I wanted to keep close by in case anyone needed me while I was gone). So I snuck back in and almost walked right into one of the people on my team who had a question about something so entirely unrelated to anything that is going on in the remote future, so I walked and talked with her – completely flustered – until I got to the door, at which point I began galloping to my car and racing out of the parking lot.

When I arrived at the facility, I spied a “breaking news” notification on my phone about the dingo-in-chief’s latest tweetstorm about transgender people not being allowed to serve in the military, at which point I could visualize the blood racing to my face and smoke billowing out of my ears like an old Looney Tune’s episode.

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(Small rant: WTF?!? Dude was a draft dodger and claims to want to protect our country, and trans people are SO STRONG: physically, emotionally, mentally, and so on. and he wants to ban THEM?!? I can’t. I literally can’t. His dumb smug face makes me levels of angry that I never knew I could experience.)

So…that’s how I started my appointment.

So I race inside, and my amazing patient wife was waiting for me – she had checked us in and taken care of our paperwork (at least…I assume there was paperwork. I suppose I never asked, but either way – she was there. Present. Standing in for us as I was running about 5 minutes behind due to the phone incident). The woman at the counter says, “Mrs. _____, I just wanted to let you know that the full payment is due today.” I was expecting that – my wife and I had discussed over the weekend, and agreed to put the bill on my AMEX card so we could at least collect the points and buy something for the house: tiny blessings from a MAJOR bill. Of course, my purse is in a state of complete disarray from all of the traveling I’ve done recently, and I had to dig through piles of receipts to retrieve the card, but I found it and proudly slapped it on the counter, eager to get going with this process.

“Um…we don’t take American Express.” This lady literally could have said, “your dog is dying” because I immediately burst into tears and even though I knew it was my fault (they probably told me and I forgot with all of the craziness with the insurance company) so I kept blubbering, “I wish I knew. I could have planned better. You never told me!” (which I apologized for before I left.) Fortunately, one of the AMAZING finance ladies happened to be there (not grouchy Denise) and she jumped in after I agreed to put half on my other credit card and pay the other half with a check, and suggested that I pay half on my other credit card and then pay off the balance over the weekend, and pay the rest when I come back in for an appointment I have next week. Ugh. That lovely angel woman. I need to send her a fruit basket or something.

So we’re going to do just that (and pray that nothing happens to screw it up between now and next week).

So after the credit card debacle of 2017, I parked myself by the water cooler and drank two more cups of water – which did little in the required time to put any additional pressure on my bladder, before they called us back.

I’m not going to lie – it was a little weird having my wife there, as I am used to all of my lady-doctor appointments being solo, so she held all of my belongings as I hiked up the dress I was wearing, removed my undies, and got my feet ready in the stirrups for the doctor to join us.

He came in with a nurse and excitedly welcomed us, before dimming the lights and asking if I wanted to move my dress any higher so that it didn’t get ultrasound jelly on it. I was surprised at the external ultrasound (it was my first) and he began to explain each procedure as I profusely apologized for not drinking enough (which he seconded, and suggested I start earlier, the day of our actual procedure). He showed my wife and I some pictures of the embryo transfer catheter moving around, but I was super uncomfortable at this point while the speculum was inside and he was doing – what felt like – rooting around for buried treasure.

My wife was standing by my head and stroked my arm to which I growled “DON’T TOUCH ME” and the doctor immediately backed away and told me that he had to in order to finish the procedure. We quickly clarified and my wife finds this story hilarious and I know it will be one of the first she shares with our friends and family once we tell them. I don’t know why I said that, but there was just so much pressure down there, and he was spending so much time trying to help her see what was on the screen which I appreciate and adore, but I just wanted to speed things along, as I was starting to feel the need to go to the bathroom and absolutely hate a crowd around my lady parts – especially when I’m in pain (I know, welcome to labor, etc. etc. I’m sure I’ll look back one day and say, “I had it so easy back then.”) If we’re fortunate enough for all of this to work, of course.

So doctor now wraps up the speculum portion and leaves in the catheter so he can inject a saline solution to look at the walls of my uterus and make sure that everything looks smooth and clear for baby. I asked if I would experience any pain similar to the HSG test, to which he responded, “no, nothing like that. Maybe just a little cramping.”

This is why I need a woman doctor.

The pain was: EXACTLY. THE. SAME.

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(and if you have followed this blog for a few months, you know how much I adored the HSG test). So at this point, I’m white knuckle gripping the exam table as he almost gleefully shoots several rounds of the saline solution into my uterus and he, my wife, and the nurse watch the reactions on the screen. (Ok, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but that’s what it felt like when I was at that level of pain).

Finally, he wrapped up and I sat up feeling a mixture of nausea, intense cramping, and a serious need to pee and my teeth started chattering uncontrollably as I raced for the bathroom.

After a few minutes, the cramping subsided, and by the time we finished filling out a bunch of consent forms and leaving the office, I felt like a relatively normal person.

The good news is, he said that everything looked beautiful and he was excited to see us in a few weeks for my wife’s egg retrieval.

The bad news is: I have an extraordinarily low pain tolerance and a tendency to be dramatic (hey – at least I know myself), so I’m unsure how I’m going to survive nine months of pregnancy, not to mention labor. Pray for us my wife.

Next steps are blood work and additional monitoring, and the introduction of two new pills for me next week (estrace and asprin?) Lupron is still going well. I’ve graduated to shots in my belly, delivered by my wife. Her shots will commence in two weeks, I think.

So I mentioned at the beginning of this entry that life is unfair. In addition to the complete and total political nonsense that is happening in this country and the garbage that my wife and I had to go through with the insurance company, and every other unfair, horrible thing that is happening on this planet, a dear friend of ours who is going through IVF with her husband for different reasons than ours, got word that her stims aren’t working and she doesn’t appear to have healthy developing follicles and they may have to pull the plug on the treatment that they’ve already invested a lot of time and money in (they did a lot of pre-genetic testing because of family conditions that they were concerned about). Even though we are fairly certain that they had a different insurance company experience than we did, at the end of the day – it didn’t matter. Life still appears to be yanking away their ability to be parents, and I know they’d be good ones. It breaks my heart and TERRIFIES me because we still don’t know if we’ll be in a similar boat. All signs point to “no” but we’re not in the clear, yet. But in the meantime, friends of ours have breaking hearts and I wish we could do something. I told my wife previously that I felt pretty confident that I would consider donating my eggs (provided they’ll still take them since I’m 30+ as it is) if we walk away from this process with multiple viable embryos that we could use in the future, and we’ve since discussed donating any additional viable embryos we have that we do not implant (provided we are that blessed). I have read so much from people who feel a connection to the embryos – they can visualize the babies’ faces after holding their siblings, and can’t imagine giving any away or destroying them, but as of right now, we both feel really strongly that we would donate potential “extra” embryos (again, if we happen to be so fortunate). Maybe that will change. But I don’t think so. Maybe it won’t even be a decision we have to make. Who knows. But it’s funny – we had to sign forms indicating what we would do with any leftover embryos in the event of our unexpected deaths (God forbid), and before we knew what was happening with our friends – we both looked at each other, and suggested that we put their names down for who we would want to have “custody” of them, because we knew they were in our IVF boat and would make great parents of them, if needed (or make a good decision, if not).

There are so many shitty, shitty parents in this world. I wish everyone who truly ached for children, and wanted to give them loving homes and supportive lives could have them, and those who didn’t want them or wouldn’t take care of them – couldn’t. But that’s not our world. That’s not life.

In the meantime, my wife and I have decided that before we bring children into this world, that we want to bring good into it, so we’ve made a list of volunteer projects that we’d like to do together. We’re going to cook breakfast at a home where families stay when their children are in the hospital (my wife majored in culinary arts, and loves opportunities to “treat” people to her cooking skills, so it’s a double bonus). This world can be so bad, and mean, and ugly – but we can spread as much good and love as we can, and bring children into THAT space. So that’s what we hope to do. And that’s what we’ll work to create, regardless.

Love and positive wishes to you all.

Birthday shots.

In my 20s, birthday shots had a slightly different meaning, but this year – on my wife’s birthday, I took the first of – at least a few weeks of – lupron shots. So far, so good. I am giving them in my thigh (the other option is in my stomach area, which really freaks me out for some reason). No bruising, no side effects – yet. I’m fairly certain that our nurse indicated that this shot is supposed to put me into temporary menopause so that I am not producing eggs and my body is ready for the transfer eventually, but don’t quote me on that. The meeting was four hours long, and I did my best to write down and follow as much as I could – but anything I forget I just call the office about as it comes up.

Our nurse made us a beautiful calendar which maps out each medication that I have to take each day (bless her heart), so the chances are slim that I will miss anything and my wife is AMAZING with keeping track of the little details. When I traveled recently, she sent me emoji reminders of my pill times via text as she knew I’d be attending work dinners, and she wanted to keep me on track without taking me away from work. I’m REALLY lucky. I am not sure how I’d make it through this process with any other person by my side.

We heard back from the insurance company  and they gave us the final denial of coverage,  with the reason for denial listed as “no diagnosis of infertility”. The woman from the clinic called and said that they told HER it was because of lack of exposure to sperm, but since the reason they us was the lack of infertility diagnosis, we plan to follow up with a letter our doctor provided us with details on my wife’s PCOS diagnosis. Fingers crossed. We’re hopeful, but certainly not holding our breaths.

We are taking a loan for a bulk of the procedure, and using part of our savings for the rest. We didn’t want to deplete our savings entirely, because we are also hoping to relocate within the next year or two and would like to have cash available to do so, if needed. We currently live in a small condo, with just enough room to expand with a baby, but we have little storage space, and close neighbors so I’ll probably feel guilty on a regular basis thinking that I’m keeping them up with the late night symphony of baby wails. We aren’t searching seriously at this point, but keeping an eye on the market as we want to be ready to jump if something that really fits our needs pops up.

When Denise (finance lady) called to advise us of the denial of coverage, she first left me a monotone voicemail, and when I called back for a bit of clarity (notably upset) she informed me that “they did everything they were supposed to do” and when I told her I felt as though they didn’t entirely advocate for us and that we felt as though we may need to evaluate another clinic before proceeding forward, she suggested that we need to do what we need to do. Not so much as an “I’m sorry. This sucks.” I’m not expecting us to be best friends, or even cordial acquaintances, but when you are delivering heartbreaking news, you could at least muster a compassionate tone of voice, and a “this stinks.” Maybe I’m expecting too much. Maybe they DID do everything exactly right, but folks: we have gotten SO many different stories from people with the same insurance company but different situations, people with the same situation and a different employer, people who work in medical billing, etc. that we really didn’t know what was true and what wasn’t and couldn’t have forgiven ourselves if we didn’t try. And she was argumentative from appointment #1 so I don’t feel too bad about pushing back on her.  We pushed so hard and fought so vehemently, because:

  1.  Regardless of current law, what the insurance company is doing is wrong (but legally they can do it anyway).
  2. If there was some sliver of a chance that our fighting could help us hold onto a few thousand dollars that we could use ON our new family and not to build it, we wanted to at least try.

But, the cards fell, the answer was no, and while we are appealing it, we feel confident that the answer likely won’t change. So rather than continue to be consumed by this, we want to press forward – biological clocks are ticking, and we are simply hoping and praying right now that the one egg retrieval and two transfers that we will get with the package we are purchasing will result in a healthy baby. If not, we’ll head back to the drawing board.

I did mention to the doctor that I was disappointed by our interactions with Denise (since she plays such a crucial role in the process, and everyone else has been so kind and warm) and he thanked me for the feedback and vowed to pass it on. Although the practice isn’t tiny, I am fairly confident that they all talk (when I call to ask a nurse question, I hear from finance a few minutes later and vice versa), so I probably now have the reputation of the mean lesbian lady, but I’m trying not to care.

Right now, we’re targeting a retrieval sometime around the 3rd week of August, with transfer shortly thereafter.

This coming week will bring my mock transfer and hysterosonogram, and the following week my wife and I each have appointments (blood work, I think). My wife also got news that she has elevated levels of a thryoid hormone so she’s been put on syntheroid to regulate that. Hopefully we don’t have any unexpected guests in the near future. Our counter currently looks like a small pharmacy, and the number of open bottles seems to be growing by the day.

Positive vibes to you all for good news – wherever you are in the process.

 

 

The countdown is on!!

Way back in January, my wife and I discussed starting the journey to a baby around August/September. Back then, I felt such an intense ache for everything to speed up – for time to pass more quickly, even though I knew our year was jam packed with life events and activities that would keep us more than occupied throughout that span of time.

Little did I know that my job would throw us a wrench and add in a LOT of unexpected traveling, so this time seems to have passed even MORE quickly than we could have anticipated, but I’m still no less eager to get started.

Throughout this time, we’ve gone back and forth with the insurance company, pored over donor websites, and thought long and hard about how we would proceed: IVF? IUI? At-home attempts? After talking to some new friends and old, reading numerous blogs, watching numerous vlogs(?), and doing extensive research, we decided that no matter the cost: IVF was our chosen path forward. That being said, we are submitting one last formal request for insurance company coverage (especially after learning that my wife has polycystic ovaries which could potentially make this process slightly more challenging) and we are awaiting the results of that request – we will hopefully know with certainty on Tuesday.

Regardless, we cannot be too upset as our clinic worked with us to put together a multi-cycle package that will give us two attempts to get pregnant (assuming, fingers crossed, prayers, good wishes, and positive thoughts) that we walk away from her egg retrieval with more than one viable embryo for less than we had initially thought we’d pay for one (via co IVF – if you’ve read the other posts you know all of that drama). We also picked up all of the meds for our first round yesterday and after copays, we walked away spending a whopping total of $250 and change (which seems like a lot, but for IVF meds is AMAZING!!). We are counting our blessings and considering ourselves immensely fortunate.

IVF MEDS

(This doesn’t include a ton of stuff that we elected to not remove from the fridge for the photo)

Yesterday, we also had our nurse consult during which we learned how to administer the many shots we will soon have to give each other (well, mostly give ourselves but there is a big, bad intramuscular injection that my wife has to give me in the butt….I’m sure there is a good joke in there somewhere that I will appreciate when I look back on this one day, but I’m honestly just a little terrified of the needle at this point!), and discussed the timing. Initially, the nurse asked me to call on the first day of my next period to schedule my baseline blood tests and ultrasounds, but after learning that I was on day 4 of my current cycle, she snagged the ultrasound tech, and got everything done while I was there, and sent me on my way with instructions to begin birth control immediately, which is how my cycle will ultimately be synced to my wife’s. We’re now waiting on her period to start, as well as for a call back from the clinic to get a sonohysterogram and mock transfer scheduled so they can make certain that there are no issues with my uterus, and so they know exactly how they will be implanting the embryo when we get to that date (which should be sometime toward the end of next month if all continues to move according to the plan we assembled with her, yesterday).

Our nurse was kind of amazing – we were with her for almost four hours, discussing every detail of the process and getting my testing and ultrasound done (which was an unexpected surprise!) She encouraged us to call with any question or unknown symptom we may encounter throughout this process, and made us feel so comfortable. Her kindness and warmth was a stark contrast to the head finance honcho (we’ll call her Denise for the purposes of this blog) who we had the displeasure of meeting with again yesterday. We thought we made progress with her the last time we saw her a few weeks back, and she was just as ornery as ever and seemingly forgot everything we’d discussed during the last visit. She is the sole reason why I feel very confident that we will not be seeing any coverage by the insurance company, but either way – we’ll be happy to be finished working with her (hopefully very soon!)

The ultrasound tech confirmed that everything looked good, and found a total of 21 egg follicles (to the 18 the doctor found the last time) and although that isn’t super pertinent to our current situation, it just reassures us that we should have a smooth journey to baby# 2 should we elect to conceive via IUI. We ordered what we were advised by the clinic would be more than enough donor sperm (7 vials) to pursue this round of IVF, plus several rounds of IUI in the future.

So, folks: we are ready. We’ve never been praying so hard for an expeditious period (as well as good news from the clinic on a date to do the mock transfer in the very near future!) and we’ll be getting this party officially started.

partygif

Silver linings.

My apologies in advance – this isn’t my best or most descriptive writing, but things are now transpiring so fast and furiously that I am just trying to get as much of the detail transcribed as possible before I forget.

So the last few weeks have been rough. Work has been stressful, we have gotten bad news after bad news about how much this IVF treatment is going to cost, and my wife and I have just felt like a grey cloud has always been lingering close by (which is kind of partially true since we’ve also had a lot of rain).

Earlier this week, I had a conversation with the manager of the IVF Finance team for our fertility clinic (I don’t know if that’s her exact title, but you can gather what her role is…) and she seemed kind of argumentative, and my wife and I were speculating that perhaps she wasn’t the biggest fan of same-sex couples. Nothing she said or did was blatantly homophobic – it was just a feeling we got. So, we went into yesterday’s meeting with the doctor (and subsequent meeting with her)…guns blazing, if you will.

Before we get to her: the appointment with the doctor was…interesting. He provided us the results of my wife’s bloodwork and internal ultrasound, and dropped a slight bomb on us (I say “slight” as we’re still doing research on exactly what this means for us). He advised that she has polycystic ovaries (we had previously known that she had benign cysts, but the term “PCOS” never came up before). He explained that she showed approximately 50 egg follicles and an AMH level of 10.9. He further explained that I was showing approximately 18 follicles – which he said is a very healthy number – and that although my AMH test was not yet finished, that there should be no problem with my ability to produce eggs should I need to now, or in a few years.

He said the fact that she has polycystic ovaries means that she is at an increased risk of “overcooking them” (his words). He said she’ll have to be monitored more closely once she starts the medication that will help her to get the eggs ready to be harvested, as she could be overstimulated if not. He said that he is not concerned, and simply wants to keep a closer eye on her.

On my side, everything looks good. The only major concern that we have is the fact that my work travel schedule is expected to continue into the near future, and when I am away (which is expected to be 4 days at a time going forward), I won’t have a way to manage the injectable medications (which – he confirmed – will be going into my rear). He said that he could put me on an injectable for 7 weeks, and then switch me over to a vaginal form of the medication at that point, but that there is no way of getting around the injectables for the first 7 weeks. As it stands right now, I’ll be traveling once more the second to last week of July, and then twice in August (evenly spaced out). After August, I’m hoping it drops down to a monthly or EOM cadence. My wife said she could take off of work for a week and come with me for one trip, but coming every other week would be really challenging – even with the flexible job she has. I would consider telling my boss, but my company went through a huge change this year and I just started working with her back in February. I work at a satellite office we have (a 2 hour direct flight from our headquarters) but there has been a lot of pressure over the last few years to transition my role from that office to our corporate headquarters, and so far I have successfully evaded it (although the question was raised again about 2 months ago). I am fearful that if I explain that I am trying to get pregnant, that they will start to look for someone who is willing to do my job in the state where they want the position to be located. I was hoping that by this point in the year, things at work would be more settled, but every day seems to bring new big challenges and “what-if’s”.

So, aside from the injection dilemma (which I would love thoughts on if anyone has any!!) and the PCOS diagnosis (which – again – we are still unsure is truly an “issue” or not), the meeting with the doctor went pretty well. He recommended we move forward with a consult meeting with one of the nurses at the practice who would help us identify the best day to start, and would help us get our medication ordered so we can begin to figure out if any of it is covered. That meeting is scheduled for Wednesday of next week, so in the very near future we should know a lot more about how things are going to proceed as well as the timeline.

After we wrapped up with the doctor, we sat down to a meeting with the woman in charge of finance. She works out of an office that’s about an hour from us, and told us when I spoke with her earlier in the week that she’d be making a trip to “our” office to go over everything. Before she came in, I could hear her talking to another couple (husband and wife, from what I gathered) and her told of voice seemed pushy and cold. My heart started racing and my hands started shaking. I was ready to argue.

On Thursday night, I  sat down and mapped out all of our questions in a word document (which I subsequently printed). On it, I made a table with two columns: one for the regular IVF multiple cycle package that they offer, and one for the co-IVF “package”. I mapped out the costs, services mentioned in each, and made separate boxes for the differences: both cost and service. At the end, it came down to an approximate $8000 difference once you factored in that added value (an additional frozen cycle transfer, cryopreservation of embryos, and anesthesia primarily) of the multiple cycle package that they offer to women who are using their own eggs/bodies.

When Ms. Pushy entered the room, I pulled it together and smiled pleasantly and thanked her for taking the time to meet with us. If this meeting gets hostile, I reasoned to myself, it won’t be on my accord. My wife is the stoic type and she’ll interject as necessary, but she knows that I am very direct, relatively articulate, and thorough with all of my facts – so in situations like this she usually lets me loose to do my thing, and backs me up when she needs to.

So we commenced the meeting discussing the “pre authorization request” that she told us our insurance company requires prior to treatment. I explained that we were told by several representatives of the insurance company that there is no required pre-authorization, and she told us that they ALWAYS require it for our particular insurance company or they won’t get paid. I asked her if that was a routine procedure, why we would have gotten back paperwork after our first visit that said, “No prior authorization required for IVF or IUI” (word-for-word). I slid the paper across the table, and she looked up, narrowed her eyes, and spit out, “well we’ll just call that a mistake.” She handed me the “sheet” that needs to be filled out, and after taking a look at it, I realized that it isn’t a prior authorization, rather, it is form that we have to sign acknowledging that we meet the criteria under the mandate for an egg retrieval (which we are happy to sign as we do believe we meet the criteria of not being able to get one another pregnant). I told her that I thought our confusion was around the name of the form, as I was told that no prior authorization was required and that this technically wasn’t a prior authorization, so I thought we were all on the same page, and at that point, she started to smile (just a little!) and we seemed to turn a corner. I then explained to her that – in the event that the insurance still doesn’t pay the claim (which it very well may not) – that we wanted to discuss the self-pay options and the huge discrepancy in cost/service between the multiple cycle package for a woman carrying her own embryo, and the co-IVF package. I tried explaining my calculations and she told me “I lost her” at which point I showed her the table I typed out the night before, and highlighted the overall differences in the packages and she said, “you know, this is all really new for us. We’ve had co-IVF couples before but this isn’t something we are completely used to. I actually helped create the co-IVF package, you know.” I explained that I understood that, and certainly didn’t expect to pay the SAME as someone who was carrying their own embryos (due to the additional paperwork and monitoring) but that I also couldn’t justify an $8000 difference. She took another look at everything and said, “Listen: I can do a multiple cycle package for you.” (at this point, my jaw was beginning to look like the grand canyon and I just about had to pick it up off of the floor).

She said that it would cost more for the synchronization of our cycles since we are a couple, but that she’d honor a package. In fact, she said they have higher packages with money back guarantees if any of this goes wrong and offered to get us prices on those as well!!

Even though the conversation was headed in a more pleasant direction at that point, I was still ready to defend us. When she said that, I didn’t know what to say. I was still waiting for her to take it back. When she looked down at the papers again, I looked at my wife and snuck her the biggest smile I think I may ever had. The price dropped down to only $500 more than than the package that a heterosexual couple would utilize.

Lesson learned, here: ADVOCATE, ADVOCATE, ADVOCATE!!!! I don’t think I would have gotten the same answer if I hadn’t made that comparison table and mapped out everything piece-by-piece, so do your homework. It’s worth it.

So at this point, we are going to meet with the nurse and determine our schedule, see if the medications get covered, and then pursue coverage of the egg retrieval with the ins. co. If that goes well, we’ll continue to try to get everything covered (even though we were told it would not be) and if it gets pushed back, we now have a much more reasonable amount to fund out of pocket, which we don’t think will completely drive us into bankruptcy.

By the end of the conversation, all three of us were smiling. My wife said afterward, that she sensed that our prior assumptions about the finance lady were correct, but that during that meeting – either my attention to detail or passion for our cause won her over. I don’t know – maybe she’s been having a bad week, and the fact that our case was more complicated made it worse – either way, I don’t feel that sense of bad energy when I think about the practice and I am getting excited to take the next steps forward in this journey.

Fingers crossed, prayers, positive wishes (whatever you have!!!) that the good news continues and that the insurance company pays for the two visits I had this week, and the medication we order next week (I would ask for the same for my work situation, but don’t want to be too greedy :))

Hoping everyone else had some good news this week, too. If not, you have my thoughts/prayers/crossed fingers and positive wishes.

These dreams go on when I close my eyes…

This time last year, I was having a lot of nightmares about our wedding. When brides before me used to say they had “wedding nightmares” I envisioned burning churches, wedding serial killers, or some Stephen King iteration of the big day. My nightmares were less dramatic, albeit slightly more terrifyingl: several times I visualized a grey and lifeless version of our venue, void of family and friends: they couldn’t make it, they forgot, they didn’t want to come…the list went on. Sometimes we sent the invitations out with the wrong date. In one dream, our guests came but there was no one around to help us get ready so it was basically an ordinary day with family and friends – no white dresses, no makeup, no DJ.

Don’t get me wrong: I recognize that those things don’t make a wedding. Our wedding was the pictures we took, the laughs, the hugs, the dancing, the food and drinks we enjoyed with our favorite people in this world. But, the DJ and the makeup may have helped to add that magical touch.

So the day came (and so did our guests) and we got married at a venue on a lake surrounded by about 120 of our family and friends. We are both Catholic and although we don’t go to church EVERY Sunday, our religion has played (and continues to play) a significant role in both of our lives. Although we knew that we would never marry in a church, we attempted to incorporate elements of our faith, and the year before – we attended an Easter vigil ceremony at which my wife’s sister-in-law was baptized as an adult. The church had a beautiful candlelit ceremony during which the candidates for baptism lit the candles of the church members nearest them, and the flame was passed on until the darkened church was filled with the light from about 200 candles. It took my breath away. My mother-in-law helped us to write a poem about the light my wife and I were sharing, and how it lit up the room in much the same way that its bearers lit up our lives, and we re-created the church scene in our secular venue, surrounded by people – many of whom didn’t understand our relationship in the past, or perhaps even now – but loved and supported us in spite of it, and in some cases because of it. And the day was perfect. Not at all grey. Not at all empty.

Now that the wedding is in the rear view mirror, the nightmares involve sad baby-less dreams. Last night I dreamed that we had arrived at our “implantation day” (I guess we fast forwarded through everything else) and the doctor casually inserted some sort of catheter-like device, pushed something out of it, and told us to come back the following day for a check up. It felt rushed, and impersonal, and…kind of grey. Can something feel like a color? Does that even make sense? Needless to say, we weren’t pregnant when we went back for our “magical 24 hour later” appointment and the doctor couldn’t seem to understand why we were upset.

I think this dream have been prompted by a rather disappointing visit I had with the doctor earlier this week for my internal ultrasound. Unlike my HSG appointment, I didn’t feel quite as rushed and was taken much sooner (not surprising since I was at the office at 7am). After stripping down and waiting on the table with a white paper gown over my lap, nervously sweating despite the chill that the air conditioning left in the room, I was relieved to see the doctor come in (and – even though I am accustomed to having female OBGYN doctors – I wasn’t a fan of the extra lady who had to accompany him in, but it is what it is). Before he started the procedure, I double checked (I really need to stop doing that) that he would be getting a “good” read on…well..whatever he was trying to get a read on, since I wasn’t come in on Day 3 of my period, and he stopped, looked really confused, flipped his notepad, and said, “well, wait…what day are you on then?” I reminded him that he suggested that I come in during the “first half of my cycle” (his email to me which was confirmed by his nurse when I called) and he asked what the plan was to get pregnant, and I reminded him that we wanted to use my uterus, my wife’s eggs, and a donor. “Uh, yes…” he started, nervously as he flipped through a few papers on his clipboard. “That’s perfect then”. He mentioned something about counting my follicles and checking the lining of my uterus, and then uttered my most loathed words at such an appointment, “now if you’ll just move down and put your legs up here..” as he motioned to the stirrups.

I hate internal exams. I hate the speculum only slightly more than I hate that little device they use at the dentist office that scrapes the plaque off of your teeth and makes your gums bleed while it emits a noise that is reminiscent of nails on a chalkboard. I REALLY hated the HSG test (which combined that plus an injection of dye that felt like it was made out of needles), but the internal ultrasound: not bad. Not bad at all.

So he showed me my uterus and said it looked good, and said that between both ovaries he counted about 18 follicles (I still don’t know exactly what it means and if that’s good or bad, but he sounded happy so I’m guessing it’s not awful), and he said that we could likely use my eggs or my wife’s without any issues. He then took some measurements of my uterus (or the lining – I mean, I don’t know how people can see a baby on those things let along a solid grey uterine mass that just looks like white noise on an old TV) but he then said, “If we get you pregnant, this is where the baby is going to go.” Hold on. Wait a second. Slow down. Dear Sir…I know this isn’t guaranteed and all, but I’m going to need you to demonstrate a LITTLE more confidence than “if” we get you pregnant.

So there was that.

And then after the appointment, I met with the clinic’s financial person (who I learned is a general financial adviser? consultant? Not sure on her exact title) and the lady we worked with at their other location was the IVF-specific adviser, and I explained to her where we left off and she stopped and asked what I did for work and suggested that I look into advocacy work as she was moved by my passion for our cause. She offered to follow up with the insurance company and triple-check that everything we’ve been told is correct, which was a fruitless effort as she called me back about 2 hours later to inform me that there is now some kind of form that has to be signed that verifies that we understand the stipulations of the state fertility mandate and that we are seeking care anyway (or something like that).  Keep in mind that back in February/March, TWO CLINICS verified our benefits and said that we didn’t even require prior authorization let alone a formal document that had to be signed, so I’m calling BS here, but I’m honestly getting tired of fighting.

I think that’s why I ended up having that dream. So after all of that, the IVF adviser’s boss (so, if you’re following this blog…at all…is the boss of the woman from two entries back who we met with in the city) called me to confirm that we truly wanted to sign this form and confirm some of the specifics of our care, and I asked her point blank, if she thought that we were correct in pushing this given the experiences of our friends and the fact that the insurance company has given us so many different answers. She hesitated, and said she wasn’t really sure what I meant/wanted, and that our friend’s case was different because they had a medical need for IVF, despite not having demonstrated the “attempts” required by the mandate. (I would argue that we – too – have a medical need…I mean, we have no sperm, lady!) but she went on to say that if someone had a damaged tube (or something like that…I was kind of annoyed at this point so things began to blur) or low sperm motility, pursuing a less costly method of pregnancy such as IUI first would be fruitless, and thus – would warrant coverage due to the mandate. I was now livid, and feel kind of sorry because my frustration was misdirected at her, but I asked if a heterosexual couple in which the man had low sperm motility would automatically be granted IVF coverage over being required to pursue a sperm donor (which is much less costly for the insurance company although shitty for the couple) while we wouldn’t be entitled to IVF OR IUI coverage – even if we go out and buy our own sperm – she said, “yes, I believe that’s correct.” WHAT. THE. ACTUAL. F&$K.

So I stopped arguing at that point, because it felt pretty pointless. It would have been nice if she ended it with, “I get it. It sucks. I’m sorry.” but she went on with some clinical bullshit, so I told her we’ll just have to sink further into our research on self pay options, and hung up.

I also found out (which may be common knowledge but it wasn’t to us) that although we have a separate prescription company, that those companies typically verify benefits with the insurance company before offering coverage, so we would also likely be denied coverage for any of the required medication which we are being told will be another 3-5K or so (please share your secrets for securing them less expensively!!)

So it was a rough week, and it left a sour taste in our mouths about both the doctor and the billing team at our clinic, and depending on what the outcome is of our consultation with the doctor on Friday (during which we were supposed to be discussing our next steps forward) we may elect to check out another clinic before deciding who to pursue treatment with.

At this point, I just feel kind of sad and alone about this entire process (aside from my wife – who has been amazing and supportive but equally sad and frustrated with this process). I wonder if I am wanting something that is unreasonable or unfair, and if not – if it even matters as it now appears pretty clear that we won’t get what we want.

We plan to forge ahead with the self-pay options, but even that is frustrating with the differences in the co versus regular IVF packages (which we are discussing with the doctor on Friday).

So I was feeling pretty bummed about all of this, and then the dreams kind of freaked me out a little bit, and as I was sitting down to write this, the song “Dreams” from Heart popped into my head. In all likelihood, it was because I was thinking about ACTUAL dreams, but I like to think of it as some kind of positive sign. One night, a few years ago, my dad and I were driving and that song came on the radio. He smiled nostalgically and told me that it came on often when he and my mom would drive to her doctor’s appointments when she was pregnant with me, so maybe it’s my mind’s way of apologizing for it’s midnight shenanigans and letting me know that it thinks that this will all work out okay.

Yeah. That’s what I’m going to go with.

Straddling the state line.

So the last week has been another roller coaster. I think I mentioned in my last post that I was traveling for work. Again. And I was due to get my period during that trip. Again. And I did. Again. So that ruled out another month of having the preferred window open for an internal ultrasound/bloodwork, but I called the doctor’s office, and they were able to squeeze me in for an appointment a week later than the preferred date, and they said they could likely get a good baseline blood panel done and the ultrasound wouldn’t show exactly what they’re hoping, but that it would work.

We are now really narrowing in on the date that we mentioned at the beginning of this process back in January/February that we wanted to get started with our first try, and we feel no closer to that ability to try than we did back in February from a financial perspective. I have been replaying every detail of every conversation in my mind with the insurance company, and the financial woman from our clinic, and I have a really uncomfortable feeling about how everything played out. Personally – I like the woman from the clinic who works in finance, but I don’t feel as though we are being advocated for – but I also don’t know if that’s a fair thing to even ask of her. She disclosed to us during that face-to-face meeting in their office last week, that she has been doing [fertility financial advising] for a year now, and I casually asked what she did prior to that (just making small talk) and she mentioned a short variety of things. At the time, it didn’t really make a difference to me, but looking back – I wonder: is she really knowledgeable in all of this? Is she the BEST person to be working with? With potentially $15K on the line, I want to ensure that we are working with the MOST knowledgeable person, and if there is ANY hope of getting the insurance company to cover any part of this, I want to go ALL IN to find that person who will help us to get that.

So: back in February, we made an appointment with a 3rd fertility clinic (which we subsequently cancelled because we liked this one so much) but that clinic is located in the state in which my wife works (which is also the state that has the insurance mandate) and I think we may want to consider making an appointment there, as their finance staff may be more well versed in the process and the mandate (which happens to be the same place that my wife’s coworker uses, and I am now starting to wonder if the clinic is the reason that she is not having any trouble pursuing coverage, and not necessarily the fact that she isn’t gay).

I mentioned in my last post, that we called a lawyer last week – they finally got back to me and referred me to another lawyer (coincidentally also in the state where my wife works). I should point out, that said state is literally a literal stone’s throw from the town where we live, but perhaps state boundaries can really make a difference here.

So we’re in the air about cancelling the two appointments scheduled next week with our clinic (one for me on Monday for blood work and ultrasound and the other for both of us which would be a regular consultation) and making them with the clinic in the state where my wife works, instead.

On one hand, some of the tests we have already done may need to be done again – which could raise a red flag for the ins co. The doctor we are working with now is also renowned in his field and his success rates with IVF are really high. On the other hand, if we proceed as is and miss an opportunity to potentially work with a clinic that has more knowledge in dealing with our particular insurance company – especially with regard to this mandate – I don’t know if we could forgive ourselves. We want to give ourselves that fighting chance to have as much of this covered as possible.

At the end of the day, we could just throw in the towel and pay the 15K out of pocket. If we knew that it was a done deal, 100% chance of getting pregnant, I think we would just bite the bullet and do it. But all of these unknowns are causing us to want to push just a little harder to make sure we’ve explored every resource before pressing onward, as we could do so much with that $15K with a little one, and if we can save ANY of it, we would like to at least try (especially since we recognize that 15K can turn into 25K very quickly if try#1 is unsuccessful).

So right now, it’s Saturday. And we can’t do much with either place, so we wait. And hopefully next week everything becomes more clear. Because in the meantime…

another lesbian couple we know (outside of the blogging world) just announced their pregnancy on Facebook this week (so I am debating reaching out for their experiences/advice – but always wonder if that’s too forward and invasive – thoughts?). Each announcement, though, especially when it is other lesbian couples, both gives us hope, and makes us wish we started sooner because we now both have really intense baby fever (with three nieces under 2, can you blame us?).

It’s pretty adorable, though. My wife always wanted children, but never had any desire to carry them, and always thought of herself as awkward and cold around babies. Since our nieces were born, though, she has become the “baby whisperer” and our second niece, M, will immediately reach her arms out when my wife walks into the room (regardless of who is holding her or around – including her parents) and it is the CUTEST thing. Watching her become an aunt has erased any tiny doubts I once had that she would struggle as a mom – she is loving, easy going, patient, and just so sweet with our nieces. I can’t wait to experience motherhood with her – now, if only we could get the finances figured out…