Hello Hive! I’m writing anonymously because I’m going to share the step-by-step journey as we go through the process of doing In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) for the first time. I really believe in infertility awareness, so I’m excited to share with you our personal journey: the shots, the invasive exams, and even the emotions! But at the same time it seems best if everyone doesn’t know exactly who I am in case there are days and times that I need some space, or if there end up being some unanticipated difficult steps along the way. You will truly get to walk along the path with us, so I’m excited to document what we’re up to in the next few months. And of course, I’m really hoping at the end of it there is a happy baby news to share! But, if there’s not, then you will see the reality of fertility treatment. Unfortunately, despite all the costs and emotions involved, it’s not always successful, especially on the first try. Nationally, statistics vary depending on your age, but in the under 35 category, in the US 40.1% of IVF procedures result in a pregnancy that leads to a live birth.
If you are curious about what brought us to IVF, it started over 5 years ago when we started TTC. Along the way we discovered that IVF would be the recommended way for us to achieve a pregnancy, but the finances weren’t there. But, we recently discovered that our health insurance would cover some of the costs of treatment, so we have decided to jump in! We officially begin treatment in April, but before the actual IVF process begins there is a lot of preparation.
Choosing a Clinic
The first stop upon discovering that we finally had some insurance coverage was to call the local fertility clinic that we had been to before. But, unfortunately, they were out of network, meaning insurance wouldn’t cover any treatment there. So, we looked to other clinics within driving distance. Just 2 hours away was a clinic with statistics of almost 60% of IVF cycles resulting in life births in 2013, AND they were in network, so we decided to do a consultation visit with the RE (Reproductive Endocrinologist).
We met with the RE back in November and had a really positive experience. Since we came in with our records from the past 5 years he agreed with us immediately that IVF was an appropriate step for us to take. He discussed with us how the process goes, how likely most couples are to be successful, and had us do some preliminary bloodwork required to get the process started. It turned out that he and his wife did several rounds of IVF themselves to conceive their son, so his level of understanding and compassion was high. Despite us not feeling 100% confident about doing IVF before going into our appointment, we felt 100% confident by the end and felt like we had found the right clinic for us!
Preliminary testing and bloodwork
Since we visited the clinic in November and the holidays are such a crazy time of year, we decided we would start the IVF process in February. And since we were coming from out of town, we wanted to do as much testing as we could while we were there. So that day DH did all the bloodwork necessary to proceed. Since men’s bloodwork isn’t dependent on a cycle like us as women, he could do everything he needed to that day.
The RE also recommended genetic testing that would screen for anything concerning that could be passed along genetically. If it turned out that DH and I were both carriers for something like cystic fibrosis, they would recommend that we do genetic testing on the embryos that would come from the IVF process. So, that was part of DH’s blood work as well. Thankfully, in our case, all of this testing was covered by insurance. If it hadn’t, all this bloodwork would have cost us close to $1,000, so we were very grateful for the insurance!
I had to return in December for cycle day 3 bloodwork. There was so much testing I wouldn’t be able to remember what it was, but the top of the list in my mind were estrogen levels, FSH, AMH, Vitamine D, and even all kinds of antibodies against various sicknesses. In the past some of my numbers have been borderline, but it was exciting that everything came back within the normal ranges this time! Yay!
I also got genetic testing done, and the main thing that popped up was that I have one heterogeneous mutation for the MTHFR mutation. It’s actually pretty common, but means that my body has a more difficult time processing folate/folic acid, which can contribute to miscarriage or possible neural tube issues, so the RE put me on a very high dose of folate to build up my body’s stores of folate. I’m glad we figured this out before the procedure!
I did have to return one more time for a sonohysteroscopy (SHS) between my cycle and ovulation a few days after my bloodwork. A SHS is a saline ultrasound that they want to do before an IVF cycle that helps them make sure that everything is right with the uterus. Before IVF it’s also required that a hysterosalpingogram (HSG) is done, but thankfully I had one done a few years ago that showed my fallopian tubes were clear, so I didn’t have to do one again. Whew! Neither one of these procedures are particularly comfortable, but from my experience the SHS isn’t so bad, so I was glad that was all I had to do that this point.
Supporting the Body and Mind
Since our insurance will only cover 1 cycle for sure (we have a $10,000 limit, which goes FAST with fertility treatment!), we want to give this first chance our best shot, so we are doing what we can to improve our chances. So, I have been going to acupuncture since November with someone who specializes in women’s issues, including fertility. I’ve also been trying to eat extra healthy (low sugar and carbs), and have been listening to fertility affirmations and meditations to begin telling myself that I am ready for my body to conceive and carry a baby to term. After 5 years I will admit that I gotten into the habit of telling myself I won’t get pregnant, and I really think I need to start thinking more positively again!
The plan was to get started the beginning of February, but as 2015 came to a close some personal/family issues came up and we decided it was best to wait until April. I’m getting antsy to get started, but I know it will be here before we know it!
Before we officially get started in April, we need to make one more trip to our clinic. At this visit we will meet with the RE again to discuss the medication I will be taking, sign a whole lot of consent forms, and get lessons from the nurse on how injections will work and how to administer all the many medications I will be giving myself come April. This is coming up within the next couple of weeks and I will keep you posted on how it goes! Tomorrow is the day we have to pay our entire insurance out-of-pocket costs ahead of time in order to schedule this appointment, so this is all starting to feel real! I’m feeling excited and also quite nervous. Even with some insurance coverage this is a big commitment, financially, emotionally, and physically, so we are hoping and praying that this process brings us to a healthy pregnancy! We know that it’s no guarantee, but it would be such a gift if we are able to conceive and give birth to a baby in the end!
I’m excited to share our IVF path with you all I hope you will join me as we embark on this journey!