Did you ever think you’d end up being a human pin cushion science experiment? No? Well, neither did I until it seemed like it would be the only way I’d ever be a mom. So like the other 7.3 million American women and every 1 in 8 couples, my husband and I embarked on the IVF destination on our already bumpy infertility road.
As a sequential person, the IVF process seemed easy enough. Five steps: stimulation of ovaries through multiple medications, egg retrieval of ovaries, fertilization of eggs, embryo maturation, and the transfer of the embryo to the uterus. Even after reviewing the timeline of the steps that would come to be my guide, I wasn’t intimidated. The process seemed like a welcomed progression of knowing what was next after our ordeal through the broken foster care system where we had attempted to adopt.
The mountain of medications
The mountain of medications came and my days began to consist of being poked with a needle for blood work, prodded with a speculum for an ultrasound, and injected with three different medicines each night. Each night, after rereading the directions for each medication and making sure he had the right needle, my husband would go through the draining process of injecting me. We were encouraged as it seemed my ovaries were successfully responding. Finally, after four years of trying. When we got 15 eggs from our first egg retrieval, we were elated. Only to have most of the embryos fizzle out overnight. We, then, had to go through a two-day embryo transfer instead of a five-day blastocyst. Never had I researched embryos so much in my life.
Did you know on the average only 25% of embryos actually go on to develop and become kids? Neither did I. So after our failed first attempt, we continued on with a second round of IVF. We had to go through the whole process again as we had not had any high-quality embryos to freeze.
This time my specialists were armed with more knowledge of my body and changed the stimulation protocol. They also used a different tube and twisted my cervix for the embryo transfer since I have a retroverted uterus. The result…a pregnancy, finally! Unfortunately, at six weeks, my HCG levels were not developing at a high enough level. Again, I found myself turning to the internet for answers. They saw a sac on the ultrasound but sadly it was empty. I had a blighted ovum which meant my body knew the embryo was developing chromosomally abnormal and miscarried the pregnancy.
To say it was devastating after four years of trying (two surgeries: one for my coconut sized uterine fibroid tumor; one for my husband’s variococelle—large veins in the testicles; a failed attempt to foster to adopt two little girls; and now two failed rounds of IVF—the last one resulting in a miscarriage with a dilation and curettage (D&C) to remove the cells) was an understatement. We have one frozen embryo left to transfer and then our journey with IVF will be over and we will explore international adoption.
The emotional and dollar cost
Now, like every other portion of this road, we wait, attempt to get our hopes up and learn the steps for the next part of the process. Our next and unexplored step will be the Frozen Cycle Embryo thaw. This means that instead of going through the entire ovary stimulation process, I now have to wait for my period. Once I get my period, I will take estrogen pills for two weeks, have an ultrasound, and then wait to determine the quality of my thawed embryo. Of course, after I pay the $1,200 fee to get my embryo thawed. Even though we have met our out of pocket deductible and have good insurance, that fee is non-negotiable. From what I was told, no insurance covers that fee. It just seems silly to have to pay to get your own embryo back. Even with quality insurance, we have had to pay deposits of $1,500 for the first round, $700 for the second round, $1,200 for this thawed embryo, and $30 every 2-3 times we go to the fertility center. When you’re getting bloodwork at least 3 times a week, that’s at least $360 a month.
This infertility road we were thrust on has cost us so much emotionally, physically, and financially. It is truly indescribable the emotions that you feel when your body cannot produce something so natural as a baby. The only thing that has helped us on this journey has been the support from amazing people like you and our fertility center who have navigated this road with us. To read our full story from both our perspectives hearing our honest candor along each destination on the way, check out our book: “Navigating the Road of Infertility.”