Wednesday, December 14, 2016

We've been matched

So shortly after I wrote that last post, I went back onto the website to check out our donor's profile again, and it had been removed! I just about freaked out, but was just hopeful that Jenna (that's the donor coordinator) had received my email and removed her so that no one else could claim her. But here's the thing - I didn't receive an email back from Jenna until close to 8:00 that night!

Thankfully, the email was good news. We have been matched with the donor. I've copied and pasted the email below. It's easier for me to do that rather than me translating it out. It gives our next steps and gives an idea of the excitement of progressing forward.

Congratulations, Rebecca!

On behalf of our Egg Donor team, you are officially matched with donor—SYT—for a February/March egg retrieval. This is only an estimate given our discussions and may be revised based upon your donor’s availability or your nurse coordinator’s assessment of remaining screening & testing. SYT’s donor compensation is $5,000. I have attached SYT’s donor profile (genetic & psych reports to follow) as her profile will be removed now that she is matched for a cycle.
I will reach out to SYT and advised her to schedule an egg donor physical exam to complete her screening. This appointment consists of a physical exam and urine drug/nicotine testing. We will also draw blood for Fragile X, CF carrier status, Thalassemia, etc. SYT will also be referred to our psychologist and our genetic counselors so they may interview SYT and supply us with detailed reports – when they become available, we will pass these on to you. We will be in receipt of all results in approximately three weeks from the time that SYT is seen here at SDFC. At this point, you will have the opportunity to review the information and at this point, we can give SYT the official “green light” and assign specific dates to your egg donor cycle.

In order to insure that your Egg Donor cycle is not delayed, please SCHEDULE ONLINE a Third Party Financing Consultation at  with our 3rd Party Financial team. Once your appointment is secured, you will receive an email notification and a complete financial packet will be sent for your review and consideration. ** Please note scheduling times are in US PST. This consultation is complimentary and may be conducted via telephone, skype or in-person. At this juncture, you will have the opportunity to determine which cycle type is best and our team will individualize your cycle fees for financial planning. 

Additionally, please keep in mind that all of your testing must be complete with results in your chart before we can coordinate your cycle and supply you with egg retrieval and embryo transfer dates. I request that you commit to completing your egg donor cycle within three months from the time of being matched or you may risk your donor no longer being available to you.
Lastly, I am MORE than happy to pass along a sentimental card and/or gift from you to your donor. I am a huge proponent of offering personal gestures to these amazing young women, beyond compensation they are receiving, so they also have an opportunity to connect to the incredible gift they are providing and…to connect with you – as their Intended Parents!

Let me know how I can be of further assistance!

So I have a phone call set up with nurse Hillary next week (the 22nd) to make appointments for my next steps. I have to do a trial cycle to see how my uterus responds to the meds. We will do the freeze all, so we're not too concerned with all of that just yet. So now we just wait to get the results from the rest of our donor's evaluations. Here's hoping that nothing comes back too alarming because then we'd be pack to square one. 

I'll keep y'all posted! 

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Maybe we found a donor?

So I emailed Jenna, the donor coordinator, and let her know our top choice. I don't want to give a lot of details about her, but she's beautiful, smart, and just gives me chills when I read her profile. She seems real, not over the top, AND she notes that she would be willing (in fact would love) to have future contact with the parents. I just really like the idea of being able to stay in touch with the donor, just in case we have any genetic questions down the line.

So now, I'm just waiting to hear back from Jenna.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

AND...We're Back!

Hello all! I know, I know... it's been way too long since I last posted anything on here, but honestly there just hasn't been anything to post. I actually spent several months not really thinking about it much, and had a few moments of "well, life is pretty good. Are we sure we want to have another baby?"

And then, like a ton of bricks, the baby fever hit -- big time! I don't know if it was the fact that one of my best friends is pregnant, and watching her glow with her big (but not really big at all) belly just got me sentimental and wanting to be there, too. Or maybe it was that my coworker just had her baby and I got to cuddle with that tiny little girl and smell her sweet smells. Who knows?! But now I am just so desperate to be pregnant again, and to buy the sweet clothes, and change the diapers, and feedings - I am longing for it...yes, even the stuff that takes over your life, and your house, and your sanity! I want the chaos, and that was the part that was scaring me and holding me back from pushing it too much. Crazy how things change!

So, I contacted San Diego again and told them we were ready. We do not have the funds together, but I've decided we just won't. We will have to take out loans, but we can probably save up about half of what we need by the time we have to give them money. But I am getting older, as is Anadine, and I'm just ready. If we wait until the money is completely there, we will never be able to do it.

So last week, we had a financial consultation to find out what our options are as far as financing. The lady we spoke with was very nice and informative. She assured me that SDFC will not nickel and dime us- I guess time will tell. (CCRM was real good about having hidden costs). So we discussed a few options, and depending on which donor we choose, we will figure out which route we will take. There's one option that pays for one egg retrieval and then as many transfers as it takes to get pregnant from that batch of embryos. I think that option costs around $24,000, not including donor compensation and medications for the donor. Another option is a money back guarantee option: if a pregnancy isn't established after 3 transfers, you get your money back. That option costs somewhere around $31,000, not including donor compensation and meds. If the donor we choose is a proven donor (meaning she's done this before and had success), we probably could do option 1. If we choose a new donor, we might want to choose option 2, because you just never know. Either way, it ends up probably being about the same cost because a proven donor is going to cost close to $10,000 in compensation, whereas a new donor will cost $5,000 (makes you want to get in the egg donation business, doesn't it?) Anyway, it's a lot of numbers, a lot of money, and it kinda makes my head hurt. Basically the information we really needed is that the money is due at the start of the cycle - all of the money upfront - there is no financing plan. However, there are loan companies that work directly with SDFC. I knew that before, but needed the refresher. So now we look into that and see what we can get approved for, look at interest rates, etc.

Yesterday, we had a phone consult with our Doctor - Dr. Kettel. We are officially established patients at SDFC! The phone call went about as expected - no new information really, but it basically got us established. Ryan and I started looking at the donor database last night and picked out a few favorites. The next step is to get in contact with the donor coordinator (who we talked to last spring) and get matched with a donor. We'll give her our favorites and she will help us make a decision that works for us.

Once that is done, we will start scheduling things. Right now our plan is to do a freeze all of the embryos and then do a transfer sometime in early June, when I am out of school. Although it would be nice to schedule it during my spring break, just to get things going a little sooner. Doing a freeze all would mean I don't have to worry about syncing my cycle with the donor's. It also means we can do PGS testing on the embryos, which increases the chance of success by being able to choose an embryo that has all of the right chromosomes. And yes, it also gives us an idea of which gender we are transferring in. 

Anyway, stay tuned. I'm hopeful that this blog is going to be getting more interesting in the coming months. Now, off to find a donor!

Monday, April 25, 2016

What do you say? What do you ask?

It's National Infertility Awareness Week. Eight years ago if someone had said those words to me, I would have thought aw, yeah that's good that someone out there is thinking about those poor people, but it would have never been me. You never think it's going to be you. In fact, I had a friend whose sister was going through IVF and I thought Wow! That poor girl! I don't know how she does it! And then two years later I WAS doing it. So, yeah, here I am to spread awareness. This year's theme (set by the Resolve people) is Start Asking. It's a challenge to ask the big questions and to challenge others to also ask those big questions.

It got me thinking about what I want people to ask me, first and foremost. It's a tricky thing to know what to say to people who are going through something that you know so little about. I think everyone going through infertility wants something different (we are female after all!) Some people don't want people to say or ask anything, but they want to feel supported and loved. Some people want people to ask how they are feeling or handling the situation. For me, I want you to ask questions so that I can help you understand the process better.

I knew so very little about the reproductive system before all of this infertility stuff. I had taken my Biology classes. I had discussed female anatomy with my mom when I was hitting puberty, and we had the school wide "girl talk" when I was in fourth grade. But I really didn't understand the ins and outs of how a baby was made inside of the female body. I knew I had a uterus and ovaries. I had heard of Fallopian tubes. I knew there was sperm involved and eggs, yadda yadda yadda. But how did they all fit together? How did they work? I didn't know any of that, until I had to.

What I don't like is when people ask questions like "so you're going to need a surrogate?" or make comments like "maybe adoption would be easier" when they don't bother to understand that my uterus is fine. My uterus has never been the problem. No one is telling me I can't be pregnant - it's the getting pregnant part that's hard. Surrogacy would do me absolutely no good. Surrogacy and adoption are great options for people who have very different problems than me.
So, yeah, I think I want people to ask about the details - to make an effort to understand things better. Infertility is a huge umbrella from male factor issues, to egg issues, to tubal issues, to uterus issues. There is unexplained infertility and infertility dealing with multiple losses. The one thing we all have in common is that we are fighting to become somebody's mommy.

I don't have a problem explaining things to people. I have been known to draw diagrams for people to help them understand better. I try not to overwhelm people with too much information before they're ready though. That's why I want people to ask. I don't want people to assume they know or be afraid to ask the dirty questions. That's part of why I started this blog. My friends who know me well know that I have no shame in using the big, "dirty" words, and talking about things that make other people queezy. So ask away! I'm here to answer to the best of my knowledge.

So, what will I be asking? I'll be asking for more infertility insurance benefits. It's insane how little insurance will cover if it is tied to infertility in any way. I'll also be asking my community for events to honor people suffering with infertility. We have 5K runs for all sorts of causes around here - but not for infertility. Why? It's time for people to stop being embarrassed about their situation. We didn't do this to ourselves. I didn't ask for deformed Fallopian tubes. I didn't ask for a diminished ovarian reserve. I didn't do anything to get dealt this card. But here I am, and I'm ready to stand up and

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Polyp Removal

I thought this picture was so funny when I saw it. I remember those days of standing on my head and doing all sorts of stuff to try to get pregnant. I guess I am doing all sorts of stuff to try to get pregnant now, they are just a little more doctor involved. I'm lucky that my husband still has the attitude of "we're in this together." Bless him for that!

So I had the surgery yesterday to remove the polyp. All went well and it is out of there. They have sent it off just to make sure it's nothing more serious, but no one suspects it is. I am in a little bit of pain today, but nothing too unbearable. I probably pushed it going back to work the next day though. I started off strong, but this afternoon I am feeling pretty weak and sore. I keep getting little twinges in my lower stomach that make me want to curl up in a bed, but I keep reminding myself that I have been through far worse and it is all for a good cause. My throat is the worst part of it. Something about the tube they put in my throat must have really irritated it. I don't ever remember having that problem from past surgeries, but hopefully it will go away soon.

I do feel like I have at least made a step in the right direction. Now this is out of the way and we can move on once we have the money together.

I had a conversation with my brother and sister in law during Easter to let them know what was going on. They were pretty supportive of the whole thing and really didn't give me a hard time about any of it. My brother did ask me if we had considered adoption, to which I basically replied...
I explained that at least doing it this way I get to be pregnant and carry the baby. And at least it will be half Ryan's DNA. I understand that adopting is a wonderful thing to do, and I am certainly not opposed to it. But there is still heartbreak and financial burden associated with it. It is not an easy thing to do, and we're simply not there yet. He understood that though.

So now Ryan and I have to really sit down and plan out a budget to get money together. We have to figure out how much we can save each month and really look into grants and loans that we can get. Our testing from CCRM will expire at the end of the year, so we really need to aim for doing the IVF by sometime in the fall. This blog may get a little boring for a while, but I appreciate you all staying with me.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

OBGYN Appointment

Sorry it has been awhile since I last posted. There hasn't been much to report, as we are still at a stand still until we get some of these things taken care of. I had my yearly with my OBGYN yesterday though, so now I have something to tell. First of all, this is a new OBGYN as we have moved since my last yearly appointment. I actually would have just driven the 2 hours to the guy who delivered Anadine because I love him that much, but he's not on our insurance. However, I LOVE this new guy just as much. He sat down with me and had me explain my whole complicated history to him. It's always funny when doctors see my chart and see that overall I am a pretty healthy person - good weight, no diseases, typical family history, normal cycles, etc. but then I have all of this fertility stuff. Not just one BAM - blocked tubes, but BAM BAM - low ovarian reserve, and then this time is was a BAM BAM BAM - she also has a polyp on her uterus that needs to be removed. They get really confused when they see that I had a tubal ligation (tubes were tied) in March 2011 and a c-section in February 2012. I have to explain that they tied my tubes to give me the best chances of IVF, but that tying my tubes wasn't really all that necessary because my tubes are deformed and unlike anything any doctor has ever seen or heard of (at least the doctors I've ever talked to!)

Anyway, we did my yearly and pap smear so that I'm all up to date on that. As far as he could tell, everything looked good. Then we talked about getting this polyp out. We scheduled it for April 5, which is two weeks away! I am so glad we can go ahead and get it taken care of. It will be an out patient surgery, but they will put me to sleep and I will have a little bit of recovery time afterwards. He said it is technically a D&C, which I wasn't a big fan of using that terminology, but whatever. I'm just ready for it to be over with! Here is what made me love him - he is filling out the insurance forms and tweaked my charts to make it look like I am having this done because of irregular bleeding so insurance will pay for it. That means we are not paying $1200 out of pocket. We will be paying more like $650, plus we'll meet our deductible. It's still a lot of money that I'd rather not pay, and if my organs were normal I wouldn't have to pay it, but OH WELL here I am whether I like it or not.

In other news, I'll be seeing my brother and his family this weekend because they're coming down south for Easter. The exciting part: I get to meet my new niece (born in December). The not so exciting part: I have to have a sit down with my family and explain my decision to them to use donor eggs. My parents both already know, but my brother is the one that I'm nervous about telling. I really think when it comes down to it he will be very supportive and understanding. I just hope I can clearly explain why I want to go this route and why it's so important for me to have another baby. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Bad Days

Today has just been one of those days. I don't really know why. I have no idea what set me off. But it has just been one of those days. We have a Eucharist service on Wednesday mornings at the school where I teach, and as we were waiting for the service to start I just kept thinking "man, am I in a bad mood today!" I just kept thinking about how unfair it is that I have to go through this to have a baby. It wasn't even that I was thinking about the donor egg aspect of it, just the fact that I have to go through IVF to make a baby. Why me?

Can I tell you how many times I have asked that question. WHY ME? What did I do? Why am I being punished?

Through all of the challenges that I have had in my life (and I'll be honest, I really haven't had many horrific challenges, but I've had a few) I have always come out of them understanding God's reasoning. But this is hard to understand.

I have struggled and I have made it out on the other side. I have a beautiful little girl whom I love more than life itself. It's 6 years later (after discovering my blocked tubes) and I still don't understand why I had to go through all of that. Is it because God didn't think I would love my child enough if I didn't have to work so hard for her? I truly doubt that. I joke that He made it challenging for me because he knew if it was easy I would be the lady with 18 children because I love being a mom that much. And I do (love being a mom that much) but I wouldn't REALLY have 18 children - I'd probably stop around 3 or 4. HA!

So why? Is it because Ryan and I needed to know we could make it through this challenge in our marriage? Can we officially say we have "made it?" Believe me, God has given us plenty of challenges to get through without throwing in this infertility thing. I just really don't get it.

It's this waiting part of it that's so hard. It's so hard to process the fact that we can't move on with anything until we have the money. I've put a hold on looking into fertility clinics for a while because I know that we won't be able to do anything until we make a plan for saving this money and get the majority of it. I am working on filling out grant applications, so that's keeping me somewhat busy. I also just became a consultant for Pampered Chef to help try to make some extra money. But we're still looking at not being able to go through with any of the IVF process until at least 6 months from now. We can't even secure a donor until 3 months before we plan to cycle. So, we just wait...we wait for another miracle. We pray that God shows us a way to find the money. We save, save, save, and we wait.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

My miracle baby is 4!

She was so excited about the princess dress she got. 
Our little miracle celebrated her 4th birthday on Sunday. I can't believe how quickly the last 4 years have flown by. All day yesterday (leap day) I kept thinking about how close she was to being a leap year baby. I imagine I'll think about that every four years!

She insisted on wearing her "birthday hat" headband. It's really a St. Patrick's day headband that we got for an upcoming pep rally at school, but who's going to argue with the birthday girl? I thought it was a great idea! It fit perfectly with her newest fashion must have: a bun with a headband (it's how Cinderella wears her hair). 

As we sang "Happy Birthday" she waited patiently to blow out her candle.

To celebrate on her birthday we went to visit family in Mississippi (mainly grandparents). We ate lunch at one of her favorite places - a cute little soda fountain restaurant in the heart of Jackson. If you've ever seen the movie "The Help" you've probably seen it. She enjoyed a lunch of pancakes, birthday cake, and a milkshake. We were definitely sugared up, but hey, it was her birthday!

Anyway, we had a great time and I (as I always do) got teary when we started singing "Happy Birthday" to her. It never fails! I can't help but remember how much we all prayed for this baby girl and how much she is loved by so many.

Yesterday, she got to celebrate at school for the first time. As a teacher, I have celebrated many a child's birthday in my classroom, so it was fun being the mommy for a change. The picture to the left is a picture of her getting ready to say the blessing - I love that she goes to an Episcopal school where this type of behavior is encouraged. I love her heart for God! She was so excited to have mommy AND daddy at school with her (she gets to see me there every day, so daddy was an extra special treat). They had cupcakes and sang "Happy Birthday" to her and she got her special birthday crown.

This weekend she'll have yet another celebration with her friends. We have invited 6 of her little friends from school for her official birthday party. We're having it at the children's museum here in town. She cannot wait! This is really the first time that we have had a real birthday party with kids her age. In the past it has just been family and close friends (mommy and daddy's close friends, not necessarily her's). It should be a good time. I'm a believer in celebrating your birthday week, so I supposed I'm just passing that along. ha!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

SDFC Phone Consult

We had our phone consult with the donor coordinator (Jenna) at San Diego Fertility Center yesterday afternoon. She was incredibly informative, was ready to answer all of our questions, and really put our minds at ease. I don't have a single doubt that if we chose to go to SDFC, we would be in the best of hands for completing a donor egg cycle.

She walked through the process with us, detailing each step of a donor egg cycle. We would have to do a trial run cycle, in which I would start estrace (estrogen) when my period began to increase the lining of my uterus. I would have to have 3 total ultrasounds (one baseline and then 2 more at one week apart) to check to make sure my lining was increasing. Throughout that cycle I would increase the estrace gradually to see how my uterus responds. Then I would take progesterone to make my period start, start birth control pills to link up my cycle with my donor's cycle, then begin to process again to build up my lining to prepare for transfer. Estrace and Progesterone: my two least favorite of the drugs! And then when I actually do the cycle, they will add in lupron (the shot that burns as I remember it!) Ah well, the things we do!

I asked if they had a bank of frozen eggs available. She said that they didn't really do a lot of donor egg cycles with frozen eggs because the technology hasn't developed enough to successfully freeze single cells. She said that they are constantly trying to develop new ways to make it more successful, but their thoughts are that using frozen eggs at this juncture does not have enough success for them to promote it. I found this information very helpful since that was one of the things I liked about the Chicago clinic ($15,000 cycle for a frozen donor egg cycle). I remember Dr. Surrey at CCRM saying something similar, so it's easy to trust her: they have found great success with freezing and thawing embryos, but eggs just don't have enough cells to keep them viable.

Ryan asked her to explain what should make their clinic stand out above the rest. He explained that we were doing a little bit of shopping around, and while we love their customer service (so to speak) San Diego is certainly not our cheapest option in regards to treatment or travel expenses. She said that they are really the pioneers in donor egg IVF. She said that CCRM is known for their successes in IVF and embryo testing: they have an impeccable lab and are on the front end of developments in IVF treatments and protocols (exactly!). Basically what she said, although not in these exact words, is that SDFC is for donor egg IVF what CCRM is for regular IVF. Their founder started donor egg IVF something like 24 years ago, and the first ever donor egg baby is not 32 years old (I don't know if those are the exact numbers, but you get the gist). Basically, they've been at it for a lot longer than most clinics.

So, right now, they are top on my list and I think Ryan agrees. He was very pleased with the consult yesterday. We both know it will probably be a while though because we have to figure out the money issue. SDFC does have an agency that they partner with a lot who does infertility loans. Jenna is supposed to send me some information on that. I'm also looking into grants some more because now I know that they will accept money from third party lenders (CCRM wouldn't so I didn't want to go through the grant process if they wouldn't accept the money - a lot of grants want to pay directly to the clinic).

I also have to get this polyp removed before we can do anything else. I have an appointment with my new OBGYN on March 22, and we'll hopefully be able to schedule the removal for soon after. It looks like this is going to be a pretty long process. I would be thrilled if I could get pregnant this summer, but it's looking more and more like it will be closer to a year from now.

Thanks for hanging in there with me!

Friday, February 19, 2016

Comparing Clinics

So I have been spending the last several days searching and comparing fertility clinics across the US. My head is swimming with information. I have gone on the SART website and checked the stats on any fertility clinic in any place that either a. has family in that city or b. would be a cool place to visit. I have looked into the top 5 clinics on the list of "best fertility clinics for donor eggs." I have little notes all over the place for each clinic where I have jotted down prices, donor information, etc. It's been crazy!

San Diego- I have continued to be in contact with the nice lady at SDFC. She has been incredibly helpful. We have a phone consult with her on Monday afternoon to discuss more specifics. The problem with SDFC is its location. Out of all of our options, it would be the most difficult for us to get to. It would probably be an expensive place to stay as well. What I do like about them is their large donor database, and obviously the friendly coordinator who has been so accomodating.

Chicago - Looking at the SART website, Advanced Fertility Center of Chicago's numbers really look good. In 2015, they did 45 donor egg transfers with a 91% success rate. 45 isn't a big number of transfers (compared to San Diego's 88), but 91% success rate is hard to look past. The other pluses for this clinic is that it would be fairly easy to get to from here, and we have family in Chicago which means a free place to stay. The other thing about this clinic is they have a fairly large frozen donor egg bank. This would mean a much lower cost (I think the cost quoted on their website is $15,900) and a lot less planning (I wouldn't have to sync up my cycle with a donor). I'll probably post about frozen vs. fresh donor eggs at a later time - I really have to look more into this. I hadn't even thought about it before I saw it on their website. The annoying thing about this clinic is the nurse I have been in contact with hasn't been the most approachable person. Granted, I have only talked to her through email, but she hasn't been very forthcoming with answers to my questions. I have just emailed back a questionnaire she wanted me to fill out, so we'll see if we can get a consult scheduled with them soon.

New Jersey- They are the second on the list of "best fertility clinics for donor eggs" and their stats look good. I have called them and gotten some pricing. Their prices for their cycles are about the same as SDFC. Who wants to go to New Jersey anyway? I'm going to keep them in the back of my mind, but I just don't really see that being worth it.

Dallas- I have emailed and called them. Still no response. I'm a little annoyed by that. Looking closer at their stats, they have an 88% success rate for fresh donor eggs, but only did 40 transfers in that year. I still think those are good statistics, and it sure would be convenient. I just want them to call me back already. The real deciding factor there would be the cost and amount of donors in their database.

So that's what I have for now. I've looked at several other clinics, but these are the top 4 at the moment. It makes me sad to be officially saying goodbye to CCRM, but 7 donors in the database at $40,000 just isn't going to cut it. We have a follow up phone consult with Dr. Surrey next Thursday. I'm debating whether or not to cancel it. It seems silly to pay another $100 to tell him we aren't going to be seeing him again. Although I still have some questions for him regarding my Doppler test on my uterus. We also haven't gotten the whole report on the semen analysis yet. I guess I should decide pretty soon what to do about that!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Go Fund Me

I have started a go fund me account. I really hate that it has come to this, but I'm desperately trying to figure out ways to pay for all of this. I'm posting it here mainly to see if the link works and to get advice on what y'all think of it. I'm not quite ready to put in on Facebook yet. I know eventually it will have to be done, but I need to warn some people about that first (like my mom!) Let me know what you think. Seriously, criticism welcomed!

Friday, February 12, 2016

Sometimes I have to let myself be sad - just for a minute

My co-teacher told me today she's pregnant. I'm happy for her - truly I am. She has been trying to get pregnant for a while now, and she isn't someone who gets pregnant at the drop of a hat. She has wanted this for a long time. She has a beautiful little boy already. She's a great mom and a good person. I am happy for her.

But I'm sad for me. Is that ridiculous? It makes me feel so selfish. I have my beautiful little girl and I feel so incredibly lucky - really blessed - for that miracle baby. I just feel like my family is not complete yet and it makes me sad that it won't ever just happen. I have come to terms with this, don't get me wrong, but sometimes I just have to let myself be sad about it again. When I hear stories (like I heard today) of someone taking a pregnancy test just because they felt like it and then surprising her husband because he had no idea it was even possible, it makes me sad that I will never get that. I know I have so much to be thankful for, and I have my own story of taking a pregnancy test and finding out I'm pregnant. Believe me, I don't ever forget how lucky I am, and it does ease the blow SO MUCH! It's just sometimes I want my story to be a little different. Sometimes I wish I didn't have to figure out how to get $30,000 to make a baby. Sometimes I wish I didn't have to make decisions about fertility clinics and donor eggs. Sometimes I hate the fact that I have these deformed tubes. Sometimes I just want to be able to have sex with my husband and get pregnant.

Okay, rant over. Sorry I had to put all of that out there. I know it's not a fun thing to read, but this is my safe place and it's better that I rant here instead of to anyone else.

On a happier note, one of my students walked in this morning with a giant stuffed zebra for Anadine - his Valentine's gift for her. Talk about making my heart melt. It was just about the sweetest thing I've seen in a long time.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

San Diego Fertility Center

Just after I wrote my last blog post, I contacted both of the clinics I mentioned - San Diego Fertility Center and Dallas Fort Worth Fertility Associates. I went to their websites and filled out their online inquiry forms. No lie, 30 minutes after filling out the form for SDFC, I heard back from the donor egg coordinator there. I was pretty impressed by that (I still haven't heard back from Dallas - I may put a call in this afternoon). The email the coordinator sent me was so nice and informative. She attached all the forms that would be necessary to become a patient and switch my medical records over from CCRM. She also gave me some price points for donor egg cycles out there. And, most importantly, she gave me access to the donor database. Y'all, their database is so much bigger! You can search for certain qualifications - hair color, eye color, etc. (it feels a bit like online dating). I did a search for Caucasians with blue eyes and there were 12! TWELVE! I know that may not seem like a lot to choose from, but compared to the 7 total donors (only 2 Caucasians) on CCRM's list, I was quite impressed. I read through a few profiles, but didn't do a whole lot of digging just yet.

As for the pricing, it is much cheaper than CCRM - although still very expensive. The baseline price for a donor egg cycle seems very reasonable ($18,700) at first glance, but then there are a lot of costs not included in that. For example, compensation for an anonymous donor is $5,000-$10,000. It also doesn't include the cost of the meds - injections for the donor, progesterone for me, etc. - which ranges $4,000-$6,000. So we're really looking at about $27,000 for one donor egg cycles at SDFC. It's still much cheaper than CCRM, but it's also still a lot of money! They have other guarantee plans, like I mentioned in my last post. For $26,278 you can have all the transfers from a batch of embryos necessary to get your pregnant or your money back. The only downside to that plan is they require you to transfer 2 embryos. Ryan is pretty adamant about not having twins. I personally would be okay with twins, but I totally support and understand not wanting it! Two would be very hard (you moms of twins amaze me)!

Anyway, we still need to talk to Dallas and see what they are all about. And then we need to start figuring out how to get all of this money. We are both a little overwhelmed with the idea and pretty stressed about it, to be honest. I can feel the tension between us and it kills me. I'm going to research grants and things, but I'm concerned people will be less willing to help since we already have a child.

Monday, February 8, 2016

One Day Work Up Results

Well, we are back from Colorado with a lot to think about. I want to apologize ahead of time for this long post, but there is a lot going on in my head right now. Any feedback is greatly appreciated, especially from anyone out there who has had to make similar decisions.

I didn't get the clear cut answers I was hoping for, though I didn't really expect to. I was hoping to go have these remaining tests done, and Dr. Surrey would be able to give me a clear cut yes or no as to whether we could try again with my eggs. He didn't necessarily do that, but he did make several things pretty clear to us. So here is what we do know post one day work up...

My uterus: We first did an ultra sound to look inside my uterus, check the lining, and check for blood flow with the Doppler. This is also where they did the antral follicle count (more on that in a minute). The lining looked good and thick. She did see a water filled cyst on one of my ovaries, but she said that's common after ovulation (remember this was cycle day 17 for me, so that makes sense). The blood flow wasn't great though. It wasn't terrible by any means, and she said that it may have been caused by the Claritin D that I had been taking all week. She said that if Dr. Surrey was concerned about it he would tell us more at our follow up. He actually never brought it up in our follow up, and we completely forgot to ask. We have another phone follow up with him in a couple of weeks though, and I'll be sure to remember to ask him about it then. I think that lessening caffeine intake as well as starting acupuncture for the purpose of increasing blood flow to the uterus will greatly improve things. More in regards to my uterus - we also did a hysteroscopy with Dr. Surrey. This was where he looked at my uterus with a scope and also did a trial transfer to see how my uterus will react to the process. All looked good, except I do have a fairly large polyp on my uteran wall. This will obviously have to be removed before transferring an embryo. I'm due for a yearly pap anyway, and Dr. Surrey said that my OBGYN can do it in his office. We'll just have to get a pathology analysis on the polyp, although Dr. Surrey didn't think it looked malignant. I'm wondering if this could have caused the abnormal blood flow reading earlier in the day? (I can't believe we forgot to ask about it!) Dr. Surrey also said he could remove it during an egg retrieval, if we use my own eggs and do a frozen embryo transfer (more on that in a minute, too).

Semen Analysis: I just received a phone call from ccrm (following up about something else) and I asked if any results had come in about the semen analysis. They haven't gotten the chromatin report yet, but have gotten the basic semen analysis results, which look good. His morphology (the shape of the sperm) is a little low - they like it to be 3 and his was 2, but the nurse didn't seem concerned with that. I didn't get any other report about it other than it was normal. I'm not too concerned about it and will wait to get all the details when we have the rest of the results in.

And now, for the EGGS - the big question to be answered: The ultrasound actually showed 10 resting follicles, which was a bit of a shock since 5 years ago we had 9. So that was actually a pleasant surprise. However, we have to be practical and know that just because there are 10 follicles, does not mean I would grow 10 eggs in a cycle. We also have to keep in mind that my FSH is pretty high, indicating poor egg quality. I keep going back to the fact that 5 years ago we retrieved 7 eggs and only 1 of them survived. Those odds just aren't that great.

What the Good Doc. Said -- Dr. Surrey said that it certainly wouldn't be impossible for us to get pregnant with my eggs, but it wouldn't be an easy road either. He said he would strongly suggest the CCS testing with a frozen embryo transfer. We didn't do this last time because we assumed my eggs were healthy, even though I didn't have a lot of them. Now we know a little more (1 out of 7 survived). So the CCS testing would test all of the embryos made to check for the correct number of chromosomes. Most people I know who have gone to CCRM have done this testing, so it certainly isn't an unreasonable plan. However, the chances of us ending up with an embryo that a. can make it to the 5 day mark to be able to be tested, survives the testing, and then survives thaw and transfer is minimal. My fear is that we would go through the process and end up without any embryos that tested normal, and we would have paid the 7,000 extra dollars for something that we could find out by just transferring and seeing if the embryo takes (usually non viable embryos do not implant). Of course, that has it's own trauma associated with it. I would still end up with a failed IVF cycle. Either way, chances of success are slim with my eggs. We have the problem of growing them, first of all, but then most importantly getting a normal, quality embryo is the toughest part. So basically, to finalize Dr. Surrey's theory, our chances of being successful with IVF using my eggs and CCS testing is at 40-45%. My chances of being successful with donor eggs is 85%. Honestly, I wanted the numbers to be more spread out than that, if we were to decide to go the donor egg I wanted him to tell me I had a 20% chance of success. That would make the decision SO MUCH EASIER!

We also met with a donor egg counselor, which was actually pretty great. I expressed my fears about what others would think about us using donor eggs, including the comment my mom made to me about it. She really reassured me that usually people get over those feelings, especially once the baby is born. Ryan and I talked a lot about it this weekend, too, and decided that we will most definitely not keep it a secret. Talking about my struggles has always been how I cope with infertility, and not talking about it, or hiding a piece of it, would make it seem like I was ashamed of it. If I do end up getting pregnant with a donor egg baby, I would want to make sure I never let that child think I was ashamed of his/her origins. I wouldn't hide it from the child, so I certainly wouldn't hide it from family members or friends. My mom and I have a big conversation to have if we end up going this route, and I'm certain everyone will come around. And as the counselor pointed out, if they don't come around to the idea, then screw 'em!

My/Our thoughts: If this was my prognosis before having Anadine, I'd probably go for it with my own eggs. I would be in the mind frame of wanting to give it my all before trying something else (in fact, that is basically what I did 5 years ago). But now, we really only have this one shot. We simply do not have the money to spend up to $30,000 on an IVF cycle and then (assuming it would fail) spend another $40,000 on a donor egg cycle. I hate to base my final decision on money, but that really is what it boils down to - that and the fact that I really have come to terms with the idea of using donor eggs and I'm okay with it. Ryan and I talked a lot about it over the weekend, and I think we both agree that donor eggs will be the most effective (cost and otherwise) way to go. We haven't made any final decisions yet, but that's kind of where we are now.

Here are the pros and cons we came up with:

Pros of using own eggs:
-DNA is the same
-Don't have to explain to family
-Don't have to explain to potential child about origins later down the road
-Less expensive (assuming it works)

Cons of using own eggs:
-little chance of success
-injecting all of the hormones into my body (increases cancer risks, etc)
- mental stress - which probably wouldn't be very helpful for success

Pros of donor eggs:
-more of a sure thing
-easier on my body
-less time consuming as far as the actual cycle goes
-we have more time to prepare because it doesn't matter that I'm losing more eggs each month
-younger, healthier eggs (less chance of birth defects)
-will most likely have many embryos to work with, or possibly freeze for later children (??) or if it doesn't work the first time. 

Cons of donor eggs:
-not my DNA
-have to explain to family/future child
-Very expensive!

It's such a tough decision and we don't really know how to make it, except to trust our insticts. And both of our instincts tell us to just use donor eggs...because all of those cons (except for the expense of it- more on that though later) don't matter to us. I'll still be able to carry the baby, deliver the baby, and love the baby with every ounce of my being. The  fact that he/she doesn't have my DNA just won't matter. The pros to using donor eggs are just so much more appealing - especially the idea that we'll have several embryos to use/choose from/use later. A frozen embryo transfer will be much less expensive than doing an entire cycle, should the first one not work.

Okay, so now to talk about the expense of a donor egg cycle (prepare yourself). If we were to do a donor egg cycle at CCRM (using an anonymous donor), it would cost us close to $40,000, not including travel expenses. In addition to that, CCRM's current donor list consists of 7 donors, only two of which are Caucasian. A girl in my CCRM Facebook group, who also ended up using donor eggs, told me that I should look into San Diego Fertility Clinic (where she ultimately ended up going and has a beautiful little girl). They have a donor egg guarantee plan that costs $26,278. With the plan you get all the transfers necessary to get pregnant from the batch of embryos created with your donor, and if you don't get pregnant, you get your money back. I don't know what this means regarding if you get pregnant on the first transfer, if you still get to freeze the remaining embryos to use at a later time. I also don't know how their donor database compares to CCRM's, or if they are as picky as CCRM in accepting donors (one of the reasons CCRM's list is so short). These are all questions I plan to get answered soon. But I can tell you this, I don't know if they can tell me much that would justify us spending $20,000 extra to stay at CCRM. That does break my heart a little because I do love CCRM and have a very special place in my heart for it, but business is business and if I use donor eggs, I don't see the  need to use CCRM for it.

There's also a fertility clinic in Dallas, which would be pretty convenient, that I'm going to check out. When I googled "best donor egg fertility clinics in the US" the one in Dallas came up as number 1. I don't know much more about it than that, and I don't know what they criteria was in choosing it as number 1, but it is something I think is worth looking into. Dallas is only a 4 hour drive from here - talk about cutting down on travel expenses!

So basically both of these other options take away that last con of using donor eggs (the expense of it). Honestly, the $26,000 at SDFC is still less than a regular IVF cycle at CCRM. We are also going to look into fertility grants and possibly setting up a Go Fund Me account. I hate asking for outside help, but it is just SO expensive and insurance companies generally don't cover any of it. 

So now I have some more questions to get answered. We'll have a follow up phone consult with Dr. Surrey on the 18th, so I'm making that my deadline to make some final decisions. Time to get going on my homework!

And that's it -- if you made it this far in this post you honestly deserve some sort of medal or something. Thanks for reading (and for your patience). And again, any thoughts are welcome!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016


I mean, why is it that when I need my body to actually behave it doesn't? I just started my flippin' period! It's been 16 days since I last started. I wasn't due to start again for another 8 days or so. WTF?!?! So what this means...I'm going to assume nothing right now. CCRM says they want you there between days 4-15 for your work up. This will put me out there on day 17. I'm guessing they want it done during the first part of your cycle just in case you're pregnant. Since that is impossible for me, I'm going to assume it will be okay. I'll put a call in to the nurse to make sure though. Please be okay! I've already booked flights, car rental, and hotel. Not to mention I've found a sub for my class for the two days I'll be out. UGH UGH UGH!! Fingers crossed they don't want me to change it. Or even better, maybe this is just spotting due to ovulation (even though that's never happened to me, and I have cramps, and it's very much like a normal period for me). Sorry if all of this is TMI, I'm just so mad at my body right now!

I called CCRM and told the nurse what was going on. She said that they could reschedule me for Feb. 2, but it would have to be done by a different doctor. She said she'd have to get that signed off with Dr. Surrey and she'd let me know. I asked her if the reason for the day restrictions were to make sure I wasn't pregnant, and explained that my tubes are tied and deformed, meaning I absolutely can't get pregnant. She didn't really give me an answer, but told me she'd check with Dr. Surrey on all of that. So I had about 45 minutes of freaking out, calling Ryan and crying, panicking about the flight change restrictions, etc. and then she called back. She said we can keep it for the 5th. (*giant sigh of relief!) She said that the one stipulation is that I don't have unprotected intercourse for that cycle. (HUH?) I asked if that's true even if my tubes are tied, yada yada yada, and she said yes. So now, how to explain this to the hubby?? I kind of want to call her bluff on that one. I mean, I feel like she's just repeating what she's been told without thinking it through. Thoughts?

I'm also still kind of hoping that this is some weird fluke and I'll stop bleeding by the end of the day. Then I can just chalk it up to ovulation, increased exercise, and stress.  Don't think I don't find the irony in the fact that I was just complaining about playing the waiting game with nothing to do or think about!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Schedule for the one day work up

Here is the schedule the nurse sent me for our one day work up at CCRM. It's pretty boring stuff, but if someone is looking at doing a work up out there, it might be nice to see the kind of day you might have. It also helps to see the costs of all the tests. 

Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine & Fertility Labs of Colorado

10290 RidgeGate Circle, Lone Tree, Colorado  80124      (303) 788-8300

Name                  Scheduling Date: 1/6/16          

Doctor for MD appts below: Surrey               Per: Tonie                    Cycle Day 1 (est):

Appointments must be within days 5-13 of your cycle, unless otherwise approved by your physician.

We have scheduled the following appointments for you on: Friday February 5th, 2016

Out of state patients:

We strongly recommend you arrive in Denver the evening prior to your appointments to avoid last minute stress due to a possible flight delay. Denver International Airport is approximately 1 hour of drive time away from CCRM.CCRM strongly suggests that you do not schedule a flight home until 7pm or after.  Due to the number of appointments scheduled as part of your work up, we are not able to reschedule your appointments to accommodate an earlier flight time.

On your appointment day:

Please be sure to pick up a schedule when you check in for your first appointment.  This will assure that any minor appointment time changes are reflected on the schedule you have for the day.

Remember to check in with a receptionist whenever you are ready for your next appointment as scheduled.

Test or Consult

Nurse:  Orientation to IVF at CCRM / required appointment
Included in pkg.
Ultrasound + Doppler
Semen Analysis + Antibody Testing   (ASAB)  (+ culture to be billed by outside lab)
+ Chromatin Assay


*-FLC pymt *
$240* male
$135* female
+ $465 for Chromatin Assay
(blood  draw
with other labs)
+ culture to be billed by outside lab
Fertility Labs of CO
(FLC) Consent Review
Included in pkg.
Nurse Consultation
Donor Nurse
Included in pkg.

Nurse - IVF Consult
Shipping Kit:
Y or N
Additional fees apply
GC/C Collection:
Y or N
Consult included in pkg. Additional shipping kit fee may apply.
Standard or Extended  Workup Labs, Communicable Disease, Genetic Screening Blood Tests
GC/CT DNA urine
Discuss Genetic Screening Tests with RN prior to blood draw.
*-FLC pymt. *
$1115 /female
Other & Genetic:  As recommended
by your MD
Psychologist - Donor Recipient Consult
Included in pkg.
Business Office


* Fertility Labs of Colorado Charges – FLC is contracted with United Health Care insurance only at this time.

If you have an insurance plan other than United Health Care, or no infertility benefit with United Health Care, lab testing by FLC will be considered “patient pay” and payment is due at time of service.

We will send claim forms to you upon request for you to submit claim to your insurance if applicable.

Please note: neither CCRM nor FLC accept American Express.

This is the standard/mandatory workup.  Based on your history, your physician may recommend additional testing during your visit which may result in additional fees.  Please contact the Business Office with any financial questions. Please note that if you opt to have genetic testing done, there is a $25.00 Good Start Set-up Fee in addition the fees charged by Good Start Genetics.

Test Requirements & Instructions:

ASAB (Anti-Sperm Antibody Test)2-5 days abstinence prior to test.    

Baseline Scan/Doppler UltrasoundAvoid caffeine (coffee, tea, chocolate, etc.) for 3 days/ 72 hours prior to this ultrasound examination. (Caffeine effects blood flow which is measured by Doppler.)

Hysteroscopy – The hysteroscopy can cause some cramping, similar to menstrual cramps, and you may take 800 mg of ibuprofen 1 hour prior to the procedure.  The procedure should be performed when you have a partially full bladder.

Please note:  No tampons or intercourse or submerging in water for 1 week after the procedure.

Denver, the “Mile High City,” is at 5280 feet. Our altitude is high and our humidity is low.   Please be sure to drink plenty of fluids to feel good and be well-hydrated for your blood draw.

As for me, I have some questions to ask about some of these tests that I'm scheduled for. I'm wondering that if we've already done some of them at our previous work up, will we have to do them again? I know they need to do the ultrasounds and hystoroscopy, to check my uterus and baseline follicle count, but do I really need to be tested for HIV again? I'd like to save as much money as possible, and that along with the genetic testing seems like overkill. We've already done all of that, and it all came back negative. I realize it could be possible for someone to contract HIV in five years, but I assure you I have not.

It's also interesting to see all of the restrictions listed below the schedule. I completely forgot about the abstinence from sex for 72 hours, and the no caffeine thing. No caffeine 5 years ago was a big deal and not fun. No caffeine now may be the death of me. I should probably start weening myself off slowly over the next couple of weeks. My morning coffee is what gets me moving!

In other life news, I have a girls' trip planned with my college girlfriends and I am SO EXCITED!! It will be a welcomed break and I cannot wait to see all of my friends, some of whom I haven't seen in years - like maybe 6 years? Crazy! I'll be honest...the no drinking, no caffeine thing - well, it's probably going to start after this weekend.Cheers!