One Million, One Hundred Seventy Three Thousand Five Hundred Pennies

Get it?  It’s like the song “Seasons of Love” from Rent, only slightly more depressing.  That’s how much money we have to come up with before we start a single cycle of IVF.  With an estimated cost of $17,000, we have to pay $11,735 up front before we can start the process.  The idea that we could spend $17,000 and not have a viable pregnancy at the end of this is a tough pill to swallow.

That’s why our doctor’s office offers two different approaches for IVF; the single cycle IVF (with potential for frozen embryo transfer, should the first cycle not take) or what the office refers to as the VIP program.  The vested interest program allows couples to pay only for a successful IVF treatment.   The VIP option requires an down payment of $20,500, for up to three fresh IVF cycles, to be performed within a calendar year.

In the event that none of the cycles are successful, 90% of the initial down payment is refundable. However, unlike the single IVF cycle, the VIP option does not include medications or monitoring costs.  The overall estimate for the VIP option for three cycles with the added costs is $33,000.  If all three cycles prove to be unsuccessful, we’d receive a refund of $18,450.  The final kicker with VIP is that, unlike single cycle IVF treatments, none of these costs are submitted to insurance, so everything we pay would be out-of-pocket.

So what’s the right option?  We know that my current insurance recognizes infertility and IVF, meaning we could potentially save a fair amount on a single cycle.  But, we also know that my insurance has a lifetime cap of $10,000 on fertility treatments.  So do we bet all our chips on one treatment, or spend a considerable amount more on up to three to try to ensure that one actually takes?  Then, if none of them do, we at least have our refund to explore other options.

The good news is that we don’t have to decide until later this summer.  The bad news is I’m not sure which option is the right one.

(Fertile) people tell you to be positive when you’re going through fertility procedures.  It’s not that I’m not positive, but I didn’t emotionally prepare for a negative pregnancy test after our first round of IUI and it practically destroyed me.  So yes, I know I need to be positive, but I also need to be practical.  It might not work.

An Outpouring of Love

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The last 24 hours have been a whirlwind of emotion, but it’s also been so very empowering.  I feel as though a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders.  I thank you all for your support.

I want to give a special shout out to the women that  have reached out since I posted my story to inform me that they too are suffering from fertility problems.  Wherever you are in your journey, know that you were my inspiration for this blog.

Most of all, I’d like to thank my husband for encouraging me to go public.  Thank you for encouraging me to be open and honest with my feelings.  I love you more than words can say.

The Informational Meeting

As luck would have it (if you can find the upside to infertility), our doctor was hosting an informational meeting about a week after we found out we weren’t pregnant.  Aptly titled “What to Expect When You’re Not Expecting”, the goal of this meeting was to provide couples information as they make their way through this thing called infertility.  In the 2 years we have been seeing our doctor, this is the first time I’ve seen him host a meeting like this.  It felt almost kismet, as this meeting was going to determine our next move.

The meeting itself was great.  It was Dr. Corfman’s birthday, and yet, he chose to spend it with 3 couples who were at various points in their infertility journey.  What bothered me, however, was that I seemed to be the only person unashamed to be there.  Perhaps saying they seemed ashamed is the wrong way to describe it, but whatever the reason, it was that night that made me realize I needed to start this blog.  It made me realize just how nice it would be if we could be open and honest with our fertility struggles.  We should be sharing in what we’ve learned so far and empathizing with the other couples.  After all, each of our end goals is the same.

What the meeting didn’t prepare me for, however, was the anger I would feel toward myself and the resentment I would feel toward my husband after the meeting concluded.

Anyone that knows me and Lee knows that we are very different.  And I’m sure if you were to ask him, he’d agree that some of our differences are as endearing as they are infuriating.  While I like to plan and research and know what I’m getting myself into, my husband is perfectly happy to be complacent.  So, when I ask the question about what we should be doing to prepare ourselves for IVF, I was surprised at all of the info they provided to Lee about what he could do to improve our chances.  I had been so focused on improving myself, that I had never thought Lee might need to work on some things as well.  And neither did he.

It’s not as though he did nothing to improve our chances.  He had been taking some herbal supplements, that were supposed to help with production and motility.  However, when our doctor started telling us about sperm production (did you know it takes 2-3 months to produce a single sperm cell?  Neither did I.)  and the different ways a man’s habits can affect those cells, I was not only frustrated that this was the first time I was hearing these things, but that my husband had never thought to research these things for himself.  Drinking, smoking, eating poorly; all of these things affect sperm production.  And all of these were areas he could improve upon.  I had been so centered on my diagnosis and the difficulties it posed, that we had never really looked into what he could do to improve our chances.  The fact of the matter is, when we first started testing for our unexplained infertility, his results came back first.  He had low sperm counts and low motility.  Nothing that was impossible to work with, but definitely below average.  However, once we found out I also had PCOS, we stopped exploring his fertility issues.  Now it was hitting me like a ton of bricks that we had wasted 2 years by only looking at one piece of the puzzle.

It was at this point I decided we needed to seek additional help.  We need to start seeing a relationship therapist.  Our marriage is great in so many aspects, but the workload for this process is skewed.  We need to be a team.  And I have been adamant with Lee that I will not go through with this if I have to do it by myself.

We’ve got our first full therapy appointment tonight, and honestly I’m excited.  I was expecting a little bit of push back from Lee when I suggested it, but was pleasantly surprised when he immediately agreed.  It makes me hopeful about the future, not only for this process but for our marriage as well.  As long as we’re a team, I’m confident that Lee and I can get through anything.

 

A Match Made in Trivia: The Story of How I Met My Husband

I heard his voice before I saw him.  It was a Thursday night and I was sitting at the bar at my local TGI Friday’s chatting with my bartender friend when a deep silky voice seemed to surround me.  I looked around wildly to see where it was coming from and saw an incredibly attractive man speaking into a microphone.  Turns out I had shown up on trivia night, and he was one of the trivia hosts.  For me, it was love at first listen.

Well, maybe not love, but I was definitely smitten from the get-go.  He was handsome, red-haired (I love them redheads, man!) and funny.  But when he wasn’t regaling the teams with his trivia hosting prowess, he was actually incredibly shy.  In fact, his shyness made me shy around him!  I became a trivia regular; rarely did I miss a show when he was hosting.  It took about 6 months for me to work up the courage to approach him after a show, but after a solid Sunday Funday, I worked up courage of the liquid kind, and struck up a conversation.

He didn’t speak more than 5 whole sentences to me during our first full conversation.  I basically talked at him for a good half hour, while he drank his beer and kept his eyes on the TV screen above the bar.  I left that night feeling dejected, but thankful for the all the whiskey I had consumed up until that point, as it lessened the embarrassment of striking out.

I don’t know what I did or said that night that intrigued him, but I must have had some positive effect.  I woke up the next morning slightly hungover and ready to forget my failure from the previous night.  Imagine my surprise when I found a Facebook friend request from my trivia host crush.  This was the start of our weird 6 month flirtation.  I say weird, because he wouldn’t really talk to me at trivia.  However, once I got home and hopped on Facebook, he would instant message me and we would talk for hours.  It was exciting, confusing and frustrating all at the same time.  I liked this guy so much and made no secret of it, yet he acted aloof when it came to my feelings.  After 6 months of this infuriating back and forth, I threw in the towel.  I stopped showing up to his trivia shows.  I hoped that absence would make me forget.

Well, it didn’t.  But as luck would have it, my absence made his heart grow fonder.  Within a couple weeks of my disappearance, Lee asked me out on our first date.  We’ve been together ever since.

I’ve had a really hard time writing this post about my husband.  This post was going to be my virtual love letter.  Most writing comes pretty easy, but this post has taken about 3 weeks to compose and I finally figured out why.  It’s impossible for me to put into words what Lee means to me.  He makes me laugh, makes me smile and after 7 years, he still makes me swoon.  He understands my idiosyncrasies and loves me in spite of them.  Or perhaps he loves me because of them.  Either way, he handles me like a champ.  And sometimes, I can be a lot to handle.

I don’t doubt that these next few months are going to be hard and may even test our marriage, but there’s no one I’d rather share this journey with.

K and L_MockWedding_RotellaPhotography_2015-6Photo By Rotella Photography

One Last Try

My husband was a little more on board with this attempt than he had been with the previous three, which I appreciated more than he probably knew.  We gave our livers a break for the entire month of January and hit the ground running with our 4th attempt in February.  I will say that this attempt seemed to be easier than the previous ones.  Since I had broken the habit of a nightly glass (or bottle) of wine, I found it easier to be social than I had with our past rounds.  I was also choosing to be far more open with this round than I had the previous ones.  The majority of my family knew we were giving it another go as did my two closest girl friends.  Any one that knows me knows that this was a major turning point for me.  I’m a fairly private person and have kept the majority of this struggle close to my heart.  The thing is, I don’t want to!  I don’t want to be quiet about what we’re going through.  I want everyone to know about it.  Not because I want sympathy or pity, but because I think fertility issues aren’t talked about enough.  It’s estimated that 1 in every 10 couples suffers from infertility, so chances are you know a few couples who are feeling less than adequate because of their child-bearing issues.

When it came time for the insemination, we were met with some rather disappointing news.  My husband’s sample was less than ideal.  The nurse tried to find a nice way to say it was the worst specimen he had ever given.  Unfortunately, there’s not really a nice way to say that.  Only 15% of the sperm in my husband’s sample were motile.  That still gave us 1.5 million healthy guys, but my doctor’s ideal sample is 2 million or more, and we had never fallen below the magic number before.  This information nagged at me pretty consistently however.  I would later find out all the ways my husband’s sperm count can be affected and believe me, that’s been the hardest thing to reconcile yet.

I was so thankful for the support I received from my friends during this last attempt.  I received a lot of texts and phone calls and a promise of whiskey to drown my sorrows if I wasn’t and sparkling cider to celebrate if I was.  I took the day of the pregnancy test to work from home, so that if we received bad news, I would at least be in the comfort of my own home.  I went in, took the test, and waited patiently at home with my husband for the results.

When the phone rang, I took a deep breath, closed my eyes and answered.  She didn’t even have to tell me.  I heard it in the tone of her voice again.  Our last attempt was not successful.

This brought us to the proverbial fork in the road.  What do we do next?  Do we start looking in to adoption?  IVF?  Or do we scrap the family plans and continue living our childless existence?  My husband was adamant that he wanted a family and while he’s not opposed to adopting, he wanted to give IVF a try first.  With an anticipated start date of August 2017, the next 4 months will be nerve-wracking and frankly, I’m scared.  I know I can handle it, but this is not a journey I want to tackle alone.

Thank you to my friends and family who have been such a source of strength for me these past couple months as we’ve come to this decision.  Your support means so much more to me than you know.  It’s going to be a roller coaster of emotions for me the next few months, I’m sure, but I’m so glad to know I have all of you on my team.

 

A Short Respite

Each unsuccessful round of IUI cost roughly $1800, so it’s fair to say that money was a little tight after three straight months of attempting.  So, right before the 2015 holidays we decided to take a break.  For a while, we went back to the trusty don’t-try-but-don’t-prevent routine.  You hear all sorts of stories about how people try and try for a baby, and then after months of disappointments, they just sort of give up.  I held out hope that we would be one of those lucky couples.

But we weren’t.  So after a little while longer, we just stopped trying.  And when I say we, I mean I.  I gave up.  And I tried to stop caring.  Sure, it still hurt every time I got my period, but I wasn’t surprised.  If anything, each month that went by made me a little resentful toward my husband.  I felt I had put so much effort into those attempts; from eating right, to abstaining from alcohol and caffeine.  I did everything I could possibly think of to try and make my body a welcoming environment for a baby.  And not just any baby.  His baby.

My husband didn’t have to do any of those things.  Maybe he should have, as a sign of solidarity, but he didn’t.  I didn’t feel any animosity towards him about that, per se, but now that we had three failed attempts under our belts I kind of hoped that he would step up and steer the ship for a while.  I was emotionally, mentally and physically exhausted.  Any effort from him to keep us on track would have been appreciated.  Helping track ovulation, initiating timed intercourse, even being a partner in keeping me from giving up all the healthy lifestyle choices I had made would have been welcome.  But he didn’t.

It made me question whether having a child was in our future.  I questioned him about it as well.  Did he really want to have kids?  His actions, or lack thereof, indicated otherwise.  He insisted that he wanted to have kids, but now I was starting to have doubts.  After all, he says this is what he wants, but he can’t want it that badly if he’s not making an effort.  And if he’s not putting effort into making this dream a reality, why should I?

Now let me take a moment to say that my husband is a wonderful man.  He’s super thoughtful, and I know he loves me.  He shows me everyday.  But he’s not one to try and take life by the balls.  And when it comes to our relationship, he’s happily complacent.  Anyone that knows me knows I am the exact opposite.  It’s one of the reasons we work so well together, and yet, I’m sure it’s probably the one thing that infuriates us the most about one another.  But I digress.

This internal struggle lasted for almost a year and a half.  I started thinking about all of the positives associated with being childless.  We would be able to travel all over the world, we’d have the money to buy a cabin.  We’d have more money than we knew what to do with.  But I still couldn’t shake that resentment.  And I knew that deep down, I still wanted to have a family.

It came to head right at the beginning of 2017.  I told my husband that I had given up.  I was resentful that we had taken almost a year and a half off from doctor involved procedures, but hadn’t really put any effort into making a baby on our own.  And I told him that I didn’t think it was fair that he wasn’t an equal partner in this.  This conversation caused quite the argument, but I needed to be honest about my apprehension.

I wish I could say that this argument solved all of our problems, made us both see the other side and that things have been rosy ever since, but that just isn’t the case.  In the end, all this conversation accomplished was to make me go against my better judgement.  My husband wanted us to try IUI one more time and I didn’t.

In the end, I acquiesced to make my husband happy.  We would try our 4th and final IUI attempt in February of 2017.

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