August 28, 2014

What You Want to Know about Our IVF Experience (But Were Afraid to Ask)

Over the past several months I've had a few people ask some good questions about what IVF means and how it works for us. Most of these people were people we are close with, so they were able to ask us things that other's might not. Others were people who are considering fertility treatments themselves. I thought I'd take the time to answer some of those questions and give people the opportunity to ask others without worrying about offending us or making us uncomfortable.

How much did it cost?
In total, the whole shebang cost us approximately $14,000. We didn't h
ave to pay that all at once though. The package our fertility specialist provided for one round of IVF (you can actually pay for two or three rounds at once at a discounted price, but if you get pregnant the first time; you've paid for three and only used one) cost about $9,500. That was with a discount because I'm a full time teacher. We had to pay all of that up front. There were some thing that were not included in that original price including the mock embryo transfer and a few of the ultrasounds. Our insurance covered little to none of the meds I needed, so they cost over $1000 total. After our eggs were fertilized, we also had to pay a storage fee for each of the four remaining embryos. Those are the major costs I can think of right now.

How did you come up with the money for it?
People pay for fertility treatments in different ways because very few insurance companies provided much coverage for what are considered "unnecessary" procedures. I know of some people who saved for years and others who started gofundme.com or similar accounts and asked other people to help them out. We actually ended up withdrawing most of the money needed up front from Steve's 401k. We were able to do this without penalty because his 401k allowed for a certain amount of withdraw from medical procedures not covered by insurance. The rest we paid out of pocket as the bills came up.

Did you use a sperm or egg donor?
This questions surprised me and was actually what inspired me to write this post. I didn't realize that people would wonder about that. Because our infertility issues centered mainly around that fact that I don't ovulate like a normal person (I have plenty of eggs, they just don't get released), we had no need to use either donor eggs or donor sperm. In other words, biologically, Cai is fully Querns/Templeton.

Is your pregnancy considered high risk?
No. Once the doctor heard the heart beat, our pregnancy was considered completely normal. If both embryos had implanted, having twins would have placed me as high risk, but because this is a singleton pregnancy, we are totally normal now.

What will you do with the remaining embryos?
This was a huge concern for me. I had read about women who had far more eggs harvested than we did, and I was afraid we'd end up with more embryos than we could conceivably use in a lifetime. Because Steve and I believe that life begins when sperm and egg meet, this would have presented some major ethical dilemmas for us as we would consider discarding those embryos as abortion. Thankfully, only nine eggs were harvested; eight successfully developed into embryos; two were used in this, our first attempt at IVF; one implanted and resulted in this pregnancy; four are frozen for our future use. The hope is that all four of those embryos will survive the thawing process in the future and result in two more pregnancies with one or two babies each.

Does that mean you won't try to get pregnant naturally?
Some people say that getting pregnant helps to correct fertility issues caused by PCOS. As much as I would love for this to be true, we have decided that we will be using some form of birth control (probably something on the more natural side) to prevent that from happening because we basically have four more babies already in existence. This doesn't mean it won't happen, but that would be totally God's doing and not ours.

Other than discarding the embryos or using them, what else could you do with them?
We could offer our frozen embryos up for adoption to a family who cannot conceive on their own. This is something we have talked about, but unless God would put a specific situation in our paths and on our hearts, we do not feel it is something we want to do. These are our babies.

What fertility doctor did you use and would your recommend him?
We went with Dr. Peters in Asbury, NJ (he also has a Bethlehem, PA office) who is a part of Sher Fertility, a respected fertility chain (look them up at www.haveababy.com). We chose him originally because his new office is on the floor above my dad's office. My dad is building inspector and actually did some of the inspection on Dr. Peters's new office; he was very impressed with the doctor and told him about us and us about him. We decided to make an appointment and were impressed with both him and all of his staff. A frustration we had with the other reproductive endocrinologist we had tried years ago was the office and nursing staff (we liked the doctor herself), so this was a big deal to me in particular. We also liked the way Dr. Peters explained everything to us in an understandable way. He was forthright about our issues and options and encouraging about what he recommended we do. I would not only recommend Dr. Peters himself, but also Sher fertility as whole. They have several offices throughout the country, and I am impressed with their results and their attitude (seen through what they and their patients post on their Facebook page).

Do you expect any problems in or after your pregnancy due to PCOS?
I've read about different things that PCOS and other aspects of my hormone imbalance could cause, but haven't had any major problems because of them yet. I did have anti-thyroid antibodies that put me at a slightly elevated risk of early miscarriage, but obviously that didn't happen (I plan to go to an endocrinologist after the baby is born because I'm sure I have thyroid issues). I could have issues with breastfeeding like low milk supply or really high milk supply. I may be more likely to deliver a little early rather than go past my due date. I am more likely to gain excess weigh (which is why I've made such a big deal about the relatively low amount I've gained so far) and to have gestational diabetes (which is why I'm nervous about my glucose test). I also may struggle more with losing the baby weight afterward.

I know there are more questions out there, but I can't think of them at the moment. If you have any you would like to add, either because you just want to know, you've been through it already and have been asked those questions, or you're thinking about doing IVF yourself, please feel free to  The whole point of the infertility aspect of this blog is to help others going through it, so please don't worry about asking an awkward question.

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