June 03, 2016

IVF vs. FET: Our Experience

As most of you know, we recently did a Frozen Embryo Transfer in an attempt to get pregnant again. Unfortunately, it didn't work, but I wanted to talk a little bit about the experience now since I didn't blog during.

I mainly wanted to talk about the differences because it was very similar to IVF in most ways.
The overall difference between the two procedures is that IVF starts from the very beginning. Meds are give to stimulate the ovarian follicles in order to be able to retrieve eggs. The eggs are then fertilized and different meds are given to prepare the body for pregnancy. With an FET, the embryos are already created, so there is no need for stimulation of the ovaries, it is all with the goal of preparing the body for pregnancy.

Many of my meds were the same as during IVF (here too), but there were a few differences. This time I gave myself Lupron injections, estrogen (e2v) injections (instead of suppositories, my mom gave me these, because they're best in the tush), dexamethasone, an antibiotic, and progesterone suppositories.

The Lupron was an every day injection to prevent ovulation (I think). This was the same as IVF. The e2v is to thicken the lining of the uterus. Last time I had suppositories instead, and I think I started them later in the cycle. I got one injection in my butt twice a week.
You start out with this big scary needle to draw up the medicine. It's a thick liquid, so alarge needle is needed.

Then you switch to a smaller, yet still terrifying, needle, haha.
The dexamethasone was the same as last time. It's a low dose steroid that acts as an immune system suppresant, to keep my body from attacking the baby as a foreign body. The antibiotic and the progesterone were also the same.

For the most part, the side effects weren't as pronounced this time. I had some mild nausea off and on from the progesterone and estrogen I think. The main side effect I noticed was from the dexamethasone. It made me hungry and made me feel like my blood sugar dropped shortly after eating.

I worked really hard to lose weight before starting my FET and actually started at about a pound or two less than when we started the IVF. I lost thirteen pounds total. Unfortunately, between stress, the dexamethasone, and being on vacation with food everywhere, I gained back ALL THIRTEEN POUNDS during the two week weight. More on this in another post, because it's a major struggle right now. During IVF I only gained five pounds and most of it was bloating.

It was bizarre emotionally this time. I felt less connected to the whole process. Maybe partly because I wasn't blogging about it, but mainly because I was so focused on Cai and generally less desperate. Not that I didn't want another baby as much, because I certainly did, but it didn't feel like life or death like it did with our first round because we already have Cai. With Cai I prayed CONSTANTLY and talked to the embryos constantly. This time I didn't have as much alone or quiet time, so it was a little different. I also spent more time getting massages and chiropractic adjustments last time. This time I didn't have the money to do that, so it wasn't really an option. I also struggled with feeling like I was being over confident this time because it worked the first time for us. 

According to Steve, the overall cost of IVF, start to finish, including testing, meds, and embryo storage fees, was about $20,000. The total cost of the FET this time was about $6000. 
The starting cost for an FET at our office was $4500 (I think the prices had just gone up, but I'm not sure). Meds were MUCH cheaper this time because there were fewer and because our insurance covered more of them. That was a huge blessing for us. Most of the additional costs were tests that I had done before starting, both through our fertility doctor and my PCP. I was concerned about possible thyroid issues and wanted to get that taken care of before starting. I was also taking some natural supplements to help prevent the preeclampsia and cholestasis I experienced while pregnant with Cai. In addition, there are a few procedures before the actual FET process starts that are not covered in the $4,500 total and were not covered by insurance. Also, the cost of storing our remaining embryos went up significantly. Before we do another FET I will have to undergo some testing in order to be sure that my body didn't do something to prevent implantation. I'm not sure what that entails, but I'm pretty sure insurance won't think it's necessary. 

For our IVF we pulled money our of Steve's 401k to pay the majority. We were also, as a couple, making about three or four times what we are now, haha, so we had more money available in general. For our FET we relied on gifts from friends and family (THANK YOU!), selling some things, and credit. I think that made it even harder when it failed.

If you'd like to help us with that cost and the cost of our next two transfers with our remaining embryos, Steve has started a Go Fund Me page for us so that you can do that.

To be honest, I have mixed feelings about doing another round. First of all, I want to lose weight again. More this time, if I can. Part of me can't wait to jump right in again, but another part of me is dreading going through all of the meds and appointments and uncertainty again. I so want more children though. We want Cai to have siblings. I pray daily for our last two little frozen embryos (as I did when there were four of them), and I can't wait to (this probably sounds weird out of context) have them inside me where my body can keep them safe, but I'm also afraid of what might happen again. 

Prayers would be greatly appreciated. Also, if you're going through this or thinking about going through this process, please feel free to reach out to me with questions or just to talk. Also, I'm in an awesome support group on Facebook called Baby Fever which I highly recommend, and its sister group Fertility Friends which is for women who have already conceived but have or are still struggling with infertility. Please let me know if you'd like an invitation!

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