Wednesday, July 13, 2011

IVF Update

I had taken a break from blogging for awhile to destress and focus on my personal life. This should explain my disappearance.  Even though I've been MIA for several months now, I wanted to post this very personal story in hopes that it might help someone in a current situation or in the future.

First, let me say that I apologize for how long this is going to be, but I am going to pack this full of probably too much information because I wish I might have read something like this a few years ago. Even if it was just informational.

For any of the newbies that doesn't know me I have been with my husband for almost 4 years and we got married last October. I just turned 33 (he is 37) and have SD14 and SS15 (almost 16) 50% of the time. I have a good relationship with my skids (although that did NOT happen overnight), but I have wanted my own kids. When I fell in love with DH I knew he had a vasectomy. I've heard of tons of people having it reversed so we didn't really think anything of it. We figured we'd have it reversed and try to have kids of our own when we are ready. Plain and simple right? Not quite. Very naive of us to think that. About 4 months or so after being married we decided to start talking to some doctors so we would know what kind of costs would be involved (insurance will not cover a reversal). We found out it would be about $7K+ to have a reversal. Now, here is what everyone needs to know. A "successful" reversal is when they can find sperm in the ejaculate. Any sperm...1 sperm, crappy sperm, whatever. Some doctors will say they have a "guarantee". The guarantee is to get sperm flowing at all. Period. This is also generally information from a urologist. His job is not to get you pregnant, it's to reverse a vasectomy. Also, some urologists will not tell you how crappy your chances can be depending on how long he's had it. In my case, his has been for 14 years. We decided to consult a recommended fertility doctor as well because if the reversal didn't work we'd have to go to IVF next. So, you are talking about $7K+ to maybe work, and then if not another $15K+ for one round of IVF.

We got our options from the fertility doctor. He agreed that if he just did a reversal our chances were slim. He asked us, "what is your end goal, to shoot sperm or to get pregnant?" Well, obviously to get pregnant. So, as unthrilled as I was about doing IVF based on our chances and the cost that is what we chose to do. Let me explain for anyone who has not done IVF. The BASE cost for IVF is about $9K. That does not include the drugs, does not include things like testing, freezing, removing DH's sperm, doesn't include how the eggs are fertilized. It only includes taking your eggs and putting the embryos back in. We sat down with all of our information and price sheets and came up with closer to $18K. The drugs are not cheap, but some offices have a connection with the UK where you can get them for 1/2 the price. Either way, there is not just one set of drugs but multiple types. For me, being 32 at the time and in great health, I was tested for everything under the sun (some insurance covered, but not all of it so that was about $500 more out of my pocket) and it was determined that I had good reproductive health. I started with a drug called Lupron in the begining of April. The drug puts your body into menopause so that you don't ovulate. That shot is a little diabetic needle that goes into your belly. Has to stay cold and has to be done around the same time every day. So makes travel/life a bitch. This drug also makes you crazy and gives you hot flashes. While on the lupron they give you a date as to when they will have you ovulate. About 14 days before that you start these growth hormone drugs (2 different ones) that go into your butt/hip area. They HURT LIKE HELL and leave lumps and sometimes massive soreness where you can't walk. You can't sleep on your sides. These drugs amp up the number of eggs you hope to produce giving you higher chances of fertilzing them. These are very hard to give to yourself so basically you and DH have to be sandwiched at the hip and he has to be able to be ok with giving shots. Luckily mine was. Not all are.  Eventually I did have to give myself quite a few of them because of scheduling.  It's possible, but it isn't easy.

You have to spend a lot of time at the Dr's office. Having tests and ultrasounds. The ultrasounds are internal and are to see how many follicles you have which helps indicate # of eggs. If there seems to be a good number they will schedule you for an egg retrival, if not, the whole thing gets cancelled and you have to start again.

If you move to the retrival stage they give you another huge ass shot called a trigger shot that makes you ovulate at a specific time and they schedule to take them right before that time happens. If you ovulate too soon...all is lost.  The scheduling rules your life and is very stressful because your body doesn't always want to do what it's supposed to at the exact times.

For us, I started all of the shots around April 8th and had my egg retrieval on May 24th. It's a hell of a lot of shots, sometimes 3 a day. Oh, but you aren't done yet. They got 12 eggs, 9 fertilized, and we had testing done (downs, etc) and only 4 were viable at the end of the day. So, on the 29th of May they implanted 2 and we froze 2. Freezing is about $2,000. $1,500 + $500 annual fee. Oh, and to mention that once you have them implanted and are pregnant you have to take Progesterone shots for 3 months! HUGE SHOTS of Olive Oil right into your butt/hip area. They leave lumps and hurt like hell. Those are expensive too, and they don't like to scare you about those until necessary, but I had no idea that after I was pregnant I would still have more shots! You have to wait 9 days to find out if anything took, but home pregnancy tests started showing positive around day 5! We got our Dr. confirmation with a blood test on June 7th. I was pregnant. Not sure if it was one or 2 but based on the hormone numbers they said it looked like one very healthy pregnancy, but could be 2. We had to wait until June 24th to have our first ultrasound to find out if it was one or 2. I was having all of the normal pregnancy symptoms: tired, sore boobs, acne. We drove to the doctor to see our baby's heartbeat and the whole time freaking out "what if it's 2". When we got there I was considered to be 6 1/2 weeks pregnant. (with IVF you are about 2 weeks along at the time of implant). They got me ready and they did the ultrasound. They found the sac, there was only one...yay, no twins. However...What happens next is the sadest thing that I could have imagined. They could not find the baby in the sac. No baby, no heartbeat. We were in shock. The Dr. explains that I'm pregnant, but that it could have implanted and then stopped growing at some point. He said it could be what is called a Blighted Ovum. Basically just a big old empty sac but no fetus. I immediately start balling, and he tells us we need to wait a week, have another ultrasound to be sure. That was the hardest week. Time went so slow and I had no idea what to think. I never had any cramps, no bleeding, nothing at all out of the ordinary. Everything was going we thought. When we went back a week later there was no change, and the doctor scheduled me for a D&C the following week (last Friday).

Now, I'm sorry to tell this depressing story, and I know that this can happen (and does) to lots of people even trying to normally conceive. Miscarriages and Blighted Ovums happen all of the time. However, this is where the stepfamily part really comes in...

We had not told the kids yet that I was pregnant. We needed to be closer to the 12 week mark. My biggest fear was telling them, miscarrying, and them and BM jumping in joy over our loss. However, the fact we didn't tell them presents it's own issues now. I've had to have all these appts and tests and I've been in bed and sad. I have to try to fake being happy when they are around. Being 14 and 15 they are very perceptive and know when something is going on. The worst part of it all. I'm angy. I'm so angry that a piece of shit BM was able to just easily pop out 2 kids and then go on to treat them like shit. I'm jealous that my husband has 2 kids with someone else (which I wasn't jealous was just part of life). Just seeing the kids makes me sick right now. I know it's not their fault, but I have all this anger/sadness/resentment about them even just being here. My husband doesn't understand why I don't want to hang out with them. It's hard for me to express that to him though. I mean, he is going through the loss too, but at the end of the day he still has kids and is a dad and I am not going to be a mom. He hasn't put his body through shots like a lab rat for 3 months just to try to have a kid. He hasn't had to lay there while they remove what you thought was going to be your first child. He's not left with 10 extra pounds of weight from the drugs and the fact you've had to lay off of exercise/certain foods/drinks/etc and put your entire life on hold for the past 3 months. In my logical brain I know that it's not his fault that he had a vasectomy and that he had kids with a crappy person before ever meeting me. It's not his kids fault that their mere presence makes me ill right now. But we've just spent close to $20K, and each frozen transfer is going to be another $5K including drugs. So, how much is this all going to cost? Will it ever work? What if it doesn't? Will it ruin my marriage? I'm so scared to try again, but I'm scared not to. I'm worried that now I want my own kids so bad that if I don't have them I will resent him forever for all of this.

I'm sharing this story so anyone considering having kids with a man who has a vasectomy gets all of their information sooner than later so that you know what you could be looking at if you plan to have kids together.  We are lucky enough to be able to afford the first round with paying for most of it and taking out a medical loan for the rest. Insurance in some states will cover some IVF treatments, but I think only 3 or 4 states. Most do not. They will cover some testing but not the actual IVF. Things I didn't even know or consider before all of this. I also had no idea how much IVF really was going to be. Everyone always talks about $10K. $10K is the bare minimum. Right now we are sitting at about $21K with everything including my D&C. Many people cannot afford IVF much less more than one try, and end up their only options of adopting, sperm donor, etc. Those are not options for us at this time.

I'm hoping that something works with the ones we have frozen because right now I'm feeling hopeless and empty. We are going on a week vacation with the kids soon, and I am hoping I can hold it together. My stepmom friends totally seem to understand why the kids are so upsetting to me right now, but my family and bio-mom type friends don't understand and think I'm being rude about them. I'm trying so hard to act "normal" around them, but I'm having a very rough time.

If anyone else has stories they would be willing to share to help me or any other ladies here, I would greatly appreciate it.


  1. Oh hon. I'm very, very sorry for your loss.
    Re other people's stories, I am mid-30s and have low ovarian reserve.
    Just today I found that my AMH has plunged from 7 to 1.7 in just four months. It's really scary. So IVF is on the cards, but of course low AMH people tend to be poor responders to the stim drugs, so our chances of success are lower than normal. IVF is frightening to contemplate - the process is so laden with fear and anxiety even when it is successful, I gather.
    The feeling of resenting/not wanting to be around the stepkids is so normal for people in our kinds of situations. My three stepsons could easily have been dropped at the city dump today - they were meanly hassling me because I was crying after the test results came through. Even when they're behaving okay, it's still such a burn to have to care for them when I really want to be caring for my own child.
    It's not surprising that other stepmothers understand better than non-stepfamily types - they already know about feeling excluded by biology and how much that sucks!
    Hang in there; it's very hard. I really hope you have a good online community to access, and that things get better for you from here.
    You're not alone in this. Your loss has meaning to everyone who has experienced infertility, and we're all hoping with you that you will go on to have the family you want.

  2. My heart goes out to you. Thank you for sharing your story. You will be in the thoughts daily.

  3. I'm really sorry for your loss and everything you're going through right now. My husband and I tried to conceive for about 7 months, which I understand is no time to most people, but while I was in those 7 months, I had some of the same feelings you had. I wondered why my stepson's bio mom could pop out 5 kids, including twins, and I couldn't get pregnant. Not only did she pop out 5, but they are ALL with their fathers 100%. I was no spring chicken, 31 at the time, so I kept think I'd never get pregnant, and as the days rolled by and with each negative pregnancy test, I resented my stepson more and more, and I know it was wrong, but that's how I felt. I eventually told my husband I wanted to give up and figure out a way to just deal with being a stepmom. We in no way had a budget for IVF, so I knew if I didn't conceive naturally, it was over for me. Fortunately, I got pregnant the following month (then I worried the whole time I wouldn't carry her to term, but that's another story) so it worked out in my case. I hope my story doesn't make you feel worse, but I wanted you to know that I had some of your same feelings and that it's ok. I send lots of thoughts and prayers your way.

  4. Thank you so much for sharing your story. Please know how terribly sorry I am for your loss. Be gentle with yourself and pay no attention to those who don't understand your experiences. Your feelings are yours and you are allowed to feel what you feel. Don't let anyone tell you differently.

    Hugs to you...

  5. So, so sorry to read about your loss. I'm in the same boat x 3 and just about ready to give up on my dreams of motherhood. Minus the financial stresses, I feel every single same emotion you write about. I will tell you this: I lost the first pregnancy towards the end of the first tri, and we had already told The Kid. He was devastated at the loss, despite the fact that he was a little nervous when we first broke the news. We didn't tell him about the other two losses, until I started to go insane. I felt like he needed to know why I was constantly doing to doctors, why I was in the hospital, why I was crying myself to sleep. And he is grateful to know, he feels like a complete member of the family. I know your relationship with your skids is different than mine, but in my case, telling him lifted a huge weight off my shoulders and really helped in the healing process.
    Wishing you lots of peace in this journey.