Wednesday, May 27, 2015

IVF Worries, Fears, & Rants

I feel like instead of Little Miss Sunshine, I've transformed into Little Miss Cranky Pants in the last 24 hours. Too much stress coming our way and I'm not channeling it all very well at the moment. 


This morning was our IVF consult and I was nervous & anxious leading up to it all. Not so much for the actual appointment or even the blood work, but just the overwhelming stress of this all becoming a reality and quickly coming down the road. I hate that we are in this situation and need to even go this route. I know I need to suck it up bc there's no other option in terms of me being pregnant, but it does just downright suck. I hate being in this boat. I have that IVF is now our only option of becoming pregnant. I hate that insurance doesn't cover it. I hate how involved & expensive it is. I hate the whole process. AND I hate that it's making me cranky & miserable before it even starts. 

My infertility journal that I started in 2012- random notes from Dr. appts on our journey of 3+ years, thoughts, etc. <3

Our appointment this morning was mostly fine but it wasn't anything too different really. I love our clinic and all the staff there but honestly it was a little strange how the consult started. The first thing our Dr. asked is if Scott was going to consider getting the biopsy (sperm-mapping) with his urologist. We were confused and a little surprised bc this was done a whole year and a half ago and the result was the reason we turned to IUI with donor sperm. We told the Dr. we already did the biopsy and she asked what the result was-- and I was like "umm... they found no sperm, which is why we have been using donor sperm for the last year with IUI". I wish she hadn't started with that bc Scott was instantly upset and I felt a little bummed and like another number. I know they have a zillion patients and different offices but I had seen her a lot and it's all on my chart, so I was upset that an oversight like that started our convo. We spent the next 10 mins or so going over a powerpoint about the IVF process (I feel like a snob bc I feel like I've done enough research by now that none of it was new info to be honest). The good thing is that we WILL be able to use the sperm vials we already have on hand at the lab. I assumed we needed to buy new ones because they are prepared differently, but having IUI ones first makes it almost better- they can be used for IVF as well. Score on that part at least so we aren't essentially flushing those down the drain along with the money we spent on it. The Dr. said our chance of success is between 50 and 60% for my age, and every cycle would have about the same chance, like flipping a coin. It doesn't drop off after time, which is good. I asked about my fear of ovulating too soon but she again insisted that the meds would prevent that (assuming the trigger).  

My ideal start time would be my next cycle- the end of June/early July. However we go away the 1st week in July which would interfere with starting then... so I asked about going on birth control until we get back from vacation (sounds ironic, I know, but clinics use it all the time to get people on the same track and/or pause your cycle for a bit). She said that would be fine and then I should be able to jump back on track when we are back from vacation. The weird thing is that she didn't mention anything at all about the lab closing for 2 weeks in the summer... the finance girl happened to mention it later. Shocked, I was like "wait, what? When? Why?"- They close for 2 weeks every year, summer and winter for OSHA cleaning. They close June 27-July 12, which ironically falls around the time we would need to start. So even if we weren't going away, I think they would put me on the pill anyway until they opened again, or would wait until my next cycle. So in a sense it's a lucky thing. 

We also met with finance and went over everything. Only problem is that all the money needs to be paid up front, in full, before starting. It's just over $15K, and we feel like we can just swing it between our tax return and savings. I'm more freaked out about any additional cycles, because if it doesn't work on the first shot, we have to pay more. It won't ever be another full $15K unless we end up with no embryos and need to start all over from scratch again, but even an FET (Frozen Embryo Transfer) is like $5K. Stupid insurance for us doesn't cover a penny. Thankfully they did cover IUI which is why we tried to exhaust it as long as possible. But IVF is ridic. 

What we did find out (Scott found out, actually... although we heard something similar from other friends along the way) is that NY has a grant available to NY residents at certain clinics. Our clinic is in CT so it doesn't apply there, but they have a sister company in NY, so we are now in the early stages of contacting them to apply for the grant. We fit all of the initial criteria we found online and if they cover anything that makes it cheaper than the CT price, we might as well go for it. The only downfall is that it means swapping clinics, to a degree. They said I would be able to do all of my monitoring through CT still, but the egg retrieval & embryo transfer would be in NYC. It's further away and harder to get to, but if it saves us money, it would obv be worth it. So we are looking into all of that now and will see what happens. I feel like we are on a time crunch so it's all a little overwhelming and stressful for now. I'm mad at our insurance coverage and mad that we can't do this the natural way, but whatever. We set up a new patient appt in a closer satellite office for June 8, and I emailed the NY office about the grant application. 

One good thing is that I rocked the blood draw!! Jess is amazing (as all of the nurses there are, but she has become my fav & I absolutely adore her) and kept me distracted so 10 vials was no big deal! Bleh... 10... that's a lot of blood. I did it though! (Check out her evil smile... she secretly enjoys this, haha). :) 
Love you, Jess! <3


 So, from here, it's kind of more waiting. Waiting to see if we can apply for this grant and get started on stuff through the NY clinic... Waiting for the appt with them... Waiting to see if we can still work with CT for monitorings and whatnot (Since they're like sister clinics, hopefully all our info can easily be shared between the two to make this a little simpler for us)... Waiting to see how we can best afford it all... Waiting for my next cycle to start... Waiting for it all to be settled and cleared so we can start the process... etc. Etc. Etc. 

We ALSO had an appt for Scott today as a followup to a trip to the ER last month. He had severe stomach pains and we thought it was his appendix. They did a CT scan and determined it was pancreatitis. He was put on a super limited diet for a week until pain and inflammation went away and was told to avoid alcohol, caffeine, fatty foods, etc. He wanted a second opinion and had a follow up with a Dr for a diff issue today, but a Dr who specializes in digestive issues. Thankfully he said it couldn't have been a serious case of it bc they would have admitted him and given IV fluids- he was shocked we were sent home that day, so he called it a pretty mild case. He did say it's smart to avoid the above things for a bit and then it's ok to have them in moderation. He suggested a pretty healthy diet and said it's def possible for a flareup again, but if Scott plays it smart, it's not likely. So after a few more weeks of playing it safe and making sure everything is all healed, he can have a drink with me every so often as a treat. So that's good at least. Silver lining. Not a death sentence- just a wakeup call to eat healthier, and we could all use that so there's no harm there. Just extra time hopefully. :) 

Did I also mention how our house is still not selling? Another MAJOR stressor. Everyone loves the house itself but the power lines out behind our house are a complete deal breaker for pretty much everyone that comes through for a showing. It's super frustrating. A few people have been somewhat interested but nothing has come out of it. We've tried suggesting a few things but not getting anywhere there either. Our "dream home" is currently available and we currently have a deal that they've accepted, based on the sale of our home or Scott's parents (Which is now on the market... they live in SC now and don't need 2 big homes)... however I know the deal won't last forever. We need it to sell. It's so frustrating. The power lines are 100% safe (the kitchen clock radio gives off the same amount of electromagnetism as the closest power line... and the microwave is like 12x the amount. We have reports showing this and they're all out for prospective buyers to see) but it's just a matter of the right people coming in I guess. 

Im normally all about positivity & looking on the bright side. But it's really hard sometimes, and really really hard now. It's a lot at once. I want to believe it'll all happen bc I truly believe we deserve this to happen, but it's hard when nothing is moving. It's like being in quicksand or just a stick in the mud. We aren't going anywhere and are at a standstill. I hate complaining bc there are so many people who have it way worse in life. I have a million things to be thankful for, that I AM thankful for, but my goodness there is a lot of hope and belief for nothing to be happening. It's like being stuck at a big intersection where all the other roads are getting green lights multiple times and your light is still red. Nothing is tripping it to signal your turn- you just see everyone rushing by happily on their green lights and waiting anxiously for our turn. Is the light broken? Or is our turn really going to come along ever? 

It's a lot to handle. Sometimes I feel like I'm going to just burst one day, so I gotta keep taking it one day at a time. Ok, off to Zumba in a bit. I need to dance out some stress... then maybe Little Miss Sunshine will return soon. <3 :) 

'Til next time..

Thursday, May 21, 2015

"Follow the Yellow-Brick Road"

The journey to Baby Ricci has been quite a long and bumpy road, and we're still on it. It's unmarked, unclear, and unpaved. We thought once we hopped onto the IUI path, it would be a straight shot to a pregnancy. After going through 6 cycles over the past year, we've realized that a new path is coming into view: The Road to IVF.... our Yellow-Brick Road that will hopefully lead us to Oz. 

So here we are, about to jump into the IVF process. I hoped we wouldn't need to get to this stage, but we do. I can't change it, and there's nothing I can do about it. If we want a baby (which, DUH, of course we do) and if I want to be pregnant/carry/deliver (another DUH), then this is our only option. Can't go kicking and screaming through life's disappointments (ok, yes, temporarily, absolutely! But long term, unacceptable). So onward we will go.

(**Note: Positivity only from this point forward. Scott & I have been fortunate enough to have only received positive and genuine support from others, however I am aware that negativity lies out there in the world. I also am aware that IVF is controversial in some corners of the world. I know that some are against it for all kinds of reasons, be it religious, moral, whatever. Please keep those vibes away from our positive bubble. I respect your difference in opinion if you have one, and that's as far as it goes. #TeamRicci is all about positivity, and this is simply a documentation of our journey to have a baby. Thank you for respecting that and our decision to whole-heartedly accept this path in our journey.**)

We have an IVF consultation appointment with our Dr on May 27th. I assume we'll discuss everything IVF-related under the sun- process, finances, timeline, what-ifs, etc. I also need another big round of blood work (like 8-10 vials) because they require it yearly and it happens to be up. I say big round bc anything more than 1 vial is a lot to me. It makes me anxious, I get nervous I'll pass out, etc. I want to rip out the needle if I have to sit there longer than like 30 seconds and sometimes my veins are stubborn. haha. At least Scott will be with me, and I'm asking my fav nurse to call dibs on me bc she is good at distracting me. :) As of this moment, I *HOPE* to be able to jump into IVF on my July cycle. I debated whether or not I could start before school gets out, but the timing of everything is a little off, plus this is my fav time of year at school- I ADORE my class and don't want to miss tons of time during our last weeks together. Scott & I are going on vacation shortly after school gets out, so I hope to start as soon as we return from vacation if all goes smoothly in terms of that. We'll see. My goal is to have a cycle done before school starts back up. But again, none of this is in my control, so we'll go with the flow and see what happens I guess. It's all I can do.

***If ANYONE has any important Qs, things to consider, things to suggest, ask, etc for our consultation (preferably those who understand the process and have been through it or are close to someone who has), please send them my way. I'm building a running list in my mind for our discussion next week.***

I have to admit, a little tiny part of me is excited for the IVF process. It honestly intrigues me big time! The whole process is really SO fascinating and interesting to me. It's incredible where science & technology have gotten us in today's world and I can't even imagine what the future holds in this area.  It would be impossible for me to explain the IVF process correctly without having gone through it, so feel free to check out *this link* or Google another source/site yourself, but here's a quick run-down of my own interpretation and what I'm expecting (in a small nutshell). 

*Wait for your next cycle to start & go to the clinic somewhere between day 1-3 of cycle for blood work and an ultrasound to make sure you're all clear to start. 

*Start meds (pill form for a few days??... AND injections... probably lots of them. The point is to produce a good amount of eggs to extract. You only want a few egg follicles for IUI but you want more for IVF as they are essentially harvesting them to fertilize/freeze for later).  Lots and lots and lots of injections. This is the first part that scares me because although IUI had pills & injections, it was way less. The minor leagues. IVF is the big leagues for sure! Needles, and needles, and needles... OH MY! You also have to keep going to the clinic to check number of egg follicles and how quickly they're growing, sizes, etc. You don't want to ovulate before retrieval- you don't want to go too early or too late, you want Goldilocks to help make it just right! (This means lots of morn visits to the clinic again for monitoring. 50 min drive one way just for a quick 10 min checkup... but it's all for a good cause ANNNND I adore my nurses. Win win.)

*Egg retrieval. When the Drs give the go ahead, I'll do the trigger shot to induce ovulation (just like IUI) and go to the hub of our clinic, the Norwalk CT office (rather than to Danbury) for the egg retrieval. I get knocked out for this (something else I freak out about bc it's more needles/IV) but thankfully once that's over I'm good bc I won't know what's happening and/or won't remember the procedure. They go in and literally extract all the egg follicles from my ovaries. Each egg will be fertilized with sperm that day, on site in the lab, and then we wait to see how many fertilize (usually about half I think), and then they're monitored from there to see how many mature/grow as they should. I'm nervous about this part too just because I would hate to get this far and have something awful happen (nothing to extract, I ovulate too soon, nothing fertilizes, nothing matures, etc.). But we cross those bridges if we need to. I can't control much here so I'll try to stay positive and do what I can. 

*Wait & worry (about all above scenarios)... until the embryologists call with results of how many embryos and what quality. 

*Embryo transfer. Return to the Norwalk clinic (brand-new beautiful office as of a few months ago, by the way.... BEAUTIFUL... I secretly love needing to visit here bc it's all new and pretty) and have 1 or 2 embryos transferred directly into my uterus (prob similar to an IUI in a sense). Then you go home and go through the dreaded waiting period to see if they stick and you're pregnant. If not pregnant, you could go through another cycle and hopefully don't need to retrieve anymore eggs but can hopefully do a frozen embryo transfer (FET) with any remaining embryos from the last cycle in which eggs were retrieved/fertilized. Again, crossing that bridge ONLY if we need to. If no embryos are left, you have to go back to square one and start again, building up eggs to retrieve. 

So, in a sense some things are similar to IUI. In a lot of ways, though, it's different. I know I left stuff out and again I'm only giving a quick nutshell of things I'm expecting. Everyone's case is different and every cycle can be different. Each Dr/Clinic are different, too. 

Another bonus to doing IVF over the summer is obv not needing to take time off from work. I hear egg retrieval can take a lot out of you and expect to be laying low after that. I aslo expect lots of bloating and discomfort. I know how 4-6 follicles made me feel after the last IUI cycle, so I imagine IVF is way worse in the discomfort department so it'll be nice to not have anywhere I need to be. I'm fearful of the meds making me super irritable, bloated, and downright crabby & cranky. I'm fearful of all the extra needles and shots. I'm fearful of summer flashing by bc I'll be measuring it all by drives to CT and cycle days, Dr orders, etc. I'm fearful of getting overwhelmed and depressed. I'm fearful of feeling crummy. Blah blah blah.... BUT (thanks to the advice of a good friend!... also the advice I always give others yet never seem to follow myself until it comes back to me by others.) all I can do is take it one day at a time. I can go for walks. I can eat right (like lots and lots of salads... haha). I can be outdoors. I can get fresh air. I can sleep in. I can watch TV. I can enjoy summer. I can hangout with friends. I can do it. :) 

In the words of  the Little Engine that Could, "I think I can. I think I can. I think I can. I think I can." (Yup, I just read it to my kindergarten class yesterday!)... I can get through it. I will get through it. I know SOOO many strong and amazing women who are IVF mamas and they are ALL inspirational. I know I can get through it and it's mind over matter. I felt this way with IUI too and have breezed through 6 cycles. I overcame those needles and felt empowered doing my own injections. I accomplished a lot and changed/grew a lot. I can do this too. It'll take more out of me in many ways, but I CAN and WILL get through it. It'll take time, effort, motivation, and support, but I can do it. I'll certainly cry and weep some days, but I'll fight like hell other days. In the end, I can't wait to tell our child(ren) all that we went through to become their mommy & daddy. That'll be a pretty epic adventure story someday. 

Last time I left you with a pic of me and a puppy. This time I'll leave you with a pic of me and a kid (haha, not a human kid, although hopefully someday soon). 

This sweet little baby goat is just 1 week old and this was taken this morning. One of my school kiddos lives within walking distance of my school and his parents own and run a goat/chicken farm. They had about 30 baby goats around 1 month old, and this little guy was the newest kid on the farm. Made my day. If I can be this happy with a baby GOAT, imagine my excitement with a BABY RICCI!! :) :) :) :) 

Someday it'll happen. Someday. Somehow. Somewhere over the rainbow. Until then, all I can do is follow my yellow-brick road... <3 <3

Just BeLiEvE,