T minus 6 days.

My baseline blood and twat wanding is Wednesday, and then I start stims on Sunday. I’m apprehensive about IVF #2 of course. I feel like I know what to expect this time around, but there’s still just that general air of anxiety hanging around.

$4,800 of medication was delivered last week and it is all sorted and safely stored. We’ve finalized the payment amount for the actual cycle itself and I get to pay that bad boy on Wednesday. How does cycle #2 compare? LET’S SEE SHALL WE?

IVF #1, May 2016. $3,919 of meds as previously discussed. The cycle itself was a fresh transfer. The lump sum payment included all monitoring appointments (blood draw and ultrasounds), the retrieval plus ICSI, and the initial fresh transfer of 1 embryo (the FET we did later in August would be an additional cost at that time). This payment was $12,490. Plus an additional separate fee of $500 paid to the anesthesiologist, who is not employed by my clinic. That brings the total cost to $16,909. Remind me to bitchslap any fertile friend of mine that complains about money.

That brings us to IVF #2. Medication cost is $4,842. Since the first cycle was a miserable failure, we get a 25% of multiple portions of the flat cycle fee. Yay? Blech. The reduced fee for all monitoring appointments, retrieval plus ICSI, freezing of any embryos, plus 1 FET and all the costs associated with the FET (thawing, prepping embryo, etc) comes to $8,468.

Still with me? Now we’ve also decided to go ahead and bite the bullet to possibly opt into PGS diagnostic testing. The clinic charges a flat $2,500 for this, plus $150 per embryo sent to be tested plus $100 shipping. We were extremely hesitant to proceed with this until we confirmed with the financial coordinator that should we only end up with 1 or 2 embryos again, we can opt out of doing the testing. Since the testing itself is basically the price of a FET, it makes zero financial sense to bother shelling out the cash. I’d rather just take my chances and put back 2 embryos. But what if this cycle is more successful and we get, say, 4 embryos? At that point, since my doctor is adamant that she only recommends a single embryo transfer due to my age, it’s cheaper to KNOW if the embryos we’re transferring have a fighting chance. The only catch to this plan, is that should we decide to back out after paying, they will keep $300 as a nonrefundable portion for scheduling and prepping for the procedure and coordinating with the outside lab. We’re ok with this.

So, with the upped medication dosages plus the addition of PGS with required embryscope monitoring, and anesthesia we’re now looking at a grand total for IVF #2 of: $16,779 (plus an unknown number for PGS since we don’t know how many embryos we’ll test, if any). So basically, the discount we get for being failures enabled us to add PGS testing to the party. And if this is our last round with our eggs and sperm, then fuck it. Might as well throw every possibly crutch we’ve got at the problem.

See? I’m counting this a good. I’ve officially reached the fuck it stage of IVF!

Money sucks.

IVF #2 is feeling much more real. Medications have officially been ordered and scheduled for delivery and injections begin on the 27th.

For IVF #1, I stimmed for 9 days before triggering. I did 150iu of Follistim and 150iu of Menopur, then the last 5 days I added Ganirelix, and triggered with 10,000 units of HCG. Total cost of those meds came to $3,919 (yay no infertility insurance coverage!). I had 12 eggs retrieved, all mature, 7 fertilized normally after ICSI (though 4 would later join the party), 2 made it to blast.

This time around, we’re sticking with an antagonist protocol, but she’s upping my daily Follistim dose to 225iu. Same Menopur dosage and still adding in Ganirelix with an HCG trigger. We’re also adding Omnitrope to this cocktail of drugs – otherwise known as HGH, or human growth hormone. She said that this is usually used with *ahem* women of advanced maternal age, OR women considered poor responders to stims…of which I fall into neither category at this point. But she pointed to some studies that suggest the HGH helps more embryos make it through to the blast stage, so sure…what’s another shot to bring to the party?

Total cost with the upped Follistim dosage and plus the new drug? $5,242. Fuuuuuuck IVF is expensive.

We make too much money to qualify for any discount programs (don’t get me started). However, we did qualify for a “member discount” with Walgreens specialty pharmacy where I get all but the Omnitrope. I registered and paid $25 – and in return I got a flat $100 discount per $1,000 spent with that pharmacy – which totaled $400. Not too shabby.

Final meds cost for IVF #2: $4,842. Again: FUUUUUUCK IVF IS EXPENSIVE. Let’s all just hope these extra drugs do some magic voodoo and give us more embryos to work with.

In other news. Today is election day and I just want to drink. As a firmly blue voter in the ocean of red that is Texas…oy. I early voted, so luckily I don’t have to get out today, but I’ll be anxiously watching tonight. A country with a giant angry Cheeto in charge scares me.

Breathe.

I’ve been telling myself that repeatedly over the last 24 hours. Just breathe. You can’t change the shitty outcome of this cycle, but all hope is not yet lost.

I’m in a better space mentally today, so there’s that. I haven’t cried since this morning in the shower, and for that I believe I will treat myself to one GIANT glass of whiskey thank you very much.

We have officially decided to take a cycle off before moving forward, so I’m just waiting for my period to start so I can through a normal cycle. I spoke with my clinic today about money, and it was actually a pleasant surprise. A FET cycle will run us $2,820 plus meds, which they say will range from $300-800 depending on my dosage. Overall…not too bad. Plus we overpaid in the previous cycle for a TESE we ended up not doing, so hey, no complaints here. And to our HUGE RELIEF, they said that if the FET fails and we end up having to go through the full blown IVF cycle again, they offer a 25% discount on all their fees, which would knock the price of a cycle down by almost $4,000. I could have cried with HAPPINESS when the nurse told me that.

My RE call me about an hour later so say she was glad to hear we were taking a month off. She mentioned that she would be meeting with the embryologists at the lab to review my cycle and figure out what, if anything, went wrong and how we could have done anything different. Apparently they also want to discuss if they think the frozen embryo would even have a shot or if they would recommend just doing a whole new cycle. I don’t know how I feel about that, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. I kind of lost all my trust in the embryologists and a little bit in the RE when they kept giving me such optimistic outcomes.

My husband has been great. He swears he doesn’t blame me. He says we will do this until they tell us we shouldn’t or I decide that enough is enough. I wish he would show some goddamn emotion, but he never does in normal life, so I shouldn’t be surprised when he keeps a straight face through all this. He flat out said he would cry when they told us it was over.

I hope I never have to see that.

Grow you little X-men, grow.

When we spoke yesterday, the embryologist said she would call again on Saturday to update me on the magnificent 7. So when I looked at my phone and saw the lab calling this morning…I was legitimately terrified. SO MANY THOUGHTS ran through my head and every single one of them was bad.

Turns out? Surprisingly good update. Two more embryos decided to join the party last night, so we’ve got 9 going at the moment. 5 are currently rated “Good to excellent” in her words, which she said was the highest quality for their lab. A few others are lagging behind, but are still definite possibilities for transfer or freezing. Of course, we’re only in day 2 and so much can change. I figure statistically we’ve got a change at having 3-4 make it to the end. Which would be amazing. But as long as we get one, I would be reasonably happy, if a bit (okay, a lot) disappointed.

We’re still aiming for a Monday, day 5 transfer. The newest question is…how many do we transfer? Assuming we get more than one of course. The RE was very adamant that she did not want to put in more than one at a time for me. I’m 31 and my only known issue is mild hypothyroidism. So there’s no real fertility issue on my end. She says that putting two in won’t do much to increase my odds of getting pregnant, but it will increase my odds of multiples. I was fine with 1, I figure if anyone knew best, it was this lady.

Until today. We found out yesterday through a random well-timed facebook posting, that an old friend of my husband’s is going through her 4th FET to try to have their second child (baby #1 happened on their first cycle!). They reconnected a bit and have been talking about IVF and the whole process (which is great, because he has had NO ONE to process all this with but me). And she’s put it in his head that EVERYONE transfers 2 every time, no matter what doctors say, because it increases your odds. So now he’s pushing for 2.

It’s so hard to decide this. I mean, I don’t think we have the money to go through the full cycle of IVF again with stims and retrieval and ICSI. We’re at about $16,000 after meds. I’m kind of thinking that whatever embryos we get from this cycle…these are our only chances at a child that’s genetically ours. Say we only get 4…if we transfer two at a time that’s only two tries before we have to turn to adoption. She had 10 blastocysts to freeze, which we will flat out never have the luxury of having.

I guess I’m getting ahead of myself because we aren’t even at day 5 yet. For all I know, our 9 embryos will all say screw this, I’m out. Or we’ll only have 1, meaning I’ve been freaking out about all this for nothing.

I miss the days when my hardest decision was deciding between the Rainbow Brite and Strawberry Shortcake backpack.

Oh…the title of this post? Mr. Oh Just Relax has taken to calling our embryos “future X-men” – I’m not entirely sure why, something to do with them being mutants with superpowers since they’re being grown in a lab, but it makes him happy, and I like that.

Are you ready for the fun?

That is an actual quote from my RE this morning as I lay there pantsless with my legs in stirrups at 8 freaking AM as she pulled out the transvaginal ultrasound wand.

“Fun? Is that what we’re calling it now?” I asked.

She and the nurse laughed. “Yep. Fun!”

I took my last birth control pill last night. So I had to go in this morning for my baseline ultrasound. Affectionately known as a date with the twat wand (thank you infertility subreddit). Everything looked great according to the doctor, no cysts and ready to go. I have to go back Friday with my husband to sign all the final consent paperwork and receive injection training. They’ll also do a final baseline blood test before starting stims, and as long as everything comes back ok…shit gets real.

My injections start Saturday night. Follistim and Menopur. I can do this. I can totally do this. Really, I have ZERO OTHER OPTIONS other than to do this, but I don’t let that get in the way of my weird internal pep talk.  Continue reading

Can I GoFundMe this crap?

Let’s talk money.

Oh good lord, the money.

Before we left our first appointment, the RE made sure we had in hand a packet of financial information detailing exactly how much we would be paying for the privilege of trying to science a baby into existence. Almost a month later and I’m still reeling from this packet. My insurance covers absolutely nothing related to infertility treatment. Not even medication. Out of pocket IVF with ICSI at my clinic is about $15,000 with meds. PGS testing is another $4-5K should we choose to go that route. And there’s not even a guarantee that at the end of this shitshow, we’ll have a baby to remind us of how much it was worth it. I keep hearing over and over that IVF Round 1 is usually “diagnostic” to see how you react to the process. That I should just assume it will take 3-4. My husband is one of those freaks of nature that naturally maintains a ridiculously positive outlook while staring down terrible odds. God, I hate him. Not really. But you know. He keeps telling me that if I go into this thinking it will fail, then it will.

But it’s not so simple. I have to let myself be realistic. I’ve always said that hope is the most dangerous drug of all. The more you hope, the harder the crash down to reality is when something goes wrong.

Clearly, the glass is always half empty and waiting for more liquor in my book. Continue reading