Category Archives: IVF

Egg Retrieval- Step Complete!

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The day has come! Today was our egg retrieval and Jen handled it like a champ! In and out in about two hours. We tried to leave the house about an hour and a half before we needed to be there, and we are really glad we did. The normal 20 minute drive turned into a about an hour and ten minutes. Traffic was at a stand still on the highway and Jen started to panic at the hour point. Eventually, we were able to get off and take side streets and made it right at the original time we were supposed to be there.

We arrived and were ushered to the fancy side of the clinic, the side that includes the lab and all the surgery suites and recovery rooms. Jen got changed into her gown and was somewhat quickly ushered away and Tiffany was sent to go wait in the waiting room. Jen was a party pooper so no pictures of her actually ready to go with the goofy hat and booties on but we did snap a quick picture of the view.IMG_9954

 

 

About 30 minutes later our IVF coordinator, who is a sweetheart, went out and talked to Tiffany and checked on Jen in the surgical room to see how much longer it was going to be. About 15 minutes later Jen was all done and in the recovery room, high as a freaking kite. Tiffany was allowed back in the recovery room after speaking with our doctor and finding out the number of eggs that they were able to get. Tiffany went back and saw Jen and told her that we had gotten 11 eggs and Jen got so happy and was laughing so much! It took about 15 minutes for the medicine to decrease and Jen was back to normal. She literally laughed for about 15 minutes straight it was quite hilarious! We were ready to go. Jen had no residual affects of the medicines and was just a little sore and we were on our merry way!IMG_9955

We are so excited about the having 11 eggs! With Jen having a low AMH we were hoping to just make it to retrieval, which our clinic requires, 4 follicles. Jen did fantastic with the medicine protocol and our doctor is happy with the results thus far. Jen’s lining is still amazing and we are still on track for a fresh transfer. Day 5 transfer will be this upcoming Tuesday! Tomorrow we will find out how many fertilized and then another update Sunday.

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Grandma Medicine- It’s Good For The Soul

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Since the beginning of injections we have been using the mindset of grandma medicine. Our acupuncturist stressed the need for soul-nourishing foods. Since we started trying to convince we have adopted a more clean-eating lifestyle, more whole foods, less non-vegetable, non-fruit carbs and just healthier eating. Now we are certainly not perfect by any means, we both love exploring and finding new places to eat, and sometimes you just want carbs, but overall have been pretty much eating the best farm-fresh foods we can find.

We have always read that eating warm foods and drinking warm beverages after the transfer was best, but our amazing acupuncturist said that we should start with the grandma medicine, soul- nourishing, soul-warming foods now. So we did, at the start of our injections we have had nothing but warm, hot foods.

Here are a few recipes that Tiffany has made for dinners that end up as left-over’s for lunch:

Healing Lemongrass soup: http://www.forageddish.com/blog/2015/1/11/healing-lemongrass-soup

Hearty Chicken Soup with Rice and Kale: http://www.theroastedroot.net/hearty-chicken-soup-rice-kale/

Beef Stew: http://flavorite.net/2015/12/04/classic-beef-stew/

Parmesan Broth with Lemon, Chicken, Spinach: http://blog.williams-sonoma.com/parmesan-broth-with-lemon-chicken-spinach

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Spinach Tomato Tortellini Soup

Spinach Tomato Tortellini Soup: http://damndelicious.net/2014/09/06/spinach-tomato-tortellini-soup

Chicken and Dumplings: http://eatathomecooks.com/homemade-chicken-

and-dumplings-its-easy-really/

Ginger Poached Chicken Broth Soup: http://www.astackofdishes.com/ginger-poached-chicken-broth-soup/

Simple Potato Soup: http://www.target.com/r/recipes/simple-potato-soup-recip

Thai Dumpling Soup: http://kokocooks.com/2012/11/thai-wonton-soup/

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Thai Dumpling Soup

For the dumplings- we used premade, organic chicken frozen dumplings from Costco.

Chicken Vegetable Barley Soup: This one we have no recipe for, we cheated. We bought an organic vegetable barley soup from Costco that we have had in the freezer and added some fresh grilled chicken breast.

Any of the recipes above that do not have any meat in them we added organic chicken breast to.

We used Organic Chicken broth from Costco, they have a six pack for relatively inexpensive and we have gone through about 8 cartons of the chicken broth so far.

For breakfast it is a mix of waffles, eggs, turkey bacon, oatmeal with nuts and fruit.

We are trying our best to make sure things are warm, cooked through and balanced. So far we are enjoying it. It helps that it has been quite rainy and chilly the past couple weeks.

Acupuncture: We LOVE It!

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We have the most AMAZING acupuncturist ever! Jen was extremely apprehensive with the idea of going to an acupuncturist to be stuck with more needles. But quickly all the worries about it went away. Jen’s first appointment was three weeks ago, when she was nearing the end of the birth control and honestly it was love at first poke.

We got extremely lucky and feel so blessed to have one of the best, most caring, kindhearted and gentle person ever. We cannot thank her enough for the compassion, encouragement, peace and healing that she provides.

Throughout the process it can be and has been extremely stressful. The anxiety of spending thousands of dollars and hoping that it will finally be our turn to be moms. There is nothing in this world that we want more so finding ways to help manage stress and ways to help create a nurturing and warm environment is important.

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There have been studies, suggesting that acupuncture helps increase the percentage of the success with IVF. Our fertility clinic has a stance that it can’t hurt to try anything and everything within reason. We found our acupuncturist through Google and she works in the same location as the reiki practitioner that we see.

We are amazed at the results that we see. Jen’s lining has never been this thick and healthy looking and we fully believe that the energy and healing that acupuncture has created in Jen has directly created the GORGEOUS lining. Our acupuncturist is super encouraging and provides that reassurance that everything so far is great. The fact that we have ten follicles that are growing nicely and at a good rate of speed and a good lining is a cause for celebration. It is about taking it one day at a time and knowing that you are doing everything you can to create the best possible outcome.

We want to include some research and studies and links to help provide information.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11937123

http://americanpregnancy.org/infertility/acupuncture/

http://fertilityacupuncturistseattle.com/fertility-acupuncture/ivf-program/

We have started… the big guns!!!

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March 4th has come and gone and the birth control worked!!!! Jen started the antagonist protocol with 225 units of Follatism in the morning and at night and 20 units of micro hcg at night as well.

 

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Our first ultrasound was this past Wednesday. At that point, it was day 5 of meds. There were 10 follicles that were approx 8-10 mm in size and uterine lining looking great with the three layers. One of our fears was that the medicine would decrease and ruin Jen’s lining, as it hasn’t always the best in the past. When we were still doing IUI’s, her lining was always an issue and struggled to even get to a 7. After the ultrasound, we were ushered around room to room to complete different tasks for the pre-op requirements. We were exhausted to say the least!

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One of the great things about our clinic is that all the doctors and all the nurse coordinators meet at noon and discuss all the current cycle patients and then see if anything needs to change with the current meds or monitoring. We got a call Wednesday afternoon saying that Jen is progressing well and slightly quicker than they anticipated and that we were to start the Ganirelix on Thursday.

– Warning about the Ganirelix, the needle that is on the premade syringe is terrible. It is not strong and very dull which makes it super hard to get it in!

Over the next two days of injections, Jen’s stomach became bloated and she has felt a ton of twinges. Today was the second monitoring appointment and it went great as well. They measured about ten follicles again (which is awesome for her AMH level, at least that is what we are told,) they were between 11-14 mm and her lining was at 7.67! We are shocked that her lining is so great! We have never seen it that high!

Our next appointment is Sunday. Trigger should be either Monday or Tuesday and then the egg retrieval at 35 hours past that time. Fingers crossed everything keeps going well.

Nesting: It’s a real problem!

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There isn’t a day that goes by that we do not want to buy a baby item. The compulsive need to buy, organizing, cleaning has begun quite a while ago. Some say that it is an act of a crazy person, but we really do not think that you can be too prepared for the future.

When we first got a positive test the cork on keeping the crazy at bay was popped. Tiffany started painting the nursery, purchased the crib and started the nesting. When that positive ended in a chemical pregnancy we were completely devastated which added so much fuel to the crazy fire of nesting and making everything perfect.

Over the past couple months; our life has been one doctor’s appointment after another. One monitoring appointment after another making sure that we are trying during the perfect cycle. Guess what? There is no perfect cycle. Not every aspect of an IUI can be controlled; there are a lot of errors while trying with IUI’s, which is one of the primary reasons we moved to IVF. During these crazy months of trying, buying a cloth diaper every couple weeks or buying a swaddling blanket or getting a really good deal on a Mamaroo swing. Seriously though, when a brand new Mamaroo is on sale for $100.00 and then you get a $40.00 giftcard, how could anyone pass that amazing deal up? You simply can’t. Those crazy months, buying some baby things helped keep the hope alive.

Nesting is a real thing. It is not just after a positive, but also while trying and preparing your body for a baby.

How to afford IVF?

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Trying to pay for IVF can seem like a daunting process especially if one does not have insurance coverage for fertility. The cost of our IVF cycle is over $15,000 and medications were quoted to cost around $5,000-$6,000. When we initially found out the cost of our IVF journey, we were worried. We were worried that such a high cost would make IVF unattainable. Jen works as a teacher and Tiffany works as a liability adjuster. While we are able to make a living that provides us a home, pays bills and provides us with plenty left over to do things we enjoy, but we aren’t exactly living a life of luxury. Jen just couldn’t take no for an answer, however. She put her researching skills to good use, and tried to find some solutions to make this process more attainable, and to help us create the family we so desperately have wanted for so long.

The first step was finding out how to reduce the cost of medications. When researching, we actually found out that many companies can provide 25%-75% of a discount off of medications. The discount program we used however, was called First Steps, which uses the pharmacy MDR. We were able to get 50% off of the cost of our IVF medications.

Discount programs:

Those two programs can really help reduce the cost of your medications like First Steps did for us.

How to pay for the actual IVF procedure:

  • One option is to use the In-house Cycle plans offered by your clinic. Many clinics offer a refund plan or a multi-cycle plan.
  • Credit cards
  • Get creative and ask for donations on crowdfunding websites like Gofundme
  • Take out a personal loan
    • The following lenders below might be an option for you:
    •  Prosper Healthcare lending
    • Lending Club
    •  If your credit isn’t perfect, and if you have some dings on your credit report, the following lender is an option for you.
      • Avant (This company provided us with a loan to cover the majority of our IVF.
    • Another option to look for loans is to use Credit Karma. Credit Karma provides a list of lenders that you can get pre-approved for based on your credit history. We used Credit Karma to find Avant.

Even though paying for IVF, may seem daunting it can be attainable if you get creative. With no insurance coverage for fertility, we are able to pay for it. We are paying for it by using the First Steps program to get 50% off medications, taking out a personal loan through Avant, saving money in the form of our paychecks and cutting down on luxuries, and by using credit cards.

The motto is to not let the price take away your dream of being a parent. You just have to get creative.

 

Why IVF?

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I know this question will be asked. We are both so young at only 27. Why would two 27 year-old women want to go through IVF? Why would they want to spend the thousands of dollars required to finance it?

We originally wanted to do at home inseminations, but we were having a hard time pinning down when Jen ovulated because the ovulation predictor kits (OPKs) were not able to identify  Jen’s LH surge. All this did was cause more stress during a process that one should try not to stress over! After one failed at home insemination because we couldn’t get the timing down, we sought help from the fertility clinic. We were told that Jen was healthy and that unmedicated IUIs would do the trick and miraculously, the first IUI did get us pregnant. However, it was a chemical pregnancy. With the positivity of knowing Jen could get pregnant, the nurse practitioner urged us to continue unmedicated IUIs and were reassuring us that nothing was wrong and that we WOULD get pregnant. According to the nurse practitioner, Jen’s blood work thus far was normal.

A second pregnancy never happened. After more failed IUIs, missed timing by doctors, we were put on femara (ovulation inducing medication) to try to help Jen produce more eggs. All this medication did was make Jen ovulate too early, which resulted in missing the ovulation window. Once again, we faced disappointment, anxiety, and wondered why us? Why were dealing with all of this struggle? Why couldn’t just wanting a baby cause us to get pregnant?

After having failed medicated IUIs, Jen was instructed to have more blood work and have an HSG test done, which checks your uterus and checks to see if your tubes were blocked. The HSG was normal. At this point, we were frustrated. We had a blood test done that day, as well as the scheduling of an IVF consultation.

The blood results showed Jen had an AMH of .93, which is quite low . It shows a decreased ovarian reserve, however other blood tests for ovarian reserve (FSH) were quite normal. Hearing the results of the AMH test caused worry for Jen, so Tiffany decided to test hers as well. Maybe if Tiffany had a high AMH, we could do reciprocal IVF and increase our chances. However, hers was low as well (.90).

With much more anxiety filling our minds, we were scared to start the IVF process. Why? It is expensive. Also, with a low AMH we had doubt that we would even produce eggs.

Our RE (Reproductive Endocrinologist), however, was very optimistic. She kept touching on age trumping AMH and that our quality would be excellent. With that statement, we started feeling hopeful again. The RE wanted Jen to have an AFC test done on day 2 of her next cycle, which checks to see how many antral follicles you have in a given cycle before ovulation. We all have so many follicles in our ovary leading up to ovulation, but we only ovulate 1 or 2 of them at a time. IVF makes it possible to hopefully make as many of those eggs mature as possible. Jen’s antral follice count was 16-19, which is considered normal. We were back to feeling positive again!

Currently, we are still in the suppression stage of IVF and are taking birth control pills for 19 days. After that, IVF injections will begin.

So why IVF? The odds are much better. We are looking at a 65% success rate versus a 20% success rate in an IUI. Also, IVF is recommended for women with a diminished ovarian reserve. It increases your chances by providing more eggs to work with, and hopefully healthy embryos to transfer!

We are feeling optimistic again and are looking forward to getting started.

Sperm!

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We figured we give you a break from our journey thus far since it was so long; we will get back to it at a later time.

Being a lesbian couple we are missing one of the key ingredients to procreating…. Shocking right? Maybe we like to over-complicate things, but choosing the “perfect” donor was such a hard choice. There are so many sperm banks in the US. Some that will ship directly to your house and some that only ship to a doctor’s office. It is totally up to you and what your goals are coming creating your family.

There are a few keys things to look for when finding a donor. One of the most important is to know your blood type and your RH factor. In Jen’s case she is RH- so we needed to find a donor that was RH- or she would end up having to injections because of the potential danger to her and any baby. For example, the original donor we had chosen was RH + and when Jen had the biochemical pregnancy she had to receive an immunoglobulin injection to avoid her body from attacking any other pregnancy with that donor sperm. Since we did not know her blood type before buying our original sperm we looked for a more compatible donor.

Another important thing to know before choosing a donor is your CMV status. If you are negative make sure to get a negative donor.

Also, look for past pregnancy, this is a good judgment of the quantity and quality of the sperm.

Most importantly have fun with it!

Our Journey Thus Far: Part One

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Where to begin? That is really the important question. It all began when we turned 24. The desire to start a family really started, then 25 hit and the baby fever was going full blast. We moved across the country to the Pacific Northwest to be apart of a culture that was simply more open and where our children would not be the only kid in class with a two-mom family. It is extremely important to us to have a sense of “normal” which was not very possible with where we lived before.

Flash forward through the move and through exploring our new surroundings, the desire and need to start our family was the foremost important thing to accomplish.

Jen is an avid researcher and takes googling to the extreme. It is a curse and a blessing all at the same time. It definitely has helped prepared us for the long journey that we were about to face. We have also wanted to make this “process” the least clinical and more us and that is how we started. We started with at home ovulation predictor tests, along with visiting with a local midwife that works and concentrates with LGBT fertility and family building. It was such a great help to have the support of a third party to help interpret and provide guidance on cycle tracking. In June 2015, we started really tracking and really looking to start our family building. The process seemed simply, we bought the sperm, bought the items needed for at home IUI’s and we were off…. If only it was that easy. Doing an at home IUI was probably one of the most stressful things that either of us experienced. The stress of making sure everything was sterile, that it went in all the way and the gross factor of the semen (yuck, there is one real thing that definitely makes me a lesbian.) After struggling with not being able to pin down the “perfect” window, and blowing through four vials of sperm… yikes… we moved on to a fertility clinic in the area to really help control the “perfect” time.

We were lucky enough to start right away with monitored IUI’s at the clinic. The very first cycle we got everything that we hoped for. A positive pregnancy test! We went in for the beta testing. By the second one Jen was losing hope because it was not doubling, Tiffany kept hanging onto hope, but by the third one we knew it didn’t completely take and ended in a biochemical pregnancy. The high that we felt was quickly dashed with what ifs, and what did we do wrong. The most frustrating and heartbreaking thing about it is, that there is no rhyme or reason as to why. No one knows why and they always tell you that it is nothing that you did, but it is so hard to move past that thinking of failure.

We quickly decided that we are not going to let that dictate our next steps and moved forward with an IUI at home at. Every time we did an IUI we thought this is it, this is the time that it will work. We moved forward with two additional IUI’s at the clinic and then one cancelled IUI cycle before deciding that this was not normal and decided to move to the next step and hopefully the last. IVF.