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.

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We got our meds! 

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Our IVF medications arrived this past Saturday on 2/27. We have been wanting a baby so bad for so long, that this package made us happier than we have been in a long time!

  

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We even met the FedEx driver out on the front porch. Jen will be on the antagonist protocol and will be given a pretty aggressive dose of medications.

The box included:

Follitism pens for ovarian stimulation

Micro hcg for the ovarian stimulation phase

Ganirellix to prevent ovulation

Trigger shot to perform 35 hours before egg retrieval

Progesterone to take after egg retrieval and for before and after transfer.

Our suppression check is this Friday, March 4th. If the birth control worked correctly on Jen and kept her suppressed, we will be starting injections March 5th. To say we are excited would be an understatement!

IVF birth control side effects

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Part of the process when beginning IVF is to be suppressed using birth control pills. Typically, clinics like to suppress you for 18-19 days. It can vary depending on the clinic and you. Our clinic advised Jen to be on birth control pills for 19 days. After the 19 days of birth control,  Jen would start her period and we would begin our injections 3 days after completing the last pill.  The purpose of the birth control pills is so that the clinic can control your cycle. The pills will stop you from releasing any eggs.During Jen’s antral follicle count, she had 16-18 eggs, and those eggs will remain when we start the ovarian stimulating medications.

We were excited to start the birth control pills because it meant we were one step closer to starting the injections, which meant one step closer to hopefully becoming pregnant. However, Jen was not anticipating the side effects she experienced from the birth control pills. Being a lesbian, Jen was never on any contraceptives before because she didn’t need them, so her body was not used to the change in hormones.

The side effects that Jen has increased since starting the birth control pills have included:

  • Headaches. The migraines were quite severe for the first four days of taking them.
  • Dizziness. Jen experienced dizziness on day 4 of the pills.
  • Nausea. Jen experienced nausea on day 4 of the pills.
  • Vomiting. Jen experienced vomiting on day 4.
  • Insomnia. Starting on day 4 to now on day 12, Jen has not been able to sleep well. The birth control pills have caused her mind to be very active during the night. She feels almost “manic”.
  • Breast tenderness. This symptom has been present since starting the pills.

All of the side effects to the pill have been pretty manageable with an exception to the insomnia. Jen has been feeling pretty crazy due to it. We have tried to come up with some solutions to the insomnia and alertness during the night.

The following things we have tried:

  • Night time sleep aids, such as zzquill. If you find that you are feeling quite alert from the pills, you may try sleep aids. They don’t always help Jen, but sometimes they are effective.
  • Meditation: We recommend using Circle and Bloom, which is fertility meditation. Circle and Bloom has proven to be quite relaxing for both of us.
  • Reiki
    • According to Reiki.org, Reiki is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing. It is administered by “laying on hands” and is based on the idea that an unseen “life force energy” flows through us and is what causes us to be alive. If one’s “life force energy” is low, then we are more likely to get sick or feel stress, and if it is high, we are more capable of being happy and healthy.
    • After completing Reiki Jen felt instantly more relaxed. We recommend it for helping to clear your mind.

Honestly, if you find yourself experiencing some or all of the side effects Jen is experiencing, try to remember that you will only be on these pills temporarily. Pretty soon you will be starting the IVF injections.

We will take our last birth control pill on March 2nd and are set to start our first injection on March 5th. IVF along with many other seems seems to be a waiting game. I think the key is to try to find some patience and peace during this stressful time.

 

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.