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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Welcoming 2014

Tomorrow at this time it will be January 1, 2014. It will be the start of a new year, of a new beginning, and a new journey we've never been on before. It will be the start of our IVF process. My first appointment in the process will be on January 3rd to meet with the nurse to go over my IVF protocol, which includes which medications I will be taking and when I will be taking them, when blood work and ultrasounds will need to be done, and estimating when we will do the egg retrieval and embryo transfer. I also get to meet with the doctor on January 3rd to do a "sounding orientation." Since I had no idea what this was I decided to ask today when I was talking to the nurse. She told me the doctor will stick a catheter in me to see how far up he will need to go to my uterus. Oh that sounds like so much fun:) I'm not going to bitch and moan about it...because if this is what it takes to get us a baby then so be it!!

As nervous, anxious, scared, and worried that I am about rather or not this process will work for us, I am going to enter 2014 with a positive attitude. I am going to celebrate the fact that we even have an opportunity to try this option. I am going to celebrate that there is this kind of technology even available to couples like us whose only issue has been genetic. I am going to celebrate that we have been chosen by Baby Quest Foundation, out of the hundreds of deserving couples who applied for a grant. I am going to celebrate that I have already made new friends, who live in other parts of the state and other parts of the country and who have also been Baby Quest recipients, who have been such encouragers and a great support system.

2014 WILL be amazing! It might be so amazing that we will get our DOUBLE rainbow like in this picture and have twins:)

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Not "Just a Miscarriage."

I've been pregnant four times, and every single time my pregnancy ends abruptly, when least expecting it to. My first pregnancy ended at 24 weeks-it wasn't a miscarriage. Our daughter Riley Grace was stillborn. She wasn't just a "fetus" as medical terminology would call her. She was and is our daughter. She had hair, we saw her smiling in ultrasound pictures, we held her in our arms. I knew she was no longer alive when I stopped feeling her kicking. But I didn't want to accept this reaility and waited three more days before finally going to the hospital. My pregnancy with Riley didn't cost us any money, because I was a poor college kid and had Caresource insurance. It didn't cost us anything when she was born sleeping. Her funeral service didn't cost us anything because the funeral home donated the service to us, since most people don't ever bury their baby. But her tombstone cost us as much as it would have cost us to give birth to a healthy baby while on private insurance.

My second pregnancy ended at 7 weeks in a natural miscarriage. I never paid to have an ultrasound done. I didn't have to pay for a d&c, but I had to pay for an emergency room visit since I was on private insurance at that time. I had to pay for counseling sessions every week following my miscarriage, then every two weeks, and finally once a month after alsmost a year of attending counseling for grief and relationship issues with my boyfriend at the time.

My third pregnancy ended at 11 weeks. Because our first ultrasound was in December and we had met my deductible, our first two ultrasounds on December 10th and December 21st did not cost us much. But then January started a new year and I was on a new high deductible insurance plan. We found out at our 4th ultrasound on January 21st that our baby's heart was no longer beating and I would need a d&c. The d&c was on January 25th, and by mid February we had gotten the $2000 bill from the d&c. We got to pay $2000 to have our baby removed from us, when we should have been paying $100 here, $100 there for ultrasounds and should have been delivering our baby in August and paying whatever amount we had left for our deductible. The only thing we didn't have to pay for because our deductible was met from the d&c was the genetic testing we opted to have completed on our baby. All of our baby's pediatric appointments the rest of the year should have cost us nothing since the insurance covers 100% after the deductible. Instead, I got fired from my job three weeks after my d&c mostly because I was an emotional wreck anytime my boss talked to me. So after meeting a $2000 deductible that should have been met over a 12 month period, I have met it within one month, and now I have to get new insurance and met ANOTHER deductible this year....YEAH!!!!!

In February we started going to see an infertility specialist. At that point I still had insurance through my previous job until March. However, EVEN THOUGH infertility TESTING is supposed to be covered by that insurance plan, we got a nice bill in DECEMBER right before Christmas for almost $300 for labs that the insurance company are saying were not medically necessary and have refused to pay for! How can the insurance company determine what tests are medically necessary when we are trying to RULE OUT all possibilities as to why I seem to not be able to carry a child??? So now, because all those test came out negative-I have to pay for them?? GREAT!

In March I was enrolled onto my husbands insurance plan since I had just started a new part-time job and was not eligible for insurance. In March my doctor ordered more blood work and an HSG. We got a bill for a few hundred dollars for the HSG which didn't tell us a damn thing! Every week I went to see my counselor to talk about my grief related to my multiple losses I had to pay the $25 copay...so $100 a month. We contemplated doing IVF with Preimplantation Genetic testing since the only reason doctors could seem to come up with as to why we haven't been able to have a full term pregnancy is due to a genetic abnormaility that I carry. It seemed logical-that we could save ourselves the heart ache of losing more babies and paying for miscarriage after miscarriage. But realizing it would cost us $22,000 to become pregnant with one or two children, and realizing we don't have the kind of money, and realizing that there was still a chance we could get pregnant on our own with a healthy baby-we decided not to go forward with it.

Then in September we found out we had gotten pregnant again after trying the last four months. Our first ultrasound cost us a couple hundred dollars because I was only 4.5 weeks and the doctors billed for an ultrasound on a NON-pregnant female. JOY! Then we got billed because the insurance company decided they didn't think I needed my progesterone and HCG levels checked as frequently as they were being checked. We had another ultrasound at 6 weeks and was told things were looking good but did not see a baby, and then at our 8 week ultrasound was told the baby never developed past 4-5 weeks. So we were given the option of natural miscarriage, medically induced miscarriage with a pill, or a d&c. Thinking about money, and the fact that it hurts enough to lose a baby and to have a miscarriage without the financial burden of it-I tried natural miscarriage first. That didn't work so before I would take the pill I made them do another ultrasound. When it still showed an empty sac I took the pill hoping I would be able to miscarry at home. It induced a lot of sporadic bleeding-but didn't clear out all the placenta tissue. So after two more ultrasounds I was forced to have a d&c. We again opted for genetic testing, which was covered 100% since we FINALLY met our out of pocket max with a bill from the hospital for $1500 for the d&c and another couple hundred dollars from all my ultrasounds. But the genetic testing showed a very bizarre result that we knew couldn't be right-so we opted for the next level of genetic testing to be done on the frozen tissue they kept. Sure enough, the first result the gave us was not an accurate result-it was an error by the lab and the cells they tested were confirmed to be 100% my own DNA. With the second genetic testing we did-we got results stating that our fourth baby, like our third baby-had Down Syndrome...a result that was 100% accurate based on DNA comparison with my DNA. We assumed this test would be covered 100% since the first round of genetic testing was. But yesterday I opened an EOB from Anthem and it says we owe Children's Hospital $2300 because the type of test they did was a non-covered service. You've got to be shitting me!!!

So this year alone-we have spent $3500 on two D&C's, $2300 on genetic testing, $1500 on ultrasounds, doctor appointments with specialists, blood work, and the HSG, and several hundred more dollars on copays for my counseling appointments. We've spent all of this because we had TWO miscarriages this year. We spent all of this so we could still be childless??? These are not just miscarriages-this is money gone, money we work our asses off for, money spent because we had HOPE and FAITH that GOD would BLESS US with a BABY and he DIDN'T.

After our 4th baby was confirmed to have Down Syndrome too, we made the decision that the ONLY way to prevent spending thousands of dollars for nothing was to move forward with IVF and PGS. It's not a decision that I wanted to make-nor is it a decision that we are 100% confident about. But we spent around $8,000 on two babies that died this year-so why not take a chance and use that $8000 that we could end up spending next year on two more miscarriages and put it towards an attempt to have a healthy baby? We are so grateful and blessed that Baby Quest Foundation is helping to pick up some of the cost associated with the procedure, and it will still cost us $1500 upfront with no guarentee it will work....yet the potential to carry a healthy baby to full term exists with this option. We can't afford another $8000 for nothing-we really can't afford $15000 either-but my EMOTIONS can't afford another miscarriage either and that gives me the motivation to move forward with an option that may be the answer.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas without Children

Today is the day after Christmas. This Christmas I found myself drifting off into my own head thinking about what should be, not only for myself, but for all the couples that I have had the privledge to know who have lost a baby or a child and who have not been able to concieve a child. I found myself sitting in church on Christmas Eve looking around at all the new babies with their happy parents and began to shed tears for our babies and the emptiness in my arms.

I saw little girls dressed in their Christmas dresses with their hair in bows and sparkly shoes and couldn't help but to wonder what would Riley look like now. She would 5 years old. What Disney character would be her favorite? Would she like Hello Kitty just like her cousin Raegan? What kind of Christmas traditions would our own family have?

Then there is Braylen, who I know would have never been concieved if Riley would have survived. He should be 3 years old now. What would his personality be like? Would he like monster trucks and race cars?

And oh our sweet sweet Logan, who should be spending his first Christmas with us this year. I cry when I think about how much love he would have brought to both of our families, what he could have taught my husband and his family about life, and about how much my nephew Austin would have loved to have another cousin who he could identify himself with. On Christmas Day I saw my niece Aliyah sitting on Austin's lap giving him a hug and telling him she loved him, and I just know how much she would have spoiled Logan rotten. I know I would have loved dressing him up in preppy Christmas sweaters and he would have been the cutest kid in the whole church. I know we would have been buying him toys to help him learn how to crawl and walk over the next couple months because I would want to make sure he was taught he does not have to be "behind" the other kids his age and can do anything they can do too.

And then there is Audrey, who also would not have been concieved if Logan had survived. But I should have been finding out if Audrey was a boy or girl just before Christmas and planning ways we were going to announce our secret to our families. I should have been excited to show off my baby bump and talk about our pregnancies with Alex's two pregnant cousins. I should have been getting baby items for Christmas; instead of a new comforter for ourselves it should have been a bedding set for Audrey.

I hate that we have gone 5 Christmas's without being able to spoil our babies. I hope and pray next year will be the year we will have a newborn to cuddle with Christmas Eve as we wait for Santa to come, to wake up to Christmas morning with excitement and Christmas spirit, to have a reason to decorate our home with holiday cheer, and to show off for all the world to see. This is my only Christmas wish-that there will be no more Christmas's without children.