When preparing for an IVF cycle, there is a lot involved. You have to be medically and psychologically cleared. You have to make sure your finances are in order so you can afford to pay the fertility center when they ask for that huge lump sum of money. And you have to fully understand what you are getting yourself into.
Over the last couple of months we have not only been preparing ourselves for our IVF cycle, but we have been trying to prepare my sister as well since she is going to be our egg donor. This particular IVF cycle is requiring just as much from her as it is us, if not more. So I will start there.
I haven't shared this before because I don't like feeling like I am putting my sister down. But this is a blog that is built on sharing honest emotions. So honestly, over the last three months since we began preparing my sister for this Egg Donor IVF cycle, we, or at least myself, have been very worried that my sister was going to back out. She is an indecisive person and has always struggled to make up her mind on what she wants in her life. She may not think so, but I know so. I've only ever watched her grow up for the past 23 years and seen how every relationship shes ever been in has unfolded, and refolded if we want to talk about her current relationship. Every time I have had to ask my sister for information or give her information on what she needs to do to get approval from our fertility center to be our egg donor she has always given me attitude. It has made me feel like she does not want to go through with this but would never just come out and say those exact words. Instead, earlier this past week it was "It seems like this is going to be an inconvenience and take time away from being with Raegan." Of course this made me feel like she might as well say "Lindsay-I don't want to do this." I was upset-very upset. I felt like she should have never agreed to do this in the first place because I warned her over and over that this isn't as simple as "just take my eggs" like she kept saying in the beginning. Trust me. If it was that simple we would have already just taken her eggs and would hopefully be pregnant by now. But it's not. And I was clear with her to begin with.
I fully understand and appreciate the amount of time my sister would be putting into this process. And I am even more grateful that she would even consider injecting herself with hormones to help us have a child. Her comment really stung though....because there are only 6-8 more appointments she would have to go to from now until her egg retrieval and only one appointment that her daughter absolutely would not be able to be at which is the egg retrieval itself. My niece is in preschool in the mornings anyways so if my sister had appointments on those days it would not take away her time with her daughter because her daughter isn't even home. I think her comment stung most of all because we've tried having children on our own and all of our babies died while I was pregnant with them-so I have never even had so much as a day with my children. We wouldn't be involving my sister in our fertility issues if this wasn't a matter of me having bad eggs that are causing our babies to die. I know it's not her responsibility to make sure we have children we get to spend the rest of our lives with, yet I feel like these are the reasons God gave us siblings-to help us when we are at the lowest points in our lives. I know I can't count on all my fingers and toes how many times I was there for my sister and niece during the first 2-3 years of my nieces life. I was there for her birth. I cut her cord. I took off work the first week of my nieces life to help my sister. I came home and babysat her so my sister could still hang out with her friends. I babysat my niece every Monday night for several months in 2012 because my sister didn't have any else who could do it. This is what sisters are for. I don't want to use some strange ladies eggs who I know nothing about. And right now, we don't want to adopt because we want to experience being pregnant for 9 months and giving birth to our baby. So we NEED this to go through with my sister.
I was very happy when she sent me a picture the next day of a cat and a toddler saying "I'm convinced this is going to be Farrah and the baby." It broke the ice. And then she had a polite adult conversation with me and asked me questions about what she needs to do next and we talked about how this is all going to work out with her work schedule and daughter's schedule. We met with her in person on Saturday to "clear the air." We shared concerns, opinions, and made agreements. I gave her a calendar with everything she has left to do so she could see the process in detail on paper. I know she was overwhelmed by it. I would be to. I was the first time we went through this. It's even more overwhelming for me now because most of this process is not in my control. I have to trust and rely on my sister to come through for us. I have to be patient for her body to give us the "go ahead." Which is what we are doing now. Just waiting for her period to start so we can get her blood work and STD screening completed this coming week.
So taking care of business number one is completed. We got our personal issues squared away. We are still doing this thing. Thankfully my sister really is a caring person and wants to see us have a happy family and is still willing to go the extra mile to make that happen for us. We love you Ashley!
Taking care of business number two: Preparing my body for this baby.
I've been very unpleased with the lack of response I had been getting from Dr. Braverman over the past two weeks. He was supposed to have called my doctor in Cincinnati two weeks ago to share his thoughts and findings and to come up with a treatment plan for me. He failed to do that. The he failed to respond to my emails asking him for results of my blood work and when he was planning on calling Dr. Hofmann since he didn't do it when he said he would. Finally I got pissed and I called the office and got no where the first time. I called back the next day and complained again and then later that afternoon I got an email from Dr. Braverman with my blood work results, my husband's DNA fragmentation results, recommendations for vitamins for the both of us, and a link my fertility doctor and OBGYN need to fill out to request a phone consult with him. I forwarded the information on to my doctors so hopefully this coming week they will all talk and figure out how we are going to treat these issues to make sure I don't miscarry a healthy baby.
My blood work came back indicating I do NOT have PCOS or any problems with egg quality of egg reserve. I knew I had plenty of eggs in those ovaries of mine,,,but last time we talked he said based on my insulin level he was suspicious of PCOS and egg quality issues. Ok....so we know for sure now it really is the chromosome issues that are making my eggs suck. My husband's DNA fragmentation test came back borderline high. Dr. Braverman recommended my husband take ProXeed Plus which helps decrease fragmentation and improves morphology. I looked this up and it will cost $240 for a two month supply. Dr. Braverman also recommended that I take a probiotic to help with digesting and metabolizing foods. The probiotic costs $135 for a two month supply. We haven't ordered either of these yet because we don't have the extra cash right now. We have had doctor bills coming in that we have been trying to pay off.
Speaking of extra cash, taking care of business number three is our finances.
My husband and I are hard working people. I started working for my father's cleaning business when I was 8. By high school I worked 2-3 jobs and started going to college. My husband was working construction in high school. We both went to college and we both have our Master's Degrees. We now work middle class jobs making very decent money. My husband is a Commercial Loan Officer at a small bank and I am a Mental Health Social Worker in a hospital. I work overtime quite frequently so we can pay down our existing medical bills.
We both have a ton of credit card debt. I lived on credit cards in college because I paid my own way through school. Over the past 6 years every time I get any money back from taxes it goes straight to paying off a credit card. But I always end up maxing out my cards again. My husband has done the same thing. Life just keeps throwing shit at us. First it was buying stuff for our new house 4 years ago. Using our credit cards to fix our house up. But that didn't compare to when I had to have several emergency eye surgeries or I would have lost my vision and ended up being off work right before our wedding when all of our money was due to the places we signed contracts with. So most of our wedding went onto a credit card-about $20,000 worth of our wedding. Had we known I was going to have surgeries and be off work-we wouldn't have had such an extravagant wedding. We starting paying that down, and then infertility treatments came up. There goes another $13,000 onto a credit card. There goes any bit of extra money we have in our bank accounts to monthly installment payments to paying for my D&C's from my two miscarriages and ultrasounds and blood work and consults with various doctors. Dr. Braverman's testing alone was $4,000 and that of course went onto a credit card that was "paid off" because we had previously transferred the balance onto a 12 month no interest credit card.
It feels like we are drowning in a sea of debt. Beyond the credit cards are the student loans. We are getting no where making the minimum payments which is all we can afford. So we decided to try to consolidate at least one our of debts. I was approved for a personal loan and used the loan to pay off all five of my maxed our credit cards. We are closing four of the cards so we can never use them again. One will be kept open for "emergencies." My husband switched jobs at the beginning of June so we knew he was going to be getting information on his retirement account and pension plan. We got the retirement account first. Had to use $8,000 of it to pay back his previous employer for paying for his master's degree and not staying with the company long enough. The other $11,000 is in an IRA that we were hoping not to have to pull out of because it's not tax free. My husband was hoping for a hefty pension plan that he was going to use to pay off either his car loan or credit cards. We are extremely disappointed when it came back significantly lower than we were anticipating. We now plan to combine that $4,000 with the $11,000 from his IRA to be able to pay for our Egg Donor IVF cycle.
We still need $4,000 just for the IVF cycle. We probably need another $6,000 on top of that to treat the issues Dr. Braverman discovered. It's insane how much this stuff costs. We are going on $45,000 that will have been spent just THIS YEAR in an attempt to have our first living child. Congress really needs to step up the legislation on requiring employers to select insurance policies that cover not just infertility testing but infertility treatment. It's not fair that a drug addicted mother can have 12 babies and doesn't pay a dime for any of their deliveries and then the government even pays for someone else to raise the woman's children. It's not fair that a teenager can have a child and gets free daycare and free medical insurance and free formula for their child. It's not fair that infertility is so discriminated against as something that is not "medically necessary." Well hell, apparently the treatment for my rare disease isn't even medically necessary because insurance doesn't cover that either and they consider food supplements that same as buying groceries. Who the hell spends $3000 a month on groceries because that's what my food supplements would cost me if I took them as often as I'm supposed to. The middle class really gets screwed. We aren't poor by the standards of income so we can't get help for jack. And we aren't rich by the standards of income so we can barely afford jack. Yet we work our asses off the hardest to merely get by in life. Building a family should not cost this much money.
We are thankful we have the resources that we do. We aren't happy that we have put so much of this on credit cards and now will be taking out of my husbands IRA and will have to pay a shit ton in taxes next year. But we are getting by and we will continue to get by.
We are also thankful to have some community support with a golf outing we have been organizing. It's not going as successfully as I was hoping, but its raising us money and we appreciate that. When we started planning the golf outing, the goal was to raise money not only for ourselves but for another couple in our community who is struggling financially with the cost of infertility treatments. We want to be able to help others. We know how hard this is not just financially but emotionally too. There is so much anger and defeat associated with infertility especially when you are struggling to figure out how to pay for it. It makes me sad to think we may not be able to help another couple if we don't reach $5,000. Right now we are about $2300 away from that and the golf outing is in two weeks.
If anyone would like to donate, even $10 helps us get closer to our goal. 60% of the money we raise will go to help my husband and I with our egg donor IVF cycle and the other 40% will go to another middle class couple like my husband and I who have already spent thousands on fertility treatments and need a little help to afford their next treatment. You can donate here:
Thank you for the love and support, and of course for reading this very long blog.