Announcing to the world my period has arrived

First things first, I don’t know how many people read my blog.  And more so, I don’t know who reads my blog.  Fair warning regarding this entry, I mention Aunt Flow the crimson wave shark week my period quite a bit.  If it’s awkward for you, you should stop reading after the next sentence. Then educate yourself on the total normalcy of menstruation and realize this really shouldn’t be that taboo of a topic.

For our last IUI, my period came 11 days post-IUI.  This time, it came 13 days post-IUI.

Those two extra days in my luteal phase gave me so much hope.  I took a pregnancy test at 12 days post-IUI, and it was negative – but I held out hope.  I scoured the internet for stories of women who tested negative on day 12 and still wound up being pregnant.  Each forum I read and each bathroom break I took without my period making an appearance increased my hope exponentially.

So much so when my period started late last night, I couldn’t even tell Ian we weren’t pregnant before breaking down.  The remainder of the night and most of today has been me struggling to control the urge to sob.  Last night, I didn’t do so well.  Today was better.
I don’t know how to explain the disappointment in the time immediately following the realization our second IUI didn’t work.  But I can tell you it’s some sort of terrible mix that includes loss, inadequacy, and heartbreak.  I allowed today to be a sucky day and feel whatever residual emotions I needed to feel. 
The thing about infertility, when you are emotionally, physically, and financially capable of pushing forward, is that you can’t dwell in these moments too long if you want to take advantage of your next cycle.  I need to refill my Clomid prescription so I can start taking it again in two days.  I need to call my fertility clinic to set up the next follicular scan.  I need to call the out-of-state pharmacy to refill my Ovidrel and ship it to me.  More importantly, I can’t continue to exist in the mindset of “I’ll never be able to carry a child.”  I need to believe it will happen.

Thankfully, Ian is far better at being optimistic and believes it will happen.  He doesn’t need to convince himself.  He moves through the emotions of infertility differently.  My period starting doesn’t drag him as far into the depths of despair as it does me.  And having this opposite, more hopeful partner is such a blessing in this season (well, all seasons really).  When I asked him if he wants to do another IUI this cycle, he said, “Yes, definitely.”  When I asked him to get me pity party pizza and a Cherry Coke, he did.  And when I asked him if he would ever want to live a child-free life if all of this doesn’t work, he said, “Not unless it’s because we move to Africa and start an orphanage.”  When I’m too debilitated to do much of anything, he’s the one who keeps us moving forward. 

In an effort to move myself forward, I’m ending this sucky day by writing this blog because it’s cathartic.  It’s nice to say “out loud” that my period started and it sucks.  Because, scientifically, somehow simply typing that makes it suck a little bit less and that’s kind of neat.

I want a baby, but I drank a little.

It’s been four days since our second IUI.  I’ve drank three of those nights.  I know this isn’t great, and I normally don’t drink that often.  But Thursday was our anniversary (4 years!), I had margaritas with a girlfriend on Friday, and last night Ian had a work party.  
For most of this “trying to get pregnant” journey, I’ve done everything I could to get pregnant.  I didn’t drink, I tried my darnedest to eat healthy, I had acupuncture, I took prenatal vitamins.  And it’s not that I’m throwing all those things out, but this time I’m just trying to live my life.  I think part of the depression of infertility stems from the obsession of doing everything right.  It steals my joy and and then devastates me when, even though I did everything right, it still wasn’t enough.

But anyways, like I said, we did our second IUI.  Ian’s motility was low, but his count was so high that it didn’t matter.  I did a round of Clomid during cycle days 3-7, I had zero side effects this time – so I was afraid I wasn’t responsive.  Then I had my follicular scan on cycle day 13, nothing was “ready” on the right side, but I had one mature follicle on the left measuring 18.5mm.  In all honesty, I have a relatively regular cycle and seemed to be ovulating normally before all this, so I don’t know that the Clomid is doing anything for me.  I keep hoping it will give me more than one mature egg, but as long as I keep getting at least one, it’s not hurting to take it.

I took Ovidrel that same evening and went in for the IUI on cycle day 15.  This is earlier than I normally ovulate (when tracking with ovulation tests, I tested positive anywhere between days 16 and 19).  Which makes me wonder if naturally, I have some level of luteal phase defect – but I have no clue and Googling is zero help.  I brought this up to the nurse who did our first IUI because I had my period about 12.5 days after I took the Ovidrel the first time, but she said that wasn’t abnormal.

Fingers crossed for a different result this time.  We have so many people praying and sending out positive vibes for us – if you’re one of those folks, know that we love you and appreciate you so much.

How and what we’re paying for fertility treatments

I think the one thing everyone can agree on is that fertility treatments aren’t exactly cheap.  Insurance doesn’t often cover the expenses, and if you have insurance that does – consider yourself lucky!

As we started this process, I’ve searched everywhere for the costs of fertility treatments and the costs vary.  There are different programs for different processes and different clinics charge different things.

I know we’ve just started our journey (side note: typing that word feels so cheesy, but I really can’t think of anything else to call it) so the expenses are not nearly what others have experienced.  Regardless, I’m a fan of being informed and want to do what I can to inform others.

With that said, I’ll try to keep this post continually updated with our experience.

Procedures we’ve paid for (diagnostic work, initial consult, IUI):

Ian’s initial sperm analysis back in February – $140
My hysterosalpingogram – $222.55 (this is what my insurance didn’t cover)
My initial consult at NFC (which included blood work and an ultrasound) – $35 co-pay
Ian’s initial consult at NFC (we had different insurance at the time) – $225
My mid-cycle ultrasound to look for mature follicles x2 – $20 co-pay, $40 total
Ian’s sperm collection for IUI x2 – $240, $480 total
My insemination x2 – $206 (my insurance ended up covering the first one, surprisingly)

Medicines we’ve paid for:

Clomid x2 – ~$16 at CVS, $32 total
Ovidrel x2 – $99.50 at Glen Rock Medical Pharmacy, $199 total
Doctor suggested prenatal vitamins – ~$50

Regarding Ovidrel, I found a rebate and ended up getting about $10 back.

Thankfully, for the majority of these first round of expenses, I’ve been able to take advantage of my Glow First grant.  What is Glow First?  It’s a program through the Glow app for people trying to get pregnant.  Essentially, you pay $50 into a pot every month (for up to 10 months).  If you get pregnant, you pull out of the pot, but leave what you’ve invested.  If you’re not pregnant at the end of 10 months, the pot is divvied up among the remaining participants for them to use as a grant to help pay for fertility treatments.  My company paid the $50/month on my behalf, and I ended up with a grant of $1500.  Of the expenses above, we’ve been reimbursed by Glow First for $1312, and still have another $188 to use!

Total out-of-pocket payments so far: $298

If you know of any discounts or assistance programs, please feel free to leave them in the comments below!

Our first IUI failed

I didn’t even get to make it to the point when I could have taken a pregnancy test.  My period came 11 days after the insemination.  You should wait at least 14 days before taking a test.

I tried to guard myself, truly.  I tried to stifle my hopes.  But they were sky high and didn’t want to listen to my rational side.  The day before I got my period, I PMSed hard.  I found myself sobbing on the couch when my husband was at his basketball game.  I can’t even tell you what started the pity party.  But I sure can tell you what kept it going.  I knew my emotions were a product of my PMS, and I knew that my PMS was a product of the impending start of a new cycle.  And that moment, every month, is always the most devastating.  It’s the vicious cycle I mentioned in my first post about infertility.

The second day of my cycle (in case you’re wondering, cycle day 1 is the first day of a woman’s period), I went to the Walgreens clinic and received another MMR vaccine to take care of that “not immune to Rubella” issue.  Let me tell you, babies and kids have every right to cry after that vaccination.  Compared to the flu shot I also received, the MMR one hurt like a bitch.

As we’re trying to explore our options, Ian and I went to an introductory informational session about Bethany Christian Services.  Let’s start by saying the average wait time is about 2 years, and they are working with 25-35 families at any one time with, at most, 5 birth mothers with an adoption plan.  Also, do you know how expensive it is to adopt an infant domestically?  Well, it’s expensive – $26,000 to be exact.  I know infant adoption isn’t cheap, but I still experienced a bit of sticker shock.

Now, let me explain that I think that our child would be worth every single penny of that $26k, but Ian and I talked about adoption as an alternative to IVF (if it gets to that point).  NFC has a flat rate fee schedule for IVF, which is $9050.  It doesn’t include medications, which can easily be an additional $3000 – but I’m still leaning toward IVF.

The one really positive thing that came out of that session was being introduced to the idea of embryo donation and adoption.  If you can’t tell, I like to think 5 steps ahead.  If we get to a place where embryo adoption becomes a serious contender, I’ll be sure to write more about it.

The silver lining to not being pregnant and having to take a month off from trying (on account of the MMR vaccine) is that I can drink.  This is really only a good thing because I have a work talent show I impulsively signed up to perform in. And I’m definitely going to need a slight solid buzz to go through with it.

We’ll start trying again in mid-October, so until then…

Our first IUI

To pick up where we left off, I had just started taking clomiphene citrate.  All went well during those five days.  The only side effect I had was slight cramping in the evening.

This past Thursday, I went in for an ultrasound.  It showed I had one small-ish, maturing follicle on my right side, but a pretty good sized, mature follicle on my left side.  Oh, and my uterine lining was on point.  So we scheduled our IUI for Saturday morning at 11am.

On Thursday night, at 11pm, I gave myself a shot in the stomach.  If you should know anything about me, it’s that I love TLC (the music group, not the TV station).  If you should know anything else about me, it’s that I don’t handle medical stuff well.  Once, I passed out in a parking lot after a routine blood draw.  And another time, my husband had a hand injury and I had to lay down on the floor to not pass out as he and my mom bandaged him up in the bathroom.  The fact I gave myself a shot in the stomach felt like a pretty major feat.  The shot was Ovidrel, which essentially tells your body to ovulate 36 hours later.

On Saturday morning, Ian went in to give his sperm sample.  I know there are specific numbers associated with the results, and I forget what they were – but they seemed pretty good.  Then about two hours later, I had the IUI.

In the process of getting prepared, I asked about our blood test results because we hadn’t heard anything.  First, we found out that I’m not immune to rubella.  I fall into the equivocal category.  I had to sign a waiver that said I understand the risks associated with potentially catching rubella while pregnant.  The risks are big, but I’m hopeful that if I haven’t had rubella in 31 years, I won’t get it in the next 9 months potentially.  If this IUI doesn’t work, I’ll get the MMR vaccine again on my next period.

Next, we also found out about our antisperm antibodies (AsAb).  Ian was totally fine.  I was at 38.8 U/mL which feels like a big deal.  The sheet said anything less than 60 was fine.  But asking our doctor about it is another thing on my list if this IUI doesn’t work.

I have yet to find out about my Anti-Mullerian Hormone results because somehow the test wasn’t ordered or the blood wasn’t submitted or something went awry.  They took a bit more blood from me after the IUI to get those results.

All in all, the IUI experience was a-okay.  It was quick and painless, which is how I like most of my medical procedures to be.  I felt incredibly hopeful about this IUI, but the whole AsAb thing has damped my hope a bit. Which is probably for the best as the likelihood of an IUI resulting in a pregnancy is about 10 – 20% in my case.

And now you’re all caught up.  Next up, we wait.