Thursday, April 25, 2013

How Fertile Friendly is Your State?

Can we all move to Massachusetts?

Look at the coverage they are required to provide people dealing with infertility:

Mandate Information
•All insurers providing pregnancy-related benefits shall provide for the diagnosis and treatment of infertility including the following: artificial insemination; IVF; GIFT; sperm, egg and/or inseminated egg procurement and processing, and banking of sperm or inseminated eggs, to the extent such costs are not covered by the donor’s insurer, if any; ICSI; ZIFT;
•Insurers shall not impose any exclusions, limitations or other restrictions on coverage of infertility drugs that are different from those imposed on any other prescription drugs;

•Insurers are not required to cover (but are not prohibited from covering) experimental infertility procedures, surrogacy, reversal or voluntary sterilization or cryopreservation of eggs;

•Employers who self-insure are exempt from the requirements of the law;

•No lifetime cap on coverage;

•No maximum IVF cycles.

My state ranks in the top 10, but I am still super jealous of what the residents of MA are able to get.  When will people start viewing infertility as a disease/disorder and provide adequate coverage for it.

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

National Infertility Awareness Week

April 21-27 marks National Infertility Awareness Week. 

I think having an awareness week for infertility is important - unfortunately very little attention is garnered for this week.  As everyone who has dealt with infertility knows, it is easy to "hide" your struggle - hence the name of the blog.  Many people are ashamed or embarrassed by their situation, which makes the struggle even lonelier than it has to be.  There is NO reason to feel this way.  Infertility strikes people of all backgrounds, races, and income brackets.  It does not discriminate.  If people were more willing to talk about their struggles, fewer people would feel uncomfortable talking about it.
So what can we do during this week of awareness?  Perhaps, it would be helpful to share your story with one person close to you who is not aware of your situation - someone you feel comfortable talking to - start small.  Or if you are not directly affected by infertility, send an infertile friend a quick note to let them know that you are thinking about them.  Seems simple enough and I am sure it will brighten their day.

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Friday, April 12, 2013

Finding Out About Other People's Infertility

E avoids telling people about our journey at all costs.  I, on the other hand, find it somewhat therapeutic to talk about.  I think it is a male/female thing.

E finally told his buddy at the gym what we are going through.  The guy's response, "We had to do IVF to have our daughter."  To think, he could have told this guy that months ago and had someone who understood what it was like to go through IVF.  I think the fact that he now knows someone else had to go through a similar experience has made him feel a little bit better.

Additionally, today, I found out two of my dad's siblings had to do IVF as well.  One did it in the early 1980s, when it was a very new procedure.  The other did it in the mid-90s.  It is a good feeling to know that we are not alone in this and that other people have been through the same thing and survived (not that I would wish this on anyone).

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Thursday, April 11, 2013


So today I had to go and get a saline sonogram at my old IVF clinic.  You might be asking yourself - why would this lady go back to a place that she has been trying to avoid - simple - my new clinic is 2.5+ hours away and that would have meant I had to take the entire day off of work.

The first thing that hits me about this clinic is that it truly is all about appearances here.  Dim lighting, comfy couches, piano music - blah.  My new clinic looks like a doctor's office and personally, I prefer the sterile feel.  They are spending their money on developing new reproductive technologies instead of trying to set the mood.  (Reason 986 I am now going to a new RE)

When I sat down in the waiting room, I was apprehensive about seeing my old RE, but I doubted he would even remember me, seeing as how I was mostly cared for by nurses when I was a patient. Oh yeah, funny story, my appointment today was done by a nurse and not a doctor.... (Reason 987 I am now going to a new RE)

As I am walking to my room, I see all the nurses crowded around a baby - seriously - a baby is in the hallway which leads to the procedure rooms - are you kidding me?  I found this extremely offensive and I am sure I am not the only one.  It makes me feel better that I am no longer under their care.  (Reason 988 I am now going to a new RE)

There were two positives that came out of this appointment.  One the nurses who I always saw during my two previous cycles performed the procedure today and remembered me.  She gave me some kind words of encouragement.  The other good thing is that everything looked fine on the saline sonogram and so far I have minimal to zero pain from the procedure.  7-11 weeks until we start our next IVF cycle!

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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Urologist Update

We had our check up with the urologist yesterday.  Seeing as how we already knew the results of the SA, we were prepared for the impending bad news.  The two other things we were concerned about was E's pain and his testosterone levels.

Well, the doctor said that E's groin pain is not caused by the surgery and that it is a muscular problem, completely unrelated.  This is good news.  The doctor said to stop using the jock strap and to change to compression shorts.  We are now on the hunt for good compression shorts.

As for the testosterone level, no good news there, either. Story of our lives.  After an initial bump in testosterone levels in November, it appears as though the anastrozole has stopped working.  The doctor has now prescribed Clomid for E.  He has another follow up exam in 5 weeks to see if it improves his t-levels.

And so our journey continues...

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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Everyday Ordeals of the Infertile

This weekend we visited the in laws and attended church with them on Sunday.  Normally, I am fine with going to church, but with all of our recent bad news, it was a difficult.  It is hard not to be angry, sad, upset, etc about our current situation.  To make matters worse, the mass was hosted by the Kindergarten class - SERIOUSLY?!?  It seems like someone has a sense of humor...

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Sunday, April 7, 2013

Infertility and Insurance (or the lack thereof)

The other day I had a conversation with my sister, M, and it got me thinking: why do most insurance companies have inferior or non-existent infertility coverage?  

M was commenting on the fact that she had been treated for an eating disorder 3 times at an intensive outpatient facility.  It cost the insurance company thousands of dollars a day.  I believe there was a 30 day limit.  This meant it cost the insurance company a minimum of 50K for each stint - a grand total of at least 150K!  Meanwhile, my company's insurance plan covers $0 for infertility and E's plan (luckily) has a 30K lifetime max.  Honestly, I do not see the equity in this.  

A while back, I remember a friend said, well of course insurance companies do not cover IVF, so few people need it.  Oh thanks - that makes me feel much better.  I get it - a lot of people do not use this service - but I do not use services that other people use on a regular basis (chiropractor, physical therapist, psychiatrist, etc) and I am still paying for it.  Is that fair? 

I wish insurance companies were more flexible.  Like, okay - you never used our services for anything other than preventive care, we will throw you a bone and let you use the money you are paying for insurance for something you actually NEED.  Hmmm, imagine that....interesting idea!  Glad I thought of it.

Think Positive, 

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Sunshine Saturdays

You know you are dealing with infertility when you get your tax refund and think: Yes, this will pay for half a cycle!

Think Positive, 

Friday, April 5, 2013

And Then There Were None....

Yesterday, we got E's semen analysis....  There has been no improvement whatsoever.  Looks like we are still dealing azoospermia.

 Seriously?  Are you #$$%^^% kidding me?   When do we finally get a break?

I think the two words, which best describe our feelings are numbness and disappointment.  E's urologist was SO optimistic.  A lot of what we read on the internet was SO optimistic.  I thought, how could this not work for us? We deserve at least one positive.  Haha, looks like the joke was on us.

So, what do we do now?  Best thing to do is move forward with the process.  AF arrived today (8 days late!) so it is time to schedule a saline sonogram so that we can be ready to start a cycle in June or July.

(Trying to) Think Positive!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Moments Infertile People Dread

There are moments that all infertile people dread.  They include things such as over-sharing of baby pictures on Facebook, invites to baby showers, invites to first birthday parties - I could go on, but you get the idea.

Yesterday, I come "face-to-face" with one of these moments.  One of my friends calls me up out of the blue.  The first thing I think is - please do not say you are pregnant....  Of course, she is.  She and her husband are expecting.  When I hear the news, I do what everyone does, I congratulate her and her hubby and then make idle chit chat - hoping she will take the hint and hang up the phone.  Eventually, she does.  I know it was probably a difficult phone call for her to make as well, knowing our situation.  I feel like everyone walks on eggshells around us when they discuss their pregnancies.

I am happy for her - I truly am.  It is difficult to express these feelings when you have been dealing with infertility for almost 36 months.  I saw this on another blog last week and it 100% captures my emotions:

1. Lonely. We saw couple after couple get pregnant before us, our best friends included. When they told us, we high-fived them, then we went home, and hardly knew what to say to each other. We felt lost, sad, and even lonelier than before. We were excited for them; we were just very sad for us.
It’s okay to go home and cry your eyes out when your friends get pregnant.
Think Positive!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Our Journey...So Far

Hi Everyone!

This blog is to shed light on the world of people dealing with infertility. I am hoping it will provide me with a place to educate people about infertility as well as allow me to vent my frustrations.

Our journey has not been an easy one.  In December 2003, my boyfriend husband, "E" was diagnosed with testicular cancer.  He had to have radical inguinal orchiectomy followed by intensive chemotherapy.  Before his chemotherapy treatment, he banked 19 vials of frozen sperm - just in case.

By today's standards, we got married young.  We waited to try to have children.  In July 2010, I took my last birth control pill.  My cycle more or less regulated itself immediately. At the time, I was nervous about getting pregnant right away...little did I know.  We tried to conceive naturally for a year.   When that wasn't happening, we scheduled an appointment with a local reproductive endocronologist (RE).

In September 2011, we had our first meeting with our RE.  He was very optimistic that we would be successful.  My bloodwork and HSG sonogram came back normal. "E"'s SA was low (<500,000), but since we had frozen sperm to work with, he was confident that everything would turn out fine.

We started our first IVF cycle in April 2012.  CD 20, I started lupron and then on CD 3, I stimmed with Menopur and Gonal F.  I responded well....too well.  My E2 levels were 4000+.  I triggered and they were able to retreive 18 eggs, 13 of which were mature.  8/13 fertilized using frozen sperm and ICSI.  After the retrieval, I definitely had mild OHSS.  I was bloated and could not stand up straight to save my life.  Three days later, I finally started feeling somewhat better.  We did a 5dt of  2 "slow growing" embryos.  Unfortunately, this resulted in a BFN.

Round 2 - July 2012.  Same protocol, but they lowered the amount of Gonal F.  Once again my E2 levels were high, but slightly more manageable.  I triggered and they were able to retreive 21 eggs, 18 of which were mature.  16/18 fertilized using ICSI.  Once again, I had mild OHSS.  We did a 3dt of 3 embryos.  Once again, this resulted in a BFN.

After this round, I talked to the RE, but he had no new ideas.  How many times are we going to do the same exact thing and expect different results?  We were on the search for a second opinion.

September 2012: "E" sees a urologist and it is verified that he has low testosterone levels and a varicocele.  He is put on anastrozole in October.  In December, he has surgery, to fix the varicocele.

February 2013: Second opinion.  We are traveling 200+ miles to work with some of the best REs in the country.  Our new RE has new ideas and is optimistic that we can be successful.  I need to get all the preliminary tests done again.  We will be starting a fresh cycle in June or July when I have time off of work.

April 2013: "E" provides a semen sample and gets blood drawn to check his testosterone levels.  I begin preliminary testing again.

So that is our journey thus far.  It has definitely been longer than either of us planned.  I do have renewed optimism because of our new RE and I hope this summer is finally our time.

Think Positive!