The Infertility Markup

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As a general rule of thumb, I won’t buy anything unless it involves free shipping and a severely discounted product.  No Ann Taylor, I’m not going to buy your $60 peasant top.  So having to accept the cost of my (in)fertility treatments was a hard pill to swallow – like fish oil, except bigger and smellier.  There are so few states that want to play a part in saving the human race by offering coverage for infertility treatments, but in this one regard: I lucked out.  My treatments are “covered”, and I’m using typed out air quotes because “covered” still doesn’t mean free.  And free is my favorite.  Now, don’t be the brat who has to go and say, “well having kids is expensive!”.  I know that they’re expensive, but I was hoping to be on more of a pay-as-you-go plan rather than feeling like I’m being conned by a woman in a white lab coat with a crystal ball.  And you’re sure I’ll get pregnant after all this…?  I hope that our future children don’t mind when we tell them they don’t have any college funds because we couldn’t figure our shit out and had to involve an entire medical team in order to conceive them.  

When I initially met with Doctor Kate to discuss how we’re going to need a little help from science if we want to have a baby before my eggs shrivel up, I was provided with a list of prices that should’ve also come with a shot of vodka on the side.  This is going to cost me how much?!  Was I supposed to pick and choose what I wanted done like the world’s most expensive a la carte menu?  “Yes, I would like the IUI with a side of bloodwork and ultrasounds please. And can I get the bloodwork without the Rubella test?  Thanks!” They generously offer to reduce your costs by 50% if you don’t have any insurance coverage, which means that if you have three rounds of ultrasounds and bloodwork with your IUI, instead of costing $4,635 you’ll get it for the low price of $2,317.50!  For one IUI.  Fingers crossed that we all morph into first-IUIers and don’t need more than one!  

What about if you have insurance, you ask?  How much is it going to cost then? Nobody knows!  Unless you’re getting 100% coverage (please tell me where I need to move to get in on that deal), your insurance company will only be able to tell you IF treatment is covered, but not how much it’ll cost you in the end.  My entire IUI cost $138.67 (the IUI itself was $31! Why didn’t they sign me up for three of them?!), but that was because I shot up to meet my deductible (the amount you have to spend before everything gets cheaper) thanks to the polyp removal and SHG.  Turns out that mini-surgeries and saline are pricey little buggers. I never knew what would be discounted before I met my deductible, and even now I can’t make sense of what’s been discounted and paid for and waived and flagged and marked as PAY NOW OR WE’LL REMOVE YOUR OVARIES AS COLLATERAL, but maybe that’s just me being lazy.  I’m too tired to crunch numbers when I know I’m just going to have to hemorrhage money until I meet my out of pocket max (another fun insurance term which means spend all of your money and then everything else will be FREE, FREE, FREE!)  Fun Fact: I noticed that my OBGYN’s office charged $80 for a urine pregnancy test.  Someone’s gotta make a trip to Costco, because even an early detection digital test isn’t that expensive!  I suppose you’re paying more for the cost of someone having to handle your pee jar, or they’re made of some intense sterile plastic that kills urine germs and therefore costs extra for you to use.  Maybe offer to bring in your own dixie cup and a cheapie strip because any form of savings is a good one!

Other than trying to bring in your own pregnancy test supplies, there are a few ways that you can try to alleviate costs without having to look into how much your kidney would go for:

  • Prepay and Fuhgeddaboudit.  Everyone loves cash money, so it’s worth it to ask if they might be willing to lower the costs if you pay up front for each visit.  And this isn’t only for those going without insurance! Some clinics will accept cash and avoid your insurance company altogether, but be sure to figure out if it really makes sense to prepay, because if you need multiple rounds of IUI/IVF it could end up costing more than your out of pocket would have been.
  • Layaway Your Ov-aray.  Want to feel like you’re taking out a second student loan?  Then a payment plan might be perfect for you! I’m more afraid of debt than I am obsessed with being cheap, so I love to get the bills paid A.S.A.P, but that’s not how everyone likes to fly.  If this is the route you want to take, make sure to ask about it before you agree to go through with fertility treatments so that you don’t end up getting stuck with a pricy bill paired with a demand letter.
  • Check Out the Competition.  Rumor has it, fertility centers are greedy little practices more willing to work with your budgets since they may not have to answer to your insurance company.  I’ve heard a lot about women getting bundled packages for IUI which is like infertility gold as you never know how many ultrasounds you’re going to be signed up for, and those bad boys add up fast.  Just be sure to read reviews before signing up, because we all know that you get what you pay for.
  • Turn Your Misfortune into Mini-Fortune.  Alright, you’re going to be shelling out a decent amount of cash no matter what, so you might as well try to benefit from it.  Find a credit card that’ll give you crazy points if you meet a certain number within a few months (and, you will), then use those points towards whatever your heart desires!  Infertility vacations, more-than-ramen dinners, or to pay down your card from all your other medical costs.  We used our Infertile Points for a free flight for both of us on our next (much needed) vacay.   If we want to get real technical we could say that the flight actually cost an exorbitant $3,000, but I’m not going there.
  • Get Creative.  Crowdfunding for your uterus is a real thing that I’ve seen happen, so if you ain’t got no shame (or no other options), that’s a possibility!  There are IVF ‘scholarships’ or programs that you can enter that pair you with great clinics at a guaranteed low rate (check out the Glow Fertility Program).  Pick up some side work if you can (I blog for $0 and it’s really been benefiting us), and sing “All I want for Christmas is I-V-F” around the holidays as a not-so-subtle hint to your family that you don’t need anymore socks or Alexa’s.  You could even be the first couple to host a No-Baby Shower (please send pics)!

It’s easy to see why some couples try naturally for years on end and avoid participating in IUI and IVF.  Without insurance, or a decently priced fertility clinic, you could be looking at the cost of a second wedding to achieve something that most people can accomplish for free.  I’ve always had expensive taste though (it pairs well with my cheapness and no-money bank account), and now I get to have a designer baby!  If they’re a real snotty teenager (better not be or I want a refund)  I suppose there’s always the option to start charging them for pre-uterus rent as repayment for everything I went through.  See, so many possibilities!

HysterosalpingoGETMEOUTTAHERE

Welp. There is no eloquent way to put this: two men stared deep into my cervix earlier this week, and neither one of them was my husband. “They’re doctors, they focus on science, this isn’t weird.” Stop it, yes it is weird! It was just one procedure – fine, I’ll allow it. But I’m not about to go searching for Mr. Right to perform all my future pap smears. I mean, why would a man want to pick a career where he stares into vaginas all day?? Never mind, I know why…but why on a not-pervy level? I guess I should quit my bitching and just be happy that there are so many men AND women who are willing to spend their days staring up cootchies, because otherwise I would be having an even more difficult time with this whole getting-pregnant thing. “Sorry that you’re having trouble conceiving, but looking up your skirt makes us squirm!” Having a male doctor was just another new experience, and I love new experiences! Just kidding, I have anxiety and anything out of my normal routine makes me frantic and overheated.

I will admit, I appreciated it when main Doctor Dude was explaining to Sideline Male Doctor that he thought one thing was less painful than the other and he stated, “Well, I don’t have a cervix, but it’s what I hear.” Damn straight you don’t! I didn’t need him for anything more than a dye injection, but I can’t imagine talking about cycles or discharge with a stranger man. There’s just something relatable about a female doctor (you know, because we got the same bits), but maybe I’m the only weirdo who feels that way.

Regardless of the gender of my doctor, I found out that my tubes are (still) open. Now, can we all agree that I never have to do this again?! I didn’t want to have to experience both of these procedures, but now that I have, I might as well help guide you a little if you’re torn between the two (even though, like me, you’ll probably be assigned a procedure and not given an option).

SHG/SIS (the saline one):

– Significantly more expensive (according to my doctor’s cheat sheet of costs)

– Use of saline and ultrasound to see if the solution goes through your tubes

– It’s ‘cleaner’. I experienced less spotting and I think that might be due to the fact that saline is, well, saline

– The ‘cleaning’ process was a q-tip on my cervix, which is uncomfortable but…(see below)

– For the procedure itself, I just kind of laid there and breathed deeply and then it was done

HSG (the dye one):

– May not be able to have done at your OBGYN’s office (just my experience – my OBGYN could only perform the SHG, and I had to go to the hospital to have the HSG done)

– Dye and an X-Ray machine do the work this time

– Was told that this one can “tell you more”, and was especially better for checking out tubes post-ectopics, but everything just looked like confusing blobs to me

– I experienced A LOT more bleeding with my HSG, but I have no idea if that’s because they did it later than they technically should be (CD13!) or if it’s just another exciting way that my uterus is rebelling

– Apparently my cervix has gotten very dirty over the past few months, because my doctor told me that he was just going to put some soap on it to clean it off….THREE TIMES. By the third time I wanted to scream, “OKAY! ENOUGH! IT’S CLEAN!!!!” It’s strange and scratchy and I am just not a cervix-cleaning fan, apparently.

– My tubes decided to play hide and go seek, so my doctor asked me to move over onto both my sides as some point so they could get a better angle. So here I am, tube and needle going through my cervix, uncomfortable dye being shot through me, and I’m writhing around on the table trying to get my tubes to make an appearance. It’s as glamorous as it sounds.

You probably haven’t had an IUI without experiencing one of these tests, but either way I should establish: they all feel the same to me. Sure, there’s A LOT more liquid involved with an HSG when compared to an IUI (unless your man has like, monster sperm), but I’m fairly certain it’s all the same thing: tube entered into cervix/uterus, needle with dye or sperm entered through tube, and then the actual injection being the most uncomfortable part (GOD does it feel bizarre). I’m not even pregnant yet, but I’m really starting to feel like giving birth isn’t going to be THAT bad. That being said, I would recommend not having an IUI done the same month as whatever procedure you go through. The procedures aren’t super time consuming, but they do leave you crampy and, in my case, with residual anxiety for the rest of the month. I couldn’t imagine going through a tube flushing and then my doctor saying, “Okay, now in a few days we’ll start your ultrasounds and about five days later we’ll nose around in your uterus again.” Like hell you will! I’m feeling…optimistic is never the right word, but simply good about having this month off. I know it was a forced break, but after getting scrubbed out, twice, I just want to be left alone. And even though it’s only been two months (and one cyst) on Clomid – I like working with my own hormones instead of being like, “I hope this pills that makes me sweaty helps me get pregnant!”

I was provided with print outs of my X-rays (and thank you, I know that my hip bones look skinny – I’ve been working on my summer bod), so I FINALLY have something worth putting up on my fridge!

“Oh you have your ultrasound on your fridge? Well I have proof that my tubes are open in these pictures! …and I bet you know yours are too, because you were able to get pregnant, but I’m sure you didn’t have to go through two extremely uncomfortable tests to find that out! Wait, I feel like I’m losing here…” Today, everyone’s celebrating as mothers or moms-to-be, and I’m stuck with a picture that looks like it belongs on Untold Stories Of The ER (“You won’t BELIEVE what we found in this woman’s uterus!”). Let’s hope that the double flush does the trick, and next year I’ll be asking a three-month-old to make me breakfast in bed.

Shit’s Getting (RE)al

Whenever I see someone apologize for being unavailable blog-wise it makes me want to roll my eyes. I’m not annoyed by apologies or unaware that some readers get used to a schedule, but it’s more like: yeah, life happens; don’t worry about it girl – you do you! I will say that I’ve been a bad blogger lately, and that’s because I was busy having another (fake) ectopic pregnancy. Turns out that the only thing slightly less-worse than having an ectopic pregnancy is thinking you’re having an ectopic pregnancy. To give you the my-size version of what was one of the more traumatic weekends of my life: I thought I was having another ectopic pregnancy because I was late, spotting, experiencing lower back pain, and had a negative pregnancy test (that’s right, I think I’m pregnant when they’re NEGATIVE). Needless to say, I didn’t handle the three days of “is this ectopic?!” very well, and I now have a scary looking credit card bill since retail therapy is the only therapy that I invest in. Besides buying all the shoes I could find, and a new iPad (seriously, WHY DID I THINK I NEEDED THIS?!), I began to make hysterical plans for this ectopic and decided we were going to St. Barts during the Twelve Week Wait (fuck Zika!) and that we were moving on to IVF as soon as possible (give me that 2% ectopic chance!). Even with a negative HCG test at Doctor Kate’s office (with no further explanation for my missing period), I didn’t feel like I was officially safe from an ectopic. On a pretend-optimist note: going through an ectopic scare really put all my not-pregnant months into perspective. Who cares that I didn’t get pregnant – still better than another ectopic (and that’s as positive as I’ll allow myself to get!) Apparently this post has turned into me seeing how many times I can say ‘ectopic’ before I annoy myself.

Ten. The answer is ten.

Anyway, I thankfully still kept my appointment with my new RE (even though I had already stopped taking my prenatals and discontinued working out because I was so sure I was going to be getting methorexated soon), because I had a bonus ultrasound as part of my consultation package. Turns out that my “ectopic” was actually a lovely little cyst courtesy of Clomid. Guys, it was FINALLY just a cyst! …I have the dumbest uterus ever.

Now that a few days have passed, my not-ectopic high is starting to wear off and I’m entering what-the-serious-fuck mode. How is there always SOMETHING!? I shouldn’t be surprised, and yet…ugh. I’m at least grateful that we’re allowed to try old school style (because that’s worked out for us so well in the past) – that’s better than the original three months I was preparing for, but this is still so ridiculous. My body is ridiculous. I’m actually being quite dramatic right now (shocker!) because I do have some pretty fabulous news: I do not have spoiled eggs! I almost feel like I owe Doctor Kate an apology, if she knew all the shit talking I’ve been doing lately. I mean, that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop being panicked about my higher than average FSH levels, but at least now I know that there are two medical professionals out there who aren’t too concerned about it (or, should that actually be concerning me?) All I know is that my RE’s eyes went wide when I brought up egg freezing, and another doctor literally gasped when I said, “So I don’t have rotting eggs?” (I’m all about making a solid impression), so that’s good enough for me at the moment.

The best way to describe moving from your OBGYN to an RE is: culture shock. When you have an IUI done at your OBGYN’s office, you get to pretend that you’re just a normal girl visiting with her doctor. When I met with my RE, there were twenty strangers who were immediately aware of my infertile secret, and all I had to do was walk through the door. This felt too serious, too real. We definitely weren’t in Kansas anymore, but in an anywhere-is-better-than-Kansas kind of way. A making-progress way. I finally got the feeling that I was with people who knew what they were doing – this is their bread and butter after all (a saying that I despise but continue to use in everyday conversations). Even their schedule was enough to make the transfer worth it. Ultrasounds between 6:45 and 7:45 AM?! Hell yeah! Open seven days a week?? YES! The entire IUI process happens in the same office? You betcha! It was an infertile’s dream. They even have an online portal that they use for the majority of their communication, so there’s no more playing phone tag, or trying to remember what was said, or me leaving awkward rambling messages because a coworker walked by me in the hall and I’m trying to describe spotting without using any real words. Infertility literally complicates everything.

After the ultrasound where it was just us girls standing (laying) around, casually chatting about my lining and plethora of follicles crowding on my left ovary, I was left with a final plan:

  • HSG this week (YES, even though I already had the SHG/SIS in March, because apparently this is a better way to see if I have any type of tube damage due to the ectopic)
  • Track ovulation (even though I haven’t dealt with anything as trivial as OPKs in months) and try naturally, or don’t try at all because it’s literally the same outcome (my words, not hers)
  • Provided that my cyst cooperates, and by cooperates I mean gets the fuck out, start Femara next cycle since it’s less likely to cause cysts (but my uterus does love a challenge)
  • Move onto IVF after two rounds of IUI with the RE (most recommend three, but I’ve already had one done…kind of)

Starting IVF after just two more IUIs sounds intimidating, until you factor in all the possible ways my body can rebel against me between now and those IUIs. In reality, that’ll probably bring us to IVF somewhere in December. Right now though, all I want is for my HSG to not throw any new surprises into the mix – “LOL, turns out your tubes ARE totally blocked, sorry about that – I guess saline just goes through anything!”

Where My Beaches At?!

Did you know that this is National Infertility Awareness Month?  Well, I’M AWARE! I’m also aware that I haven’t left the Midwest in almost a year.  If you’re familiar with the Midwest at all – you’ll know to be horrified by that revelation.  After a depressing combination of trying to conceive for a year and being a Midwesterner, I have to say: I am struggling.  I can’t even handle the simple task of dressing myself anymore – it’s that confusing freezing to warm to freezing temperature that always accompanies the start of spring.  Like, do I just layer like crazy every day or…? Ugh. Screw it! I want to trade my temperature-confused outfits for bikinis and flip flops (and a pair of six pack abs, if we’re making beachwear requests).

“I think the only time you’re not complaining is when you’re at a beach.” – Direct quote from my husband.  He gets me.  Can’t blame a girl for claiming the beach as her happy place: toes in the sand, drink in your hand, other lyrics from country songs.  There’s a reason it’s called paradise. I’ve been begging my husband to take me on vacation for months – I’m in desperate need of some space between me and my hoard of sticks and lubes.  I want to spend my next two week wait sprawled across a swim up bar – thoughts of pineapple core and symptoms far from my mind. Picture this with me: white sand, clear water, frozen cocktails, and…zika?  My happy place has been infected.

Traveling to zika-infested areas (aka everywhere beautiful and fun)  is another thing on my list of shit I can’t do just because I’ve thought about having a baby (for the past fourteen months).  The Caribbean, Bahamas, Mexico – all are mocking me with their tantalizing beaches and plethora of mosquitos.  “Isn’t it worth knowing you’d have a healthy baby rather than risking it for a bar inside a pool?” – why is life asking me such difficult questions?  And If you think I have the patience to wait six months to attempt to conceive just so I can lounge at all inclusive resort with a swim up bar, you are – most sadly – mistaken.  

I don’t even fully understand zika.   Are you seriously telling me that every woman who lives in a zika riddled area is told she shouldn’t get pregnant?  Are they forcing birth control pills on women and shoving condoms at men? What about the surprise honeymoon babies that are conceived in the Caribbean year-round?  It can’t be that bad.  Really we should be focusing on the positives of these places – like that they’re full of vitamin D, which is supposed to help with infertility!  (Who knew that in order to conceive, you just needed some D, AMIRIGHT?!) If Doctor Kate hadn’t put her own personal No Travel Ban on me, I’d be jetting off to Cabo with nothing but several bottles of mosquito repellant and a prayer.  And don’t even get me started on the fact that I could’ve been to the Caribbean – twice, – met the six month waiting requirement between being exposed to toxic mosquitos and getting pregnant, and STILL be in the same place I am today (albeit slightly more relaxed and exponentially more tan).  Now all I have is that infertile glow, and it’s not even a real glow – just sweat from my hot flashes (thanks Clomid)!

My husband is trying to appease me by saying we can go to Key West – the fancy version of Florida, since they’ve been declared zika free (which I’m not even sure is 100% true, but don’t tell him because then he won’t even take me there).  At this point, telling me that I can go to Florida is a lot like saying you can have canned tuna when what you wanted was a steak. Besides, going to Florida any time besides, say, right now, is like traveling to the Midwest in the midst of their stickiest heatwave.  Not to mention I haven’t been able to find a SINGLE swim up bar in all my hotel searches. Where’s my all inclusive resort? WHERE ARE MY FREE FROZEN COCKTAILS?!

This beach-crave stems from the fact that I have nothing to look forward to, unless you count my surplus of upcoming appointments.  Normally there’s a Christmas or a long planned out trip to keep me going but…nope. The mundanity of this life can’t be good on my eggs.  No wonder they’re poor quality, they’re depressed! Even if appointments weren’t crowding up my weeks – to top it off, there’s not even anywhere for me to go.  This process just takes and takes and takes.  Congratulations uterus – you managed to ruin my vacations too!

Maybe this is all because I know I’m a few pills away from losing my Ambien and Xanax – the last few shreds of my pre-TTC life, and the only things that can plummet me to sleep when I’m stressed beyond the help of calming teas.  No one will give me more pills at this stage. They’re not going to provide me with mood altering drugs any sooner than they’re going to ship me off to the Bali. I can see the headlines now: Woman Dies From Being Over-Anxious and Lack of The D.  

I would like to put in a formal request to spend my remaining two week waits laying on a beach.  *Googles: Zika is a scam*

IUI #0.5

It’s becoming difficult to formulate my thoughts on this when all I want to do is bang my hands all over the keyboard and scream like: FHADFKJDHSKJFDHSAKFHAD  FAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH AHHHH AHAHHH AHHHH!!!!!! How, HOW do you just completely botch an IUI??????  Did they think that after experiencing the Clomid Challenge last month that this time they should feature a trial IUI?  Angry is too small of a word to describe how I’m feeling right now. Furious. Outraged. Think Real Housewives of New Jersey level mad.

giphy2

It all went downhill with the very first phone call where the nurse told me to trigger (when the day before I was told I’d be coming in again for an ultrasound) and then went on to explain how timed intercourse worked.  Whoa, what happened to my IUI?!  When I pointed out that we were planning on going through with IUI, she jabbered on about how most couples try for three cycles with timed intercourse, but that’s fine – we can have an IUI cause it’s “better anyway”.  I literally said, “Yeah, I’m not that patient.”  But REALLY THOUGH. It’s been over a year and I have bad eggs – can I get a little hustle?!

That one phone call then set so many wrongs into motion:

  • They had me trigger too soon.  No, I’m not the greatest at reading ultrasound results (and they don’t EVEN TELL ME what those results are, like, EVER), but I just find it extremely hard to believe that I’m usually a CD17/18 Oer (and confirmed that didn’t change with Clomid last month), but all of a sudden I’m ready to trigger on DAY 11?!  Is there some sort of deadline I’m not aware of? Why is this being so rushed?  I had no time to mentally prepare myself, let alone get set up with a sperm reserve just in case all the ones for the IUI immediately died off in my toxic uterus.
  • Speaking of triggers, I wasn’t given a TIME to trigger.  Just told to do it in the evening.  I should’ve known that sooner would’ve been better, but I just waited till 8PM rolled around and we were done with our rice-a-roni for my husband to inject me (which he thankfully pulled off with very little instruction because he’s amazing at everything – seriously, it’s a little obnoxious).
  • SPEAKING OF TIME…….they had me come in the very next day.  Again, not told a distinct number of hours after I trigger, just “come in tomorrow for your IUI”.  The only time they ever mentioned was that Doctor Kate wasn’t available until 11AM, which THANK GOD because I would’ve tried to schedule the IUI for 8AM since I didn’t know any better!

I was specifically told that it was important to come in the day after the trigger shot, but that a second IUI wasn’t necessary.  Even Doctor Kate told me that doing back to back IUIs only SLIGHTLY increases your odds (which as I’m typing I’m all “Jesus woman why wouldn’t you want to increase your odds by any little bit?!”) and isn’t worth the time and money and stress of it all.  Sure, fine. I know most couples do just one round, BUT those couples are also scheduled for their IUI exactly 36 hours post trigger shot.  This was 15 hours. FIF.TEEN. The poor guys die off within 12-24 hours after they’re washed!  So, I’m out. Sure there are some success stories I’ve stumbled upon during my now frantic searching, but IUI in general isn’t a very successful procedure so if we don’t even have the timing right then WHAT’S THE POINT?!

We’re not completely innocent here, some of the blame is ours for these two stupid reasons:

  1. Last month I told my husband I thought that we should move on to an RE simply because the IUI process involved him going to a completely different lab and then bringing the syringe of sperm to my OBGYNs office in what is a legit jewelry box.  I just didn’t want to deal with the headache of trying to schedule appointments that lined up perfectly at two separate locations, and the worry that something would get messed up along the way (think: overheated syringe sperm). My husband is actually the one who said we should stick with Doctor Kate for this first round, but I promise I’ll forgive him for it eventually…
  2. I still had the option of getting that second IUI.  It was my choice, and I made the wrong one. It was just so exhausting to coordinate everything and get from work to their office in the middle of the day via public transit (if we drove to work and lived in the suburbs, none of this would be a problem – so does that mean the city is to blame?) that we decided not to go through with it.  Especially after Doctor Kate attempted to convince me (or DID manage to convince me) that a second round wasn’t necessary. I’m trying to tell myself that even the second IUI wouldn’t have been timed properly, but now I’ll never know.

I could’ve researched even more about the IUI and helped make the best decision for us, but we wanted to trust my doctor.  Who are we to act like we know better than a medical professional? In the end of all this mess, I only had one mature follicle to pair with my one, early IUI.  I’m not even saying this for pessimistic purposes: I really truly believe that there is the SLIMMEST of chances that this worked. The only good that came out of it was that they sped up my cycle, so I’ve already been thrown into the TWW that I thought was going to be another week away.  

I’m going to spend this TWW shopping for an actual RE.  No more sugar coated FSH levels or poorly timed procedures – this is the real deal.  I’ve been warming up to the sour receptionist and pouty tech (literally told me she was not happy to be there on her day off while she was ultrasounding me…liiiike, my bad), but that’s not enough to keep me there.  Doctor Kate isn’t even enough anymore. Time to close the door on this chapter of our process (none of that sounds like the correct saying I’m trying to get at).

I’m still searching for hope, even though instead I’m finding more wrongs.  Every other woman seems to know her exact follicle sizes, have specific trigger times, and had their IUI no earlier than 24 hours later.  Nothing was left up to choice, or chance. This is a very teachable moment: learn from my mistakes (time and time again)! Even if you love your OBGYN, leave the fertility treatments to the specialists.  At least for me, things can only go up from here. *Knock on wood, please don’t jinx my uterus – we have enough bad luck!*

On The Third Day, They Giveth Clomid

Cycle Day 3 is the new Cycle Day 1.  It’s the beginning of the next round of fertility treatments: bloodwork, ultrasounds, Clomid, OH MY!  If you go to enough appointments, you might receive the honor of the ultrasound tech offering for you to insert the wand yourself, which is the most baffling and ridiculous request I’ve ever received  at a doctor’s office (and I get told to take my pants off, a lot).  Is that not what the tech is there for??  If I could ultrasound myself we wouldn’t be here right now.  It’s like going to a restaurant enough times that they know your name, but instead they know your preference of insertion (and probably don’t even know my name…something’s wrong here).  

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On my first CD3 appointment, I ended up asking the tech to do it, which I felt far outweighed the embarrassment of saying “is it in?” at a doctor’s office. My second time around, I wasn’t given an option, so I assume they wrote “refuses to be a team player” on my chart.  The tech straight up said, “You’re going to help me insert this.” Oh am I now?! It wasn’t that weird…buuuut it was also super weird.  Look, this isn’t an enjoyable experience for anyone, but you’re kind of making me feel like you’re super grossed out by this when I’m the one with a wand up the cooch, and I figured in this line of work you’d have to be pretty okay with getting constant crotch shots.  Can’t we all just be adults about this?

The bloodwork is standard (thankfully they haven’t asked me to draw my own blood).  They’re checking all that good stuff: FSH, AMH, HCG, TSH, LSD, PCP (I think I got lost somewhere in there…).  This month, I was fortunate enough to be gifted with a lovely online portal courtesy of 2018 that gives me ALL of my blood test results.  No more just what Doctor Kate deems “notable”, but everything that I’m shelling out cash for. So even though the nurse who left me a voicemail said that all my hormones were “normal” and that they didn’t discover any of those creepy tumors with hair and teeth living in my ovaries, I was able to see my not-actually-normal results for myself.

Not Normal Thing #1: My first FSH wasn’t just 12.  It was a 12.8.  You know, as in 0.2 away from THIRTEEN.  I feel like I was more than a little misled about these results last month.  I presume doctors are familiar with the term: rounding, and the fact that if you’re 0.2 away from another terrible hormone range, you round up.

Not Normal Thing #2: This FSH result wasn’t much better.  Oh heeey 10.96. Yeah, it went down, and almost by 2 “points”, but then I have to factor in that my previous blood work was done on CD4 and this was CD3 so maybe by day four I’m back up to the rotting eggs category.  Also, you’re really going to tell me that everything came back “normal”???  I was thinking I’d be blessed with an 8, or a high 9, not an almost 11!  Though, given that online it shows that their current normal range is 1.79-113.59, I can see why everyone seems to think I’m in the safe zone.

So, slightly less horrible quality this month (maybe).  Go me.

Doctor Kate is still completely delusional about my level of fertileness, so I was given the green light to again try to go through with IUI, and was told to take 50 mg of Clomid on days 3-8.  When Doctor Kate first mentioned going on Clomid (surprise! Even though you ovulate on your own we’re going to pump YOU full of hormones and make YOU go through all these procedures) she mentioned on the sly that most women experience bloating and moodiness, but those are the only main side effects.  Bloated and moody? Sounds like a typical day to me!

It was not a typical day.

I read a lot saying that you can avoid the Clomid Effects by taking the pill at night, but that must be advice for women who actually sleep.  I, on the other hand, spend my evenings sweating and thrashing around – fighting the urge to shove my husband awake and scream at him for breathing too loudly.  On the plus side, I think this means that I’m prepared for menopause (which, according to my FSH levels, is going to be here before I know it). After reading all the “Clomid is a bitch” posts, I expected my head to start spinning around while I spewed green vomit everywhere after taking my first pill, so this all seems not so bad.  If I am blessed enough to sleep, the side effects will lay dormant and spring hot flashes and headaches on me while I’m at work. Thanks infertility!

Last month, I was an unintentional participant in the Clomid Challenge, which sounds like a cleanse I’d be into for about a day.  This is when doctors give out Clomid “just to see how women handle it”. Er, what? So you just…take Clomid…for funsies? At least throw in an IUI for good measure!  In my case, Doctor Kate was (as always) THRILLED that my first IUI attempt was thwarted by my polyp because then she got to see if my body responded to the 50 mg of Clomid, which as of CD11 last month – I had two tiny follicles on my left side.  Because that’s a thing that I wasn’t aware Clomid did, beyond “encourage” ovulation in women who don’t ovulate on their own. I had no clue it caused you to produce more eggs (hence why an AMH test is V important) and that it increases your chance of multiples.  My husband has gone completely infertiley insane and literally said, “Twins wouldn’t be so bad.”  

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Says the man who isn’t the 5’2’’ (on a good day) 100 lb (on a GREAT day) woman who would have to carry said twins.  I know what he’s thinking – we could knock out our “ideal baby number” all in one go! Two birds – one stone (or more like two embryos one IUI).  But come on man. I know you learn to adapt to whatever life throws at you, or IN you, but twins sounds a lot like being on fire while you’re drowning.  Sure, that doesn’t make sense, but I have twins in this twisted fantasy and I can barely keep my head on straight!

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Since Clomid is forcing the potential of multiples on me, I’m left to hope that I’m not developing several mediocre eggs instead of one good egg.  I also have no idea where I go from here (which is a lie, I have my next ultrasound on cycle day 10, but I mean after that).  Going through with fertility treatments is very much my Jesus Take The Wheel moment.  The controller has become the controled – not that I had much control over this to begin with.  Gone are the days of determining ovulation and timing intercourse – now I’m onto ultrasounds and trigger shots and IUIs to take care of all that for me.  So long world of sticks and lubes – helloooo endless doctor appointments. I can’t even take pregnancy tests early for fear that the HCG in the trigger shot would in turn trigger a false BFP – so this experience sounds like it’s going to really test my anxiety.  The only thing gained is taking something that was completely out of my control, and giving someone actual (almost) full control. It’s a relief to know that someone else is responsible for the tracking and timing of events, but the worry is still all mine.

Some days though, it feels impossible to move forward when everything else feels so fresh.  I’m still the girl posting about her TTC anxiety in Month 3, publicly crying over her first negative test in Month 5, believing pineapple would cure everything in Month 6, and letting out a harsh broken sob when I got home after the worst day of my life.  How are we already here? We don’t have to go through with IUI yet, but I’m in the “it can’t hurt” mindset.  I’m trying to look at it as a little boost to our journey – more eggs, more sperm in the right place, but it’s also more appointments and more money and more frustration if it doesn’t work after all that.  And it won’t work. The odds are not in our favor for the first round of IUI, so might as well get it over with if it’s so unlikely to conceive the first time. Man. First-triers, how do you do it?

It’s Not You, It’s…Me?

I’m diagnosed-less.  Diagnoseless?  All the initial tests are finally over with, and with the exception of my sole polyp, no one has officially pointed a finger or shrugged their shoulders in defeat.  After thirteen months of my husband and I giving each other the side eye after each negative test (is it you???), I’m still left without a complete understanding as to why.  

We (a shout out of solidarity to all the women whose husbands say “we’re” pregnant) did the little men test in Month 6.  It had been our plan to test at the ‘halfway point’ since it was fairly inexpensive, could clear one of us easily, and wouldn’t involve me banging my head against the wall as a doctor starts blabbering about “up to twelve months”, because fertility centers don’t care about those crappy facts – they care about DOLLARS.  Here’s the kicker: the center that he went to also offered a discount for a combination of introductory fertility tests (nothing like a fertility center with a BOGO mentality!), and I didn’t do it.  FSH, AMH, ultrasound for antral follicle counts.  Foreign words to a woman who has been trying for a mere six months.  I wrote them off as not that important: if they’re so important then they wouldn’t be part of the deal!  Like getting the five buck box at Taco Bell, only to discover that it includes cruddy cinnamon twists and a hardshell taco.  I was still in the “it takes time” mindset, even though I’ve never fully accepted or adopted that little ‘fact’.  We should all remember this as the moment that, once time travel is invented, I will go back and kick myself in the ovaries for not going through with the damn tests.

My husband stepped up, at least.  He didn’t throw a fit about showing a cup some love, and when I asked if he minded going through with the analysis he said, “Not at all, this is what I’m made to do!”  What about what I’m made to do?  I’d say I’m not pulling my weight around here in that case.  I waited impatiently for the expected results: “Your husband has the happiest sperm we’ve ever seen!  They’re perfect.”  Or maybe they’d be so calm and laid back that they were too slow because they just didn’t see the point in rushing.  Despite the lovely nurse at the lab who wrote “may benefit from insemination” on his SA results (and, despite her being 100% correct about IUI being in our future), a urologist gave him the stamp of approval.  Beautiful balls (real statement).  A gold star.  We haven’t been slapped with the “unexplained” diagnosis yet, which means there’s only one other player in this game: Me.

I ovulate.

My tubes are wide open.

Egg reserve is normal for my age (a phrase that is most unfortunately becoming more and more common).

But the quality…well, as they say – you’re only as good as your worst FSH result.

After my first round of Year One bloodwork, Doctor Kate gave me a call and said that something should be noted.  My FSH levels came back at a 12, which she said she would expect to see in a PREMENOPAUSAL WOMAN rather than a 28-year-old.  I had this bizarre initial reaction where I first thought she was accusing me of lying about my age, and then I slowly began to digest what she was trying to tell me.  My eggs are shriveling up – raisins attempting to be a sorry excuse for a healthy egg, which probably crumble at the tap of a single sperm.  No wonder this hasn’t been working.

Doctor Kate doesn’t seem too worried about my abnormally high FSH levels, but I’m beginning to think that she’s not phased by much.  What does a girl have to do to get a little concern over here – be completely missing my ovaries?!  Doctor Kate: Oh, that’s okay!  Lots of women are ovary-less and go on to have perfectly healthy pregnancies, at least you have your uterus!  Come on woman!  She’s not worried that my body is beginning to self destruct, whereas I’m looking into the cost of egg freezing and wondering if my sister would be up for donating her eggs.  Doctor Kate has only said that we might have a bit of a quality issue, YA THINK?!  Just give it to me straight Doc – are my eggs associating with my inner eighty year old woman?  It’s like someone left me out in the world for too long and now I’m beginning to spoil.

Anger has linked arms with me, whispering sweet blamings in my ear.  Why wouldn’t they offer to check FSH and AMH for women who are trying to conceive?  It’s a blood test for ovaries sake!  Every time I go into the office I get pressured to take a genetic screening test, but this they put off?  Doctors won’t even perform IVF on women who have FSH levels of 15 or higher.  I don’t know much about how quickly you can climb scales on the hormone ladder, but I do know that 12 is 3 away from 15, and that your number only gets higher with time (and with Clomid, apparently).  I’ve done the least research on high FSH levels when compared to all my past made-up infertility problems. I learned that one fact about IVF and ran with it, not wanting to dig in further to hear about unpromising stats and premature ovarian failure (a potential diagnosis that literally spells out my body is a failure, I’m a failure).  Another rare, unexpected mark against my fertility.  There’s no procedure, no pills that can lower my FSH.  Strike ninety-two against me.  Is it too late to trade in for a blocked tube??