Tag Archives: money

IVF week 4: The follicle situation

This week started out with an ultrasound and blood work on Monday (5/20). It went well, follicles were starting to grow and no drug dosages changed. The drug regiment is the same as week 3, Lupron (thigh, morning), Follistim (stomach, afternoon) and Repronex (rear, afternoon). Tuesday morning was the same, ultrasound and blood work went well with no change in dosages.

Ideally our IVF drugs would carry us through to milestones like egg retrieval, but since Desiree has been on the lowest possible dosages we were starting to run out of Repronex and Follistim, both of which are a little over $500 a box. Unfortunately we had to order an extra box of each, over $1,000 we hadn’t planned on spending, but what choice did we have?

This was the start of the roller coaster ride that would be the rest of the week and still is even as I write this.

Wednesday’s ultrasound showed that Desiree had only produced 5 follicles which is low for this stage in the game. It’s important that our doctor has 10-15 follicles for a successful retrieval. Let me explain.

Typically there’s only 1 egg in each follicle, and it’s possible for a follicle to be empty. Beyond that not all eggs retrieved will be good, some may be too mature while others aren’t mature enough. Even beyond that not all eggs may fertilize afterwards. Basically there’s a few hurtles in the process before we arrive at 2 perfect, fertilized eggs to transfer back into the uterus. The rule of thumb is the more follicles our doctor has to work with the better our chances for success and that’s why he wants 10-15 at just the right size.

When our infertility coordinator explained the follicle situation she told us that at this point our chances for a successful round had been significantly reduced. It sounds blunt, be she explained it with empathy and didn’t want to concern us, but felt it was important to explain things along the way. We were scared and staring at the possibility of losing our money without any chance to move forward.

After that we received a huge blessing. When women finish a round of IVF they often have drugs leftover. Those drugs can’t be sold back to the pharmacy so they donate them to the clinic for couples like Desiree and I who pay out-of-pocket (as opposed to treatments being covered by health insurance). So our coordinator had us cancel the Repronex order we had placed the day before and gave us a free box. We were very grateful and hopefully we’ll be able to donate something in the end too.

That night we went home and prayed for more follicles. Desiree did some research online and read about putting her legs up on a wall, supposedly the blood rushes to the pelvis and expedites the process – we called it “the leg trick”. We knew there was no way to measure if it was working, but at that point we’d try anything. The best thing that could happen was tomorrow’s ultrasound would miraculously show that she had developed new follicles overnight which can happen.

The next day we went in for the ultrasound and, wouldn’t ya know, it did miraculously show that she had developed at least 5 new follicles overnight. We couldn’t believe it, we now had about 10 follicles for our doctor to work with. The blood work came back good and our dosages stayed the same, we were in the clear. At this point it looks like our egg retrieval, granted nothing goes wrong, will either be on Monday (Memorial Day) or Tuesday.

Since we’re at the clinic every day this week and things are happening so fast I’m trying to dole out updates in chunks. We’re still on a bit of a roller coaster ride, and I’ll write more about it soon, so please continue to pray that we’ll make it through the entire cycle and that we have a successful one at that!

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How we paid for IVF without going into debt

Something we left out of our IVF week 2 post was that on the Friday Desiree got the ultrasound we also paid for our IVF in full. The grand total was around $15,000 – not an easy amount to write across a check, especially for something we’re not sure will actually work.

Like I’ve written before we never thought IVF would be an option for us. Neither of us come from wealthy families, we’re not living on any trust funds, we’ve never received any inheritances or been gifted any extremely large sources of wealth in cash or assets and we’ve both worked steady jobs since we were 15 years old. On top of that, neither of us have completed any college degree or any sort of certified vocational training. Just before we got married we did something really stupid, we both financed brand new cars, not to mention the credit card debt we had each previously racked up. And so we started our life together living in an apartment with a combined debt of nearly $35,000. Dumb, because it was unnecessary unlike wiser debt such as student loans or a mortgage.

Around 2005, through friends and church, we learned about Dave Ramsey‘s book, The Total Money Makeover; a plan for getting out of debt and becoming financially free. After a season of extreme and often painful sacrifice we finally unloaded all our debt in 2008. It’s been one of the best things we’ve ever done. We’re currently on Baby Step 6, but have paused in order to save money to cash-flow infertility treatments. If we do become pregnant we’ll drop back to Baby Step 5, saving for our child’s college education.

In 2007 I started my own business and it created enough income that we were blessed to have Desiree quit her job and become a homemaker. This was a big deal for us, a goal we often talked about. All Desiree ever wanted to do was be a Mom and a homemaker, I love that about her.

Last year, by the grace of God, we had an unusually good year and so because we’re debt-free we were afforded an extra amount of income to put towards our treatments. This first round of IVF has almost completely emptied our savings. The little we have left will be added to each month as we build it back up for a second round (our clinic offers the second at half cost) in case this one doesn’t take and if we decide on it when the time comes. Or God willing we’ll gladly spend it all on the costs of having a baby, or two.

Infertility adds a touch of bitterness to life and our finances are no different. It’s tough not being able to spend our hard-earned money on things like a second car with low gas mileage, painting the house, a couch that’s not broken, repairing walls and a bathroom floor that looks filthy even when you can eat off it. Even though it takes some convincing we know those things are wants and not needs. When we think of all the things we want, and we often do, we remind ourselves that we’re actually in a great place financially for what we’re going through – not everyone has the opportunity to do IVF. Is our situation the best? Are we independently wealthy with endless funds for treatments and adoptions? No, but we’re happy and blessed to be where we are.

Just another manic monday

UPDATE: Our thoughts and prayers are with those in Boston, MA, today. Obviously our day sucked, but it pales in comparison to this horrific event where lives were lost and affected. Please join us in praying for the victims and their families.

First of all it’s tax day and our accountant had been awaiting our reply all week to an email he sent to the wrong address. Basically this meant we filed our taxes literally at the last minute and it resulted in us spending the entire day waiting on him and a half hour at the post office after five in a line of countless people. On the up side we don’t owe as much as we thought; we owe every year because we’re self-employed, it’s just a matter of how much. This is good news because anything we’re able to keep is that much more available for IVF and related costs.

The tax thing we can handle, but here’s where things get really dumb…

We got a voicemail from the infertility clinic about tomorrow’s preliminary testing. Apparently they need a referral from our primary care physician (PCP) for the sonohyst (saline ultrasound). The problem is they called after our PCP had closed for the day and it sometimes takes up to 72 hours to get a referral; we’re praying they’ll somehow have one available in the morning (we left a voicemail). Another problem is if we wait to reschedule tomorrow’s tests we’re wondering if we’ll miss our window for this cycle. I guess we’ll show up tomorrow not knowing if it’ll be covered by our insurance and accepting we’ll need to fight when the bill comes (as if we don’t already have to do that every time a bill comes).

Just a sidebar, our individual insurance plan (you know, the crappy kind for self-employed people) covers nothing beyond diagnostic testing and these tests are the last stop before we’re entirely out of pocket.

In addition to that we won’t be able to complete the semen analysis tomorrow because they apparently overlooked the fact that no technician will be in the lab to analyze it. So we’re delayed a week there. Thankfully if Desiree’s ultrasound goes well we can at least start the drug regiment in the meantime.

Today was one of those days where we throw our hands up, look at each other and sarcastically say, “Welcome to our lives where nothing ever comes easy!”

Oh, there was some good news, our blood-work all came back normal and our FSH levels are better than ever. They do fluctuate and we’ve always tested normal, but I don’t want to underestimate this in light of all the bad news. It is great news and one less thing to hold us back from moving forward.