Insemination went smoothly. There were something like 47 MILLION motile sperm, which is apparently a lot. We’ve been working out and have been cooking healthy meals and we’ve been doing Whole30 for 2 weeks at this point (halfway to 30 days!). I’m both excited and hesitant about this one. It’s our last attempt with me, but I can’t get discouraged because we do have options. I’m trying not to get my hopes up but I want to be excited about the possibility of making a baby this time.
The doctors at CRM are constantly reassuring us that the first 3 attempts with me “didn’t count” because of several different factors, mainly that they didn’t prescribe me progesterone. The meds they gave me are known to LOWER progesterone levels, which is why I am being supplemented with progesterone now. On top of that, the Dr. at the first place admitted that they missed my ovulation window the first attempt, and the second attempt was the sperm fiasco where basically all the sperm were dead. It doesn’t necessarily make me feel much better knowing I’m still 0/2 (as opposed to 0/5), and it certainly doesn’t make our bank account feel any better, lol.
The Pregnyl made me nauseous again, so I have been drinking diet ginger ale (no sugar) technically not whole30 but I’d rather not vomit, and I need to listen to my body. Hopefully, that wears off soon. We have a Nightly, The WLDLFE, and Sawyer concert tonight – I told Sam it would be really cool if I can tell our kid that they were conceived at a concert. Music runs through her veins.
Here’s hoping this 2-week wait goes by quickly. There might be a Disney adventure coming up this weekend, which will definitely help get my mind off of everything.
Baby Journey Cost:
Total baby-making cost to date: $10,863.38
It turns out 5 wasn’t our lucky number.
Well, this is it, folks! The final countdown. This will probably be the last attempt for Steph since we don’t have the money to cover IVF, so we will be trying IUI with Sam sometime in the months after this one regardless of the outcome. But boy, is our jar of hope overflowing for this one to work.
It’s 2020 as I write this blog. New year, new month, a new cycle, new insurance plan! And a new insurance plan means lower copays!!! Yay for saving money! We hurried up and purchased sperm before pricing went up for 2020 (smart move, Samantha!) which helped save a few hundred extra dollars.
The meds are the same, Clomid on days 4-9, shots on days 5, 7, 9, then I go in on cycle day (CD) 11 for a follicle check. Honestly, school started this past week and we are still in holiday recovery mode so the days are blurring by, so hopefully, that continues through insemination and the two-week wait (it’s always more fun when trying to do calculus homework).
We Went in for the run-of-the-mill follicle check today. We started with my right ovary which has 2 tiny follicles (ut oh) but then she switched to the left and there were 2 HUGE ones in comparison, and they weren’t even that big, lol. I have a 13.9 and a 14.5 and remember we have to get them around 20. I do another Gonal-F shot (75cc, same as usual) tonight and go back in two days on CD 13 for another follicle check, then hopefully they give me a trigger and insemination date!
Side note: Steph has lost 15 pounds or so since we started this baby journey and this month we have been doing Whole30, which is no added sugar, grains, legumes, or dairy for a whole 30 days. We are blogging about that also, of course, so CLICK HERE to see our meal plans and read more about it.
Went in today and had 2 follicles still! YAY! They’re growing slow but everything is on track. We got directions later in the afternoon (while we were at the vet for our 16-year-old cat – She’s fine) to do another 75cc Gonal-F shot tonight, then do the Pregnyl trigger shot Sunday night for insemination on Tuesday morning, which is luckily on the day that I only have 1 class that morning. We’ve been going to the gym pretty steadily still. Sam is 6 days/week and I’m joining her for 3 since my work/class schedule is so hectic.
Ovary scan: $5 (co-pay)
300 pen of Gonal F: $170
Pregnyl trigger shot: $154.89
Credit for SMP messing up our shipping last cycle: +$20
Sperm from NW Cryobank: $525 for IUI Sperm $245 for shipping.
Follicle check #1 and bloodwork: $5 (copay)
Follicle check #2 and bloodwork: $5 (copay)
Progesterone refill: $1
Total baby-making cost to date: $10,513.38
It’s officially go time again!
We are switching up the blog layout and decided to write basically everything up to insemination in a full blog, then follow it up with the results and all of that good stuff. This way we don’t have 17 chapters for everyone to read and follow.
CD 2: This morning we had our first Ovary scan of this cycle. It is cycle day 2, and our emotions are already all over the place! We are very hopeful this time because literally, everything has changed. Steph has been completely Gluten-free for 90 days now, the medications are almost all different. This ovary scan was the easiest and quickest one we have ever been to. So that was also great. The right ovary was completely quiet and the Left had a couple of follicles.
Steph is starting Chlomid tomorrow and for the next five days (CD3-CD8) and then adding Gonal F Injections on cycle days 5,7, and 9. We had some Gonal F leftover from our last attempt so we used that first.
Our insurance technically doesn’t cover “infertility” but DOES cover “diagnostic stuff”. CRM (Center for Reproductive Medicine) submitted a claim for the diagnostic (cost of ultrasound and bloodwork) which was $250 each time at the other office PLUS the copay, so now if insurance continues to cover it, we should only have to pay a $65 copay each time instead of $250, which would REALLY help cost wise.
Fun/Annoying fact that we learned: The regularly prescribed dosage (250mcg) Ovidrel trigger shot is only 50-70% as effective as the Pregnyl trigger shot. WHAT?!! So what is the point in using the Ovidrel at all if the effectiveness is that insignificant in comparison?!! That’s just silly…
We also just learned that the original donor we chose (the whole donor fiasco is in our previous blogs) is suddenly no longer available for purchase. So we have to switch sperm donors again, but it’s probably for the best after that whole mix up.
We narrowed it down to a few this weekend and will be ordering it this week once we decide on one and get the all-clear from the dr.
One Week later CD 10:
We went for our follicle scan on Friday, there were 3 follicles growing, Two 12mm and one 10mm. Still not big enough, so they told us to do One more Gonal-F injection the next day (Saturday) and then come back on Monday (3 days later) to check on the growth.
The nurse advised us to go ahead and order the sperm now so that it was at the office in time. This office has the capability of using their own Cryo tanks to store it in case something happens to where we would need to wait until the next cycle, etc. which is SUPER awesome. Normally the “to-go” tanks that they use for shipping are only good for 7 days. We decided to go with a Donor from NW Cryobank for quite a few reasons. They had a better selection for the things we need and want. The CMV negative donors are much fewer in numbers so to find one with the qualities we were looking for was an adventure in itself.
Sam and I have different things we look at when selecting a donor – I look for whether they’re educated, whether they’re a nice, caring person, their favorite things (TV shows tell a lot about the person!), and what they do for work. Sam looks for things like how old their parents and grandparents lived to be, whether there’s been cancer in the family, how many siblings, how many siblings are girls.. (basically all the DNA things that are actually controllable as opposed to my assessment of whether they’re nice, lol). In spite of our nature vs nurture conversations, we found a donor that is amazing and fits all of our criteria.
Monday CD 13:
Follicle scan was this morning at 7:30 am and we have LOTS of activity… One follicle is at 14.5, One is 13, One is 12.8 and one is 10. One of the things we have been doing differently now that we are at CRM, is that they take my blood each visit (yay me) to measure the amount of estrogen in my body. They use this as a more accurate way to detect ovulation. As much as it sucks getting poked and prodded each time, I know the end result will be worth it. Currently, we are waiting for a phone call to tell us what to do next based on the results, whether I need another Gonal F shot, or whether we ride it out and come back or trigger, etc. It’s looking like we will be coming in this week for insemination, we just don’t know specifically yet until we get the call. As of 3pm, we are both anxious as hell.
The nurse called. Tonight we have to do another Gonal F shot, but just a half a dose of only 37.5 because they are trying to slow down 1-2 of those follicles. If there are 4, they will cancel the cycle and that is NOT what we want. We go back on Wednesday morning to check up on them and then we will decide what our next step is.
Wednesday CD 15:
Last night, we lit some incense, and put our fertility stones around the fertility statue that our best friend got us for some extra luck with slowing down that extra follicle! We felt like it surelyyyyy couldn’t hurt anything.
We had our next ultrasound to see what our follicles are doing at 7:15 this morning, And they slowed down all right! Maybe a little too much. We are down to 2 possibly 3 follicles and those ones haven’t really grown much at all…One is 15 ish, one is 14 and one is 13 (They were 14, 13, 12, & 10 respectively before). Butttt Steph has cervical mucus, which is a sign of ovulation, so they added a progesterone check to her bloodwork to check her progesterone levels, which are able to tell us if she’s actually ovulating or not.
And nowwwww we wait for that phone call again to let us know what our next steps are going to be. This waiting game is going to be the death of us. Whyyyy does it have to take allllll day to get our results. (We are working on this patience thing…)
(Progesterone levels peak a week after ovulation. Measuring progesterone levels at this peak time gives us a way to assess ovulation. A progesterone level above 3 generally indicates that ovulation has occurred and a level 10 or higher suggests adequate production to maintain a pregnancy.)
Wednesday Later (3:30pm):
GOOD NEWS! Steph is not ovulating! Progesterone is only at 0.3! So tonight we will do another Gonal F half-dose shot of only 37.5 units. And we go back in Friday morning at 7:45 am to see what our follicles are looking like.
Come on babies, GROW GROW GROW!
Friday CD 17:
Follicle scan this morning! We have two mature follicles. One is at 19, one is at 14, we also have an 11, but that one won’t end up releasing. They said that the 19 and 14 will grow a little more over the next 24-36 hours, and we should have the two eggs when we inseminate. Hopefully the 14 is able to get to at least 16 to increase our chances way more! Tonight between 6-8 pm we will use the Pregnyl trigger shot to force ovulation (this can take anywhere from 12-36 hours to happen). And then Sunday morning at 10:30 am we will inseminate!
We feel very excited about this cycle. Everything feels so positive and just.. different. Sunday night is a full moon and will be exactly 90 days (that we’ve been counting) of Steph being gluten free. All of our fingers and toes are crossed for babies!
Steph’s been having some headaches and hasn’t been super hungry but we’re chalking it up to the Gonal. She’s been super tired too, but that may be due to the crazy math and Engineering homework… This is the most hormones she’s had in a given cycle and I think this is the longest we’ve gone without triggering as well. Average ovulation is between CD 14 and CD 21 depending on the length of the cycle (28 day vs 35 day) so CD 17 is right smack in the middle which would be roughly the same as our “natural” ovulation date. The fertility clinic basically helps the follicles grow and mature so we aren’t ovulating with eggs that are too small to be able to conceive. They of course also control ovulation so we can pinpoint when exactly to inseminate since we only have that one shot.
We will end this blog post here and pick back up for our next post which will be all about the insemination and our Two Week Wait. Pray for us to have some semblance of patience!
Ovary scan: $65 (co-pay)
300 pen of Gonal F: $170
Pregnyl trigger shot: $154.89
Follicle check #1 and bloodwork: $65 (copay)
Sperm from NW Cryobank: $525 for IUI Sperm $310 for shipping.
Follicle check #2 and bloodwork: $65 (copay)
Follicle check #3 and bloodwork: $65 (copay)
Follicle check #4 and bloodwork: $65 (copay)
Total baby-making cost to date: $6907.39
We know that those last 15 blogs were a lot to follow. But we wanted to fill everyone in on what we have been through throughout this fertility journey. We wrote each of those blogs as we went, and were waiting to publish them until we were pregnant. But here we are, three tries down, 10 months into our journey, and no bun in the oven. We decided to take a different approach and to involve our families and friends because we didn’t want to keep everyone in the dark anymore. The more Love and Positivity, the better.
Our current update:
We chose to switch fertility doctors and try a different approach. We met with the Center for Reproductive Medicine and we were very impressed with our new doctors’ approach. She is very focused on nutrition and the role that it plays when it comes to fertility. Steph has been Gluten-Free for almost a full 90 days at this point. We have been much more active, calorie-conscious, and just more aware of the things we put into our bodies.
This new doctor is switching everything up. Instead of Femara, Steph will be taking Clomid (pray for me during her mood swings) and they will be combining that with the Gonal F injections at a higher dose. They are changing up her trigger shot (to trigger ovulation) to one that is 4 times as effective as the Ovidrel apparently (probably more expensive and I will let you know the name once I know it). And then the day after insemination, they will start her on progesterone as well to be sure there’s as much “sticky dust” as possible!
She also required us to go to a counseling session so that we could discuss how we would handle different conversations or scenarios because we are using donor sperm. We found an awesome therapist and the whole experience was actually really interesting because it just showed how much we truly are on the same page.
We are so ready to get things moving again and are just waiting on Steph’s cycle to start.
Our emotions are alllll over the place. We are excited, nervous, impatient.. all the things. But we are so ready to be moms. We also discussed having all of the tests run on me during this cycle so that we know what we are working with if me carrying ends up being our next option. At this point, I’m totally up to it as long as it means we end up having babies at the end of all of this.
Right now, we know more things about the human body and fertility than any average person knows. I have gone down more research-rabbit-holes than what would probably be deemed healthy. And the only realllll thing this journey has been teaching me is patience. (which I apparently very seriously lack).
Second opinion appointment at Center for Reproductive Medicine: $65 (co-pay)
Total baby-making cost to date: $5363.71
My period decided to come 4 days early so that’s another BFN (big fat negative) attempt. It’s all just really emotionally exhausting. My logical brain can’t comprehend why it’s not working.
We have another appointment coming up with the fertility doctor at Brown so we can do a follow-up appointment to see what our options are and what the cost may or may not be. We also have a second opinion appointment with another Fertility clinic to see if they have other suggestions or options that maybe we haven’t heard from Brown.
So basically, we have some options. I’d love to say we have more options than a straight couple since we are two women, but we’re 0 for 3 so I can’t say how accurate that really is, lol.
There are two sets of eggs between us and two uteri. My eggs are slim pickings basically, and haven’t been super awesome thus far, but we may be able to use them for IVF. That would only make sense if the sperm hasn’t been able to fertilize my eggs. The other thing that could be happening is that they’re getting fertilized, but not implanting, and another could be that they’re just not great eggs and aren’t turning into viable blastocysts (balls of cells that turn into a fetus). IVF would make sure that the eggs are fertilized before implanting them back into me. I’m not sure that there are any tests they can run to see where in this process my eggs aren’t doing what they need to do.. I would also assume that if we try IVF and they can’t fertilize my eggs, then we’ve found the problem, but then do we still have to pay the $20k for the whole process? (end of thought vomit paragraph)
Our other options include using Sam’s eggs and doing IVF with our donor and then having me carry, OR we can try IUI with Sam.
Our appointments are later this month so we will see what they both have to say and what they think the best options for us would be. We are not against trying IUI one more time either, but that’s another bunch of money and I don’t want to keep spending money on this without changing something because clearly there’s some reason why it’s not working.
We can’t control everything.
I still have an A in college physics so there’s that. LOL.
Total baby-making cost to date: $5233.71
We had our second appointment on Monday (CD13) and I have 2 follicles on my RIGHT side, which is new since the last 2 times have been on the left. One is measuring 18 and the other is measuring 19. These are the largest I’ve had going into IUI, which I’m hoping is a good sign. Also, if I can remember right, I think my HSG test (from one of the 1st blogs) revealed that my right fallopian tube was much more open than the left side.
We are getting inseminated on Wednesday (CD15) and then the 2-week wait happens again. Crossing our fingers, meditating, holding crystals, praying, and putting good vibes into the universe.
TWW Edit: This two-week wait has been pretty similar to the last two. Some things that are definitely recurring are the feeling of being full, bloating, and the PMS symptoms around day 6-8. Some differences (or things I’m just now noticing that I didn’t last time) are this time I’m noticing a lot of nose related issues. I’m having to blow my nose a bit more than usual and there’s some blood in my mucus. My digestion has also been very different this time around and I’ve been gassy, which isn’t like me. I’m not eating any gluten and haven’t for 2 weeks despite REALLY wanting pizza. We got a cauliflower pizza the other day that was GF – California Pizza kitchen frozen pizza that we found at Publix, but we are sure you can find it anywhere at this point! Other than that no major changes.
Ultrasound #2: $250
(luckily our sperm was covered because of that whole mix up last month)
Total baby-making cost to date: $5233.71
After our second negative test, we geared up for our third run. Now, because we’ve been to the fertility office so often, they pretty much know how I react to the meds and can nearly pinpoint when my follicles will be ready without an extra ultrasound midway (yay for saving $250!). I went in, no cysts, they gave me the 5 days of 2 pills, then we skip a day, and do 3 days of injections. Those end on Friday (CD 10), and we go back in on Monday for our ultrasound to see where my follicles are at size-wise.
After that, we get an insemination date and do this whole thing again.
There’s such a huge difference between the details in our first blog posts with the first IUI vs this third one. If you’re looking for more details, go back and revisit our first try! It’ll give you a way more in-depth blog about the whole experience. At this point, I think we are both exhausted and trying to be as patient as possible. Also, I have a bunch of physics homework that’s keeping me busy.
Last week we went to our local “witchy” store called Avalon, which has pretty much anything ranging from incense to tarot cards, to books on Greek mythology, crystals, jewelry, herbs, oils, and mediums. It’s a really neat place to visit. Sam did some research about which stones and crystals can help with the fertility process, and we picked out a few things. At this point, nothing can hurt. Going to school for Aerospace Engineering requires me to take Chemistry and Physics classes, which just furthered my knowledge of energy. I also filmed and edited all the meditation videos for our local Yoga studio (Warrior One) so I learned a bit more about chakras and meditation from that as well. #shamelessplug #notsponsored
If that scene is not for you, that’s totally fine. It’s also okay if you don’t believe in any of the energy stuff. I come from a religious background and throughout my life my faith/religion has altered and grown with me. My personal faith doesn’t keep me from wanting to learn about other things. That’s something I truly admire about Sam and I and our relationship is that we are always learning, growing, and teaching each other things. This is our personal journey and I’m trying my best to share it with people who are trying to have babies in case anything works for them. Hopefully, this works for us!
Ovidrel : $53.50
Gonal- F Pen: $170 (thank god for our 50% discount)
Ultrasound #1: $250
Total baby-making cost to date: $4483.71
(do we get to count the crystals too? lol those were optional though sooo probably not)
We got another negative test.
I was sort of holding onto hope because my period was a day late. It can get very emotionally draining and disheartening to watch so many people all around us announcing their pregnancies or the birth of their babies when we can’t seem to make even One. I know the timing is not up to me, and I have to trust that when it happens, it happens, but GOODNESS it can be a hard pill to swallow some days.
We also knew that this cycle had a much less chance of success because of the motility of the sperm (which we got a full refund for on top of free sperm for this next cycle- they were super understanding and apologetic, especially after Sam told them our story). If you didn’t hear about that, our sperm was only showing a 20-30% motility rate so only about 3 million of the 10 million were alive, and those were not in the best shape.
We go in tomorrow for the start of round 3.
Some extra thoughts: At the beginning of all this, my initial feeling was that this was going to be a super easy experience since I’m super regular, I’m only 30, and haven’t had any medical issues at all. Go in, get inseminated, get pregnant, BOOM. It hasn’t worked out that way so far. If you’re planning on starting your family and you have a timeline set up, perhaps start a few months earlier just in case. I hate “wasting” all of this time. Initially, I said I wanted to be married for a year before trying to have a baby, but we just hit 1.5 years and those 6 months are weighing heavy on me. Because it’s been so difficult so far (really I keep counting this second one as a failure, but we DID have the sperm against us), we’ve been talking about IVF after this, but we may try one more time with IUI if this next time doesn’t work. I’m just trying to keep my head up and give the control to God and the Universe and whatever other entities control when we get pregnant. I’ve also been super cautious because I don’t want to change my habits, but I’m going to start running again (not far.. or super fast..) to get myself back into some sort of shape. Hopefully, that will help with everything.
–$787 credit for the sperm
Total baby-making cost to date: $4007.10
We went in Friday for our final ultrasound For this round. I had a 17mm and a 14mm follicle and the Doctor decided to have us come back on Monday (today) with the hopes that I would have two mature follicles. We were stressing about having to have the sperm delivered to our house because we would’ve had to pay an extra $100 between weekend + home delivery since this fertility office is closed on the weekends. Our nurse, who we LOVE, suggested that we could choose another sperm bank that’s actually only 20 min from our house (and also one of the largest in the country..) and we would pick it up before our appt Monday. (Come to find out, Sperm is cheaper, and we don’t have to pay the $280 for shipping, or the extra $100 for weekend delivery. YAY!)
After the appt on Friday, I had to race to my physics class and Sam was sending me screenshots of some of the donors. I fell in love with the second one she showed me and while we were sort of attached to our other donor, we’re more interested in making a baby and being able to afford it. Ordering from this sperm bank was actually a few hundred cheaper, so that was a huge upside.
This morning, Monday, insemination day, we went to the sperm bank, picked up our giant yellow box of sperm, buckled it into the seatbelt, and headed to the fertility clinic. Once we got there, we had to wait for the sample to thaw (20 min) and got called back into the procedure room. Our nurse came in and let us know that the sample we got wasn’t as motile as it should’ve been (basically less than 30% of them were swimming) So we got on the phone with the company. They said that this refund process can take a couple of days to be approved…. We decided that since everything is super time-sensitive, we would go ahead with the insemination anyways and not waste the cycle. It only takes 1 good swimmer to make this thing work, after all….
So we are dealing with that this morning. I really hope this time works – I think my excitement has faded into impatience, which I’m working on.
$250 for Ultrasound number 3 this go-round!
$787 for sperm plus $50 pickup fee through Cryos International
Total baby-making cost to date: $4794.10