Making a baby, IUI 1 – Part 2

Making Baby Mettler

We were back at the fertility Doctor this morning!

This was a follow up to check on my follicle growth and also do the HSG test.

Follicle Update:

I was a little nervous this morning because I’ve heard mixed things about the HSG test. They did the ultrasound first, which was a little longer than the first one because my bladder was more full than the last time (of coffee, no doubt..), but they saw about 4 follicles this time measuring roughly 11-12mm. So in the last 7 days, they went from 5-7mm to 11-12mm. This was after 5 days of taking the Femara (follicle steroid pills – I think it was 2.5mg that they started me on). They won’t trigger you for ovulation until they are measuring at least 18mm, so they were going to put me on a double dose of the same pills, but after the nurse talked to the actual doctor, they decided to go a different route.

They WERE going to have me come in next Tuesday(Day 16), but Sam had mentioned that at that point it would be getting sort of close to the date that I would have naturally ovulated. The Doctor decided to do a shot instead of the second round of pills. So now, Samantha has to inject me with 75 units of Gonal-F (Typically an IVF drug) tonight and tomorrow night.  NOW we come back Monday (5 days from today) for another ultrasound. (fingers crossed)

The goal, from what I’ve understood, is to have 1-2 follicles at least 18mm before they trigger ovulation. Any more than 2 follicles that are maturing runs the risk of multiples (as in more than 2 babies), which would put me and the baby(ies) at risk, in which case they would cancel this cycle and try the next month. The steroids they are giving me are causing my follicles to grow a bit faster than normal so that they CAN trigger my ovulation in order to more precisely determine the proper moment for insemination. If the follicles get too big (more than 24mm) then they have a chance of ovulating on their own, and we definitely don’t want that, because then they could miss my ovulation. That’s why they are doing so many ultrasounds and really monitoring my follicle growth.

HSG Test:

Okay, so I was super nervous because I’ve heard so many mixed things about the HSG test. I heard it hurts from some people and others felt mild cramping, so it was sort of a mixed bag of emotions. In my personal experience, it wasn’t any different than a pap smear. When they injected the dye, I felt a warm sensation and then slight cramping. I described it to my wife as if you have to pee really bad and then someone squeezes your bladder. It didn’t burn and wasn’t super uncomfortable for me at all.

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The RN let me watch the screen as they injected the dye, which was cool. I got to see as the Doctor injected the dye, my cervix filled and got darker and then the dye spilled into my fallopian tubes (which look kind of like spaghetti noodles coming out of my cervix). I snagged a photo of the still frame once they were all done.

One of my tubes was super clear and the dye came out right away, the other took an extra few seconds but both of my tubes were totally fine. The nurse said that it’s possible it was partially blocked, but the HSG test could’ve unblocked it. She also said she’s had experiences with people having better luck with IUI after the HSG test for that very reason. I’m glad I did it for my own peace of mind. Plus it was covered by insurance. Sooooo Win-Win!

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…So that’s pretty much the update for now. Sam “gets to” give me a shot tonight and tomorrow that will continue to stimulate follicle growth.

This weekend we are headed on a mini-vacation to Birmingham, Alabama to see Mumford and Sons in concert. We are SO ready. Until next week!! (See our blog from that trip HERE)

Follicle Tracking:
4 follicles total: 2 follicles measuring 11-12mm, 1 at roughly 10mm, and 1 at 8mm

Cost:
Second ultrasound: $250
Antibiotic for HSG test: $11 (thank god for insurance!)
HSG: $65 co-pay! The actual test was covered by insurance thank god!
– – – – (or it would have been roughly $600)
Gonal F fertility shot: Thankfully we got a sample! (Otherwise, it would have been $2200)

Total cost to date: $1567

Making a baby, IUI 1 – part 1

Making Baby Mettler

Okay, so I got my bloodwork results back. If you don’t care about the results you can scroll down to the next section.

Everything turned out mostly normal. The one thing I had a minor freak out about was my ovarian reserve or AMH (anti-müllerian hormone). My result was 0.80 ng/mL which in my head is really low, but it’s still in the range for my age (30). I would have rather had a more solid number but technically, AMH doesn’t have anything to do with the QUALITY of your eggs, just the number you have left.

The reference they provided me was by age range so:

Age                          ng/mL
18-25 years – – – – – 1.02 – 14.63
26-30 years – – – – – 0.69 – 13.39
31-35 years – – – – – 0.36 – 10.07
36-40 years – – – – – 0.18 – 5.68

One of the other test results was the CMV test. We thought since I had chickenpox AND mono (TWICE) that I would be CMV positive. Silly us. It turns out I’m CMV negative along with only 20% of the population. I am also the universal donor with my blood type, so I am very encouraged to donate blood – CMV negative blood is used to donate to cancer patients and smaller kids who haven’t been exposed to CMV or who are susceptible to any sort of illness. Now that I know that, I’ll for sure be donating blood after this is over!

That all being said, we already picked our donor who is CMV positive. There is heightened risk with me being negative and the donor being positive, but it’s such a slim risk at all (based on our research) that we decided to sign a waiver just saying we know there’s a higher risk. There’s already a risk just because I could come in contact with CMV at any point during my pregnancy regardless of the donor being CMV pos or neg. Many straight couples don’t know whether they are CMV positive or negative before they have a baby so we decided to go with our first choice donor. Again, I’m not a doctor, and our doctor says he recommends CMV neg donor for CMV neg mom, but will provide a waiver for those who understand the risks. (That’s 11 CMV mentions in 2 paragraphs if anyone is keeping count, lol)

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Today was our second appointment to the fertility doctor. They wanted me to come in on day 3-4 of my cycle so they know what we’re working with! I got an internal ultrasound done, which was actually really neat (minus the obvious..)! I got to see my uterus and ovaries – well a black and grey blob on the monitor.. but still cool! If anyone watches the show Friends, I was totally Rachel trying to find her baby. (Meanwhile, Samantha found everything JUST fine). They measured my follicles that were starting to grow (Follicles house your eggs until you are ready for ovulation, which was news to us. If you care to learn even more click HERE) and made sure I was clear of any cysts. I had two follicles that were growing. One measured a 6 and the second was a 7. They need to be about an 18 in order for them to house a mature egg. So now we wait to see how much they grow. Everything else was looking good so we are moving forward with everything!

They gave me some medicine to stimulate my hormones that I’ll be taking tonight and over the next 5 days.  My HSG test (typically you do this beforehand but we didn’t want to put off the whole thing by a month) is scheduled for day 10 of my cycle (next Wednesday) which is the same day I’ll need another ultrasound to check on the growth of my follicles, so I get to do both in one appointment. Basically, all the ovulation tracking I did last year was moot because they essentially hijack my whole reproductive cycle. The meds speed up the growth of my follicles, and the trigger shot (an actual shot in my stomach that Samantha is WAY too excited about giving me) releases the egg within 24 hours. The shot is done at home before the insemination right into my stomach.

If everything looks good with my follicles, they’ll have us ship the sperm, we’ll do the trigger shot, and go through the process of insemination next Friday! If my follicles aren’t grown enough, they’ll give me more meds and we’ll come back the next week. Then after insemination is the 2-week wait.

It’s getting so close!

Edit: The name of the medicine they prescribed me is Letrozole (Femara) to stimulate my hormones. The side effects include dizziness. I’ve pretty much felt like I drank way too much caffeine all day without the heart palpitations. I’m on day 1 after taking it. I’ve been drinking TONS of water which has been helping.. but ya, the dizziness is subtle but real. 

Follicle tracking:
2 follicles measuring 6-7mm

Cost:
First ultrasound: $250
Femara: $6 (insurance covered most of it! YAY!)

Total cost to date: $1241

Our First Fertility Appointment

Making Baby Mettler

If you’re just joining our adventure, check out my previous blog post about prepping for our baby process >>> HERE.

If you’re all caught up, welcome!

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Holy moly.

Monday, we went to our first fertility appointment
and shit just got REAL.

Prior to this appointment, I had my bloodwork done from my primary AND had more bloodwork and testing done from the gyno. I wanted to be ahead of the game for our first appointment.

This appointment was pretty much a consultation. We ended up going to Dr. Cabrera at Brown Fertility in Downtown Orlando – the whole staff there is so sweet and helpful and they’re super supportive with LGBT couples. I still have to go get more bloodwork done and the results can take up to 10 days for one of these tests. This bloodwork tells the doctor how many eggs I have, my CMV status, and some other stuff.

After bloodwork, the next step is an HSG test, which basically checks to see if your tubes are open. It’s covered by our insurance, so we decided to go ahead and get that test done to be on the safe side. Samantha somehow timed the fertility appointment PERFECTLY allowing everything to flow rather smoothly through the next 30 days without having to sit and wait. The HSG test will be done in 2 weeks roughly and if all is well there, they’ll give me some fancy drugs and two weeks later we can get this party started.

The Doctor broke down the testing and cost and what we could expect moving forward. Each ultrasound will be around $250 and I’ll need at least 2 before insemination. We are looking around $2k-$2400 total estimated, which includes the insemination and “baby juice”. We will keep a running total as we go through this process at the bottom of the page.

A few weeks ago, after months of narrowing down our donor search, we landed on a donor that we both LOVE. Last night, we made the purchase officially. Somewhere in a laboratory, there’s a frozen vat of sperm with OUR names on it that will hopefully be our future baby.

In terms of the reality of the risks and chances of success, we are trying not to get our hopes up, but we both let ourselves get really excited about this. It’s the first MAJOR step towards starting our little family and we could not be any more thrilled!

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Stuff we did:

We bought sperm! *GASP*
We came up with a pretty solid list of names we love. ❤
Obsessed over Pinterest…

I also got a 93% on my Calculus exam (self-five!)

Things we are looking forward to:

Getting the bloodwork and HSG tests done.
Hopefully, all the results coming back normal.

Answered Questions from the last blog:

How long does the process take altogether?

I started early with bloodwork and gyno visit as well as a visit to my primary. It’s been exactly a month since all that and if all goes well, we’re looking at exactly a month for the fertility testing and insemination, then a two-week wait to see if it was successful. Roughly 2 months.

What kinds of testing do I need to get done?

Additional bloodwork, HSG test, (that’s it so far..)

Cost:
First visit: $65 co-pay (without insurance it would have been $100)
Sperm from Fairfax: $920

Total cost to date: $985

Prepping for our baby adventure

Making Baby Mettler

Initially going into this adventure, I knew it would be a fairly unconventional one from the get-go. Both of us knew we wanted kids. I was 29 when we got married and I had a feeling the pressure would be building soon after. We agreed to take the first year of our married lives to enjoy being married. We ate a lot of sushi, went to a ton of concerts and traveled a TON. See our post about our Seattle trip for our first anniversary!!

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So we have officially started our baby journey! We started doing some research and decided to do anonymous IUI from a donor bank. We tried to look up some blogs to read about other peoples’ journeys on IUI and being a same-sex couple but came up short. There were plenty of blogs and stories about IVF and/or using a known donor (See Missy and Rae’s Blog here!), but not many really outlined the whole process from beginning to end and even fewer answered any questions we had. Hopefully, someone else can come across our blog and learn from our story.

I began taking prenatal vitamins with a bunch of other stuff Samantha looked up to help prepare your body for babies. I’m not a doctor, so do your own research before taking anything – I started taking Prenatals with DHA, Maca powder, Red Clover, Red Raspberry leaf, Folic acid, vitamin C, and vitamin D. I started tracking my ovulation and tried a few different types of ovulation sticks. I wasn’t registering on the non-digital, so we switched to the digital ones. This was sort of our “step 1”. My tests were fairly consistent timing-wise, but less consistent registering my Lh surge. I was a little worried that I wasn’t ovulating sometimes, but the doctor said that sometimes that happens and that if my cycle was regular I shouldn’t worry about it. I used 2 apps, Flo and Glow to track ovulation, periods, temperature and some other stuff like weight and “how are you feeling today” etc.

We went to see the gynecologist for an annual exam in January, and to talk to her about any questions we had (not many at this point). We mentioned that we were thinking about doing IUI the first time at home and she recommended we go to the fertility doctor for the actual insemination to reduce any risks, and essentially to make sure it’s done correctly. We were on board – we’d rather have it done right, even if it costs a bit more. I scheduled a visit with my primary to get a referral to the fertility doctor. I made sure that he ordered a full blood workup since it’s covered by insurance and chances are the fertility doctor would need that anyway.

Things we are looking forward to:

Learning more about the baby-making process and our next steps.
Narrowing down donors.
Narrowing down our potential baby names.

Questions we have:

How long does the process take altogether?
How much will it cost?
What kinds of testing do I need to get done?

Let’s be real, we’ve never done this before so we have a ton of questions. Mostly we can look on google, but some I’ll have to ask the doctor!

If you guys have any questions send them my way and I can try my best to answer!

Our Fertility Journey

Making Baby Mettler

This has been quite the journey for us and #sorrynotsorry for the lack of social interaction, responses, blog posts, etc. Trying to make a baby has pretty much consumed our lives since January 2019 when we started going to doctor appointments. I’ve been documenting our journey via blog posts including costs and our experiences. We had initially planned to post-date all of our blog posts until we got a positive pregnancy, but that hasn’t turned out the way we were expecting.

We’ve been going to the fertility clinic here in Orlando and we recently got a negative result for our third attempt with IUI, or intrauterine insemination, which is artificial insemination via a catheter using a sperm donor. This might be a surprise to most of you since we had been keeping it hush-hush. It’s not very fun to be “the girl who cried wolf” on top of the pressure of having people ask us “are you pregnant yet!?”. It has taken quite a toll on both of us emotionally and physically and it’s only gotten worse each time we’ve tried. 

I think it’s important that we (Samantha and I) share our experiences with the public eye simply because this is a real issue. Being two women doesn’t necessarily increase our chances of becoming pregnant with a donor. I don’t have anything physically/biologically wrong on paper, and honestly, I thought this would go much smoother than it’s been going. We aren’t looking for sympathy or anything like that.. I just want whoever is reading this who may be struggling with infertility to know that you’re not alone.

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Around September of 2018, we did a bunch of research and decided that IUI was the best option for us. We chose a sperm donor that resembled Sam’s characteristics since the baby will already be getting half of my genetics. We went to a bunch of fertility appointments over the course of a few months (Dec 2018 – Feb 2019) and I got poked and prodded and tested and we finally went through 3 cycles of IUI over the course of 4 months (March 2019, May 2019, and June 2019)

Honestly, the last 8 months have been quite a whirlwind. We have a lot more to go through, but I’ll be posting our past blogs for everyone to read. I hope our journey can help others going through similar experiences, whether it be a same sex couple, someone struggling with infertility, or a single mom doing this by herself.

Thank you all so much for the support and love. ❤