#StartAsking

WHO THIS POST IS FOR:

EVERYONE YOU KNOW.

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April 24th- 30th is National Infertility Awareness Week, but let’s get ahead and #startasking now! That’s right, there is a whole month dedicated to educating the masses and holy moly, the masses need it. According to the CDC 12% of women between the ages of 14-44 are  struggle with infertility, thats an insane amount of people. For something that is so far reaching, we need to engage in more dialogue so that we can create a supportive community that fosters positivity so that this horrific process can be a touch better.

I have met countless couples who tell me that they suffered alone for so long. Their friends, their family, colleagues had NO IDEA what they were going through. I can’t imagine living my life without people knowing because infertility consumes your entire being. I am not 100% myself most of the time and for me I need folks to know what is going on so that my behavior or physical state is understood.

But  I digress, so many people keep it a secret because infertility is not discussed in the public space and thus it makes is shameful. Women are often made to feel it is their fault, providing little space to feel comfortable sharing their circumstance. For men, our culture of masculinity confines them to a box that says, “Man+ sperm + “spreading your seed”= MANLY.” Heck, one time I was chatting with someone who I know quite well and is pregnant, and she said, “He feels like a man,” when I asked her how her husband felt about the news of her pregnancy.  

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

Advocate for Legislation

Help ensure legislation passes that protects infertile couples and ensures states require insurance cover treatment. Check out the current pieces of legislation out there and learn what representatives are sponsoring what bills HERE.

Empathize

I write about this a lot but I can not emphasize it enough. If you learn a friend is going through treatment do NOT say, “Oh I know someone who went through IVF, they are pregnant now, it will all work out.” While its great you want to show support and try to provide hope, your friends experience is just that, their experience. We don’t want to hear about it, we just want someone to listen and recognize our own struggle.

Join a support group

Resolve has a great list of groups access the country, find one and join. Having a community that truly understands your feelings and thoughts is invaluable.

#StartAsking

Resolve is hosting a campaign this week to get folks engaging in dialogue around infertility awareness. With infertility comes a slew of questions from “How is this fair?” to “Does my insurance cover this?” to “Where do I start with adoption?” When we ask these questions alone, they begin to eat away at you. When we ask these as a collective, we receive a robust compilation of answers to sift through. While the answers may not always be what we want to hear and they don’t always change your situation, knowledge is power and having an ounce of power during a time when you are utterly powerless is sacred.

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-Annie

Waiting Is the Worst.

WHO THIS POST IS FOR:

  • Couples going through IVF

One of the worst things about IVF is the waiting. Life is dictated by dates. In between each set of dates all you can do it wait. This week I have struggled more than ever with the waiting.

I walked into 2016 a heck of a lot calmer about IVF. With each retrieval I took it as it came. I barely wept. I sat back, accepted my circumstances, went to my appointments and went about my day (for the most part). But this week took a toll on me.

This is THE WEEK. Any time now we find out our PGD results.This week is worse than the 2WW. These results will tell us wether or not we will ever have biological children. It will tell me if I will ever get the experience of being pregnant. It will tell us if we will ever get to experience 9 months of exciting anticipation. 

In just one call everything could or could not change. It is eating away at me.

My husband and I have talked a lot about the waiting process in IVF and how its unlike any other circumstance we have expierienced in life. Each date that we wait for is a complete rollercoaster of emotions. Either you are thrilled or devastated, no in-between. The back and forth between polar opposites is wearing.

When I think of BIG life changing events that tend to devastate families, they usually happen within seconds. I have racked my brain to find scenarios that are tragic that require weeks of anticipation. I can only find a few, this is definitely on that list.

I wanted to write something funny, bold or empowering this week but I could not find the energy. It would have been disingenuous to write about working out or the best movies to watch during recovery because waiting has sucked all of my emotions out of my heart. I realize though that many of you are in this same boat. You too are waiting. You are in your 2WW, waiting to hear the news about donors, waiting to find out if you can move forward with your cycle, if your eggs are viable, and the list goes on. While it is still completely unfair to have to wait for ANY of this, know that you are not alone. We are waiting together. Screen Shot 2016-03-02 at 11.14.53 PM

Ps- I did stumble upon this fantastic designer who makes cards for women just like us! I wish everyone I knew has this on file because they are perfect. Check her out HERE.

-Annie

Chrissy Teigen is having a girl!

WHO THIS IS FOR:

  • Annoyed IVF patients
  • The general public

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Yesterday on Facebook my trending section notified me that Chrissy Teigen decided to have a girl through genetic testing. The internet exploded, minds were blown, people were pissed.

I am not a Chrissy Teigen fan, in fact all I know about her is that she is married to John Legend and dances awkwardly on that show where people lip sync. I do however know that she and John had to go through IVF. I don’t know why she went through IVF but the reason is irrelevant. She was poked and prodded. I also know that she is one of the few women in media who talk about it and thus I have a lot of respect for her.

I am grabbing my soap box and delivering a message. A message that needs to be said. To all of you who are outwardly judging her or quietly whispering, suck it. Yes, if you genetically test your embryos you are given the choice to select the gender. We were given that option and opted out because it would make it too emotional. Even though we opted out I say good for her.

When you pay thousands of dollars, put your body through war, you get the “option” to pick the gender. Im OH SO SORRY to everyone who was unable to pick the sex of their baby because they were  conceived without assistance. Cry me a river. You kept money in your pocket, took your condom off and had sex, tough times.

When you go through IVF or adoption for that matter, you give up and loose A LOT. You grieve the loss of your body’s ability to function. You grieve that you will never have a kid naturally. You grieve that you may never be pregnant and get the joy of carrying a baby inside of you. You grieve that the way you may become pregnant is by 5 people starring inside your vagina as they put an embryo or two or four in you, your insides hurt, and all you can do is hope you don’t pee on the doctor from your bladder being so full. You grieve the loss of having any sort of a normal sex life with your partner because for weeks on end you are not allowed to be touched.

Picking the gender of the baby is just a small, tiny, minuscule, consolation for the loss you deal with. If you think its weird, take your judgement elsewhere. You don’t have that choice because you don’t need to make that choice. (INSERT WHAT I WANT TO SAY HERE) Stop.

 

-Annie

 

 

Weird Science! Genetic Testing

WHO THIS POST IS FOR:

  • Couples going through IVF
  • Women in their late 30s and early 40s who are retrieving eggs

Saturday I had my second extraction, almost 2 in exactly one month (off by a day). We decided to batch our eggs because we are PGD (Preimplantation genetic diagnosis) Testing.

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BATCHING: A REFRESHER

I can’t have a fresh transfer (transferring embryos right after a retrieval) because I overstimulate. I am used to waiting to have a retrieval and then transferring eggs. Some folks opt to have several retrievals in a row and then do transfers.

I have met couples who choose this route because they are older and don’t get a lot of eggs after a retrieval and would prefer to have a bunch before going down the transfer road.

Another reason to batch is it can be financially beneficial if you are PGD testing. We are in this camp. Specifically, most PGD labs will have a flat fee for 8 embryos. If you don’t have 8 embryos most people will batch until they reach this number so you can get the most bang for your buck. We are lucky and got 8 on our first try (and had one left in the freezer from last year) however since I have defied all odds thus far, we wanted to have as many eggs as possible to test. After you pay the flat fee, the price per egg seems nominal in comparison.

PGD TESTING

Science is crazy! CRAZY! After 4 failed transfers with high grade embryos we were given the option to PGD test. PGD testing is when they take a biopsy of the embryo and test it to see if it is genetically sound. They can determine which embryos will be more likely to implant using this technology. Usually older women are advised to take this route because it will help you decipher much quicker if your embryos are viable and if you are likely to implant embryos that will yield genetic abnormalities at birth.

Most companies will assign you a genetic counselor. They will go over the test in its entirety and answer any questions you have. Heck, you are paying out the nose, might as well make it worth your while.

TO TEST OR NOT TO TEST: THAT IS THE QUESTION

During our first round at our first doctor, testing was pushed on us but we declined. By all accounts, we were not the typical PGD candidates and there were no indicators that testing was even needed. PLUS TESTING IS NOT COVERED BY INSURANCE. It is expensive, very expensive. Thus we opted to go the “natural” route, whatever that means in this crazy  concoction of science.

Our second doctor also brought it up but again we decided it didn’t make sense since there wasn’t any specific reason to have it done. BUT after 4 transfers, by-the-books perfect lining and embryos, we decided we would bite the bullet and test.

THE RATIONALE

It wasn’t easy to make this decision for a few reasons:

  1. It was going to cost us a minimum of $7500, depending on the freezing fees, number of eggs, batching fee, the price just goes up and up. We are currently WAY passed this amount (by almost 2 fold).
  2. Its 93%-95% accurate
  3. Since they are testing such a tiny organism, there is a chance they could damage the embryo.

We decided to take the leap and scrounge up savings and months of salary to do the testing because:

  1. I have now defied every stat. They don’t know whats wrong with me and I want some answers.
  2. I can’t do this to my body much longer. Feeling like shit 99% of the time isn’t sustainable.
  3. I am not happy while doing this.
  4. If I am going to put my body through hell for transfers, I want to know we aren’t wasting our time.
  5. I need closure.

* Added bonus pointed out by my doctor: If all things go great and lets say we do get pregnant we will wont have to do this again. We will have genetically sound embryos in the freezer for a later use.

If you are considering testing, weigh the impact it will have for you. The PGD companies will push testing because they make money, figure out what is right for your family, sit on it for a while, and then go forth!

WHAT ARE THE ODDS

If you are healthy, the number of genetically sound embryos will vary depending on your age. For example a healthy 30 year old should have about 70% genetically sound embryos (info from our genetic counselor). My doctor approximates closer to 50%. In theory these embryos will be less likely to miscarry and should not have genetic mutations.  As you get older, the number decreases. So if you are playing on pure numbers, the more embryos you have to test, the more likely it is to have genetically sound embryos.

WAITING GAME

So here we are 9 embryos and counting (I will know the final number on Friday) and then they are sending them off to test. We should know our results in a few weeks. Once we have this information we will know if we are going to keep with IVF or call it a day. Either way, its one step closer to the end. While the end is sad because it confirms we may never have a biological child, my body has failed, and I put my body through hell for 2 years with no results… the end if comforting. It means onward to the next phase (adoption) and one step closer to completing our family.

 

-Annie