Steve and I have been blessed in many ways. We have 23 amazing animals (dogs, cats, horses, goats and chickens) and live in the beautiful foothills of the Sierra Nevada’s in Northern California. We have our health, we are happy and life is good. There is, however, something missing. There has been for quite some time, and I am sure many of you have noticed: we have no children. There are no little voices, echoing in our hallways, no toddlers trying to ride any of the dogs and when we watch Disney movies and I dance around the kitchen, singing along, it is very much alone (have you seen Steve dance?).
So, why don’t we have kids?
Well, we want children, very much. Unfortunately, due to my endometriosis and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, we haven’t been able to realize that dream. We have been working with a Reproductive Endocrinologist and have been undergoing fertility treatments, but nothing we have tried so far has worked. We have now come to the point in our journey of trying to create a tiny human that IVF is our only option.
What is IVF?
The very short, non-scientific version: IVF or in vitro fertilization is a process in which eggs are retrieved from the mother and fertilized by the father’s sperm in one of two ways, using traditional IVF: putting the sperm and egg together and letting the spermies do their thing, or ICSI: the doctors choose the best sperm and inject it into the egg. The egg is then left to incubate and become an embryo. After a few days the embryo grows and is placed back into the woman’s uterus to grow and be nourished and come back out, nine months later as an adorable tiny human.
So, why don’t you do IVF?
Sadly, IVF is very expensive and is not covered by our insurance. Until recently, we have been fortunate enough to have some insurance coverage for my infertility treatments, however, due to recent changes in the health care system, we will no longer even have the coverage that we once did. While our policy says that it covers “50% of the diagnosis and treatment of infertility” there is a large list of exclusions including: medications for the treatment of infertility, artificial insemination and IVF. So basically, it doesn’t cover anything at all. While the little coverage it does offer is somewhat helpful for testing, it does not help people like me with blocked tubes and scar tissue build up from endometriosis.
What about the risk of multiples with IVF? What do you want, a litter?
Yes, there is an elevated risk of multiples with the use of fertility medications and IVF, but there are ways to prevent multiples by only transferring one or two embryos (depending on the embryo quality). There are a lot of dangers associated with carrying multiples and doctors do everything they can to prevent HOM (higher order multiples). Most often, people who get pregnant with a “litter” do so because they go against doctor’s orders. For example, there is a family who went through fertility treatments (IUI or Intrauterine Insemination or Artificial Insemination) who responded too well to the medications. The woman had far too many mature follicles (eggs) and her doctor cancelled that treatment cycle. She and her husband were told to abstain or use protection to avoid HOM. They chose to ignore doctors orders and voila: a litter of children. In another case, in which a woman had eight babies, she went to a very irresponsible doctor that choose to implant far too many embryos. Thankfully, we go to a clinic that works in conjunction with UC Davis. Our doctors are ethical, well educated and well practiced.
What happens if you have lots of embryos? Would you just throw the ones you don’t use away, or leave them in deep freeze forever?
Absolutely not. We believe that life is created when sperm meets egg. Just throwing away or freezing our embryos forever would be like throwing away a tiny human or freezing one forever! There are a few options for us: Any extra eggs retrieved, that we didn't use during this cycle to achieve pregnancy, can be frozen for us to use to be able to give our potential child a sibling, later. The cost of a frozen embryo transfer is much less that the full cost of another cycle of IVF. Also, if we were to have more embryos than we wanted to use for ourselves, we could donate the embryos to another couple struggling with having a child that has egg quality issues.
Isn’t there something else you can do?
There is a surgery, called a laporoscopy, that helps with the removal of that scar tissue. I have had this surgery twice and while it has helped alleviate a lot of discomfort, the doctors cannot remove the tissue surrounding my ovaries or blocking my tubes without the risk of damaging them and creating further problems with my fertility. Hence my doctor’s recommendation that we do IVF.
Why don’t you just adopt?
That’s a good question and some day we might, but for now, we would like to try and have our own biological child. Plus, adoption is very expensive (more so than IVF) and the wait time to adopt a baby in the US is four to five years.
I think you two will be excellent parents. What can I do to help?
Well, we are asking people to help fund our IVF procedure by DONATING HERE or by using PayPal's "Send" option, to Daydrmsam@gmail.com. Any amount will help. At our clinic, one cycle of retrieval and embryo transfer costs $9,500 (an additional cost for ICSI is $1,500) plus the cost of medications, which is an additional $6,000-8,000. While we have applied for grants and the Compassionate Care medication program, so have a lot of other couples and they are difficult to get. We are trying to fundraise the full amount of $17,500. While we have the means to care for a child, we don’t have such a large amount of money at our disposal and financing options for treatment have high interest rates.
I would like to help, but don’t feel comfortable donating through a website.
Please feel free to email us at Daydrmsam@gmail.com and I would be happy to send you our address and you can mail us a check or money.
I’m sorry you’re going through this. I don’t know what to say.
Battling infertility is hard and people often don’t know how to comfort their friends and loved ones who are going through this difficult journey. Here are some resources to help you know what to say, and what not to say, to people struggling with infertility: http://www.resolve.org/support-and-services/for-family--friends/