Making Decisions About Infertility

It has been a busy weekend! First, a couple of housekeeping updates.

1. My cycle day is 3 – just started on Monday. Felt a bit of nausea on Sunday morning after breakfast and I rushed upstairs to take a pregnancy test. What a waste of perfectly good test. 😦 A total bummer but not unexpected. I am trying to be the person that just “doesn’t think about it,” but it’s really hard to do that.

2. On Tuesday I had a consultation with Dr. Horowitz; a fertility specialist with Shers Institute of Reproductive Medicine. His office is in Peoria which is why we did this over the phone. More on this later.

3. I did some grocery shopping on Saturday and spent around $200. I basically let the cupboards go bare so I could stock them back up with healthier foods. Not that we are unhealthy eaters (aside from the occasional dinner out and the few and far between McDonald’s run.) I trashed the white flour, sugar and boxes of panko bread crumbs that I know I’ll never use. I tried pawning an unopened box of Bisquick onto a family member but they had none of it.

4. My dog Louie has been sick the last two days. At first I thought he had too much action over the weekend. Our six-year-old nephew, Zack slept over and you can imagine how crazy that got. At least as crazy as it can get for people who don’t actually have children. Whoohoo! Anyway, I took Louie to the vet this morning for a once over and learned he has a small viral infection which probably caused the shits and vomit that ended up on my bedroom floor. $142 later I have an antibiotic and a small bag of “low residue” dog food to give Louie until I get the thumbs up to resume his regiment. Poor little guy is pooped! (Pardon the pun.)

And now for the information gleaned from yesterday’s consultation. . .

Pregnancy is a complicated thing. Sure, you have the folks who merely bump into each other in passing who become pregnant. Those people are not normal. Not normal! From what I’ve been told, a healthy woman in her 20’s only has a 20% chance each month of conceiving naturally. The rate drops dramatically as we age. At 37 I have a 2% chance each month. (Insert a generous amount of swear words here.)

Before our experience with the IUI procedures I really didn’t know a whole lot about the complexities of getting pregnant and maintaining a pregnancy.  Man meets woman, sperm meets egg, whola! Yea. Not so much.

Dr. Horowitz from Peoria told me that I basically have four options.

1. Do Nothing and keep hoping we get pregnant – Been there, done that. It hasn’t worked.

2. Clomid – We’ve also tried this several times. Again, hasn’t worked.

3. Gonadotropins with timed intercourse – these magical little injections rev up the right hormones to produce a generous amount of mature eggs in the hopes we can get pregnant.

4. IVF

Having these conversations is really difficult because of the costs involved. If the medications and procedures were more modestly priced I can say we would go full steam ahead. Instead, we’re looking at $2,500 to $3,000 for a timed cycle with “stronger” meds and at least $11,000 if we did IVF. Keep in mind, the $11,000 does not include medications or anesthesia, etc. It’s a small fortune that we don’t have lying around.

Over the last few days Eric and I have talked about trying the Gonadotropin cycle with timed intercourse. Gonadotropins are protein hormones that play a critical role in reproduction. Wikipedia describes Menotropins as “consisting of gonadotropins that are extracted from the urine of postmenopausal women,[1] usually luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH).[2][3]

I am not quite clear on the difference between Gonadotropins and Clomid but I think Clomid is more limited in that it is a medication that specifically blocks estrogen in order to stimulate the ovaries to produce mature follicles. Menotropins on the other hand, affect the production of luteinizing hormones, follicle stimulating hormones and human chorionic gonadotropin (or hCG). hCG is extremely important in supporting the temporary structure that produces progesterone – a hormone required during pregnancy which lines the uterus and prepares it for the length of the pregnancy.

The terminology and how everything works is enough to make my head spin! The further we delve into this experience the more amazed I am at how everything works. But the question still comes down to cost. Do we throw $2,500 at the problem and hope that it works or do we go right for the IVF and hope that it works? Either way it’s a crap shoot.

In a previous post I had talked about a new technique called Micro or Mini IVF. I thought that we might be a candidate but it turns out that I am too old. Yikes! Basically it’s the same as traditional IVF but without the strong medications. This is used in cases where a woman has the potential to be overstimulated. Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome can cause a lot of problems including the production of too many follicles. If you want to know more about OHSS you can read it here. Considering that I produced 6 mature follicles on Clomid and hCG alone there is a risk for me in taking stronger meds.

I feel like I am jumping on the roller coaster again with all of this new information. I don’t want to give up hope of having a baby but sometimes it hurts to hope so much. It takes a lot of energy. I know other people are in a similar boat and I don’t mean to complain. It’s just how I’m feeling at the moment.

In the next post I’ll be talking about a local event called Birdies For Babies that was founded by a couple who had trouble conceiving several years ago. This golf outing event now raises up to $20,000 for a chosen couple to use towards IVF costs. It’s a very cool thing! I’ve signed up to volunteer in whatever way I can. I think it will be neat to see all of the families that have been helped by this event. Stay tuned!

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