Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Fundraising: A New Plan

We've had our donation page open for about a month now and the donations have been slower than we had hoped.  I know that in this economic climate not everyone has money to give away for nothing and so we've been thinking about different ways to try and encourage assistance.  A few friends suggested a raffle and we spent some time weighing the pros and cons of doing one and if we did, what sort of "prize" we might use.  We decided on alcohol... I wasn't too sure about this at first, thinking it was hardly appropriate given that the money will ultimately go towards IVF treatments, but then I noticed that all the local kids sports clubs and even some local school fundraisers have some kinds of alcohol prizes in the mix.  Besides... we know our audience and our family, both work and blood, are definitely going to be more interested in alcohol than just about anything else we can afford to come up with.

We decided to put together this cool mini bar.  It's a box that opens up into a bar, contains two tumblers and shot glasses and coasters and then multiple mini bottles of booze.  It's really super cute and I haven't seen anything like this around before.  It has actually generated a bunch of interest and people are definitely more keen to drop some money on a chance that they might win something.  I also feel less shy to ask people to buy raffle tickets than I am to ask people to give me money for nothing.  I feel less like a beggar. :)

So far all I've done is posted a picture on FB and printed 2 small black and white (not great) fliers to share with people at work.  We've raised an additional $180 just in 24 hours so that's pretty good. We still have a LONG way to go to reach the needed $15,000 but every little bit helps. A lot of people have told me that they're waiting on pay day on Friday so I will keep you updated.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Taking a DHEA Break

Urg... I was going to save the next supplement update for 2 weeks time and give you a full month feedback but this change came with such a dramatic hormonal performance I feel like I should add this in right now so everyone is aware of this potential side effect.

I mentioned in another post how I started feeling a little more emotional than normal, but I figured it might just be DHEA, a little PMS mixed in with an emotional day (Father's Day) and lack of sleep.

Last week I was bouncing off the walls with emotions.  Literally up one second and down the next and then crying, then angry and then outrageously happy or excited.  By Saturday I was a mess.  I was having panic attacks, crying -- I mean SOBBING -- at the drop of a hat and one minute I felt like I wanted to slap Mr. R and the next I wanted to hug him and just cry.  Bless him he was so patient in dealing with me and it gives me hope for how he will be when it comes time to hit the hormones for treatment, but really  this was NOT fun.

I am convinced that it is related to the DHEA and so I stopped taking it on Saturday.  Yesterday (Sunday) I felt a bit better, not as emotional and today (Monday) I feel better still.  More in control of myself.  I plan to give myself a week long DHEA break and then maybe bring it back at a lower dose, and go for a week on, and then a week off, and repeat like that until we stim.  Dr. C has already told me no DHEA after we get started.  He's not a big fan of the stuff.

Anyway, if anyone out there is following along with the supps I am taking, I would advise you to keep a close eye on the DHEA because WOWZA did it ever cause a reaction in me!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Discount IVF Meds

Woohoo!  A little good news today from EMD Serono (remember the Compassionate Care application I submitted for up to 75% discount on my Gonal F and Cetrotide).  I faxed the application paperwork to them on Tuesday evening, and received my card and number, etc today by email.  What a relief! (and such amazingly fast turnaround time.) 

I realize that's just a discount on 2 of the 6 meds I will be needing, but as has been my motto through most of this planning stage, every little bit helps. 

I have discovered that there are two other programs that may offer reduced rates on meds that I need.  Heart + and Design Rx.  However, these two programs are pharmacy specific I am told by my finance rep at the RE.  In other words, only certain pharmacies will accept the discounts, and the pharmacy that my RE prefers (read: is pushing me) to use is not one of them. 

Heart +
This program is, again, not going to save thousands of dollars.  The website states, up to $500 though only one of the meds on my list - Novarel - is covered by this plan, and I have no idea what that costs, so I am quite sure that the full $500 savings won't apply here. Heart + offers eligible patients savings on prescriptions for Bravelle, Menopur, Endometrin and Novarel.

From their website:  DesignRx partners with pharmaceutical manufacturers through its elite network of specialty pharmacies to offer unique programs to help patients with little or no drug coverage. The DesignRx pharmacies are carefully chosen to participate in the network based on their distribution volumes, geographical locations, experience within a given disease state, and overall patient customer service.
I seem to have registered for this one, but really it's all not very clear.  I need to do a bit more digging to try and figure out what it is that I signed up for, as there seems to be some type of membership forum attached to the site as well.  At any rate, they discount Crinone 4 which is on my meds list.

Here's where I could use some help/advice/opinions...

1) Have you ever used either of these programs (Heart + or Design Rx)?  Were they worthwhile?

2)  What pharmacies do you recommend?  My RE likes Freedom Pharmacy but they really push them a lot and I get the feeling that theirs is a mutually beneficial relationship - which usually does not bode well for patient prices.  I don't mind going through multiple pharmacies, I just need to keep the costs as low as possible and I would at least like to have something to compare Freedom to, to make sure that I am getting the best deal.

Any advice from those of you who have walked this road before me would be GREATLY appreciated!!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Supplement Cocktail - 2 Week Update

Today I finally got my order in and have added wheatgrass, Maca and Chaste Tree (Vitex) to my daily supplements.  I've already learned that PB protein shake and wheatgrass should never, NEVER be mixed together... under any circumstances!  Awful stuff.  But given the price of wheatgrass I gulped it down like a good girl anyway. :) 

As a reminder, here's what I am currently taking daily:

CoQ10 - 800mg/day
DHEA - 75mg/day
Royal Jelly - 456mg (concentrate) / day. If you have the jelly itself you need 1500mg/day
Fish, Flax, Borage, Omega 3,6,9 - 2 caps/ day
Melatonin - 3mg/day
Prenatal Vitamin - 1/day
L-Arginine - 1 cap 3x/day
Black Cohosh 3 caps/day
Ginseng - 1 cap/day
Thai Ginger- 1 cap/day
Vit D3 - 1000mg / day
Baby Aspirin 1/day
Red Raspberry Tea - 1cup/day

I have now added:

Maca - 2 caps/day
Vitex - 2 caps/day
Wheatgrass - one shot/sachet

Still waiting on :


Actually, I've been taking my other mother-load of supplements for close to two weeks now and I haven't yet mentioned anything about what I am feeling as a result, aside from this post where I thought maybe the DHEA was partly to blame for my agitation.

Really there hasn't been much to note.  I suppose I have been noticing more "twingy" feeling in that general area, but then I am more focused on it than normal. 

I can definitely say that this has been the most painful period I've had in a while, and for someone with endometriosis that's saying something!  This month has been the kind where you get up at night and pace and cry and rock yourself back and forth and give in and take a hydrocodone to numb the pain.  This may be TMI... but it's important for me to track this... I am usually a clotter.  Every period is just horrendous with the large clots but this cycle (maybe from baby aspirin) the clots have been MUCH smaller, but the flow has been heavier. 

My skin has been a little oilier than normal, and I have super oily skin to start with so I am not enjoying that.  Also I have had a small break out, not unusual for me at this time of the month.  I will keep an eye on it and let you know if it continues past this week.

Other than the above my nails are growing long and strong as you'd expect and thanks to the melatonin I am sleeping deep and full of crazy dreams.  Oh!  And I have definitely been more energetic and am getting more done in the day -- but then this has been ramping up slowly with my weight loss as well.  I kind of feel half as though I am "nesting".  Clearing out closets, and cleaning behind large pieces of furniture.

I'll check back after a full month with a recap, but so far I am not experiencing anything that would deter me from continuing to take this cocktail of supplements at all. Everything has been mild, apart from my cramps - but they suck anyway. On the flip side, I am also not experiencing anything that leads me to believe that this wonder-mix is working it's magic.  We're going on blind faith here people... isn't that pretty much ALL we do in dealing with infertility? 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Fundraising Progress

As I mentioned in my previous post my attention of late has largely been focused on the financing of our great IVF adventure.  You may remember this post where I said that we had $3,000 in savings and worked out the balance we would require? Yeah.  As I alluded to in that post, things changed... That $3,000 has dwindled down over the last two months.  You see Mr. R was working in a "fill my time" job just to bring in a little cash until he could get back into his chosen career.  What we didn't realize is just HOW little that job would bring in.  Rent was due, I was maxed out on all our other bills, we had to hit the savings.  ERG!

We're putting it all back again this month though.  I am working any and all overtime available and as I have mentioned, I also have a sideline online business that I have been ramping up lately.  Our current Savings total is $2,325.94 which includes $520 in family donations to our donation web page.

I mentioned in passing to my mother last week that I might as well contact the company which holds my old South African retirement policy and see if they will let me cash it in early or if there are any options.  I only paid into it for like 3 years and froze it when I left the country.  The exchange rate from Rands to Dollars is 10 to 1, so I expected R3,000 or $300.  Still... $300 is $300!  Not to be sneezed at when you're pulling out all the stops.  I'd give them a call and figure something out.

Well on Tuesday last week I did just that and guess what?!?!?  My policy that has been left alone these past 7 years is worth a little more than I thought.  In the region of R50,000!!  ($5,000)  That's a third of the money we need!  Apparently since I have officially emigrated they are able to provide me with access to the money now.  I don't fully understand how or why, but I was so excited that I woke Mr. R up to share the good news! (To call during business hours in South Africa I needed to stay up till 2am).  I am scared to count that money into our saving total until it is IN my hand and not just a theory.  There are numerous hilarious "third world-y" hoops through which I need to jump in order to receive this money and knowing how things usually work in my country I expect several people to claim a slice of the pie before it reaches my bank account.  (THIS is the pessimist in me again. haha)

So here's a summary.

What is working for us:

-  Cashing in old forgotten about policies in foreign lands!!

- Online side jobs which can be completed while at my full-time job, thus creating two pay checks for the same hour.  :)  (Don't worry, no one's life is at stake when I do my second job at my first job).

What is not working for us:

Donation page.  We're finding that family and friends are not nearly as generous as we had hoped.  (Does this sound ungrateful? I guess I am being honest here.)  People who we know to be very wealthy and who seemed very sympathetic about our situation haven't made any donations at all.  I'm talking close, family members and friends.  People we consider our "besties".  And then on the opposite side of things we are shocked by the donations no matter how small made by people we know are going through terribly rough time right now financially, and whom we don't really know AS well....  Funny isn't it how situations like this can bring clarity to different areas in our lives.  Our parents have been putting in as much as they can but they're also not in any great financial position to help right now.  Well, not all our parents are helping... "TV Dad" seems to think that we don't need IVF, and should rather rely on prayer... though what the baby Jesus is going to do about a 15 year old vasectomy I don't quite now.  (This may be another reason why I was irritated at his presence in our home yesterday.) 

- Overtime. Really, as much as I want to believe that all these extra hours I am spending tied to a desk at work for 12 hours are paying off I don't think that they are. If I do one full extra night shift I only make a little under $200.  I am going to need to do a WHOLE lot of them in order to bring us closer to the kind of money we need.  And all this time I spend at work means less time I see Mr. R.  He works days, and I work nights so we literally see each other for 5 minutes as he leaves work and I am about to go into work.  We meet for a kiss and a hug in a parking lot.  Given the amount of stress all this is causing, I don't know how well we're going to be able to keep this up as a couple.

What we're trying next...

We've decided to try and up the ante on the donation page a little. I figure people are less likely to give a handout for nothing than they are to take a gamble on a potential prize.  We looked at our friend group and decided that the prize should be something alcoholic (we're in Law Enforcement remember?) and so we're in the process of assembling this cool little mini bar box, and filling it with loads of alcoholic minis.  It's super cute and I feel like it will be an affordable way to make something unique and "raffle" worthy.  Hopefully it will bring us the donations... *cough* excuse me, interest in ticket purchases, that we need to start really making progress.

I'll report back soon with progress on this.  I feel like keeping this blog updated with the finances will help us keep our focus, and help us be more accountable.

As of 6/17/2013 - $2,325.94 / $15,083.75
(and I am going to add this to the sidebar and see if I can find a little visual representation of our progress to add as well.)

Monday, June 17, 2013

Hopeful? Or Stupid?

I am weak.  I had resigned myself to focusing ONLY on the business immediately at hand - MONEY!  I had decided not to think about what MIGHT come of this project.  Not to consider what life might be like this time next year if we are successful.  I am a pessimist, and Mr. R is an optimist.  We balance each other out perfectly... I make him consider cold hard facts, and he makes me consider the joy in any situation.  It works PERFECTLY -- usually.

Mr. Rs dad was in town this weekend for Father's day and his birthday.  He's a nice man, quiet, has a weird (annoying) sense of humor, but he's a dad so what's new?  He arrived on Friday and spent all day out with Mr. R at movies on Saturday. I awoke Sunday to the TV blaring in the living room.  Ugh... here we go... You see Mr. R is a movie junkie, and so are his father and brother... But Mr. R actually likes to DO other stuff... his brother and dad do not.  So my Sunday was spent outside with Mr.R barbecuing lunch for everyone, or rushing through the boom of the TV in the pitch black living room to get to the quiet, cool, peace of my bedroom.  His father and brother made a few cursory attempts at conversation outdoors, before pronouncing it too hot and disappeared back inside where they commandeered the remote for the rest of the day.  While my poor guy was out in the mosquitoes and the blazing sun making lunch. Erg...

Now I can't say that I've noticed many side-effects from all these supplements, but yesterday I THINK I noticed some of the DHEA rage I've heard mentioned.  I was annoyed.  I felt trapped in my own home.  I felt uncomfortable and I felt super defensive of my guy being walked over... How rational I was being is debatable.  I just know that I felt out of place and uncomfortable and closed in and I needed some air.

My lovely guy decided we needed to go out for some fro-yo and a breather.  Bless him!

Knowing that Target (right across the street from fro-yo shop) is my happy place he offered to endure a quick browse through the clearance sections (one of my favorite things to do in the whole wide world). There were a few things, as always, that caught my eye but nothing worth taking money away from savings for so I was about to walk out empty handed as we passed the end caps down the middle of the store near the baby aisles...

Ohhhhhh Target baby aisles how I love you.  I peek out of the corner of my eye every time I go to your store.  I daren't ever go in for a closer look.   I might cry if I do that. I dream of the day I'll be able to go into Target and walk straight into that aisle and pick something out for my own baby. I've had that dream for 7 years now. Last night something brazen flickered in my heart and I turned to Mr. R and said, "Hey, let's just go and pick out ONE thing for our baby.  Just one small, inexpensive thing. Something positive and symbolic of our faith that this will work."

He was shocked.  As I said earlier, MY role is pessimist, HIS role is optimist.  HE is supposed to be the one making these kinds of suggestions... He went along with it and the two of us went in.  I felt SO uncomfortable squeezing past the heavily pregnant woman looking at receiving blankets.  Did I feel her belly check me?  Probably not.  I wanted to turn to her and say, "You know, you're going to receive so many of those as gifts at your shower, don't waste your money." But who was I to offer that kind of advice?  I held my tongue and kept browsing.  Reality started to creep back in as I began trying to work my way out of the aisle and back to the safety of the walkway without looking awkward...

"Babe?" I heard Mr. R, one aisle, over call me.  I seized my chance to escape and almost ran out to the middle to meet him.  He held aloft a small package.  "These are perfect!  A little bit of Africa.  Good for boy or girl.... or both," he squeaked that last part out.  I wrapped my arms around his neck and kissed him.  Tears were welling up in my eyes. THIS is the man I want to be the father of my child/ren.  We left the store and got our yogurt.  This sweet little token of our hopes tucked away in my purse.

Happy Father's Day my love.  Even if we are unsuccessful in all of this, know that I would choose you again and again to be the father of my babies. 

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Goals: # 4 Research Different Protocols for DOR

If you're just joining us now, this is the list of my personal goals as I work towards raising enough money and preparing my body for IVF treatment in Sep, 2013.  Here is a list of the previous posts in this series if you would like to look back.


1)  Financing.
2)  Improve AMH
3)  Egg Quality
4)  Research protocols for DOR IVF


Okay, I won't lie.  I am WAY over my head on this one.  I've read... maybe 50 articles on PubMed discussing various protocols for DOR patients.  Some say Add GnRH AND Micro HCG.  Others say adding HCG can lower the clinical pregnancy rates.  I know for a fact that my protocol, chosen by Dr. C will include Micro-HCG so I am specifically looking into studies that include it.  *Sigh*  I am WAY over my head. 

All the information I have on my protocol is a list of the drugs I will be needing.  Part of me wants to know exactly what he's planning so I can get opinions and reviews from those who have gone before me.  Another part of me wants to just let the man do his job and not stress over the intricacies of the protocol he has come up with. I am torn between the two.

So if you want to drive yourself batty I recommend that you mosey on over to PubMed and go hog-wild.  As for me... I think I am going to sit on this one a little longer.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Goals: #3 Improving Egg Quality

Let's take a quick peek at where we've been before we look at Goal #3.


1)  Financing.
2)  Improve AMH
3)  Egg Quality
4)  Research protocols for DOR


In my situation, and according to Dr. C, my egg quality is not a concern however I have read enough sad stories of ladies with DOR who only got 4 eggs and they were all of poor quality - despite their young age.  At 34 I know I am no longer in my baby-making prime, but according to the good doctor I am not quite yet a shriveled old hag, in spite of what my empty ovaries would have you believe.  This middle ground is one of the things that concerns me in all of this.  If I was 25 they'd say "You're young!  They'll be perfect!" If I was 45 they'd say, "You're older and so we're not expecting beautiful eggs." At 34 opinions vary from doctor to doctor. Being the OCD perfectionist that I am, I'm going to take precautionary measures just in case.

Look, as I've previously mentioned we're killing ourselves to come up with money for this one cycle.  Dr. C provides unlimited FET, but I do not anticipate having any spares for freezing. Those of us for whom IVF is a luxury well beyond our budget ALL say, "I have this one shot." But those of us on a shoestring budget AND who have DOR really may only have ONE shot.  There will be no extra eggs for FET, one single try.  You're in, or you're out.  (And really... the interwebs, have shown me that I might not even get the one try I am hoping for.  If I only get three eggs, and none of them are good, or don't develop properly, that's it.  I am out before I even get started.)

But, I digress... egg quality.  We want them plump and healthy and ready to get to work.  We want them perfect.  P-E-R-F-E-C-T! But how?  I'll collate all the tips I have learned in one place, but first I want to give the sources a moment in the sun... (Speaking of sun... how are you doing on that Vit D for increasing AMH?)

Ready for some linkage?  Here it comes.

One in Ten Million - Blog
So here's (in my opinion) the creme de la creme of resources for those of us with DOR, or POF. Cole Jeanette is one tenacious lady and she has, in 4 short months, taken her body from a 1 in 10 million chance of falling pregnant to pregnant with twins.  *Gasp!* I know!!!  She lists EVERYTHING she took and alternative therapies she tried on her blog and gives clear, easy-to-follow instructions on anything that you will need to "MacGuyver" at home for yourself. This is my number one recommendation.  If you read nothing else I post, definitely go and read just this ONE blog.  You'll learn a lot! (and you'll notice how many of her suggestions are in my list below)

Natural Fertility Info
I know, here I go with the "touchy feely" sites again, but despite the name this site is very explanatory.  I thought I knew all there was to know about my ovaries and the eggs therein from Bio class in school.  Boy was I wrong.  Lot's of interesting information here and great clear diagrams.  Also some hints and tips on how to naturally  improve your egg quality in 90 days.

News Medical
This isn't a pretty, easy to use site and they don't focus on fertility specifically, it's more general medical.  But I found this article on the use of Melatonin to improve egg quality to be very interesting and I wanted to include it.

The Magic List

At this point you may wish to grab yourself a cup of coffee and a note pad, oh and a full pen... I am talking brand new, fully stocked with ink.  The list is long.


I'll start off with the ones I am taking.  Note that some of these are dual-purpose and were mentioned in my previous post about increasing AMH.

CoQ10 - 800mg/day
DHEA - 75mg/day
Royal Jelly - 456mg (concentrate) / day. If you have the jelly itself you need 1500mg/day
Fish, Flax, Borage, Omega 3,6,9 - 2 caps/ day
Melatonin - 3mg/day
Prenatal Vitamin - 1/day
L-Arginine - 1 cap 3x/day
Black Cohosh 3 caps/day
Ginseng - 1 cap/day
Thai Ginger- 1 cap/day
Vit D3 - 1000mg / day
Baby Aspirin 1/day
Red Raspberry Tea - 1cup/day

Here's how 1 full day's intake looks (Actually, I have added some stuff since these were taken):

Some others (slightly more difficult to find if you live out in the country like me, but I have ordered them and am waiting on delivery.)

Chaste Tree (AKA Vitex)
Pregnitude (easy to find this one, online only, but too pricy for me right now, and I am concerned about taking this WITH my existing prenatal before I speak with Dr. C again)


Fertility acupuncture
Fertility Yoga
Fertility Massage
Mayan Fertility Massage (Difficult to find a qualified practitioner on this one)
Castor Oil packs

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Goals: #2 Improve AMH?

Today I'm going to get into Step 2 of my Goals list.  As a reminder, here's the list again:


1)  Financing.
3)  Egg Quality.
4)  Research protocols for DOR

So, yeah, improving AMH levels... Impossible right?  I was told as much by Dr. C however I proved him wrong in 4 short months by losing weight, eating clean, drinking 1gal of water per day and adding Fish, Flax, Borage, Omega 3,6,9 oil supplements.  I increased my AMH from <0.16 to 0.28 -- now I realize that those of you who don't have DOR will look at that and laugh at the "improvement" but my DOR girls will know what a big deal ANY improvement on that number is.  It IS possible.  I've already done it once.  I WILL do it again. Mark. My. Words.

There are few good sources of info on improving this online.  I will link to what I consider to be the best below.  (Actually, I think for convenience I will add a link list to my sidebar which will include ALL helpful links that I post about.)

The one I've seen posted about most frequently is Dr. Malpani and I think it's because he gives the clearest list of supplements/steps to take.

Here's what Dr. Malpani recommends:

1. Yoga
2. Acupuncture
3. ** DHEA, 25mg thrice a day. (tee-hee I love a man who uses "thrice")
4. Wheat germ daily
5. CoQ 10, 100 mg daily
6. Vit D3 ( Calcirol), 60000 IU, once a week for 10 weeks

In this article on the writer doesn't give much weight at all to AMH levels calling them unreliable.  She goes on to state that weight loss can improve these numbers.  I am inclined to agree with her on this part.  I've proven it myself, 40lbs down = an improvement of at least 0.12 points. Okay, so I've not solved the puzzle completely but given that "ideal" is 1-2, I'd say that's a pretty good leap, no?   In a more recent article she recommends a Vitamin D supplement and calls Vit D deficiency a "virtual epidemic".  Living in one of the sunniest states in the nation I have never been concerned with a lack of Vit D, but if it's being recommended by at least two sources I am going to give it a go.  Can't hurt, right?  I can also say that at first CD3 test in December, 2012 I was pretty much indoors all the time and seeing as how I have worked nights for two years I don't really spend a lot of time in the sun.  At time of second test in May, 2013 I was walking outdoors on a track in the sun almost daily in the afternoon for a minimum of 1 hour.  More sun = more Vit D = improved numbers.  It might be a bit of a stretch, but I can see that.  Be advised the FertileHeart site is very "new agey" and "touchy feely" in nature, but they do have some very interesting articles and I value and agree with their opinion on this.

Natural Fertility Info is another great resource site with natural supplements you can add to your regimen to support your body's natural functions and nourishing the edocrine system.  They make no claims that their suggestions will miraculously cure your low AMH. That being said, a number of the suggestions on their list are recommended above, and in tomorrows post on improving egg quality, so I am happy to throw them in with the pile of supps I am already taking.

And I am afraid that's it. I've scoured countless blogs and forums for the miracle AMH increase trick but aside from the above nothing of any real value comes back and I haven't been able to find any published studies that support either of the above two options either.  So when it comes to improving AMH we're kind of on our own.  None of the above would hurt though, right? (** There are warnings associated with DHEA so definitely research that one some more before you take it).  But what can it hurt to increase Vit D intake?  To add a little wheatgrass to your regimen?  Top that up with some CoQ10?  (One of these days I'll post a pic of my daily supplement intake that will have you in stitches I am sure!)

There you have it. Improving AMH is, in my opinion, not impossible, but not going to be quick, easy, or certain.  I feel that the changes required are not drastic and so I will continue working on the above in the hopes that by the time we get to trigger I have a bountiful crop of lovely, strong follies and many, many eggs! Now, please excuse me while I meditate on that... "Ohm... bountiful eggs, Ohmmm"

UPDATE:  In January 2014, after 6 months on this regime I have improved my numbers further.  Unfortunately AMH was not tested this round. But the other numbers look GREAT!  

UPDATE: In April 2014, my AMH has risen again, almost double what it was in May 2013 at 0.53.  Look, it's still not a normal 1, but I am halfway there! 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Goals: #1 Financing

What does any self-professed perfectionist do when they get results like these?  They research like crazy to figure out the BEST way to achieve their goal.  Well, no, that's not quite true... FIRST they make a list (in order of importance).  ;)


1)  Financing.  Need MONEY!
3)  Egg Quality.
4)  Research protocols for DOR 

Let's delve deeper shall we?


Our procedure from start to finish going to cost is $18,945 which breaks down as follows:

- RE: $10,695
- Egg Guy/Lab: $2,750
- Meds:  $4,500-5,500
- Urologist: $1,000

We already have (HAD... more on this in a later post) $3,000 so we needed to come up with an additional $15,945. *GULP!*

Now, my RE will allow me to pay 75% down on the first two items.  $10,083.75 and will allow us to pay the balance of $3,366.25 off over 6 months post test/end of cycle with first payment due in 30 days post test.

*My mouth gets dry just reading those numbers.  How about you?*

There is another beacon of hope here.  There is a program called Compassionate Care which may assist us with the medication costs.  Not all, but some of the meds in my protocol are covered.  (Gonal-F and Cetrotide.  They also cover Ovidrel, but Dr. C prefers to use Novarel and the good doctor will get what he wishes if I have to pay for it myself... somehow).  The Compassionate Care program is income based.  I am told that they will first examine my insurance coverage to ensure that there is no overlap, then enroll me into the program based on my income.  They offer a percentage based discount up to 75% off the total cost of these medications.  Looking at the bill of around $5,000 you betcha I'd like to see that discount! So that's (hopefully) 2 of the 5 drugs.   

Do you have any recommendations for pharmacies online or otherwise?  I see so many on the forums buying their meds online, but I am terrified of some fly by night scoundrel running off with my hard earned money.  I'm specifically looking for Micro HcG, Novarel, Estrace and Crinone 4 -- though some of these I am sure will have to be dispensed by the doctor, I am keen to have alternative suppliers lined up, just in case I have that option.

So let's assume the financial aid with Compassionate Care, and the dodgy internet purveyor of fine hormones can help me cut the pharmacy bill down to around $4,000, that, plus $1,000 for Urologist, plus the $10,083.75 down-payment with Dr. C brings us to $15,083.75 to get started, and then we sell the babe to the pixies for a pot of gold to pay the rest off within 6 months.


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Improving Odds

With the second round of CD3 testing concluded, we found ourselves back in Dr. C's lobby waiting for our appointment.  Other patients who arrived later were seen first... we waited some more... Having read other blogs, I know this doesn't make for good news... I had worked a 12 hour night shift, as had Mr. R.  We got home, showered and headed straight to Dr. C... a 1.5 hour drive. I was tired, and starting to freak out... I cried.  My best friend B, in town from South Africa on a visit, tried to console me to no avail.  Dr. C had something bad to tell me, I could feel it.

Finally the nurse ushered us into the waiting room.  Took my weight and BP and complimented me on my weight loss.  She seated us in a consulting room and we waited... and waited... in fact I dozed off and on in my chair.  Finally, growing restless Mr. R checked with the nurse who sent in Dr. C's assistant who explained that the doctor was held over in surgery that had gone longer than expected.  *sigh of relief followed by sadness for that poor woman who, it seemed, may be in a worse place than me right now* I agreed to wait a little longer and fell back asleep.  It was now 1.5 hours beyond our appointment time and 2 hours since our arrival.  Assistant came back in to say that we were welcome to go on home and she would have the doctor Skype us, since we live so far away.  She asked for our phone number and we headed out.

We live in the COUNTRY and have no access to Starbucks so I wanted to stop and get a drink.  (yes, yes, I know caffeine is like the devil when it comes to fertility.  Don't judge me!)  We just pulled into the parking lot when the phone rang, it was Dr. C and he said he had some good news... well, better than last time, but let's be real here, it's not hard to beat that news!


AMH:  0.28
FSH:  10
E2:  23

(I think I am going to pop my test results, as well as what are considered "normal" readings in the side bar for quick reference.  Check there if you want to know how far below "normal" I am).
He was happy about the improvements, surprised to see even that little improvement on the AMH and said it was looking more promising than last time.  He is now willing to give us odds of about 25% but also said that this is based around our possibly not getting any useable eggs.  He has no concerns about my egg quality given my age -- if you've read any blogs or forums you will know, like I do, that your physical age means nothing when it comes to egg quality! -- but he is more concerned about how many we might get, and how many will fertilize so he is being conservative with that figure.  However, if we get 2-3 decent eggs fertilized for transfer, he is comfortable giving us back the 60% odds of conception.  WOOHOO!!

"There is some bad news though..." *deep breath in* "... I am concerned about how much time has passed and given your numbers I want to stress to you that you do not have time to waste here.  The estimates I have given you are based on taking action by Aug/Sep at the latest.  How far are you with finances?  Have you spoken with our finance department?  There are excellent IVF lending programs out there."

Oh, the finances... They've bothered me from day 1. Honestly, for a person who is not at all concerned with the trappings of wealth, finances sure do trip me up a lot!  We've both gone through divorces recently enough that our credit is still ruined.  We both endured foreclosures on our homes and were left with sky-high credit card debt.  Being the "leaver" comes at a high cost it seems! No bank in their right mind would loan us a penny right now.  No,  if this was going to happen it was going to be from the sweat of our brows and the kindness of family donations.

We sat for a moment and let the conversation sink in.  Mr. R knows me well enough to know that I can be a tenacious b*tch when I have to be.  He has witnessed it all through my weight loss.  If I have a goal I immerse myself in it.  I research it.  I live it. I breathe it like air.  He knew in that moment that I now had a goal, a cut-off date.  And I think he knew right there that the next 60-90 days were going to be hell for him.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Losing It

What you don't yet know about me is that I have always been pretty chunky - "corn fed" as Mr. R likes to call me.  6ft tall and at this point in my journey weighing 235lbs (already down 40lbs in weight lost just prior to making the decision to divorce).  I felt good, but I could feel the weight creeping back up again.  In my new found happiness I had grown complacent - still continuing some of the healthy eating habits picked up from my first battle, but slipping up more and more as time went on.  I was happy, had a man who loved me, why worry about weight?

At my highest weight I was diagnosed with diabetes and high cholesterol - the concentration was so high that they couldn't get an accurate reading.  40lbs later, improved eating habits, and regular exercise left me back within perfectly healthy range in just 6 months!  My doctor was impressed and asked me for a detailed report of what I had done.  I was proud.  If I think about it, this pride in my personal accomplishment may be what gave me the confidence to file for that long needed divorce.  I guess we hear about that all the time, lose the weight and leave his sorry ass... A country song waiting to happen! haha

At 235lbs the doctor was not concerned about my weight, he only briefly touched on it that awful day - but then he DID have many more concerning things to discuss, so who can blame him?  We were going to need $15,000 to start the IVF process.  Having just moved across the state, Mr. R was still job hunting, and I was making just enough to cover my bills.  We were going to need a few months to get settled, and beef up the savings.  A plan was hatched:  combining our two households had left us with an overabundance of duplicate items.  Items we no longer wanted.  And items that had less than happy memories attached to them.  Additionally, while wearing a size 14-16 I still lugged with me my size 22 wardrobe.  We planned a super yard sale as a fund raising effort.  I also decided to start back on the weight loss program just to further improve our chances and to feel like I was physically DOING something to help us reach our goal.  I took on private clients doing administrative work online as a side business and the savings account began... slow, but steady.  We knew we were going to need time to get things right.  First step, Mr. R needed a job!

Months passed.  Weight was lost - now 198lbs.  Our home grew less and less cluttered as we sold items off. Mr. R was working, but not in his chosen career.  Instead he had found a lower paying job to fill his time and bring in a little something until the right job could be found.  Towards the end of April with $3,000 banked in the "Baby Fund" I had a panicked thought that I was wasting time.  I contacted Dr. C and had them send me more test requisitions.  I had more labs done. We scheduled to meet Dr. C for the updated results.  Oh dear God, please tell me I haven't waited too long!!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Results Are in!

We met with Dr. C, excited to get this show on the road.  Not nervous at all about the findings.  Remember, I was so sure that the problem did not lie with me.  And Mr. R already has 2 kids, so he won't have a problem.  We're going to drive the 1.5 hours, sit in a chair, have the good doctor pronounce us perfect and schedule.

"I am glad that you are BOTH here.  I have some bad news..." I don't think I breathed as he spoke further, "From the genetics side, you show to be a carrier of Andermann Syndrome.  Mr. R you are NOT a carrier, so that isn't going to be an issue.  I would warn brothers and sisters to test for this before getting pregnant." *deep breath in* "No worries there then, but R tests show that you have a genetic mutation called methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase."  *WAIT! What??* "It's more commonly referred to as MTHFR but luckily the kind you have is easily treated with increased folic acid." *Deep breath out*

"I wouldn't worry about this at all. So that's the genetic side done. Now here comes the serious stuff..."  *Deep breath in* "Law requires us to complete a disease panel before continuing with IVF.  Unfortunately, we were unable to test Mr. R because of his insurance, but I would now suggest that you have him tested because R your results came back showing that you have both Chlamidia and Syphilis..." "I HAVE WHAT?!?!" "The levels show that you've had the Syphilis for a very short while, you've picked it up in the last 3 months." *GLARE at Mr. R* "Now, the Chlamidia you've had for a while.  A year or more.  But that is easily treated with one simple pill.  I'll write you both a script today." Mr. R glares back at me, and I start to cry, then sob uncontrollably... HOW did this happen?  I've been in an almost sexless marriage for 6 years..." *lightbulb* "That cheating b@stard!!" "Of course, as I am sure you know we will have to report this result to the CDC.  They'll be in touch to follow up with you.  You're going to need to contact any partners you've had in the last 10 years.  I'll prepare a referral to an Infectious Diseases Doctor for you too." "Oh you BET I WILL!"

"Okay, so that was rough I know.  But I have more sad news." *my head is going to explode* "We did a hormonal screening.  The results are pretty dismal.  Would you like to take a minute, get a glass of water before we continue?" "Ab-so-lute-ly NOT! Go ahead." *thinking this is all irrelevant because there's no way I am going to have a child with the man who gave me Syphilis* "Your AMH level is low enough that we suspect you're deeply premenopausal.  The elevated FSH level backs this theory up, and your estrogen level is lower than we'd like it to be."

12/12 RESULTS:

AMH: <0.16
FSH:  19.8
E2: 17

"What this means is that you're almost out of eggs and out of time I am afraid.  With this AND your endometriosis you need to get moving.  I suggest taking care of the infections and getting back to me as soon as possible.  At this point I'd say you have about a 15% chance at success with your own eggs."

I literally at this point jumped out of my chair and started heading for the door, tears streaming down my face.  After fumbling with my debit card and waiting for the nurse to get off that infernal phone I left the card with Mr. R to take care of the co-pay and kept on walking.  When he met me at the car I collapsed in a fit of hysteria.  Mr. R coaxed me into my seat and tore off in the direction of the nearest pharmacy to fill the script so we could take care of the first issue.  Z-Paks in, we headed for home, me bawling down the phone line to my mother in Canada.  I didn't want to approach the topic with Mr. R.  I no longer trusted him - or any man for that matter!

Once home we spoke for I think the first time.  We talked it over, went over dates, looked everything up online -- AWFUL, AWFUL information that scared the hell out of me! The Chlamidia is possible, my ex was never interested in sex, so maybe he had something on the side.  But the Syphilis? Mr. R had me convinced that it was impossible that it came from him, and I KNEW it wasn't from me." I made the appointment with the Infectious Disease doctor.  Mr. R went for blood tests. I went for a second round of blood tests.  I spoke with the CDC and gave them contact information for my partners in the last 10 years... Mr. R received his phone call from CDC and a week flew by.

Our infectious diseases doctor, Dr. R. (Lot's of Rs to track here right?) read the results off to me... "Mr. R you show no signs of exposure to either Chlamidia or Syphilis." *uh-oh gulp!* "R, you ALSO show no signs of exposure to either Chlamidia or Syphilis" HOLY CRAP! What?? "Now this could be a faulty reading, so we're going to need to retest to be sure and to satisfy the CDC, but as far as I am concerned this was a lab error." I cried like a baby.  I cried as I paid the happiest co-pay of my life.  I almost floated all the way to the lab (You're surprised? Tell me you wouldn't have made the lab your first stop after leaving that office?)

Another week passes and we receive a call from Dr. R, "Yep, still no signs of anything.  I am prepared to clear you.  I'll inform the CDC."  I literally hung up and the CDC were already calling to hear my results.  With everyone satisfied that I was not a walking cesspool of STDs, and the clearance notice being sent to Dr. C so that we could resume IVF planning we went out to eat dinner and celebrate.  I mean, what does one do when they find out that they don't have Chlamidia or Syphilis, right? (Do you know, my skin still crawls every time I say, or write those words.  In the weeks of waiting and testing they were forbidden in my house. We called them #1 and #2).

So there we were... disease free, genetically sound, and almost out of eggs.  It was time to move this forward.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

In the Beginning...

In the beginning I wanted a cricket team.  As many babies as I could have, I'd love and rejoice in each one. Time marched on.  Travel opportunities came up.  Backpacking in Europe for 3 years I was transient and penniless - laying over in hostels for just long enough to save enough money to move on to the next place. I LOVED EVERY MINUTE!

In 2005 while in Holland I met my husband online.  He was American, and I a South African in Europe.  We married and I moved to the States in 2006.  We dropped all birth control and figured we'd let the wind carry us where it wished.  We were happy in the beginning... but then I started to see an unfamiliar side of him... a side I didn't like very much.  By 2011, tired of hanging in there, childless, disillusioned and tired of trying to make it work I called it quits.

Like some miracle it wasn't long before my true prince walked into my life.  My one love.  My other half.  The person I honestly believe I was brought to this country to meet... for the purposes of this blog we'll call him Mr. R.

These days Mr. R and I live a peaceful, simple, happy life just outside of a quiet, quaint country village on the Texas Gulf Coast with our Dog - Freija, cats Brutus, Diesel and Chloe and a tank full of fish.  What's that?  Ahh yes, Freija Chloe?  That's not my name... I WISH I could be more open about that on this blog, but we work in law enforcement and there are limits to what I am willing to put out there online.  Just call me R...

Where was I? Oh yes... so Mr. R and I (R) are happier than we have ever been down here on the coast.  We live simply, but lack for nothing of real importance.  We have love, we have family, we have great weather and access to quiet beaches. ;) What more could we possibly want?

I never did forget my dream of that cricket team.  The dream has morphed and modified over the years as I grew older.  Mr. R has two children from previous relationships.  A DD - K, 17 and a DS - J, 15.  Neither live with us and we have very little contact with J after an ugly divorce.  This bridge will mend in time.  Initially I was so excited at the thought of being a step mother.... well no, that's not entirely true... I was scared witless because of the awful one I had... but I was determined to be the kind of stepmother I'd always hear about from my friends.  Cool, fun, loving, and really really good to their father.  I am sad that I only came into their lives so late, and in one case after a bitter divorce and the poison tongue of one parent had driven a deep wedge into the relationship between Mr. R and his son.

I still longed for just one of my own.  JUST ONE! I'd give anything for just one healthy baby.

Mr. R, already unhappy in his marriage at the birth of J had a vasectomy to ensure that there would be no more.  He stuck it out and tried to make things work for the sake of his son.  He put in 14 years trying before he gave up and left.

"No problem," I thought, "we'll just get the doctor to reverse the vasectomy and give it a bash."  There had been obvious signs that there might be something wrong with me, but my marriage had been almost celibate and my ex husband smoked a LOT of pot which I believed caused him to have slow swimmers.  The problem definitely wasn't mine. "So let's get the thing reversed and get to trying!"

December, 2012

"Um, so that's not actually possible with so much time elapsed," informed my stone faced RE at our first meeting.  "15 year old vasectomys are pretty much a done deal.  Your only option is IVF."  My heart sunk...  "But your odds are pretty good - in the 60% range!  You're only 34, it's not bad!  Let's do a few standard blood tests to make sure you're all good and genetically a good match and we'll get that train moving."

60%?  AWESOME!