February 2012. We were so glad we were healthy and just set. We decided to look into freezing our eggs (as a recommendation that came from my Oncologist at UCSF). After a couple of tests and exams, the “Fertility Oncologist Gynecology Specialist” (yeah, that title also came with a hefty price just for consultations) gave us the wonderful news that my ovary was in great shape to put it through some treatment to release some eggs and freeze them as embryos. (Pretty much doing IVF (InVitro Fertilization) without doing IVF) That was great news! The doctor had mentioned that once we freeze, losing the ovary wouldn’t be an issue anymore; we would still be able to conceive through IVF with just the Uterus being intact. None of my follicles in the ovary had been damaged, I had a good amount of eggs that we could mature and release in order to freeze them. My husband had been tested as well and his “soldiers” were at a very impressive count (yeah, he’s one proud guy ever since that test, lol). The only problem was… cost. $12,000 to be exact. That unfortunately became a dream. We just had to continue on and just make sure to try to keep my ovary from getting hurt. I was ok with that decision.
April came around, a month earlier from my 1 year survivorship. I had my appointment with my oncologist at UCSF. As I sat there for the 4th time, I couldn’t help but glow on how great it felt when she said I was Cancer-Free that time. Although, it would make me very nervous each and every time a check-up came up. She came into the consultation room, and once again let me know I was doing great and she gave me the clear, not before saying, “I know you have been patiently waiting, although I believe it’s a little risky to continue fertility treatments with just one ovary, I don’t see why you can’t restart your treatments as of now.”
Oh my God!!! Once again! I can try once more to have our little baby Tristan!!!!!! Yay! We start driving back home after lunch. I was so excited that I just couldn’t hold it anymore. I called my OBGYN and made the appointment right away! I had waited a whole year, PLUS gone through Cancer, I think I deserved this little victory!
The following afternoon (yes, the very next day) I was sitting in the consultation room at my OBGYN’s office. He was so proud of me. We decided to put me on Clomid and Metformin for the first month. Starting me at 2000mg of Metformin (which was the max) and 50 mg of Clomid which was the minimum. The first month I was able to get a period, but obviously no pregnancy. The second month (May going into June) I had to take a pregnancy test because I didn’t get a period. BFN! Of course… another session of crying and asking “why.”
In June, he moved me up to 2000mg and 100 mg of Clomid and some Provera to medically induce a period first though. The Provera didn’t work. It was June 7th and nothing. No period. He sent me to do a CT scan and a Pelvic Ultrasound. Another Cyst! Small but it was there. Not only that he ended up diagnosing me with OHSS (Ovarian Hyper-stimulation Syndrome), which meant that my ovary was too swollen and needed to let it rest a month. This put me at risk that if I were to have any cysts on my ovary, it can also stimulate it enough to cause rupture, torsion, or for the cyst to increase in size.
OHSS? Really? How many more infertility issues can I effin have? I am serious! This is ridiculous! I wait the month and then my OBGYN puts me on Provera again (right after he confirms I’m not pregnant, therefore another BFN) to start my period and then increased the dosage of Clomid from 100mg to 150mg and left the Metformin at 2000mg. July, no period. Another BFN, another pelvic ultrasound. Nothing. Provera for the month of August. Had to stop after OHSS was active again. The OBGYN calls me with some news.
He lets me know that he will not be providing me with anymore fertility treatments, and that it was time to go to a fertility specialist. He suggested that it would be wise of me to go back to the “Fertility Oncologist Gynecology Specialist” because he knew what type of treatments would be adequate for me as I had gone through Cancer and since it was through UCSF, they had all medical files shared so that he can see my medical history. F*#$! Really? That doctor cost us an arm and a leg and that was just for consultation. But if that’s the way we had to go to try to have our Baby Tristan in our arms, then that’s what we had to do.
I called them the following week after my husband and I had discussed it and to tell you the truth, it was after I got over all the crying I was doing. I couldn’t believe that I was to this point now. So much had happened, yet no Baby Tristan. We were now in 2012, yet nothing. It had been 5 years already. This wasn’t supposed to take this long.
The doctor at UCSF was able to get me in September, a few days before my birthday. At a cost of $350, plus $150 for a pelvic ultrasound to make sure my ovary was able to take such treatments that he would suggest to give us. $500! Wow. It wasn’t so much the fact of the cost, our baby was priceless, we would pay whatever it took, the problem was is trying to get all this money in large sums. They didn’t take payments. They had to receive the payment in full before any services were given.
We go to our consultation. The doctor does the pelvic ultrasound and once again says how great my ovary and uterus looks. He said that he would suggest we go the IUI route first. This meant that I would inject myself with medication during the course of 5 days, come back for an ultrasound to see if any eggs matured, and if so, inject myself with what was called a trigger shot, then come back 2 days later to be artificially inseminated with my husband’s soldiers through a large needle that would go into my vagina to have a more clear shot to getting the eggs fertilized. Yeah. Exactly my thought. HOLY CRAP!
If that information wasn’t overwhelming, wait for this. He said that each shot ran us about $100 a day and the trigger shot was $250. I would have to have a period first. Once I got a period, on the second day of full flow, I needed to go ALL THE WAY TO UCSF (reminder, 1.5 hours away from home) and get a pelvic ultrasound to make sure all was well, which would cost us $150. Then I would inject myself with a shot daily for 5 days. Each shot was $100 (total of $500) then I would have to go to UCSF AGAIN (another $150) for another ultrasound to make sure that there were eggs that had matured to at least a 14mm size. The goal was to at least get me to mature 2 eggs, 3 was ideal. If the ultrasound showed I was ready, I would then have to take the $250 trigger shot that will release the eggs. We would then go on the second day to UCSF, my husband would have to provide his sperm into a specimen bottle which would then be washed and sorted out to only leave the good sperms there. They would then put it in the big needle and insert it in me and release the sperm. This was the actual IUI and that portion would be $650. So, for one session (if EVERYTHING WENT ACCORDING TO PLAN) it would cost us about $1700 NOT including the time off and the gas and trip money to get there. That was just for one month’s treatment. The doctor then mentioned that before all this we needed to be tested, vaccinated and all this other stuff, including orientation. He said that would be an additional $200. But it would be a one-time thing. He said that by the end of October if all went well, we would be able to start.
Let me just say, I don’t know how the hell my husband did it, but he did it. We were able to save up for the first treatment (if nothing went wrong). About a week before we were supposed to start out treatments (end of October 2012) UCSF Fertility lighted my phone. They said that I showed that I hadn’t gotten a specific vaccination and that my thyroids were not at normal levels. I had to get the vaccination as well as get the thyroids at normal levels before proceeding with anything. This broke my heart, because they said that I would have to be on the medication for a month and that I wouldn’t be able to start any treatments until I was off that medication. Another set-back. I bursted into tears once again. WTF? This wasn’t supposed to happen. We were finally so close, yet once again so far. That month went by so slow. November came around and Thanksgiving was around the corner. I had a lot to be thankful for, but I was still so bummed.
Monday after thanksgiving I get a call from UCSF Fertility, I GOT THE CLEAR!!! I can start my medication! OH MY GOD! OH MY GOD! I called the Pharmacy that is supposed to overnight the medication and let them know that I will need it. They FedEx me $750 worth of injections. Gosh that hurt our bank account. But it was all going to be worth it! I knew it. I started on a high dosage of Provera to start me on my period. I started my period on Sunday, December 2nd! That meant that I had to call the weekend nurses to let them know that I had my period and that I needed to go in tomorrow for the Baseline Ultrasound (that’s their fancy term for “you just started your period, let’s make sure you are ok to continue with injections now). I was so excited!!! My husband and I headed to UCSF on a cloudy day that Monday, Everything was good! No cysts, healthy lining of the Uterus… I got the all clear! They told me to start on the injections tonight.
9pm comes around. I’m ready to insert the first injection. Oh God! Scary! Ha! Yet so thrilled to be getting here. I bet I won’t need more than one round of this. I’ll get pregnant on the first try. 2nd day came, 3rd day came, 4th day came, 5th day came, and then Back to UCSF for another $150 ultrasound. The doctor is looking, and he says. “Hmm... well, it looks like you need 2 more days of injections and I want to do an estrogen level check as well so we’ll need to draw some blood. Your follicles are not growing much. You have 1 at definitely less than 8 mm; therefore we need to leave you on some more medications.”
That’s ok. Another $200, but I mean it’s hard to get it right at the first try. I go to the Pharmacy (since the pharmacy that they normally send it to me overnight wasn’t going to be able to get me meds to me in time) and ONE INJECTION COST ME $200! It was double the price! Grr! Then if that wasn’t enough, the doctor told me to order 4 injections instead of just 1 more from the pharmacy that sends them to me because it was probable that I might need to have more injections done! That was an addition $600!!! He said to schedule another ultrasound in two days. Depending on how the estrogen level was today, I might have to reschedule that pelvic ultrasound. That means that in the near future another $150 ultrasound and another drive up here. Oh god.
To make a long story short, I ended up doing 2 more days of one injection, going to do my estrogen level again at UCSF without an ultrasound I was at 30. I needed to be above 120! He put me at 2 injections a day for the next 3 days and then another trip for estrogen check-up, levels went to 56! Not quite there. He put me at another 3 days of 3 injections a day, brought me back to do an estrogen check-up, went back down to 38! WTF? Are you serious? He decided that day to bring me in again (remember every time it’s an 1.5 hours trip there and 1.5 hours trip back, plus missing work) There was 2 follicles one at 10 and one at 9mm. We were running out of time. The lab to do the IUI never closes except for Christmas Day-Jan. 3rd. We had to have the IUI done by Christmas Eve. He puts me at 4 injections of Menopur (that’s the name of the injections) a day for the next four days, does an estrogen level again and finally it goes up to 139! Thank God! December 23 is here and he says that we need to do the trigger shot today, but that the IUI needs to be rushed to do on the 24th since the 25th will be closed.
Damn it! He said that it won’t be as affected but we can only hope and that if we don’t do it, we can count this month good bye! Goodbye? That would of meant that all the time from work, all the drives up here for estrogen level check-ups and the $5950 that was spent on medication (due to times I needed to get it from the San Francisco Pharmacy at $200 an injection because of the delay of getting it from the mail-order pharmacy) would of all gone down the drain? We cancelled Christmas with our family; we were living in poor house and having all of our savings taken away, our families giving us money to help pay for some of the stuff and now this!? Ugh!
Christmas Eve 2012, we were at UCSF early in the morning. We were there to provide the sample first and then to get the IUI. If this worked, (which I was hoping and praying and just absolutely begged to God would), we would find out in 2 weeks, January 7th, 2013 to be exact, if I were pregnant. Oh my god! I couldn’t help but glow that entire day.
New Year’s Eve came around and we were at the point again of remember how the past 2 New Year’s we had been struggling. Once again we were here another year without baby Tristan, yet so close. So so close. Would 2013 be our year? Ugh! I was terrified of even thinking that. I didn’t want to jinx it for us!
January 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, came and went. Only a few more days to find out!!! OH MY GOD, the suspense was killing me. I went to sleep on the 4th, excited that each day was passing quickly.
“Baby, wake up. Wake up babe.” I wake up to my husband lightly trying to wake me up. “What time is it?” He says “7am, babe, there’s blood all over the sheets.” There was a stab in my heart. It didn’t work, I was sure it was going to work, my dreams were coming a reality, and they were just abruptly taken away!!!!! I bursted into tears as my husband hugged me. I got up and saw the blood and it was as if I had failed as a woman. I told him this was too much for me to handle, all the injections, all the “let’s see if your follicles want to cooperate”, all the missing work and the traveling to UCSF was taken its toll on me… all that money, all the debt, everything… so that I could get a period? This wasn’t supposed to happen! I was supposed to get my BFP!! I got cleaned up, and went to the computer, still crying, I told my husband that I was willing to try one more time if and only if he thought we could have the money for it. He said we would figure it out. Reminder, I was supposed to go on the second day of my period for my baseline ultrasound. Therefore I called the nurse and she set me up for the following day for another $150 ultrasound.
I go in the following day, ready to conquer once again! This round would be my round! I do the pelvic ultrasound and the “STAND IN” doctor says, “Nati, we need you to come back in two weeks, there’s a small cyst on your ovary and it seems like a small activity of you OHSS, I don’t think this is an issue, so let’s just rest for 2 weeks. I do however, feel that your doctor needs to see the reports of this ultrasound, I noticed a small mass on your ovary.” F%#$! No!!! Not a mass!! God please not this again!!!!!! Why?????????? That entire drive home I was balling my eyes out!!! This couldn’t be happening!!! This just couldn’t be happening to me again! There can’t be a mass! There just can’t a mass this quick! Why didn’t my doctor see it during all the other ultrasounds? This can’t be right!
2 days later my doctor calls me and he said that the “STAND IN” doctor misread the reports and that it was just residue of another cyst that had popped. I was angry! Relieved but ANGRY! How dare she give me such news without KNOWING what the hell she was talking about!!! I put in a formal complaint about that doctor. After I hung up, I couldn’t stop crying. The relief of it was stressing me out so much. And although angry, I couldn’t help but feel peace. The doctor had promised that from now on only he would treat me. Deal!
The rest of the two weeks passed by, the doctor did another $150 pelvic ultrasound and said, “You are clear and ready to start on injections. This time please start at 4 injections a day for the next 7 days.”
Holy Smokes!!! He means BUSINESS! Heck yeah!!! Only problem, the injections went up to $150 a piece now. Oh well, I ordered them. $4200!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That’s not including the pelvic ultrasounds I had ($300) and the trigger shot (now $270), I had already spent $4770! Oh god! Please please work. I do the 7 days’ worth of shots and go for a pelvic ultrasound again. 2 follicles at 10 and 14mm!!!!!!!!!! IT WORKED THIS TIME!! The doctor said to do 2 more days of 4 injections just to see if we could get them to grow a little more and make sure I could release both follicles, he also ordered an estrogen check-up.
He calls me and says, “Your estrogen level is at 198! Those addition shots will definitely help you!”
Oh my god!!! We were on schedule! (Nothing like the last round) I did my two additional days as asked. And went back to my pelvic ultrasound (another $150), I’m at 2 follicles! One at 16mm and another at 14mm and then a third popped up at 10mm!!!!!!! OH MY GOD!! 3 eggs!!! 2 of which are ready for the trigger shot and 1 which MIGHT be ready by the time I do the trigger shot! He tells me to do the trigger shot that night and that the IUI would be in two days. OH MY GOD!!!!!!!!!!!! This is finally happening!! Know it!! It just felt right!!!
I do the trigger shot at 1030pm as instructed. Two days later, I head on over to the IUI with the hubs. We are glowing!! As we are driving to UCSF, we realized that we would have to test on Valentine’s Day!! February 14th, 2013 would be our DAY!!!!! I just know it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!What a perfect gift for both of us!
Ugh! The excitement is killing us. February 11th, we decide to go to celebrate Valentine’s Day (something we never do) only because we were afraid (that tiny doubt) that the process didn’t work. We were so sure that it did though. Why? Well my breasts felt really tender, I was nauseated, I had thrown up once a couple of mornings ago, and my body was feeling different. We wouldn’t help to feel so giddy.
Tuesday, February 12th, I was at work, and I decide to go to the bathroom. As I get up to pull up my pants I turn to see the toilet and… is that pink pee? I can’t tell… was there something in the toilet before I peed? I mean, It can’t be my period right? Of course not, we knew it worked this time!!! Everything was on track! This couldn’t be happening again!!!! No, stop. Stop panicking, you just didn’t notice but there might have been something in the toilet. Just keep calm.
About 2 pm, I need to go pee once again. I’m terrified to go in there again. But I can’t hold it anymore. I go in, look in the toilet. Crystal clear and clean. Alright… let’s do this. I sit on the toilet and start peeing, but there’s not need to check anymore… there’s blood on my panties. Spots of blood. God!
Don’t start crying! Don’t start crying! I go into my Manager’s office and let her know I needed to leave. I couldn’t stay here. My heart was broken, I felt like if this was the feeling of having a miscarriage. We really thought we were pregnant. WE WERE PREGNANT, DAMN IT!!!!! WE WERE PREGNANT!!!! And now, I wasn’t. I head home and call my husband; I can hear the disappointment in his voice, yet always being strong for me. I can’t help but cry my eyes out as I drive home. This couldn’t be! It just couldn’t!
I get home and cry, I cry cry cry! I felt like my baby had been ripped from out of me. I hated myself so much!! I just wanted to die; I couldn’t deal with this pain. This horrible pain of feeling like I had just had lost a child. Within minutes my husband arrives home, he took the rest of the day off to come be with me. Why, God? Why would you do this to us?
We decided due to financial and emotional reasons to not go ahead with a 3rd around. We had just totaled up our full IUI costs and it was more than $13,000, not including the unpaid time off we took from work and mileage and time to go to the UCSF. We were dead broke, we were without a successful pregnancy, and to top it all off, I was starting to get into a horrible depression.
This wasn’t fair. $13,000… we could have just frozen our eggs with that money… or better yet, paid for Invitro!
-To Be Continued-