Shock and Awe

The week of November 14 I had decided to start looking into payment options and if there were different organizations that would assist in the cost. I am literally living paycheck to paycheck and even finding $160 extra dollars is overwhelming let alone $16,000.

Freezing eggs is not something that is covered by insurance because it is still considered experimental. My doctor told me the only way the insurance company would possibly cover the cost would be if I had a disease such as cancer where the treatments would effect my egg supply or quality. Just having bad luck in love and trying to start a family later in life was not considered a case that would be up for consideration to the insurance companies.

The procedure could possibly cost a total of $16,000; 8K for the doctor and 8k for the drugs. Being single and living on my own, I thought that I would qualify for assistance from the drug company. The secretary in the office informed me that the dosage the doctor had prescribed for me would actually only be a little over $6,000 and referred me to two companies; one for Follistim and one for Gonal F. After submitting tax documents and household information I would receive a response; either receiving 25, 50, or 75% off the cost of the drugs.

I received notice within a couple days from both companies that I would only be eligible for receiving 25% off.

THAT’S IT?! Who was more needy than me?!

Not only did I have a relatively small salary, but I live on my own and pay all of my bills on my own. How would I find $12,500 to pay for this procedure? I already had a loan out on my pension that was cutting into my salary for the time being. I had to figure something out, but in my profession it’s difficult to make extra money. In some jobs, the harder you work, there is opportunity to receive more income. But that is not the case being a teacher. I was already spreading myself pretty thin and working a tutoring program and picking up another stipend position. Maybe I would move home with my parents? Maybe I could find another job on weekends? I had to figure something out.

I wrote each company letters of appeal asking them to reconsider the percentage they would be taking off from my drugs.

After talking with the secretary in my doctor’s office about my concerns, she directed me towards a drug company that may be able to help. She forwarded them my number and later that night they called me, asked me some questions, and told me that I would be hearing from them by the end of the week. This was Monday.

So of course Wednesday I called them (wasn’t that close enough to the end of the week?) and they said they were still waiting on a few things and would get back to me soon.

That night I got a call. The woman very nonchalantly informed me that after running my information that the drugs would be costing me $43.

 

[[SHOCK]]

 

Words cannot describe the feeling I had at that moment. I was in shock and disbelief. What a huge burden to be lifted from my shoulders. Never in my life have I been so grateful to a complete stranger. She said she would be sending out my drugs to arrive the next week and that after applying a couple coupons, the final cost was $33.

Suddenly, the $8,000 I had to pay to the doctor seemed like a small amount. I was lucky enough to be able to borrow from a 403B that I had set up and although the monthly payments would be difficult, I would find a way to make it work. I felt suddenly reassured that this was in fact the right choice. That I was making the right decision and that everything would be ok. When all of the pieces slowly start falling into place that seems to happen…

November 22 I came home to a gigantic cooler box on my porch filled with various medication, syringes, and paperwork. It suddenly all became very real and panic set in. But I was still so thankful to have this opportunity. I was eager to start the process. Who knew how much time my eggs and I had left?

I called the doctors office the following day and they said to call when my next cycle began so they could give me further instructions.

More. Waiting….

Don’t Believe the Hype

A week later I went back for that ultrasound I skipped out on and the results of my third AMH test. I had a week to settle down and although I am well aware the results do not really matter, that sharp drop the second time really threw me for a loop. I needed more answers.

Also now that I had decided to go through with freezing my eggs, I wanted to have my mother meet the doctor that would be helping me retrieve my last bit of hope. Although I have not talked about my mother in this blog, she has been very supportive in every aspect of this process. I may not have a partner, but one thing I am not short on is support from my parents and friends. Even though people are not able to fully relate to or understand a situation unless it is actually happening to them, I believe my mother somehow feels every ounce of pain, confusion, and despair I have endured during the last few months.

 

When the doctor entered the exam room, he informed me that my blood work had come back. My AMH was a .9.

 

I felt my face light up. I didn’t want to get too excited because I knew exactly what my doctor was going to say to me. That AMH was not reliable for this reason, it oscillates. That these results were exactly the reason AMH was not FDA approved.

 

And that’s exactly what he told me; that my ultrasounds and FSH were more in line with one of the lower readings. I’m leaning towards the .6 because that .3 was not something that sat well with me.

BUT the moral of the story is do NOT trust your AMH because it doesn’t know what it’s talking about.

Further into the appointment he saw that the cysts were gone but there were some new ones. This supported his initial thought that these were cysts that would come and go with my cycle and would not be anything to worry about.

This appointment went well overall. No great news, but nothing terrible. I felt like things were really starting to make a turn. Or I was just accepting my situation? Changing my reaction? Making the decision to freeze my eggs was like lifting an elephant off of my chest. Although I did not have anything close to a guarantee, it was better than nothing. And that’s what I was holding on to. And that was enough for me.

My mother seemed happy with the doctor. She has this way of reading people that I never felt like I possessed. When I asked her what she thought of his she said “He’s fine” which is a lot coming from her. It put my mind at ease and led me towards the next stretch of my journey….

 

Now where was I going to get that 16k…..

All Aboard…

Monday, November 7th I returned to my infertility doctor (why do I even need one of those??) so he could read me the results of my bloodwork. The FSH had to be tested on the 2-3 day of my cycle so this was the soonest appointment I could get. As I again waited next to the empty chair in the doctor’s office, I was extremely anxious. In the back of my mind I truly was hopeful that he would come in and tell me that ACTUALLY my AMH was normal and that my FSH was healthy and I would have no problem creating life in the future.

 

I really thought that. Really.

 

But when the doctor entered the office he painted a very different picture from the one that was in my mind.

My doctor told me that not only was my FSH was 14 (too high) but that my AMH had come back now at .3.

 

.3

 

.3?!

 

No. These could not be my results. This was not the news I needed to forge ahead and create my happy, healthy family with my (nonexistent) husband.

 

But I still sat, stone-faced I presume, as the doctor continued to ask me if I understood what he was saying.

 

Did I understand? I wasn’t really completely sure at the moment what I was able to understand. I wanted to run out of there and forget about it all. That none of this happened and just live in my naive little world. Just continue living my life believing that I would have my family. Easily. Without any problems.

 

But that was not my story anymore.

 

The doctor wanted me to understand. After not receiving much of a reaction, he proceeded to tell me that with all of these results, there is not much he could do for me.

 

“Your train has left the station.”

“Do you understand what I’m saying?”

 

At this point there was little chance that in a few years time I would still have eggs that would be strong enough to create a baby. Maybe not even that long. Maybe in a year. There’s no way of actually knowing your end date. The day where your basket is empty. And what I had left was not the best batch of eggs. There was no way for him to really tell what I had, how many I had, and what they were like. There are so many uncertainties and unanswered questions with infertility. Many of the choices you have to make are left up to chance.

 

Chance.

 

Was I going to take this chance?

 

My options were freezing my eggs or choosing a sperm donor to try to conceive with and be a single parent.

 

Ohhhhh no. A single parent? No. I can barely afford myself living alone on my salary. What kind of life would I be able to provide for a child at this time? Not the one that I had PLANNED, that’s for sure.

 

I had a lot to think about. And I wanted to get out of there as soon as possible. Although I had an ultrasound to do in order to check on the cysts, I just jetted out of there. And once I got to my car I cried.

 

A lot. Loud. Angry cries.

 

I messed up.

 

Somewhere I had made the wrong choice to put me on this path to where I am now. I’m not supposed to be here. How is this my life? How are these the choices that I am left with? How am I supposed to create my much desired future with these odds and these results?

 

If you are reading this, either you or someone close to you is asking or has asked themselves these questions as well.

 

And there’s no answer.

 

The only thing to do is make the best choices that you can with the information you have.

 

In my mind I only really had two choices.

 

The first would be to learn how to live without the family I had planned. Figure out what to do with my life as a single woman. How would I make my life fulfilled now that I was on a different path than I have ever envisioned?

 

The second choice would be to freeze my eggs. I did not know much about the process. I knew of a couple people who had been through IVF with their partners, but I was not familiar with what the process actually was. I had never known anyone who had actually frozen their eggs. The other side to freezing my eggs was that it was very costly. I was having difficulty making ends meet already. I did not have a savings account. How would I fund this costly insurance policy for my future?

 

The difference between this and an insurance policy is that with the policy, you receive a pay out at the end (or someone does). With egg freezing there are no guarantees. It’s taking a leap of faith. Did I want to take that leap of faith? The doctor informed me that the whole process would cost $16,000 the most.

 

What.

 

I didn’t have any idea where I would get that money. Is this the end? Do I just accept that I just need to be hopeful my eggs last long enough and are strong once I find the right partner?

 

I’m going to spare you a lot of my back and forth and what ifs.

 

I decided to freeze my eggs. Although my parents and a close friend offered to help me with the cost, I really wanted to do this on my own. It was important to me. I decided that living without knowing, “Well, what if I had frozen my eggs?” is just not something that I wanted to do or thought that I could live with. Some people may not think that 20-30% would be enough of chance to take. But my chances weren’t 0. That was all I needed to know. I would take my chances. Living with a failed attempt would be easier than living with the WHAT IF?

 

So I start my journey to freeze the bit of hope that I have left.