Kristen Wig, I'm with ya girl. I may not be on an airplane sitting first class with a bunch of bridesmaids, drunk as all-hell. But I'm with ya. I'm poor, and in need of help.
Our doctor called me the other day while I was at work and left me a message to call her back immediately. She didn't tell me what it was about, but the tone of her voice said it all.
Something is wrong. Really wrong. I ran outside to call her back. My hands were so shaky I could barely dial the number. I work in a huge office building with people walking around everywhere, so finding a hidden spot with privacy was not easy.
I called her answering service and they told me to hold on. Huh? Are they patching her through? That NEVER happens! Normally, they just leave a message for her to call me back. Oh shit. We are in bigger trouble than I thought.
I heard her voice on the other end and froze. She said "Victoria, can you hear me? I'm running into a conference but need to talk to you right away. I only have 15 minutes to talk, but we need to make a decision on how to proceed today."
What? I'm at work right now! OMG.
In her nicest, sweetest voice she said "When we saw your donor yesterday, everything looked good. But for some reason, when she came in today, she had lost a lot of eggs overnight." She went on and on about how she has been doing this for 25 years and has never seen something like this happen.
Of course you haven't. Ugh!
Okay, so what's the deal doc? How many does she have left? Just give it to me straight. What's the decision we need to make?
She paused. Let about a big sigh and then said "Four. Only four. I'm so sorry."
I felt like someone had just called to tell me about a death in the family. My knees went weak and I collapsed to the ground. It felt like someone had kicked me in the gut as hard as they could, with cleats on. People were walking by, but they just looked like blurry blobs floating by. I couldn't even see them.
Four isn't enough. Game over.
Normally, I try not to curse in front of my doctor, but not today. I let out the longest, loudest FUUUUUCCCCKKKKK I think I have ever voiced. That's literally all I could say.
And she said "I know honey, I'm sorry. I don't recommend we move forward with her with only four eggs, but wanted to ask you first".
I don't really remember what she said after that. I was in a haze. There was no decision to make. Four was not enough. We're done. All of the emotions we have been through. All of the money we have spent. All of the time and energy we have put into this. Was for nuthin'.
Literally, three days prior to this phone call we had just dropped an additional couple thousand dollars MORE for additional drugs to ensure that her eggs grew as best as possible. What's a couple thousand more, when you've already spent TEN's and TEN's of THOUSANDS.
Which credit card should I max out today?
People tell me all the time - the money doesn't matter in the end. Do whatever you need to do to pursue this, no holds barred. It will all be worth it. Just spend the money!
I guess all that is true for those that actually become parents. But right now, I feel like I just played the worst hand of roulette. I put it all on black, and hit on red.
HELP ME I'M POOR!
Most people have no idea how financially stressful the fertility process can be. So, I'm gonna break it down for ya...
Potential costs associated with fertility treatments:
Oral Medications + Sexy Time ($500-$1k)
This is obviously your cheapest option, and worth a shot at least once, especially if you don't have a clear diagnosis. Clomid is the most common medication to help induce ovulation. This price can increase if you want to be monitored during the process with ultrasounds to make sure you are planning sexy time at the right time.
Injectable Hormones + Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) ($2k-$3k)
Injectables are certainly stronger mechanisms when it comes to increasing your changes, by ultimately raising the number of eggs you ovulate in a cycle. More eggs = Better odds. Doing this coupled with IUI (aka. turkey baster) you can time the insemination perfectly around your ovulation. If you've got good swimmers to work with, this is definitely worth trying at least once!
In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) + Injections + Meds ($12k-$15k)
IVF has much higher success rates than IUI, which varies based on your age and egg quality. You are probably going to pay about $15k total with all the ultra sounds, however, keep in mind, if you want to add on anything fancy like - Genetic Testing or Frozen Embryo Transfers, you're going to need more mula.
Other possible add-ons to IVF...
Frozen Embryo Transfer ($1500-$3k)
This is where you store embryos retrieved during the first half of the IVF procedure for later use. Some doctors believe that frozen embryos produce better results than fresh, but there are many schools of thought on this. Even if you go with a fresh transfer the first time, you will likely want to freeze your leftover embryos for additional tries.
Frozen Embryo Storage ($500-$800/year)
And of course, you can't just put your frozen babies away for free! There is an annual storage charge to keep your kids on ice. It sucks, but in my opinion, worth it until you are 100% sure you are done growing your family.
Genetic Testing ($250-$500 per embryo)
This can really add up, but depending on your situation, could save you A LOT of money in the end. I paid $4950 for the first 12 embryos and then $250 per embryo anything above that.
Sperm Donor ($300-$500 per vial)
If you decide to use donor sperm to get pregnant via IUI or IVF, the cost per vial can go down a bit.
Egg Donor ($25k-$50k)
Donor eggs are a wee bit different that donor sperm. You can't just grab a vial off the shelf, you have to pay a young woman for her "time". The cost can vary based on the donor's stats (education, health status, past results, etc.). Included in the cost above is also fees for her meds, her doctors visits, the agency that you used to find her, the legal team that will draw up the paperwork, her travel fees, her lab fees, her surgery fees, etc. The donor herself, typically only gets about $8k-$15k of this amount.
Most people try IUI multiple times, and then move to IVF. If IVF doesn't work after a couple of tries, then you have the option to try a sperm donor or an egg donor, based on whoever is the "issue". If that doesn't work, then people can try embryo adoption, or child adoption. Not always in this order, of course.
So, on the low end, you could be really lucky and walk away paying $5k-$10k, but most of us end up paying well over $50k.
Oh, and insurance doesn't cover jack shit. Unless you are the president of some huge corporation I suppose. Meh. Until the government mandates standard health insurance to cover infertility, us "infertile folk" are slowly, but surely going broke. However, some states do have laws that say insurance carriers must offer plans that include "some sort" of fertility treatment coverage, however, your employer is not obligated to offer them. So, take this with a grain of salt. CLICK HERE to look at your state mandates.
I'm sure we'll start to see a decline in college educations. Infertile parents spend all their money on just having the child, there isn't any money left for college, or weddings, etc.
But the money is just a part of the pain.
Yea, it hurts. But that's the least of the hurt, honestly. We WERE finally on a path to success (or so we thought). We had all the hope in the world! Our checkbook was poor but our hearts were full and rich with love! "It will all be worth it in the end" they say!
I really, really believed this was going to work. I was actually starting to visualize what it would be like to be a mom. This visual has always been hard for me. I have always focused so much energy on the pregnancy. I had never been able to see passed that, until our egg donor came along. She gave me the ability to visualize an actual baby in our lives.
And then my heart got ripped out of my f*cking chest.
Four eggs is not enough.
I'm trying really hard to get that visual back. My anger, sadness and emptiness is creeping back. The grief is rushing back.
And I need help. WE need help.
I'm not one to ask for help. It's not something I do often, or at all for that matter. But I know we need help. The other day, I reached out to our loved ones and asked for their love and encouragement. I asked them to pray. Even if they don't pray, I asked them to pray. I'm not much of a religious type, and have never asked someone to pray for me. But for some reason, I was compelled to do so.
A very close friend said to me "Vic, don't forget, you guys will come out on top. You always do - it's the Nino way." My mom said "You are not a quitter that has always impressed me about you. I know it's a set-back, but don't give up. Pursue your personal legacy - we are behind you all the way." An old college friend sent me a dozen cupcakes all the way from Maryland!
This is exactly the type of help we needed. We have been going through this shit long enough that we know we can't go through this alone. We need all the love and prayers we can get right now.
So, with the emotional support and encouragement of our family and friends, we are pushing forward once more. We are flying high on a wing and a prayer.
Lots and lots of prayers.
And so, we have decided not to give up yet. The timing just wasn't right. Something so rare, can't happen again, right?
We are praying it doesn't. And that's what we are focusing on.