For those of you who are considering IVF, or are just at the starting gate, you're not alone. And to help make those initial steps a bit less scary, I will be writing about each of our appointments at Shady Grove Fertility Center in detail, even if I feel completely embarrassed to include some of the details. Knowledge is power, and I hope that through our experience, you will feel less alone.
Friday, we went for our third visit to SGFC. First though, I want to include a bit about our initial meeting with Dr. Sasson on our first visit:
On Friday (9/14/12) Chris and I went to Shady Grove Fertility Center in Chesterbrook. The main office for SGF is in Maryland, but they just opened a new center in Chesterbrook. It was funny, as we drove to the clinic, we realized it was only a mile from the Howellville house. We felt like we were coming home. So many happy memories and wonderful times occurred in Wayne and Berwyn. It was a tangible reminder of how far we have come in our marriage and how close our bond is to that area. We researched beforehand and found out that insurance would not cover any of the procedures, should we choose to go ahead. We were lucky though, because the initial consult was free for the month of September (as the clinic had just opened in the new location).
Our doctor, Dr. Sasson, greeted us and took us back to his office. I could tell he had already looked through our charts and info sent from Geisinger. He talked to us for a while and let us fill him in about our situation. He appeared to genuinely care about us, beyond the reproduction factor. He and his wife had encountered infertility and so he was very well aware of our emotions and feelings as we approached the topic.
He outlined several options for us. The first three were options we had in one way or another, already explored. The fourth (and final) option was IVF. He explained about what IVF is and walked us through a typical cycle. He showed us the success rates for couples from SGF from 2011. For couples under 35, the success rate was 51%. This was certainly encouraging news, as we were in the 10-15% range with IUI and chlomid. At one point, he looked across the table and said, "I don't know why your faces appear to be so sad. You just seem like you have given up hope. Here's the thing: you guys are going to have a baby. Your own baby. Rachel, you will get pregnant and have a baby." To hear this was a complete shock. It was hard to process that a medical professional was telling us that we would have our own child. In fact, he asked how many kids we wanted... it was just so surreal.
I feel like, even as I write this, I am doing a crappy job outlining the consult. It was way beyond words. There are obstacles in the way, but none that I hope will keep us from the promise he declared. Having to drive to Philly dozens of times and having to deal with meds and hormones and timing etc. are all annoying. However, if we agree to do this, we can start in two weeks when I get my next period.
The thought that I could be pregnant by Thanksgiving is unbelievable. I cautiously dare to think about having a baby next summer. It is just so unreal. I know, I'm a broken record.
Added to my joy was the fact that if we want to do two embryos, we have a 43% chance of having twins. I am overjoyed and potentially overwhelmed by that fact. I just can't imagine that God would actually be hearing us after all this time. I feel like I have not trusted him or understood why He would make us walk down this painful and disappointing road. I see that there is no way I could be doing IVF if I were still teaching at MHS. There would be no way that we could proceed forward with it under those conditions. Now, I see that I have the flexibility and the availability in my schedule to take a million trips to Philly etc. I just can't believe it. I am thrilled and scared beyond belief. I think about it constantly. Could this finally be it? Could we finally be pregnant and start a family? I am scared beyond words to hope that this could be my life.
Visit number two on 9/30, was a baseline ultrasound and blood work. Chris also was asked to do a some tests too (you can use your imagination there...). We were told that we would have to come back in five days (10/5) for another appointment.
So, now we are up to speed. Our third appointment (10/5) involved more blood work, a baseline ultrasound, a fluid sonogram, and we meet with a financial counselor. We also sat through an injection class (I learned how to give myself shots and about the meds I will take). Last, we met with Dr. Sasson to discuss all of the test results to date. Normally, these are spaced out, but because we are driving three hours, they are consolidating as much as possible, and we appreciate it!
I do have some cervical scar tissue (which was seen during the fluid sonogram-- an uncomfortable, but not super painful procedure). This was a result of an earlier surgery (uterus resection due to septate uterus).
To bipass this, Dr. Sasson is going to work some magic when we eventually get to embryo transfer day (will write more about this later). He said the scarring was a bit of a speed bump, but nothing that would stop us from moving forward. My uterus is healed completely and looks great.
I have to be on 21 days of birth control pills (what?!?, you say?). The pills make my brain stop communicating with my reproductive "area". That way, the doctors can control everything, using meds, instead of my brain having anything to do with it. After I am done with the pills, I will start my hormone injections to begin the production of eggs... and I mean LOTS of eggs. I will be monitored during this time and then we will pick the best day for the egg retrieval (when the eggs are numerous and sizable enough to be retrieved). Dr. Sasson is hoping that I will produce about 15-20 eggs for retrieval. To give you a visual, he said my ovary will go from being the size of a nickel to the size of a grapefruit. Hello stretchy waistband!
The eggs will be harvested (I hate that word) while I am under anestesia. Then, the eggs will be fertilized, thanks to Chris, and then they will be embryos. After 3-5 days, the embryos will be big enough to be selected and transfered back into my uterus. The best embryo(s) will be selected. Don't worry- not all of the embryos will be transferred at one time. We will pick one or two and then the rest will be frozen for later (when we want to get pregnant again).
We have not determined if we are going to choose one or two embryos on transfer day... we need to think on that. I will blog about the pros/cons of that soon.
So, you're up to speed. For now:)