Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Nugget's Story - Getting Ready

I felt like I needed to add a post here, because there were a lot of things that had to happen before we could pick our donor.

In March 2012, I called the donor egg coordinator at Shady Grove and said that we were ready to go ahead.  They sent back the check list of things that we had to do before we could select our donor.
  • repeat mammogram, since I am over 40 and mine was a over year old
  • repeat of the HSG test, since I had two D&Cs since my first test
  • we both had to be rescreened for STDs and have a concurrent course of antibiotics.  This is an annual requirement of the clinic.
  • a mock transfer that gave the doctor an idea of how the catheter should be placed for the real deal
  • a meeting with the financial counselor to talk about costs, which type of plan we wanted, what was covered and what was not.
  • a meeting with the psychologist to make sure that Jim and I were both on the same page and comfortable with having a child that was not biologically related to me.
  • a meeting with the nurse to sign pages and pages of consent forms
  • injection training, so I could learn how to shoot hormones in my belly and Jim could learn how to shoot them in my butt.
All of this took several months to get scheduled and completed, and towards the end of this process I was put back on birth control pills, since they didn't want my body to do anything on its own.  In June, everything on the check list was done and we were given a passcode to the donor database.  We were finally ready to pick our donor.

Part IV - Picking Our Donor.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Nugget's Story - The Donor Egg Process

Or, How Shady Grove Got All Our Money, Plus Some.

Once we knew this would be our best option for a successful pregnancy, that was the beginning of some serious number crunching to see if it was even possible.  Shady Grove has a wonderful program, called the shared risk program.  The Shared Risk 100% Refund program entitles the patient to undergo up to 6 cycles of fresh or frozen donor egg treatment as well as any subsequent frozen embryo cycles and receive a 100% money-back guarantee if a baby is not delivered.  The pros are that if you need more than one cycle, you are getting a huge discount and you can drop out at any time if it just becomes too much and get a full refund.  The con is if you are lucky on your first cycle, you have paid more than what you would have if you'd done a single cycle.

Shady Grove also has the option of a shared donor cycle, where two or three patients share all the eggs from one donor.  The pro is that this is a cheaper option, at about 1/2 the cost of a traditional donor egg cycle.  The con is that it can take longer for all the recipients to pick a donor and get their cycles coordinated.  The third recipient also has a slightly higher risk of being cancelled if there are not enough eggs retrieved.

None of these options are cheap, ranging from $13,3000 for one cycle of shared donor 1:3 up to $39,000+ for a traditional 1:1 Shared Risk program.  So we started saving for the least expensive option and hoping for the best.  We figured it would take us at least a year to get the money needed for the IVF, plus the costs for the actual baby if we got so lucky.  We could have done it right away, but neither of us was comfortable with completely depleting our savings on something that wasn't even a sure thing, plus we were grieving and just not ready physically or emotionally to try again.

Shady Grove occasionally does donor egg seminars at which they donate a free cycle.  We actually signed to attend one of these seminars in January of 2012 in Philadelphia.  We drove up during a snow storm for a chance at our dream.  Because of the weather, only 11 couples made it and we were very hopeful with those odds.  At the end of the seminar, which was conducted by our doctor,  they drew for the free cycle.  We didn't win and I managed to hold it together for all of five minutes before I started to sob while Jim hugged me.  Once I got myself together, we went to say goodbye to Dr. Levens and he said that he saw us in the back and was very sorry that we didn't win.  He has always been so kind to us and genuinely wished for us to be successful.  I cried again.  This experience made us even more determined to have one more chance of a child of our own.

We will forever be grateful to a very generous family member who, in early 2012, offered us an interest free loan for half of our estimated costs.  This is a gift that we would never, ever have asked for.  This let us reach out to Shady Grove months earlier than we would have been able to otherwise.  We were finally ready to move ahead. 

Part III:  Picking a donor

Monday, February 11, 2013

Winter 2013 Restaurant Week

I almost missed Restaurant Week this time around.  Honestly, I had given up on it, since it is usually in January.  Fortunately, there was a flyer in the elevator at work on Thursday and I was able to find us a last minute reservation for early dinner on Saturday.

I picked Evo Bistro in McLean.  The restaurant was not what I would have expected at all judging from the outside.  It's in a small strip mall and completely unassuming.  I liked this restaurant because they listed their Restaurant Week menu on their website.  I need to know that there will be something I will eat among the selections.  It was small and busy but with a casual atmosphere that I wasn't expecting from the website.  We will have to go back some time when I can try the wine list, which looked very nice.

For appetizers, we ordered the grilled artichokes with jalapeno aioli and the shrimp and grits.  Both dishes had some zing, but in completely different ways.  The aioli gave a bite and creaminess to the artichokes that they don't have on their own.  The chorizo in the shrimp and grits was spicy without being hot.

For the entree, Jim chose the sausage wrapped venison with parnips, swiss chard and cranberries.  I picked the Chilean sea bass with Swiss chard, caramelized salsify and spicy tomato sauce.  The fish was cooked perfectly and the Swiss chard was a nice counterpoint to the mild fish.  I had a bite of the venison, which I had not tried before.  It was much more tender than I expected it to be.


For dessert, we had the seasonal crumble, which was apple and date and the seasonal creme brulee, which was cranberry.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Nugget's Story - The Backstory

I decided that I needed to start to write down Nugget's story before I forget all the important stuff that happened along the way.  If you are friends with me on any of the many social media sites I frequent, you probably know most of this story.  If not, well, here you go.

Jim and I got married in August 2009 and we knew that if we wanted to have a baby, we needed to try right away.  We weren't getting any younger.  So beginning in October 2009, that is what we did for 7 months until it was time for my annual doctors appointment.  At that point, because of my age and the fact that we hadn't been successful yet, she ordered some preliminary testing for both of us and referred us to a reproductive endocrinologist.

We chose Shady Grove Fertility Center.  They are a very large clinic with many offices, including one directly up the street from our house.  We met with our doctor, Dr. Levens, for the first time in July 2010.  I had done a lot of internet research and from my time spent hanging out on The Nest, I was already pretty sure of what information we were going to be given at that first meeting, but I think it was very helpful for Jim.  Prior to the meeting, we had completed extensive medical histories (4 pages for Jim and about 8 for me) and returned those.  We went over all that history, my charts of my cycle and the test results from my OB/GYN and Dr. Levens laid out a plan for us.

First, there would be about a million more screening tests for both of us.  For me, that included a mammogram and an HSG (this is an x-ray type test where they fill your uterus with dye to check the shape and make sure your tubes are open).  For Jim, it meant a semen analysis.  There was also blood work for both of us to check for STDs, a screening for cystic fibrosis, hormone levels and lord only knows what else.  And we both got a dose of antibiotics.  Then we would start with several cycles of IUI.  We are very lucky and our insurance covers up to six cycles and all the testing.  Many people have no coverage for infertility (IF) at all.

We did our first IUI in October 2010 and it didn't work.  Our second in November did, but I miscarried and had to have a D&C in January 2011.  This was the worst, because we found out about the miscarriage on the same day we were heading home for Christmas to share the good news with my Mom.  Instead, we had to give her bad news because it was possible that I'd start to miscarry on my own and we'd spend Christmas at the hospital.

February, March, April and May 2011 all failed.  On our 7th try in July 2011, we were lucky again.  Again I miscarried and had to have a second D&C in September.  At that point, we were done and resigned to living childless, since our only option would be IVF with donor eggs and it would be completely out of pocket.

Part 2:  The Donor Egg process.