Category Archives: PCOS

Before You Get Pregnant: How to Plan For Maybe Baby

Some people get pregnant in a heartbeat. My friend was one of those people. She’s thrilled to have a child (at 35, she wanted kids, and time was no longer on her side) but she just found out her company offers 0 days paid maternity leave. The state provides some time off at 55% of her pay, at least, but she’s very concerned as having a child isn’t cheap. It’s horrible to have that surprise — a full-time job and no maternity leave.

I’m unsure yet how much to worry about my own potential pregnancy. Potential, because I’m spending thousands upon thousands of dollars on infertility treatments – and still have absolutely no idea if any of them will work. Not that anyone knows when they’re going to get pregnant – but it’s certainly hard to plan anything when it’s quite possible I’m entirely barren. Or, maybe I got pregnant last night.

Unless you work for a company that is filled with (and likely run by) women, chances are, you aren’t going to have a clear understanding of your company’s maternity leave policies until you need them. I know that I work for a company that (I think) provides four weeks of paid maternity leave — far more than most women get in this country (like my friend, who will get nothing.) If I get pregnant in the next three months, I won’t be eligible for state and federal protections in terms of keeping my job if I need to take unpaid time off. I believe I have short term disability which covers some of my income, but certainly not enough of it to provide much of an option after I have a kid – if I have a kid – I will be going back to work after four weeks… and hopefully negotiating work-frome-home with my boss. But given my current boss is hiring someone under him to be my manager at some point, I have no idea who that person will be, or if they will care to be flexible with my schedule should I need that flexibility.

Given I’ve never been pregnant before, I have no idea what I’ll want or need. I certainly imagine it would be hard to leave my tiny hypothetical baby when they are so young. And I also would assume I’ll be absolutely exhausted at that point. But – I may not have kids after all, so should all of that challenge come my way, I should be grateful.

What’s harder now is negotiating my role with my boss, as there are opportunities which require travel and I know it would hurt the company to commit to them and immediately get pregnant. Yet, I don’t want to limit my career growth just because “I may get pregnant at some point possibly but who knows if it will happen.” But one cannot have this conversation with her boss. I can’t say, well, I’d like to take on this responsibility which requires travel but my husband and I are trying to get pregnant via an infertility specialist and there is a chance that at some point in the next year I will get pregnant, but there is also a pretty big chance that I won’t.

One cannot be open like that at work. My boss has to, then, assume that I want to have kids, given I’m a married 33 year old who hasn’t had any yet – and to be fair to him, he has to plan his whole organization based on who is able to do certain tasks now and for the foreseeable future. Then again, anyone – any man – could get sick at any moment — and no one is limiting their job opportunities because they may get too sick to travel.

But that isn’t bothering me much — I’m ok at the moment to pretend like I’m going to get pregnant and play life out as such. So I likely won’t take on the responsibilities which require monthly travel — that’s probably for the better anyway since I need to be home for all of my fertility treatments (though, I could probably time them around my travel schedule as long as it wasn’t too intense.) I’m trying to get in the groove at work and really just accept and be happy with NOT seeking a promotion or career growth. My #1 objective right now, other than starting a family, is to have a role that will provide me flexibility when I have kids. That means just doing a good job with my tasks that can be completed remotely one day — proving my worth enough that I can remain gainfully employed through the first years of my child’s life, as long as there are no unexpected layoffs.

I’m trying really hard to tell myself that it’s OK to not “lean in” —  I don’t NEED to be VP soon or ever. It’s fine that former colleagues my age are already in executive roles. I don’t need to be an executive and I don’t even need to be a manger. I can be a workhorse. A producer. Someone who gets shit done and fast. Someone who people trust to create great work. Hopefully, I can actually do that – and continue to do that as a mother with a newborn.

All of this is hypothetical, obviously, since I have no idea if I can have kids. Literally, at this moment, I could be pregnant… with a singleton or even with twins (I had two mature follicles from the Femera before the trigger shot.) We’ll know in two weeks if this cycle was successful…

I just wish my husband would talk to me about the what if we are successful part of this journey. I know it’s hard for him – to want kids and to be healthy and to have a wife that is medically broken. He is super supportive of this process and is ok if we can’t have kids, although I know he’ll be very disappointed about it. But – I want to be able to talk about planning for what if we do. I know he doesn’t want to get his hopes up… and probably figures we’ll have nine months to plan once I get a BFP. I just am so worried about it all. Even if we didn’t have all of this crazy and costly infertility stuff to deal with, having a kid is clearly no joke. I want to give my kid(s) a reasonably good life. I want to plan for the future. I want to feel like we are working as a team towards a common goal.

DH is going back to school to become a teacher this year. That’s great and all, and I’m supportive of that, but still worried. His income will drop to about $50k a year, which will definitely not be enough to support a family of three. I don’t expect him to support the entire family – and his potential teaching career will allow him more flexibility to stay at home with the “kids” while I’m at the office. It’s probably a very good plan. I need to keep my job – this job – and stay as long as possible. With my bonus and RSUs I can make up for his lost wages changing to a public service-style profession. I don’t think we can buy a house – ever – but do we really need that to be happy? I just don’t know how much a kid(s) will cost, other than – a lot. It will be a while before we go broke (I do have $500k in stocks, minus taxes) – but, that doesn’t make me feel much better about the future.

It really isn’t worth worrying yet since I still may be entire infertile. But, if I am, I want to focus more on my career now because then my career IS my baby. In any case, the next few years are going to be rough, with or without kids. I’d prefer with, and I’m hoping I have to figure this all out vs not.

Infertility and Me: Another Cycle, Another $1000 Hope

The pills may or may not be causing these headaches. Maybe it’s just the stress. The new job and will-I-or-won’t-I-be-able-to-have-kids stress. The I’m-turning-34-and-having-a-mid-life-crisis-for-the-next-20-years stress. The I thought everything would magically be in place by now in my life (well, I never actually imaged myself any older than 25 even well after I turned 25) stress. All that stress. And all this headache.

Breathe.

If I can’t have children… I haven’t gotten there yet. I haven’t let myself think that yet. I’m turning 34, but people have kids until they’re 40. Or older! Sure, it’s more unlikely, but 34 is still child-bearing age. I didn’t wait that long yet. Plenty of people who have trouble having children do. Eventually. With help. Or without. It will happen when its meant to happen.

My younger cousin gave birth to her first child today. I’m thrilled for her. Over the moon. But I can’t ignore the fact that this is a major emotional moment in my life, albeit one that really has nothing to do with me. As the oldest cousin on both sides, I always assumed I’d be first to most life steps. I’m the oldest by a few years, and no one has been rushing in my family to get married or have children. With 13 cousins, myself included, she’s the first one to have a child. I still remember her practically in diapers. Now she has her own child in diapers.

So do all my friends. Or, my friends have toddlers and some of them have pre-teens. Facebook tells the story in pictures that document just how quickly we all grow up. I want to slow time down, but I can’t. Except maybe if I get pregnant – I hear those are the longest 9 months of your life.

Looking around at this mess of an apartment – that I need to clean tonight – that I need to keep clean… this mess of a life, this… imposter of a professional who is trying one. more. time. to be put together enough to hold down a damn job (not a great start when an exec tells you this morning that you look tired. “I’m not,” I replied, realizing immediately how defensive that sounded. How awkward. An admittance of my exhaustion in my denial. I wanted to say – ‘but last night I actually slept a full 8 hours.” Put your head down, put your head down, don’t say a word.

I know if I am going to have kid(s), I need some semblance of stability in my job. Some ability to handle stress because I AM COMPLETELY AWARE that children are not walk in the park, with the exception of when you’re actually walking with them in the park (and even then.) Part of me questions if this whole desire to have children thing is so off base because of my mental illness and my natural inability to procreate without outside help.

But. Then. My biological clock pseudo kicks me inside like a massive ghost contraction coming from deep inside my uterus from a place that can only be described as a wormhole to the forth detention of motherhood. A longing. A desire. A fraudulent want to have a little being (and then a bigger being) be in need of my attention, my love, my care. A little person who I have to keep alive. Someone to raise to be confident and love her or his self. Even though, I know, there’s not much you can do when it comes to these things. But, I can offer what my parents never offered me – unconditional love.

It all seems so fanciful of an idea right now anyway. The odds are so slim that any given cycle will work. And then, there’s the high rate of miscarriage amongst women with PCOS — I just won’t let myself get my hopes up. I wonder, at what point do I throw in the cards and say enough is enough. Enough bleeding money. Enough headaches and stomach aches and two week waits and feeling like a failure yet again. If I were to get pregnant, I’d want to keep it a secret all to myself (and my doctor, of course) so that I won’t have to deal with the pressure of losing a child should that happen before its born.

Our journey now is just $1000 a month. Or so. Next year I can change insurance and it might cover a tiny little bit of the costs. It’s so hard to understand what exactly is covered. Not IVF. But then, what else counts as “infertility treatment?” Only one insurance plan offers anything. Called them and they said I should talk to member services to find out. Member services said since I’m not a member yet, so I should talk to sales. Sales said I should talk to member services because I’m not enrolling as an individual. It went on like that for about an hour on the phone until I hung up in frustration.

We haven’t don’t IUI yet… and that may be included in what’s covered at 50% by the insurance. However, if I don’t know what they charge for an IUI, 50% could be more than paying out of pocket at a clinic. Fuck healthcare’s lack of transparency in this country. Seriously.

But, I’m lucky to have the money to spend. Yes, I want to save $1M by 40 and yes, these infertility treatment costs are eating into that dream… but – as long as I can keep my job (key thing) then it’s worth it. I have the money. Unlikely so many other women who really don’t have the ability to do any of this. Or who go in debt over infertility. It is a trap and such an emotional journey even the most fiscally responsible can make devastating mistakes based on hope.

It is such a lonely journey. Yes, I am on a billion Facebook infertility groups, with woman posting pictures of their ovulation kits and pregnancy tests and cervical mucus and various forms of fluids that come out of their nethers (#Iveseenitall). I went, once, to an infertility meet up which ended up being run by a woman who has been unable to get pregnant after 3 years of infertility treatments, a religious woman who refuses to do any infertility treatments, and another woman and her husband who spent tens of thousands of dollars on infertility treatments that didn’t work. As someone just getting started on the journey, I felt completely out of place. It was very awkwardly passive aggressive. I left and did not go back.

People don’t talk about this stuff… unless you have a close friend or family member who has been through it. A family friend did have IVF in a state that paid for it, but it worked for her – twice – on the first try. And she didn’t have to pay anything other than co-pays. So, sure she can understand the emotional challenge of the treatments, but the financial challenge is just as draining.

My husband is extremely supportive and I’m so fortunate to have him. In those Facebook groups women talk about how their husbands are upset about their infertility, and all the problems they have. My husband knew about this from long before we were married, when I told him there’s a big chance I can never have kids. He chose to marry me even though he really wants kids of his own. And we’re still hoping, but I know he’ll be there by my side childless or with an accidental litter.

Still, I feel quite alone in this. The nurses are fake nice and the admin just wants you to come in and pay and keep the cash-cow clinic in business. More treatments. More failures. More money. For them.

Next year is going to be rough, for sure. I’m really giving myself until 35 to get pregnant, at which point, I’m not sure how I will react. That’s ~14 cycles… 14 tries… including this one… to get pregnant. Some of those will likely include IVF if the basic treatment plan doesn’t work. IVF and all those amazing drug cocktails that will undoubtedly make me even more crazy, albeit temporarily.

And I need to keep this job. I have no other option.

Facing the costs of IVF… how are we going to afford this?

Yes, I can sell a bunch of stock to try to have a baby. I’d prefer not to. I’d prefer to keep that money for all the costs that come after having a baby and maybe one day buying a house. But, instead, I’m looking at $40,000+ for a chance at having a child. Even for someone like myself who has managed to save $500k, that’s a lot of money.

The clinic I went to today has high reviews, and equally importantly, is located close to my apartment and has appointments at 6:30am so working women don’t have to miss hours on the job in order to go through IVF and FET. I didn’t love the clinic to be honest – the doctor seemed good, but the other people there were a bit off… but at this point, I have to consider location and ability to have early morning appointments above all else, except maybe cost.

IVF fees are confusing, even when the clinics try to make them straightforward. And, the reality is, no matter what the fees are, there’s still only a 30%-40% chance each cycle will result in a live birth (give or take depending on age and other factors.) So, besides spending tens of thousands of dollars, you’re also confronted with the reality that you may end up with no child in the end. How much will you spend before you give up?

Few states cover any IVF fees. California is not one of them. So, we have to come up with $40k out of pocket to do this. Before we do that, we still have the option of doing timed intercourse with ovarian stimulation and trigger shot ($1000 a month) or IUI ($2200 / month), which may work, and will be a heck of a lot cheaper than IVF. But it also has a much lower chance of working than IVF, and $1000 a month isn’t pennies after a year of trying.

The one really good thing about IVF (at this clinic anyway) is that they have a model where you can bank extra embryos in advance for your second child. This is important to me because I will be over 35 when I have my second child (probably closer to 40 at this rate) and at least then if I have embryos banked it will “only” cost about $10k for a round to transfer them… not cheap, but cheaper than another $40k (as long as one of them sticks.)

I’m still in a bit of denial about the cost of all of this. I’ve never spent $40k on one anything in my life. The most I’ve spent on anything is $13k on my (used) car. It kind of goes against my entire principle of saving to spend $40k on ANYTHING. I also, deep down, still believe that this should happen for free. I mean, my body doesn’t want it to, and I’m going to be 34 in two months (crazy) and I haven’t gotten pregnant yet… but maybe I can. Or maybe I should put more faith into the Femera cycles with timed intercourse and  a trigger shot. Maybe the $1000 a month after a few months will work and I can avoid the $40k IVF… at least this time. But if I avoid that now, I won’t be able to save my younger eggs… and then my chances of having a second child are very slim. Maybe I should just splurge on IVF as insurance for my future, bank my eggs, hopefully get pregnant in the first two cycles… it could work. It could work very well, who knows.

Or it could not work at all – with the exception of draining our bank accounts.

Focusing on What Matters

Some days are better than others, but I’m feeling a lot more positive about this transition today now that I have been able to take a step back and breathe a bit. It’s certainly not the end of the world — I’ve been through this before and I’ve recovered. Yes, perhaps the three-strikes-your-out mentality is apt for this situation… lasting 6 months then 12 months and now 18 months in similar jobs and roles, improving a bit each time but clearly not fast enough to survive.

It tastes bad to be forced out, but the taste is always bittersweet. At the tail end of one opportunity is the beginning of the next, even if I can’t see it yet. I’m optimistic and for once feeling ok about taking some time to just pause and take time to figure it all out. My focus right now is shifted to finding health, happiness, and building a family. Continue reading

Happy New Year: Embracing Myself as Myself

 

Quite randomly I ended up taking a neuropsychological screening this week. Well, it wasn’t entirely random. I was attempting to find a therapist (psychologist, psychiatrist, MFT, social worker, what have you) that accepted my insurance plan since theoretically I am supposed to be able to have $20-per-session visits for outpatient mental healthcare. Searching my insurance provider’s website however returned the names of hundreds of doctors who are no longer practicing or specialists for something that, despite being rather special myself, I’m not special enough for (i.e. serves youth or geriatric patients only.) I admit I didn’t call the entire list, but after about 20 google searches, emails and contacts I felt like giving up. Then, I found someone who responded to my email and said he was covered by my insurance (sort of) and could help.

This doctor didn’t do talk therapy. Instead, he is a neuropsychologist who does neuropsychological screenings. What on earth is that? Yesterday I found out. The screening itself is $1700. Insurance may cover that BUT they only decide after you get evaluated. Also, I believe it goes to my deductible anyway, so I’m basically paying for it out of pocket, or at least out of FSA. So much for the $20 per session mental healthcare. Continue reading

Here’s To Getting Pregnant in 2017

There will be plenty of TMI posts this year, so if you prefer to avoid reading about infertility and all the fun that goes along with trying to get pregnant when your body doesn’t work properly, quit reading now. If you want to follow along with my journey attempting to get pregnant, then read ahead.

Infertility can be caused by many different issues — endometriosis, ovulation problems, poor egg quality, PCOS, tube blockages (male and female), sperm problems, sperm allergies, and general unexplained infertility. Or, if you’re really lucky, you can have a combination of any of the above. Continue reading