Tag Archives: pcos

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

Not Pregnant.

It’s that time. Time to get serious about having kids. All the tests have been run and so far we’ve found I don’t ovulate on my own and I have a minor case of hemophilia C (no big deal, mostly it’s just a gene thing.) I’m not ready to have kids (or, kid) but I’m as ready as I’ll ever be. Right now, with my “$500k before kids” goal in sight, I’m turning my attention to the most important part of a “having kids” objective: getting pregnant.

My doctor put me on metformin for my PCOS, which doesn’t fix anovulation but it can regulate cycles which potentially could increase ovulation frequency should it actually be happening ever (infertility doc explained that even women who don’t ovulate might – sometimes – ovulate. You just don’t have any idea when so it’s pretty hard to get pregnant (you have 48 hours so around this time to make a baby, and you don’t know when it is, so, you can do the math.) Continue reading

Infertility: Another Test, Another Thousand Dollars

$750. That’s the cost of just one more test which is needed to start the process of attempting to have a child. That’s on top of $400 for the initial ultrasound and about $500 for the bloodwork and genetic testing and male fertility analysis that’s required, or $1650 before we even get started. Then, we pay $1250 for 3 months of monitored medication (plus $100 or so for the actual medication) with a grand finale of turkey baster attempted-impregnation—all which very well may not work, leaving us about $3000 in the hole with nothing to show for it other than the first etchings of emotional scars which will likely be dug even deeper.

Now, $3000 isn’t that much to have a child. But that’s just Phase 1 of a likely long and costly journey to parenthood. This, of course, doesn’t include the cost of taking off from work for doctor’s appointments (which are so perfectly timed to occur during the first months of having a new boss who is likely looking for reasons to remove and replace me in order to build her dream team.) It also doesn’t include any of the suggested “to dos” in order to become more fertile, such as acupuncture or anything to de-stress (i.e. replacing a high-paid high-stress job with a much lower paid, lower-stress job.) 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

Updated Quote on Infertility Treatment Costs Cycle I & Egg Freezing

Finally talked to the infertility pricing specialist today to get the down low on all the costs involved with treatments. The good news is that the basic first cycle (3 months) is “just” $1250 plus $150 for genetic testing, less than $100 for medication and any extra bloodwork required before the cycle begins. So all things considered, it if works, it really isn’t that bad. $2k for a kid is reasonable.

However, if that doesn’t work, that’s when costs start to add up. Mr. HECC needs to get tested. Then we have to try another cycle for another $2k. That may not work. Then we’re on to IVF… Continue reading

How Much Will it Cost to Have a Child: The Cost of PCOS-Caused Infertility

*Warning – TMI post. If talk about fertility freaks you out, skip this one.

He sat, staring at me inquisitively, as if he had never seen a 33 year old before – at least one asking about embryo freezing. Quoting various studies and having the sort of semi-formal talk one has in a brief consultation before a casual vaginal ultrasound to check out the ovaries and uterus of yet another infertile woman. I came in seeking answers and options.  I left with a sense of hope and more confusion. My case is maybe not that bad – but there are so many variables of things that can be wrong and go wrong that I may be hopeless. We’ll only be able to find out after we spend thousands of dollars. That’s just the way infertility treatments work.

Continue reading

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What they don’t tell you in sex ed about getting pregnant…

Based on my sexual education classes in school, my understanding was that should I so much as stand too close to a man’s nether bits I could get pregnant. The class was clearly designed to ensure we don’t get pregnant, not that we do.  At about the same time I was diagnosed with PCOS due to not ever getting my period and told to take birth control and “just get pregnant before you are 30.” I was 15 at the time.

Now that I actually want to reproduce I’ve learned quite a bit more about how the birds and the bees actually work. To start, you really can’t get pregnant most of the time. That was a major shocker to me since in school they taught us that you could get pregnant always. Which, granted, is true if you have a crazy ovulation problem and your body is doing things that aren’t normal. And, you can definitely get pregnant for a few days leading up to when you ovulate and there is no guaranteed test that shows you have or haven’t ovulated — so you might mess up one month and poof you’re preggo. Leggo my preggo. Continue reading

PCOS Women: Avoiding BPA – is it possible?

BPA (bisphenol-A) – a synthetic estrogen used to harden polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resin – is a troubling element of most plastics that we use on a daily basis. It is proven to be an endocrine disrupter, which is especially worrisome for women who are trying to get pregnant, especially those of us with PCOS.

BPA-Endocrine Disorder (source):

  1. Reduces the number of oocytes (cell in ovary that may undergo meiotic division to form an ovum)
  2. Lowers successful number of births
  3. Changes gene expression
  4. Reduces the function of Estrogen Receptor Beta
  5. Negatively affects mitochondrial function
  6. Alters hypothalamic pituitary / increases testosterone
  7. Lowers progesterone
  8. alters GnRH secretion
  9. Increases glucocorticoids
  10. heightens response to stress, elevates levels of anxiety

Continue reading

Babies on the Brain – Preparing for My (“Our”) Future

The majority of my friends are popping out their first children or well on their way to their second child by now. My Facebook feed, filled with folks I went to school with, mostly lesser educated yet clearly happy people, showcases families now of three or four kids. At nearly 33, I remain childless. I don’t FEEL old, yet it terms of childbearing years I’m getting up there. If I can get pregnant easily (which is unlikely) then I would have my first child before 35 – which is fine. However, I don’t want my second child to feel rushed as I know how much work having one child is, and I want time to enjoy being a mother of one before rushing on to try for my second.

Although I’ve thought a lot about the logistics of getting pregnant and childbirth before, the reality of the situation has never felt quite so pressing. Now that I’ve checked the marriage box there really is nothing holding me back from getting pregnant – except maybe an overdue international honeymoon which I was unable to take after the wedding for a variety of reasons (call me silly to put off getting pregnant until a honeymoon but I’d like to be able to enjoy this trip as much as possible and not feel sick on it, and I’d like to try regional cuisine including wine/sake depending on where we end up going.) But – I’m also at the point where I’m sincerely concerned about my ability to get pregnant and although I keep telling myself life will go on should I not be able to actually procreate, I feel like everyday we don’t try is another day I might eventually regret.

Before you say I’m being ridiculous, let me remind you at the ripe young age of 15 my gynecologist told me that my irregular periods were not to be of concern (and did not mention PCOS) but that as long as I have my kids before 30 I’ll be fine. That comments haunts me to this day. I am terrified that because I didn’t heed her advice, I’ll blame myself when we are stuck in cycles of IVF, I’m taking dozens of unpaid leave days from work and ultimately losing my job because I’m massively depressed over all of the emotional drama that goes along with infertility treatments and getting used to failures and picking back up and trying again and watching our bank accounts drain at what amounts to playing fertility roulette.

Mr. HECC is the type that doesn’t worry about the future. Generally, this is a good thing. He lives in the moment and I admire that. He doesn’t really have plans and while he wants kids he isn’t getting himself into a tizzy over how hard it might be for us to make them. He figures we’ll deal with it when it’s time to deal with it and if we can’t have any then we might adopt. I’m not sure about adoption (I have very mixed feelings about it and that’s something I won’t think about until I really have to) – but in the mean time I feel like this is pretty important and there are so many things that effect my ability to get pregnant and be pregnant and have children that require proper planning for a what may amount to a non-occurance and in this case I think I’m in the right to be a bit concerned about what this future of ours looks like which may or may not include offspring.

Work isn’t exactly stable right now. My company has no written maternity leave policy and because they have under 50 people they have no legal requirements to provide time off. Basically, how they treat maternity leave would depend on how much they want to keep me around. They can’t fire me if I get pregnant, but they certainly can make it not the easiest to stay. And, honestly, with the amount of responsibility I have I can’t say I’d be the best employee with such distractions. I’d never admit that to my employer, as that might set all of women back hundreds of years, but it’s kind of an unspoken truth – especially in the case for someone like myself with very clear mental illness who has already proven herself incapable of handling personal stressors and maintaining quality, consistent work at all times. The thing is – I WANT to have a few good years of focusing on work with no distractions. Even if I am uncertain of my career, I do like doing good work. I have been so distracted with the wedding (which was just a frivolous, inconsequential life event beyond actually getting married) that I can’t imagine what I’ll be like when I’m rushing off to IVF treatments (should they be needed) and waiting to see if one of them happen to take. Even just trying to get pregnant the good old fashioned way can be extremely stressful – as can be the potential of miscarriage, which is, according to some reports, 30% to 50% more likely in women with PCOS.

The amount of emotional stress that will go into getting and staying pregnant with my condition is above and beyond the normal challenges faced by pregnant women who work. Two of my good friends had horrible first trimesters where they were constantly nauseous and sick, and if such illness struck me I honestly don’t know what I’d do with having to work and not having time off to take. I’m already in a not-so-great situation in my current company where my company isn’t sold on my value, but if I leave and go to another company it would be even harder to ask for time off should I need it to deal with infertility treatments or standard morning sickness. Larger companies are probably better overall in handling the challenges that come with getting pregnant (in most startups I’ve worked for the majority of employees are men and the women in the company are typically younger / not of childbearing age. Executives are rarely female and if they are they are often childfree by choice. My last company was the exception with one highly-valued exec who was pregnant and had a child – and she barely took any time off to do so.) I dislike that at this point in my career not only am I trying to sort out my career but I also really do need to think about how this will effect my ability to have a child and remain gainfully employed. As I’ve noted many times before, I make more than double what my husband makes, so I really can’t stop working. I don’t want to stop working either – but I am worried about the sheer biological and emotional challenges which I cannot avoid once I start trying to get pregnant.

As is, I have about 15 PTO days per year (no “sick” days) – which is actually really good for a US company – and I’ve used nearly all of the ones I’ve accumulated so far on getting married. If I do take the extended honeymoon I’ve dreamed of since forever (Mr. HECC and I have never traveled internationally together in our 10+ years of dating), then I’ll wipe out the remainder of my PTO once I have enough to actually leave for two weeks. It will take seven months with absolutely no days off (no sick days, no vacation) to collect enough time off to actually take a two week vacation. Unfortunately I’m taking a day this July for a funeral so that means my accrual of days starts in August. That means it won’t be until March that I can take the time off to travel for a real honeymoon (well I can maybe negotiate some unpaid days earlier but I’d prefer not to lose income – the amount it costs me to miss a day of work isn’t worth it.) Meanwhile, I have friend’s weddings which require travel and I’d like to take some PTO for them this fall, but I can’t because I want to save up for the trip…

The bigger problem is that once I do take a honeymoon I’ll be left with zero PTO days just when it’s important for me to start immediately trying to have a child. It’s an easy conversation to tell your (male) boss you are pregnant, but highly uncomfortable to discuss how you are trying and have PCOS and need to go see multiple doctors and you don’t know exactly what the process is going to look like or how long it will take or if you can get pregnant but you are going to try really hard and you need some time to go to the doctor and you don’t know how much and you just used up all your PTO on your vacation but besides the fact you want to stay at your job and keep your job you also need your health benefits so you HAVE to stay at your job…

And as this is all so soon, I feel like I should be thinking about it and planning. It’s not just typical HECC anxiety/neuroticism, it is my life, my career, my income, my stability, and my future. I can just wait and deal with it as it comes, but I see exactly how this plays out and it isn’t pretty.

My current plan is to stay at my job at least until December and then maybe take a few weeks unpaid between starting a new job, ideally at a larger company that has a maternity leave policy and that supports pregnant mothers. I don’t know if I can get a job at one of these companies, but at this point in my life that is probably the most important benefit I can seek out (other than good health insurance.) If I was thriving in the startup world I’d fight harder to stay, but my successes are few and far between, and I think life is point me towards some kind of change. Mr. HECC may go back to school for teaching in a year, and with that I hope he’ll have a stable (albeit low-paid) job which enables him to maintain a level of happiness and take care of our “who knows if they will ever happen” children while I continue to do whatever it is I end up doing professionally. While I don’t see how we can afford to stay living in this area, his plan is to have his mother live on the same property we do and help with the down payment (my thoughts on that are for another post at another time.) In any case, life is complicated as always. I am happy to be married, but thought I’d be a bit more stable in other aspects of life by now. It will certainly be an interesting ride over the next few years of adulthood. I think the only thing I know is that I want kids, so I somehow need to manage a life around making that happen… even if financially it isn’t the smartest and logistically it isn’t the easiest.