Thursday, October 24, 2013

May the Odds Be Ever in Your Favor

(For those that don’t know, the title of this entry is a line from Hunger Games.  Haven’t read it?  It’s a must!!)
I got a call.  I got a call!!  Mary Kathryn returned my phone call in almost 2 hours on Tuesday.  I’m stunned, bumfuzzled, blown away, shocked, and totally pumped.  I called to ask about my birth control pills.  You have to be on them to a certain date in order for your ovaries to remain suppressed.  Well, I took the last active pill on Monday night, and I needed to know what to do next.  And, she called me back!

Todd went over yesterday and picked-up our packet of information.  We have dates set.
·       November 6 – suppression check – They will check to make sure my ovaries look ready for the cycle.  If everything looks okay, they’ll run blood work on Todd and me and order my shots.
·       November 10 – begin hormone stimulation shots
·       November 14, 16, & 18 – ultrasounds and blood tests
·       November 20 – egg (oocyte is the proper term) retrieval
·       November 20 – begin progesterone injections – Yikes!  This is the shot that after a few weeks becomes very painful.  <sigh>
·       November 25 – embryo transfer
·       November 25-27 – bed rest – Feel free to call or text.  I’ll be bored and uncomfortable.
·       December 5 – pregnancy (beta is the proper term) test

After I got off the phone with her on Tuesday, I scheduled 4 massages with my favorite masseuse, Shaunda, within 10 days.  I think that should get me through from the start of the shots to the retrieval.  J  I’m so excited and anxious.  I’m really thinking of taking up yoga and meditation.  I said I would last cycle, but it didn’t end up happening.  I just did the massages.  Hmmm, decisions.  J
I probably won't post again until after our trip.  Hope everyone has a great week.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Peace – The New Black

Today, I am filled with peace.  I had the opportunity to spend almost every moment this weekend with Todd.  The only time we were apart was when I was getting a body wave put into my hair (yes, I broke down and got a perm just for a fun change) and when he sent me to the auto parts store to get a replacement bit for the one he had broken changing my brakes and rotors.  Otherwise, we were together, and it was awesome!  This weekend brought me peace. 
I have been a complete nervous wreck about this second IVF cycle for at least six weeks.  Mostly, I have worried about if it was going to work.  However, I’ve also worried if and when we would get our dates.  The date-setting last week helped to bring me much of the peace I am feeling today.  I think the other thing that brought me peace is I decided to change my words, therefore changing my thoughts.  Todd has always been optimistic that this cycle would work.  I’m the one that has been filled with doubt and worry and fear and tears.  I cry just at the thought of the cycle starting.  However, when I made the decision to change and told Todd about it, things slowly began to shift.  Now, when I talk about the future, I talk about it in terms of how pregnant I will be or how old the baby will be, instead of “if this cycle works” phrases.  I think this is helping.  I definitely feel more peaceful this morning than I have in a while.  I’m grateful for that!
On top of an awesome attitude switch beginning, we are less than 5 days away from the trip of a lifetime.  After the miscarriage in June, we discussed going on a vacation before the next cycle that would help us both relax and unwind.  Well, we finally planned it (nothing like last-minute) two weeks ago.  We leave this Saturday morning for 8 full days in Kauai, Hawaii!!  I couldn’t be more excited to get 10 days (with traveling) to spend with none other than my romantic, sweet, cute, cuddle-lovin’ hubby.
I hope to be having our first IVF appointment within 2 days of our return.  Last cycle, I would report how I was doing in terms of remaining euphoric.  This cycle, I’m shooting for remaining peaceful.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Honey, Did You Remember to Water the Money Tree Yesterday?

I should preface this entry by saying that I’m slightly jealous of those that don’t have to pay for their fertility treatments.  A lot of people seem to get it paid for by insurance.  Thanks to Mr. Obama (literally), we will not be getting any help on our treatments…ever.  The first cycle was completely out-of-pocket because neither of our insurance companies covered IVF.  However, for 2014, Todd’s company was considering adding at least some type of a benefit; most likely, it would have been a $10,000 lifetime benefit, meaning they would pay $10,000 for infertility over the course of our lives (roughly ½ of a cycle).  However, due to Obamacare and the increases in premiums, they have decided not to add this benefit at all.  Therefore, I’m jealous of those that have had any sort of help financially, and I just needed to admit it and get it off my chest.  All I want to do is get pregnant, and they charge us a bundle to do it.  Again, thank you, Mr. Obama.  This is much appreciated.
Anyway, I said I would give a breakdown of what IVF cost us.  Keep in mind, this does not include any of the expenses of my Laparoscopy & Hysteroscopy in August or the months of Lupron shots.  Some of that was covered by insurance, but there was still a considerable amount out-of-pocket, as in roughly $3,700.  Also, this does not include the 15 months of vitamins I’ve been taking.  Those get pricey when there is an average of 20 pills each day.

Our out-of-pocket expenses for IVF, Cycle 1:
Todd's initial urology consultation
all IVF shots
Todd's sperm retrieval
Dr. Bundren – IVF ultrasounds, blood work, & retrieval
Integris Bennett Fertility Institute – retrieval & transfer
anesthesia during retrieval
Dr. Kallenberger, MD – transfer
ICSI of less than 10 eggs
Progesterone & hCG checks

Here are 3 charges that we were able to save some money on, which will most likely be added back to this next cycle. 
1)      We were really lucky in that my insurance decided to pick up the cost of a couple of my shots.  We are unsure why, unless they didn’t realize it was for IVF.  I didn’t complain, though. 
2)      Also, a very sweet, dear, beloved (need I say more?) friend gave us some of her unused drugs.  Unfortunately, I was not allowed to use the Progesterone because it wouldn’t be like the others I would use when those ran out.  However, I was able to save by using her Follistim shots. 
3)      Last, we did not have any embryos to freeze, so the cryopreservation was not an expense the first time and may/may not be the second time.
paid by insurance for medication
Follistim from Michelle
cryopreservation of embryos
Total for IVF with all expenses

If we had incurred those 3 expenses on top of everything else, we would have ended up with a bill of $19,597.47.  That is roughly what IVF will cost a couple with no fertility coverage in Tulsa, OK.  Now, since that cycle has passed, I’ve heard of people finding places where they can pay $25,000 for 3 cycles.  If we had known about that, we probably would have done it.  I don’t know all of the details, though, so I won’t let it worry me.

Todd and I have made sure not to incur any debt from IVF.  We have agreed to save all of the money for each cycle before we embark on it; that way, we do not have to borrow any money from anyone.  I know there are several programs that will offer loans for this type of situation, but we paid off all of our debt a few years ago.  At this point, we refuse to put anything on credit.  We have nothing against those that do take out a loan for infertility.  Sometimes, it’s the only way.  This is just a personal decision we have made, and we are fortunate that our jobs pay us in a matter that will allow us to do this.

Now, you may know why I’m nervous about having another failed round.

Thursday, October 17, 2013


I would first like to say that I apologize for this long post that does not pertain to IVF.  However, the story’s purpose is three-fold:  1) the interesting interactions I had with a new PCP, 2) it explains why MK postponed my IVF date-setting for 3 weeks, and 3) it explains why I substituted my meal plan the last week and a half of the boot camp challenge in lieu of whatever didn’t hurt my stomach.
Back in August, I decided to get established with a new primary care physician.  I was worried that with Obamacare, it would take months to get in to see one as a new patient, and I don’t care for the one I had seen since I moved back to Tulsa.  Anyway, I received a referral and made my appointment.  I thought the doctor was fabulous.  He spent over an hour just sitting and answering all of my questions.  They drew some blood and took my vitals to get a baseline.  I was pleased.

Then, as I was walking to my car, I started replaying all of the information he had given me in that hour-long talk.  Basically, he had convinced me that I needed to drop my anxiety med I had been taking for 13 years, start drinking only distilled water, and change every piece of plastic food container in my life to glass or metal.  All of this needed to happen between now and when IVF started.  Now, if you know me at all, you know that I immediately began to worry.  How would I live without my anxiety medication and not drive Todd, Mom, and Bradette bat-poop crazy?!  Where was I going to buy 100 ounces of distilled water each day?  (That’s how much I drink on average.)  How expensive was it going to be to buy all new food containers?  Where should I start price-matching said food containers?  It immediately began to overwhelm me because it wasn’t as if I had no other worries on my mind before I went into his office already.  I called Todd, he talked me off the ledge, and we began making the changes.  (Now, I will say that after much research, we have decided that the distilled water may not be a great idea.  Todd actually found an article that states that distilled water can shorten your life.  Plus, I couldn’t find another doctor or source that said distilled water was necessary.  I have purchased some glass containers and try to stay away from plastic, but it’s not nearly completely out of my life.  I did find a great, glass water bottle that I love that I carry and drink my filtered water from each day.)  Also, this doctor told me I needed to stop trying to lose weight or I would never get pregnant.  He said, “Skinny girls don’t get pregnant.”  Again, if you know me personally, you know that I’m far from skinny.  I still have plenty of fat on this body to have a very healthy pregnancy…just ask Mary Kathryn.  (She thought all of his advice was a crock.)  Plus, he told me my new meal plan would not keep my weight off, even though he had no idea what my meal plan was; he said that it was just another fad diet and that a calorie is just a calorie.  He even said to me that there are no fat people in Ethiopia.  No sir, you’re right, but they do have distended bellies from lack of proper nutrition; haven’t you seen the commercials?!  Lastly, he told me I shouldn’t be taking Miralax daily because your bowels can become dependent on it.  (I had been taking it since I started Lupron last September because of all of the medication we were putting in my system.  It was recommended by Dr. Bundren.  Later on, I asked a GI doctor about this, and he said Miralax was safe to take every day for the rest of my life.)  Anyway, as I said above, we made a couple of changes, but most importantly, I stopped worrying about this doctor’s advice.

ADDITION:  One thing I forgot to mention was that this doctor told me I was too old for boot camp.  That may have been the statement that made me realize he was not the doctor for me!
The next day, the abdominal pain began.  (I do not believe it was related to my visit with my new PCP.  It was just a coincidence.)  I specifically remember getting to boot camp and having an odd pain that I had never had in my abdomen.  I decided to push through my workout, and I’m glad I did.  The pain would come and go.  It wasn’t sharp.  It was very dull but very uncomfortable!  It definitely did not feel like heartburn or indigestion.
I dealt with the pain for 2 weeks before it began to get so uncomfortable that I wanted to cry.  Luckily, about that time (day 16 of pain), Mary Kathryn had received my blood work from the new PCP’s office and was concerned about my thyroid numbers.  She wanted me to come in immediately to have more blood work drawn.  I told her about my abdominal pain while we were there, and she told me to start Prilosec.  I did and after 4 days of no release from the pain, I asked her to move to the next step.  Knowing MK’s history of not quickly moving on anything, I decided to get an appointment with the PCP for faster help.  As I was sitting in his office on day 21 of pain, MK called me back.  She said she thought it might be my gallbladder, but to call her after this doctor had seen me to tell me what he said.  Well, he agreed it was gallbladder, and they both called their respective hospitals to get me in for scanning.

Side note:  I made Todd go with me on this appointment to see the PCP to make sure I didn’t overlook any questions.  I’m so glad I did.  We got on the subject of my diet, again; which you should keep in mind was having me eat real, unprocessed foods with no sugar six times a day.  It’s not a diet where you starve yourself or eat foods you’ll never be able to eat on a regular basis.  It’s just smart eating.  Anyway, the doctor told me, again, that skinny girls don’t get pregnant and a calorie is just a calorie.  It flipped my switch.  I began crying.  I was so frustrated with my pain and with this doctor telling me archaic information about how to lose weight.  Anyone that’s done any research knows that a calorie is not just a calorie.  They have proven that you cannot lose weight, keep it off, and be overall healthy by eating 1200 calories of Twinkies and cookies all day.  Then, he had the audacity to ask if maybe I had started weaning myself off my anxiety medicine too quickly.  My eyes about fell out of my head as I whipped around to look at Todd.  I asked him what he thought, and he quickly stated that wasn’t the problem.  (Good boy, Todd!)  I told this doctor I had been fine with my moods until I came in to see him, which I think made him irritated.  I didn’t care.  There are few things I hate more in this world than people blaming my mood swings on my medications.  It’s just insensitive, and it’s not the first time it has happened.  (I’m sure this doctor is great for some people, but he just causes me too much worry.  I know he’s great for my friend that sees him, but he’s not for me.  On to the next PCP!)
The next day (day 22 of pain), my pain got so bad that Todd found me crying in the shower.  At that point, he said we were going to the hospital.  While we were in the waiting room, Mary Kathryn’s hospital called to set my scans.  I told them I was actually sitting in their waiting room to be seen by the ER, and I would call them the next day to schedule my appointment.  That night, they performed an ultrasound and a CAT scan.  The final diagnosis was that my gallbladder was fine and maybe I was just constipated from all of my medication.  How embarrassing!!  (MK didn’t think that was the case.)
The day after that, MK called in a HIDA scan, which tracks the activity of your gallbladder to make sure it’s functioning properly.  Apparently, it’s the only test that really can tell how your gallbladder is doing.  Within a couple of days, it came back normal.  MK wanted me to see a GI specialist because she wanted to be 100% sure nothing was wrong before we moved on with the next IVF cycle.  By the time I got to him, my pain had pretty much subsided, and I was thinking it was a waste of time.  I went to the appointment, anyway, to make sure everything was okay.  Within a day, they had me doing an upper endoscopy, which came back clear, too.
At that point, I was cleared for IVF.  That was three weeks ago, and I still rarely have the pain in a very mild manner.  I’m just grateful no surgery was required, and we can move on to our next IVF cycle.

Also, I would like to state that I don’t always have problems with all of my doctors.  J  I’m starting to sound like I do.  I have actually never had a problem with a doctor until MK didn’t return phone calls and this PCP told me I needed a different life in order to get pregnant.  J

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


I’ve been spending the last 3 weeks trying to figure out why Dr. Bundren’s office will not call me back.  Maybe they keep forgetting my number, and if it were more famous…say, like Jenny’s…they would return my calls.  Hmmm…

There is a back story to this a little.  Over six weeks ago, we were informed that Todd’s insurance would not be helping us with any of the costs of our next cycle.  (I still have an entry to post about what this process actually costs.)  That was a pretty devastating blow, as we really had our hopes up that we would be getting some financial assistance.  At that point, I started calling and leaving messages for Mary Kathryn to set our dates for a November cycle.  Well, everything got put on hold because of some abdominal pain I was having.  (I’ll go into more detail about that, too, in another entry.)  Three weeks ago, we were sure the abdominal pain had passed, and everyone was ready to move forward with IVF in November.  Again, I started calling and leaving messages for Mary Kathryn.

At some point in our waiting, frustration set in.  I began crying anytime anyone asked if my dates had been set.  Todd reached his limit two nights ago, which says a lot about how long we felt we had been waiting.  He happens to be the most patient person I have ever known.  He went straight to the source and texted MK on her cell phone.  He kindly asked that she give us a call the next day (yesterday), so we could start planning our work schedules around IVF.

Well, yesterday’s work day came and went with no call.  Last night, I found out that MK wasn’t even in the office this week because she and Dr. B had gone to Boston for a conference.  Really?!  That’s when we figured out how to get her attention.  I texted her and said we needed our dates for work schedules, and since we weren’t getting any responses whatsoever, we were considering switching doctors.  Within 15 minutes, I had a text with the dates of my retrieval and transfer.  <sigh>

Since that text, I’ve gone through about 100 different emotions.  I called the fertility institute where our retrieval and transfer occur to inquire about obtaining our sperm vials.  (Keep in mind, they have 3 vials of Todd’s sperm that were extracted in a very painful procedure.  We don’t want to have to go back through that process unless it’s absolutely necessary. )  At that point, I found out we weren’t even actually on the schedule.  After several calls and lots of questions and answers, they found a place for me on our dates.

At this time, we will be continuing our second cycle with Dr. Bundren.  I don’t have all of our dates for appointments and shots.  However, I do know our retrieval will be on November 20, and our transfer will be on November 25.  Therefore, I’ll be getting a week off for Thanksgiving, which gives me even more time to rest after the transfer.  I don’t think it could have turned out more perfect on the timing.  I’m just grateful to have something set, but at the same time, I hope we’re making the right decision to stay with Dr. Bundren.  Please, don’t disappoint me, Mary Kathryn!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Eat Clean. Train Dirty!

I know it’s been a really long time since I’ve blogged.  A lot of little changes have taken place, and they have caused me to not have as much free time to continue blogging.  However, since we are getting closer to our next IVF cycle (hopefully, November), I’ll be trying to do a better job at writing.  Plus, I promised my sweet friend, Heather, something interesting to read…well, something to read.  J  Love you, Nicho!

Today, I just want to say that I completed the Fit Body Boot Camp Game Changer Challenge, and I pretty much kicked its butt!  I am hands-down happier with this effort than most efforts I have ever given to anything…besides maybe when Todd and I paid off our debt.  I’m still really happy about that.  Anyway, the last week and a half of the challenge, I was sick.  I was having abdominal pain, which I’ll write more about later.  Therefore, I kind of fell off the wagon and just ate whatever didn’t hurt my stomach.  However, I still hit my goal of losing 2 pant sizes.  The best part is that I’m now over 2 weeks past the challenge, and I’ve kept off the weight.

Another goal I had when I started boot camp was to get to be a testimonial.  I know it seems silly, but I figured if they asked me to tell about my fat loss journey and submit before and after pictures, that meant I had really transformed my body!  Well, I did it!  Yay!!  This was posted on Facebook last week.  (Disclaimer:  I didn’t know this testimonial was going on Facebook when they asked me if they could use it.  I thought it was just going on the wall at the studio for all of the ladies to see.  I don’t make it a habit to post pictures of myself on social media in sports bras.  However, once they posted it and I found out, it was too late.  Then, I realized I should just own it because I did have a lot to be proud of.)  I’m very excited about it.  The only thing I didn’t mention in my testimonial is how I have changed my thoughts on food; now, I try to see food as fuel and not something that must be fattening and full of chemicals to be enjoyable.  It’s a process to change your thoughts, but I’m making some headway.  I still allow myself to have unhealthy food; I just do it much less often than before.

Here is my testimonial from Facebook with all of my before and after pictures.
Before FBBC, I was lethargic.  Plus, I had low self-esteem from being so unhappy with my body.  I thought about my weight all of the time.  I had tried many different diets and workout programs, but I never stuck to any of them longer than 7 weeks.  It was a constant battle that made me sad, stressed, and frustrated.

Since I’ve started boot camp, I have so much more energy!  I feel much more comfortable in my body, too.  Overall, I’m happier.  I always hid my frustration, but now I don’t feel like I have to pretend!

I did the Game Changer Program, and I dropped 14 pounds, 10.5 inches overall, and 2 pant sizes in the 9 weeks!  Before the Program, I was mostly toning and gaining strength, but the Game Changer Program taught me how to incorporate real foods into my everyday life.  That diet change helped me to start dropping inches.  I’m only 1 pant size away from my goal, and I know I’ll hit it before Christmas shopping starts!  J

A few weeks ago, I went to the doctor for my yearly physical.  Based on my blood work along, my doctor asked if I had changed my eating habits.  He could tell it had changed just from the change in my numbers.  I have never had a checkup where I felt so healthy and in hope.  I wasn’t ashamed to go see the doctor; I was excited!  I didn’t even feel the temptation to lie about some of my habits because I had dropped all of the bad ones!

For those of you who are struggling to get started on healthier habits, don’t give up.  Find something you truly love to do.  Working out and eating right can be fun!  It doesn’t have to be a struggle.  Plus, write down your goals and the pros and cons to everything.  For instance, I have a list of the pros and cons of eating junk food.  It helps me remember how poor junk food makes me feel when I’m tempted to eat it.