Fertility Diary: I’m 30 & Spent $9K Trying To Have A Baby

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History: Based on family history, I assumed I’d get pregnant just by thinking about babies. But when, after about a year of marriage, my partner and I decided that we were ready to grow our family, nothing happened. This is our fertility journey.
Age: 30
Location: New Jersey
Occupation: Teacher
Household income: $150,000
July 2016 
We’re going to make a baby!
We’ve been “getting ready” for six months. I stopped taking the pill in February and started taking prenatals from Target instead. I’ve been taking my temperature every day when I wake up with my special Basal Body Temperature (BBT) thermometer. I bulk-purchased ovulation tests on Amazon and chart my ovulation in the Fertility Friend app, where I paid for the upgrade (my first time ever paying for an app). Everyone in my family gets pregnant so easily, so we plan to start trying now so that our baby will be born in the spring and I can take an extended maternity leave.  
Cost: $50 total for the app, ovulation tests, thermometer, and prenatal vitamins. 
August 2016
Not pregnant yet
No luck. Oh well. I read some stats on first-try pregnancies. That calms me down. I figure that in the second or third cycle I’ll get pregnant. Late spring babies are better anyway.
Cost: $0
January 25, 2017 
I’m starting to worry
It’s been about six months and we still aren’t pregnant. I don’t get it. I track everything and my cycle is so regular. I’ve been trying to eat in what I’ve heard is a more “fertility friendly” way with more "whole foods” and snacks such as nuts, fruits, and veggies. I buy more (and fancier) ovulation tests. I’ve even been lifting my legs in the air after we try on my fertile days. Two different friends just announced pregnancies after “ages” of trying. But one of them just started trying in August. Everything sucks. My cousin is in the medical field and tells us that we can ask our primary care physician (PCP) for diagnostics even though it hasn’t been a year since we started trying. We schedule blood tests for both of us and a semen analysis for my husband. Deep down, I feel something isn’t right. 
Cost: $50 for the new ovulation tests. 
February 15, 2017 
Our doctor gives us a call, and won’t say anything other than, “Come in as soon as you can.” We do. We’re both healthy, but there are some analysis results that indicate there could be issues with morphology (sperm shape) and motility (sperm movement). We are referred to a fertility clinic after being told, “Good luck.” I cry for the first time throughout this process. I wonder if I’ll ever have a baby now. My future plans are smashed.
Cost: $80, for two copays that are $40 each.
March 3, 2017 
First visit at the fertility clinic
Walking into the clinic is terrifying. We went in a few days ago for bloodwork and another semen analysis. The results are the same, but now we are given more detail. However, knowing more is painful. They say our chances of conceiving naturally are less than 2%. Because of our insurance, we need to do at least three IUIs before we can even hope to get IVF covered. The doctor says there’s less than a 5% chance IUI will work for us, but she will do it so we can move on to IVF. This makes me feel awful. She says that my obsessive charting is helpful because it means that they have more information than usual. My head is spinning.
Cost: $40 for my copay.
March through April 2017 
Morning monitoring
I go to “morning monitoring” at 6:30 a.m. at certain points during my cycle. This is when they take a vial of my blood and do a transvaginal ultrasound to check on my uterus, ovaries, and egg follicles. It has to be done super early in the day, so they can get the tests back as soon as possible and we can make changes to my fertility treatment protocol as necessary. I love the phlebotomist, who always makes jokes about vampires. I have blood taken probably five different times for this cycle.
Cost: $200 total, with a $40 copay for each visit.
April 2017 
My first IUI
We are doing it. I’ve been taking Clomid to stimulate egg maturation (a $10 copay) and have three good-looking eggs growing. We did a “trigger shot,” which prompts ovulation (my portion was $50) yesterday, and today we’ll do the procedure, in which they use a catheter to insert my husband’s sperm near my cervix, with the hopes his swimmers make their way to my fallopian tubes. It hurts and is uncomfortable and I feel nauseated afterwards. Not to mention, the extra hormones have really been impacting my mood. It’ll be worth it if we have a baby, though.
Cost: $140 total, for the medication and two visit copays.
April 19, 2017 
First pregnancy test and first results
I get to morning monitoring at 6 a.m., and excitedly tell my vampire friend that I am taking a pregnancy test. I’m pretty sure I’m pregnant. My stomach felt funny yesterday, which I took as a sign. My nurse calls around noon. My beta test indicates that I am not pregnant. I can try again on my next cycle.
Cost: $40 for the copay.
May 2017 
Second IUI cycle
More blood tests, more Clomid, more triggers, another pregnancy test, another failed IUI.  This time, I get the call while I am at work and I start crying while I eat lunch. It just a lot, especially compounded with the facts that I’m looking for other jobs and the medicines that make me hormonal. I will try one more cycle, but this time with injections. I want to try IVF, but we priced it out and it would be about $30,000 for one cycle without insurance.
Cost: $420 for copays and medications. 
June 2017
Third IUI cycle
More blood tests, no Clomid. This time I’m on injections that are not covered, but my pharmacy is full of angels who found me coupons, so it’s “only” $200. Another pregnancy test, another failed IUI. During this time, I also get a new job, which means I’ll be using their insurance instead of my husband’s.
Cost: $570 for copays and medication.
July 14, 2017 
The first good news in a while
I call my new insurance company on my way to my barre class. They say they cover everything. I’lI end up paying for about 20% of the medication costs and my copays for all fertility coverage will go down to $30. They say I can jump straight into IVF. I cry in my car — I’m so happy. I finally feel a glimmer of hope. I call my doctor who says to let them know on day one of my next cycle, and they will write scripts for IVF meds. I’ll be ready to start the process as early as later this month.
Cost: $0
July 28, 2017
Starting IVF retrieval
I’m officially doing IVF. The doctors are going to “stimulate my follicles” for this cycle, which means using an artificial hormone to help the growth of my eggs. Soon, they’ll retrieve these eggs to make embryos with my husband's sperm. Even though I’m only paying partial amounts, I’m still on the hook for a lot of money. Everything in this world is so expensive. As I go through this, I’ll take an injectable "stim" medication, one medicine to hold off ovulation, and another to trigger ovulation. Everything costs $500 after insurance and needs to be refrigerated. 
Cost: $530 for the medications and a copay.
August 10, 2017 
First egg retrieval
Oh my goodness, I am huge. I’m insanely bloated because of the growth in my ovaries, and because I’ve had to guzzle down tons of liquids throughout this process. It feels so unfair to look six months pregnant right now. 
I go in for my retrieval. The doctors tell me I have 24 “promising” follicles. To go through the process, I’m put under anesthesia and they enter through my vaginal canal with a catheter to extract all the eggs they can find. 
After I wake up from my anesthesia, I am still sore and bloated. I’m reunited with my husband, and soon they tell me they got 17 good eggs and will call me the next day with results about which ones fertilized.
Cost: $270 in copays for the nine visits I have leading up to this procedure and process.
August 24, 2017 
Retrieval results and testing
Although we had several eggs that looked promising, we lost 50% of them because the fertilization wasn’t efficacious. We were left with eight‚ then, after a few more days and a round of genetic testing, only one. The doctor recommends doing another retrieval before our embryo transfer. That means more time waiting to be parents. I feel defeated again. My eggs are garbage and we don’t know why. They are going to put me on metformin next time, with the hopes it’ll help my body process all the hormones, so maybe we’ll do better next time. We also will have to pay an additional $500 for more genetic testing, and not all of my meds are covered this time. The only good news is that retrieval can start this week.
Cost: $1,500 for genetic testing.
September 17, 2017
Second retrieval results and testing
Our second retrieval yielded only three embryos, despite me having an even worse time with the stims and metformin. I was nauseated the whole time. I honestly don’t know if I can do another retrieval, physically. 
Our doctor calls us, which is odd since it’s a Sunday morning. But it's good news. All three embryos tested normal, thank goodness. We have four total. Now we can go ahead to do a transfer if we want. The doctor says the pharmacy has my transfer meds and advises me about the process. It entails more blood tests and more ultrasounds — but it’ll all be worth it for a baby!
Cost: $1,400 total for testing, medications, and copays.
September 28, 2017 
Transfer cycle number one
My body is not responding to the oral estrogen, which I’m taking to help thicken my uterine lining for the transfer. So I have to do it as a vaginal suppository. My nurse says that it will likely mean that I have “Smurf discharge.” Yes, it is blue. It might sound funny, but it ends up being totally disgusting. Plus, after months of constant fertility stress, I’m incapable of making jokes about it. At least my insurance will cover the drug. 
Unfortunately, the insurance company hassles us over a different medication, saying they’ll only cover one vial of progesterone in oil (which also helps prep the uterine lining for the implantation of an embryo), and will only give pre-approval through a certain pharmacy. We decide to just pay market value for the PIO, because waiting would delay our process. All told, it already pushed back our timeline by another week, but I’m being monitored daily to prevent ovulation.
Cost: $395, including about 10 copays, plus my medicine copays, and the market value PIO.
October 10, 2017 
Transfer day!
I’m approved to do my embryo transfer today. When I get to the clinic I am shaking from nervousness. My husband and I decided to do in-house acupuncture before and after the transfer because it’s only $200, and, at this point, that amount means nothing to us. 
They asked me to have a full bladder when I came in to do the transfer, but I forgot that my teacher's bladder is intense (I can’t very well leave a class unattended), so I have to “let some out.” My hands are shaking and I spill the cup, so I have to clean up. Dammit. The embryologist walks in and shows us our blastocyst. I tear up. As I sit spread eagle (yet again) and the tube goes in and places my little blastocyst, we see a spark on the screen. Our child. I tear up. I do my second round of acupuncture and we leave. Then, we’re told that the clinic covers the copay for transfers, which also makes me emotional. 
Cost: $200 for the acupuncture.
October 18, 2017 
Pregnancy test
I do morning monitoring at 6 a.m. I figure that if I go earlier, I’ll get my results earlier. My bum is sore from the nightly shots, so I turn on the heated seats in my car. I’m super unfocused at work waiting for the call. Around 12:30, I get hungry so I walk to a local sandwich place. On my way there, the nurse calls and informs me that my test is positive and I need to come back in two days. She asks if I want her to call my husband and I say yes. I can’t think, but I'm looking forward to his reaction. I get my food and walk back to work with a major spring in my step. 
Cost: $30 copay for the appointment. 
October 28, 2017 
The testing continues
I’ve had three consecutive beta tests that have confirmed I’m pregnant and my hCG is rising. I go next Friday to see my baby again and maybe even hear a heartbeat.
Cost: $0. My pregnancy visits are covered by insurance.
November 3, 2017 
I’m woken at 2 a.m. with the news that my father has unexpectedly and suddenly passed away. My husband asks if I still want to go to my morning monitoring. I do. I get there as they are opening the door because I’ve been up four hours already. The blood test goes as usual and now I go in for my transvaginal ultrasound. My doctor asks if I want to check for a heartbeat, warning that it is very early so I might not hear anything even though it is a healthy pregnancy. But the doc also notes that once we hear the heartbeat, we are in a fairly safe zone. I opt to check, and there it is. I have a child. Even though I have two more visits with the fertility clinic before they release me to my OB, I feel like I’ve crossed the finish line.
My father knew nothing about our fertility journey or about our very new pregnancy. We'd never been particularly close when I was growing up, but I know he would have been an incredible grandfather. It was a gut punch to have him die without knowing about his grandchild. It prompts us to tell the rest of our family much earlier than we originally intended because we’re so afraid another person could miss out on being a part of our baby’s life. 
Cost: $0 
June 2018 
Live birth
After a fairly straightforward pregnancy, albeit with extensive nausea, my baby is born. The birth got a bit complicated, but my insurance charges a maximum of $750 for childbirth, so that is our portion. When he finally comes, my baby is perfect.
Cost: $750 for the hospital bill.
August 2020 
Second baby?
Coronavirus has delayed our second baby because we want to wait until things are a little more certain. However, we did diagnostic testing and some preparation in February to do another embryo transfer with the remaining eggs. Until then, we’ll pay embryo storage fees yearly ($1,200 per year).
Cost: $2,470 total, including $70 copays for diagnostics, $2,400 embryo storage fees for 2019 and 2020.
Total cost: $9,135
I am so grateful that we were in the financial position to afford IVF, and my toddler is worth every single cent we spent. Since going through it, I’ve spoken quite a bit about my experience to friends, who’ve had to borrow money or take on extra jobs, even though our state does require infertility coverage from insurance. 
We were very lucky that our first transfer worked and, quite honestly, I’m worried that when we go for number two it’ll be a different story. If I had to go back and change anything, I would 100% skip the IUIs. It was a complete waste, as the doctor said it would be, and did nothing but drain me. I’m still a bit upset that it was an insurance requirement when medical advice said it was not going to work. The best decision we made was seeking out diagnostics early. What many people don’t realize is that the semen analysis and initial blood tests can be done right away, and if those reveal a diagnosis, many insurances will cover treatments.
Ultimately, I’m so glad I went through this process. I love watching my child grow into a kind, compassionate, and curious little human being. We are starting to hear words strung together into entire thoughts and the stream-of-consciousness babble amazes me every day. We have created an amazing person.

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