Fertility Diary: 2 Rounds Of IVF & Chronic Endometritis

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History: My husband and I have been struggling to conceive for the past three years. Deciding to go through fertility treatments during the pandemic has added a whole level of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness, but we’re hopeful for a full-term miracle.
Age: 33
Location: New Jersey
Occupation: Personal Trainer and Nutrition Specialist
Household income: $425,000
March 2017
We decide to try for a baby
We’ve been married for 10 months and just moved from Oklahoma to New Jersey to start a new chapter — one that I’m sure will include a bassinet and lots pacifiers. I just started my own health and wellness business, so a lot of exciting changes are happening. We start trying for a baby and are giddy about it. 
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Cost: $0
July 2017 
Nerves 
It’s just one negative test after another. The fear, anxiety, and doubt is kicking in. Why are we struggling? I wish I would have been prepared for the possibility we wouldn’t get a positive pregnancy test right out of the gate. 
Cost: Around $50 for pregnancy tests and ovulation sticks.
December 2017
Appointment with my OB/GYN
We’re headed to the doctor after nine months of trying. We feel defeated and confused. We’ve been doing all the “right” things — tracking ovulation and preparing all month for our conception window. But our OB/GYN says we can’t be referred to a fertility specialist until a year of trying without conceiving. We leave the office feeling determined, and planning to try some new strategies, like having sex every other day after a positive ovulation test. 
Cost: $0. We are so thankful for insurance to cover OB/GYN visits.
February 2018
Pregnancy test 
I’m in Las Vegas hosting a baby shower for my best friend. I’ve been so busy planning and hosting, I nearly forgot it was time to take a pregnancy test. Lately I have been overheating and feeling tired — I hope it’s a sign of pregnancy, but I’ve also been so busy lately. When the test is ready, I can’t believe my eyes. We’re pregnant! I run out of the bathroom to show my best friend. We both jump up and down with excitement. Next, I FaceTime my husband so he can be a part of this moment. I wish I was with him right now. I feel this is the most monumental day in our lives. My hubby and I almost immediately start planning our future — talking names and nursery themes. We are so ready to be parents and the next step in our lives.
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Cost: $14.39 for three First Response tests
February 23, 2018
Bleeding
We've been smiling nonstop since our positive pregnancy test, but a few days later, I start bleeding and cramping. I’m so scared. My OB/GYN asks me to come in for bloodwork to monitor my levels of hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin, a hormone produced during pregnancy). I’m in complete panic mode. 
When I get to the doctor’s office, the nurse asks me why I’m here as we walk to the exam room. “For a potential miscarriage,” I tell her. Saying this out loud is so painful — it’s another jab to an open wound. She apologizes for not knowing this ahead of time. Soon, she’s drawing my blood. It’s Friday, so I won’t get results until Monday. The anticipation is brutal.
Cost: $0 no co-pay, covered through insurance.
February 27, 2018
Heart-broken 
My OB/GYN calls. My hCG levels are concerning. Our pregnancy is being labeled as a “bad pregnancy,” which is a term my doctor uses for one that’s not progressing.  She gives us two options: I could take progesterone to try to support our pregnancy or I could “dissolve our pregnancy.” 
There’s a big risk involved with taking progesterone. Our doctor can’t tell if our fertilized egg has implanted in the uterus or in a fallopian tube (which would be considered an ectopic pregnancy). If that’s the case and I take the progesterone, one of my tubes could burst, which could cause major internal bleeding, or even death, I’m told. With recommendations from my OB/GYN and primary doctor, my husband and I decide to dissolve the pregnancy. It’s not worth risking my health or future pregnancy complications, but it breaks my heart to make this call.  
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My OB/GYN orders an injectable medication, methotrexate, to end the pregnancy. It cost $8 with insurance. The low cost of this medicine shocks me, especially knowing how much money getting pregnant can cost. I cry all the way to the pharmacy, and on the way back to the doctor’s office where she injects the medicine into my bum. It burns when the needle goes into my body, but nothing can hurt as much as my heart does at this moment.
I leave the office knowing that soon, I won’t be pregnant anymore. I can’t wait to change into my pajamas and lay on the couch. My husband comes home from work early to nurture me and reassure me everything will be OK. 
Cost: $8 for the methotrexate.
March 2, 2018
Misery 
I’m miscarrying. I have been up all night, running to and from the bathroom trying to control the bleeding and fight through the pain from the intense cramping. My poor husband has been up all night with me too, rubbing my head and belly, and tucking me into bed in our guest bedroom because it’s a straight shot to the bathroom. I barely sleep a wink.
July 2018
Nine week pregnancy scan
A few weeks ago, we got another positive pregnancy test and were thrilled. The joy didn’t last long. Now, the tech is doing an ultrasound and says there are no signs of a fetus. She says this could mean that it’s too early to see anything — or that the pregnancy won’t last. The doctor is urging us to be hopeful and tells us to come in again soon for another ultrasound. 
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Two weeks later, I start bleeding again. I know something is off. The abdomen pain, the panic, the fear. It feels all too familiar. I get into my OB right away and she takes my blood. She says we need to be prepared for it to be another failed pregnancy.
Waiting for lab results is agonizing. My doc comes back in and delivers the bad news. I can hear the pain in her voice. The upside is that my body is able to naturally miscarry this time, which is less invasive than having to get a painful shot of medicine to “push out” my pregnancy like last time. The downside: Miscarrying naturally might take a couple weeks. I’m emotionally and physically exhausted. 
A few days later, despite the pain and extreme discomfort, I decide to celebrate my mom’s birthday with her and my sister. We’re celebrating with dinner and going to see Gwen Stefani in concert. Even though I’m not feeling my best, my family makes me feel so much better. Nothing beats quality time with the people I’m closest to. Today I’m choosing to smile. Tomorrow, I’ll be ready to mourn, get through this miscarraige, and start the healing process so we can try again.
Cost: $0, covered by insurance
Date: October 5, 2018
Fertility counseling appointment with RMA of New Jersey
Our OB/GYN referred us to a fertility clinic called RMA; a family member went to the same one and had success. I believe this is exactly what we need: guidance, support, attention to our case. I’m feeling very overwhelmed, but excited. I’m always motivated by having a plan, and they quickly help us craft one. We are fighting for our rainbow baby one step at a time.
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Cost: $0, the doctor’s visits are covered by insurance
End of October 2018
Appointment at RMA Fertility 
A fertility specialist starts helping us track my ovulation. After day three of my period, I begin visiting the clinic every few days to get bloodwork. The doctor also does a transvaginal ultrasound to monitor my follicles, fluid filled sacs which release eggs, to pinpoint exactly when I’m ovulating. You have a 48-hour window after ovulation where you are the most fertile, and we’re trying “timed intercourse” before moving forward with an Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)
At one appointment, our nurse delivers some jarring news. She says we most likely had a chemical pregnancy earlier this month, which I’m told is when the sperm and the egg met, but died shortly after implantation. I’m so upset, frustrated, confused about what’s going on with my body. But all we can do is push forward. 
Cost: $0 covered by insurance
January 2019
IUI
The ovulation tracking and timed intercourse doesn’t work, so we decide to go ahead and try IUI, when sperm is inserted directly into your uterus during ovulation. My doctor puts me on hormone stimulants, which are helping our follicles mature in size. The idea is that when the follicles are ready to release mature eggs, my doctors will administer a shot to trigger ovulation, then inject my husband’s sperm to facilitate fertilization.  
But there’s a hang-up before we get that far. Leading up to ovulation, we learn that the hormones stimulated five mature follicles. The doctor tells me that could result in multiple pregnancies. Given our pregnancy history, our doctors strongly recommend we don't move forward with this IUI, due to the risks of multiples. They say when three or more eggs get fertilized, the health risks for the mother and babies increase. I want to go forward with the insemination process (since IUI only has about a 15% success rate anyway) but my husband isn’t willing to take that risk. There’s no obvious compromise. In the end, we decide to cancel our cycle. I’m devastated and, frankly, angry. My body was pumped with hormones, and now there’s no chance of getting pregnant. What a waste. It’s going to take me some time to realize my husband is coming from a good place. My only hope right now is that we can try again. 
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Cost: Around $300 out of pocket for medications, the rest covered by insurance
February 2019
First IUI
We made it! Our first official IUI is happening. I have been at RMA every other day for bloodwork and ultrasounds to monitor a perfect little follicle that’s almost ready to release an egg. I can see the follicle get bigger and bigger each ultrasound appointment. And feel it too. I always have some pain on my left side when an egg releases.  
We finally do the trigger shot, and are ready to do the procedure super early in the morning. My husband has to give his sperm sample at 6 a.m., and then our insemination process starts at 8:30 a.m. We are so hopeful. Now for the two week wait.
Cost: $1,000 out of pocket for the procedure, which would be $4,000 without insurance.
March 2019
Second IUI 
Our first IUI was not successful, so we’re here again, cautiously optimistic. It’s hard to always hold onto hope when you’re constantly being let down, but there’s really no other option. Every attempt is one step closer to growing our family. Please God, let this be our time.
Cost: $1000 for the second procedure. 
May 2019
Surgery to remove polyps
Our IUIs continue to fail. To make matters worse, a recent ultrasound showed polyps attached to my uterus. Apparently, the boost of hormone stimulants for our IUIs are responsible for creating these annoying little buggers. My doctor says they could affect fertility and need to be removed ASAP. It feels like we’re taking two steps back. The recovery time is supposed to be fairly quick, but I’m emotionally and physically exhausted. My husband and I decide to take a break from fertility treatments after this surgery. We’re tired, mentally and physically, and personally I just need a break from living my life on hormone stimulants. We agree we need time to recharge.
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Cost: $500 anesthesia bill for the surgery — the rest is covered by insurance.
July 2019
Third IUI 
We are back again. Putting all our hope into yet another IUI. We feel reenergized. My husband and I have taken the past couple months to travel and live our lives free of hormones, tests, and procedures. I hold my breath before the procedure I’m all too familiar with, and hope as hard as I can.
Cost: $1,000
January 27, 2020
Egg retrieval 
Our third IUI didn’t work, but there’s a silver lining. We’ve tried and failed with that procedure so many times that now our insurance will consider  covering IVF. We decide to go through with it, though it’s a big (and expensive) decision. 
The first step involves harvesting our eggs. Then we’ll genetically test them before moving forward with our embryo transfer. After two weeks of injecting hormones including estrogen and monitoring follicle growth my doc tells us we have 23 follicles ready to be retrieved. This time, those high numbers are a good thing; the more eggs the doctor can extract during this procedure, the better our chances of having strong eggs to be fertilized and turned into embryos. 
The nerves are real. We have so much testing ahead but we’re ready. 
Cost: $9,475.00 out of pocket, up front, for egg retrieval and genetic testing. 
February 12, 2020
Genetic testing 
I’m crying right now. Our doctor is able to retrieve 17 eggs. Of those, 15 are mature and survived ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection, where they injected my husband's swimmers into my eggs). Twelve of those were fertilized effectively, and eight survived after five days, the gold standard time frame that means they’re strong enough to survive. All eight make it through genetic testing, which is great because it means there are no chromosomal abnormalities. God is so good. We are finally feeling hopeful and blessed. We have been praying a lot throughout this journey asking God to guide and protect us. Now we are fighting for our eight “embabies,” as I call them. I have a good feeling about this. 
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Cost: $0, we already paid for the genetic testing with the procedure. 
March 10, 2020
IVF transfer
The day is here. I can hardly believe it. We are about to transfer our strongest embryo into my uterus. We sure hope it sticks. I feel so happy and hopeful in this moment. So far, we’ve survived the constant injections, mood swings, and both mental and physical battles. 
Before the procedure, our doctor and embryologist come in with this massive chamber that contains our one micro-sized embryo. The excitement is so electrifying, I don’t even feel the catheter go in. I think to myself: Stick, baby, stick. I love you. 
Cost: $6,075 out of pocket for the transfer and freezing the remaining embryos.
March 27, 2020
Ultrasound post IVF transfer
I’m back at the fertility specialist’s office, and there are no signs of pregnancy. I’m so sad and confused. My team is concerned about my hCG levels because they seem to be rising at first, but not at the rate they should be. We decide to stop all hormone stimulants to see if my hCG levels go back to zero. Soon, my doctor tells me we’re suffering yet another chemical pregnancy. To make matters worse, I’m all alone when I find out. My husband can no longer come with me to appointments due to COVID-19. We know it’s necessary to keep everyone safe, but it doesn’t make anything easier. 
I feel empty. Broken. Completely defeated.
Cost: $0, the ultrasounds and bloodwork were covered by insurance
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April 2020
More bad news
I’m at the doctor’s again for more tests and procedures after the failed transfer. Our doctor ultimately finds inflammation in my uterus and diagnoses me with chronic endometritis. I’m happy we found a problem, in case this has been the reason behind why our pregnancies stop progressing, but I wonder how long I have had this inflammation. In order to reduce it, we decide to go gluten-free and dairy-free leading up to our next transfer. Plus, our doctor wants to do a D&C (dilation and curettage, which involves the surgical removal of part of the lining of the uterus) to get rid of the questionable inflammation because antibiotics are not working. In the end, I’m glad we’re doing something about this, and I hope it works. Knowledge is power, or so I hope. I’m ready to move forward with whatever needs to be done.
Cost: $0, covered by insurance
May 19, 2020
D&C 
It makes me sad to be back here for surgery, when we should be here for another transfer or be pregnant by now. But, I know this has to happen to start with a clean slate. Surgery always feels so lonely to me. It’s hard too because of the pandemic. I cry all the way to the operating table. I’m so overwhelmed, and want so badly to be pregnant.
Cost: $0, covered by insurance
June 16, 2020
Second IVF transfer
It’s a beautiful day to have an embryo transferred. I feel more at ease and at peace this time. I have a session with an acupuncturist, then the transfer, which happens super-fast — maybe five minutes.. 
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I meditate throughout the procedure, and watch on a screen as the doctor  drops our little embryo into my uterus so it can go on its journey to implantation.Now we wait nine days for our pregnancy test. 
Cost: $6,325 total. It was $6,075 out of pocket for transfer and $250 out of pocket for acupuncture.
June 25, 2020
Positive pregnancy test 
Nine days after our transfer we get a call from our nurse. We are pregnant! My husband and I are crying. We can’t stop smiling. This time feels different. We’re so hopeful.
Cost: $0, we already have pregnancy tests at home. 
July 6, 2020
The best ultrasound yet
Today is the day. The ultrasound to confirm our positive pregnancy test. We have never made it this far. I can’t believe my eyes. There’s the amniotic and yolk sac. Both clear as day. Our pregnancy is developing. Now we just have to make it to the next scan, where we should see our little embryo and hear the heartbeat. 
Cost: $0, covered by insurance. 
July 17, 2020
Happiness
We made it! Now, I’m looking at our little one on yet another ultrasound. I’m so in love. In awe, really. I see the baby’s head and bottom. I hear our little one’s heartbeat. I wish my husband could be by my side, but I can’t wait to show him pictures of our precious one. After all of our pain and heartbreak, I feel that this is our time. We are staying hopeful this is our full-term miracle.
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Cost: $0 covered by insurance
July 24, 2020
Ultrasound measuring baby & graduation day
Our baby is growing so much. Their heartbeat is strong, 176 beats per minute. We now see the umbilical cord. We’re eight weeks and two days pregnant and we have officially graduated from working with the fertility specialists at RMA. A bittersweet moment for sure. Everything we went through was worth it to see our healthy baby thriving. It feels like a new beginning. 
Cost: $0 covered by insurance
Total Cost: $25,747.39
Reflection: 
As I write this diary, we are 25 weeks pregnant. We found out we are having a baby boy and are beyond excited to meet our little one in 100 days. The emotional and physical toll has been draining, but now that we are pregnant it makes all the suffering worth it.
The financial burden ultimately feels worth it too. We worked with a financial advisor to help us factor IVF into our budget, and now we’re [preparing for] IVF budget number two, as well as starting a college fund for our little one. 
My husband and I continue to lean on each other and our faith to remain hopeful for our growing miracle. Especially during this pandemic, self-care and self-love has been more crucial than ever. It has been a lonely time being away from family, but we continue to do things that make us happy to get us through. 
In the end, we are proud of ourselves for continuing the fight for our child, even when it was rough and felt futile. Now, we can’t wait to welcome our son, and to create new traditions together as a family. I feel like I’ve been talking to my miracle baby for years. Now, I say to him: We cannot wait to meet you, little baby — we love you and always have. 

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