THE EMOTIONAL COMMITMENT

Once you decide that egg freezing is the route you want to take towards extending your fertility.  You will be asked to contact your doctors office on the first day of your cycle so that you can book a Day 2 appointment for baseline testing, ultrasounds, hormone levels and blood work.

I can remember, waking up on Day 2 feeling really emotional.  I had just wrapped a big project for work, and now I was shifting my focus to the much bigger picture at hand.

My truth:  (Hit me side ways this time)  All I could think about, was that my series of choices in life has brought me to this point.  Although, I had an incredible support system in place, I couldn’t help but feel alone.  The whole thing is so damn surreal (but too important to leave up to “fate”), I just never want to have regrets that I didn’t preserve my healthy DNA as a very costly plan B.

After a tear-filled call to my parents explaining my inner dialogue, they assured me of their whole hearted support by offering to help pay 1/3 of the cost.  A gesture, that will always mean the world to me (that my parents would invest in the hope of their future Grandchild).

However, the subsidy came with one stipulation my Mom thoughtfully noted, “When it does come time to actually have a baby, just because we are offering our support – should not put any pressure on your decision.”

That call, combined with my parents support, is what gave me the strength that morning to put on my big-girl pants, so that I could drive myself to the fertility clinic.

That drive over to the clinic by myself made me really think of why I felt so alone when I wasn’t.  After all, I was in a serious relationship with a man that I knew I was going to marry.  But at that point it was all on me.  The eggs were mine, the monetary investment was mine, the signature on the paper work was mine, the heady decisions of the directive of what to do with the eggs should something happen to me was mine, the meds I was about to strain my body with – all mine, so that hopefully we could have something that could be OURS.

As I sat in the waiting room, all I wanted to do is talk to someone about how I was feeling. When it came time for me to have my first blood draw, the nurse was all business, and at that point I realized these experts are not paid to be here to be psychologist or a therapist. If you are sitting in their chair putting on your brave face as you fake your way through your phobia of needles and having your blood taken, it means you are there because you mean business too.  At that moment, I felt all in – and when I’m all in, it means I commit 110% to do my best to insure the best possible outcome, or at least the best possible outcome that my body was capable of producing over the next 2 weeks.

 

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A CLOSER LOOK at the exact cost of medications for egg freezing & money saving tips!

To give you a better idea about the type of medications you will be prescribed, the exact costs, and how frequently your stims will need to be purchased during the cycle leading up to freezing your eggs – I was able to find my pharmaceutical receipts reflecting consecutive days of purchasing my meds.

Please note – the meds listed below are specific to me.  They are being sited as an example, in an effort to give you a realistic overview of what to expect. It’s very important to prepare yourself mentally, that some days you will literally feel like you are hemorrhaging money during  this process.  Truly, other then a wedding, I don’t know any other time in your life where you are committed to dropping  a $1000.00 at a time.   That feeling is what made me come up with the following money saving tip that you should know before spending one penny towards your meds.

Money Saving Tip:  The pharmaceutical companies will do their best to make you buy your meds in bulk.   I simply tried to stay ahead of the curve by asking to purchase as I go.   It meant additional trips to the pharmacy, but it was well worth the extra time traveling across town, especially when my specialist actually ended up switching meds on me mid-treatment which you will see below.

AN EXAMPLE OF MY MEDICATIONS PURCHASED DURING MY EGG FREEZING CYCLE:

April 2nd – $15.00

  • Reclipsen (special birth control pills) used to quiet your body.

(13 days later)

April 15th – $1,888.99

  • 10 Menopur 75IU ($669.70)
  • 4 DRX Follistim AQ 300IU ($1,039.88)
  • 2 DRX Ganirelix 250MCG ($196.94) 
  • 4 Azithromycin 250MG Tablet ($29.87)  
  • 5 Syringe & Needles 22G 3ML ($1.45)
  • 5 Needles 1/2″ 27G ($1.15) with a Follistim Pen thrown in for free

(11 days later)

April 26th  – $310.32                                                                               

  • 4 Repronex 75IU ($307.72)
  • 5 Syringe & Needles 22G 3ML ($1.45)
  • 5 Needles 1/2″ 27G ($1.15)

(2 days later)

April 28th –  $414.83

  • 1 DRX Follistim AQ 300IU ($260.97)
  • 2 Repronex 75IU ($153.86)

(2 days later)

April 30th – $1,137.38                                                                                  

  • 2 DRX Follistim AQ 300IU ($521.94)
  • 8 Repronex 75IU ($615.44)
  • 4 Syringe & Needles no charge this time, as they had seen my face so much.

(3 days later)

May 3rd – $590.23 

  • 1 DRX Ganirelix 250MCG ($98.47)
  • 3 Repronex 75IUI ($230.79)
  • 1 DRX Follistim AQ 300IU ($260.97)

My grand total of Meds came out to: $4,356.75

One more BIG Money Saving Tip!  Be sure to also check out the Compassionate Care Program.  If you qualify, they can help you purchase your meds at a 50% – 70% discount.   This type of program was not available to me.  I would highly recommend that it would be worth your time to check it out!

 

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The REALITIES of the financials to consider when deciding to freeze your eggs

When exploring anything in the world of fertility you have to assume that it is going to be an investment.  Unless, you are one of the lucky ones to have very good health insurance; you will soon find out that most health insurance does not cover the costs of egg freezing which falls under the category of infertility.

Lucky for me, around the time that I had decided to move forward with putting my eggs on ice,  the universe answered my prayers with a big freelance project.  Although this certainly provided me with substantial income, I really wasn’t privy about putting a serious chunk of money towards the procedure all at once.

I was able to accomplish cash flow by opening a 0% interest credit card for part of the costs to the fertility clinic, most of the medications I paid for out of pocket, and my parent’s lovingly helped by generously covering a 1/3 of the costs.  (I will delve deeper into how meaningful this incredible act of support was to me in a future post).

A REALISTIC BREAKDOWN OF COSTS TO EXPECT FOR EGG FREEZING:

1. One Cycle / package price – approx. $12,800 (2 payments) 

  • office visits  – consistent monitoring of stimulation which  includes frequent blood tests & ultra sounds
  • egg retrieval – actual procedure, facility fee & anesthesia
  • lab & storage costs   supplies, identification, vitrification & free storage for 1 year (which is normally approx. $600)

2. Stimulant Medications/ Injectables – approx. $4,000 – $6,000

It’s important to know that the costs of your stimulants are never factored in as part of the package price.  This is because the price of your meds will vary from person to person.   ie. A person might need more medication to stimulate their follicles then the next.  This is all determined by your specialist’s consistent monitoring of your blood work and ultra sounds.

By the time I was ready to move forward with purchasing my meds,  my FSH had climbed from 12.6 (November 2009) to 13.3. (April 2010)  All I could see were dollar signs.  “Come on body…don’t fail me now, please respond to these meds.”

My next post – I will get into more detail about the type of medications you will be prescribed, the exact costs,  and how frequently your stims will need to be purchased during the month leading up to freezing your eggs.  Plus, some smart tips I figured out to help save money on your meds.  Every little bit counts!

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10 IMPORTANT TAKE AWAYS FROM MY EGG FREEZING CONSULTATION

Below you will find the 10 important take aways I learned during my consultation that not only made me feel confident in my choice to move forward with the procedure to have my eggs frozen,  but assured me that I would be in the best hands possible in regards to one of the most important decisions of my life.

I knew that one day I would write about this experience, so these are my actual notes of the turn key knowledge and insights I learned at the time:

1.  Any fertility center can offer to freeze an egg.  It’s only a few who have statistics creating live births.  You need to find a doctor who is passionate about this endeavor, who researches and applies daily advancements in this field.

2.  Vitrification, a process of flash freezing the eggs has a higher success rate of creating a live birth then the process of slow freezing.  (I will explain in more detail in a later post).

3.  It was  impressed upon me, that when the time is right to have a baby, it was suggested to do everything possible to get pregnant on my own.   The body is the best incubator there is.  My frozen eggs should only be used as a Plan B.

4.  If I’m going to be putting money towards fertility in a few years, I might as well invest now, so that I can insure fertility with a healthy egg.  You can’t put a price on a future life.

5. Once the eggs are frozen and stored in glass tubes in a liquid nitrogen storage tank, they have no expiration date.

6. As recent as only 5 years ago, (now 8 years) the advancements were not there for woman to seriously consider egg freezing as an option. The fact that this is even available to me, is mind blowing.  I want to fully take advantage of this opportunity.

7. I’m literally banking on egg freezing advancements that have only been made recently in this field, as well as those advancements that will continue to be made in the next couple of years when I am ready to thaw and transfer.  There are no guarantees of a successful outcome, but I’m willing to take that chance.

8. Egg freezing is still considered an experimental procedure*.  Most woman have not come back to use their eggs yet.  Most of the results are based on women who elected to freeze and thaw their eggs (as part of a study) while undergoing a fresh cycle of IVF.

9. Typically, a normal retrieval (for a woman in her late 30’s) will produce 12-15 eggs in one cycle from follicles (on both sides of your ovaries) stimulated from the meds.  This amount should be enough for 2 tries of IVF.

10. Sitting in the waiting room of a fertility clinic, makes you very aware that fertility challenges have no prejudice and you are not alone.

UPDATE| CNN: The American Society of Reproductive Medicine  – Egg Freezing Should No Longer Be Considered Experimental.  (10.16.2012)

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THE VIDEO YOU SHOULD WATCH BEFORE DECIDING TO FREEZE YOUR EGGS

Upon doing my research, this is the incredible video I discovered that documents a real life experience of egg freezing from the show from Discovery Health’s “Deliver Me”.

I thought it was important to share this video with you, because not only did it bring me my “aha moment” of bravery to move forward with the process.  I also used it as a tool to share with my loved ones, to provide them with a better understanding of the level of commitment both physically, and emotionally that is necessary when deciding to move forward with putting your eggs on ice.

I HOPE EVERYONE WILL WATCH THIS VIDEO.

Besides, being so impressed by the dynamic between Dr. Jain and his ex-wife. I found that after watching this video, I actually had a realistic sense for the first time, of what the process of exploring freezing my eggs actually involved of me emotionally, physically, as well as the time frame and the overall commitment.

Oh yes, and let’s not forget to mention the lovely reality of all of those self administered shots too.

My truth:  I thought to myself, if a women who is an OBGYN at age 38 is creating a back up plan.  Then I should too.  There is nothing more empowering.  The next day, I made the call to set up an appointment for a consultation.

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THE TALK

Every women’s decision for wanting to freeze her eggs is incredibly personal. Whether it’s the impending biological clock, unforeseen fertility issues at a young age, being diagnosed with cancer, or just simply wanting to be pro-active in your 30’s – putting your eggs on ice is a decision that inevitably comes with a lot of soul searching.

Whether you are in a relationship or single, you never know what the future is going to bring.  This is why, I had to really look at the next important steps as something I needed to do for myself.   After all, what is at stake here is preserving the unique blue-print of YOUR DNA.

My truth:  Even though I was so lucky to be in a serious relationship with an incredible guy, I still felt very vulnerable that having this kind of talk would make him run for the hills.

So when it came time to have the talk, I knew that men like to keep things “easy breezy” and that men work best with tangibles, especially when having serious talks that make the world feel like it’s stopping.

“I got my FSH test results back.” “They are 12.4 when they should be between 1-10.” Jokingly I continued, “I may look young on the outside, but my body is telling a different story on the inside.” (awkward pause) “I know my life would not be complete, if I didn’t at least have one child.” “But, I need to know from you…Do you feel the same way?”

He said “yes.”  I said, “Do you understand why I have to do this?”  He said, “yes.”  I said, “The only problem is I’m afraid of needles, who will give me all of my shots?”  He said with out any hesitation at all, “I will.”

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YOUR FSH – THE FIRST NUMBER YOU NEED TO KNOW

Figuring out whether or not to invest in freezing your eggs is a very personal decision that takes time to evolve.   If you’re like me, you might actually have to decide to freeze your eggs, before you and your partner REALLY decide together whether you want to bring a child into this world.

I’m very blessed to look young for my age, so everyone kept saying, “You have plenty of time.”  “I know this girl who had a baby at 45.”  or “Look at Nicole Kidman.”

My truth:  Something inside me always knew, when it came time to get pregnant, it wasn’t going to be easy.

Anyone, who is in their mid to late 30’s needs to know 3 very important letters.  F- S -H.

FSH = Follicle Stimulating Hormone:

In women, FSH stimulates production of eggs and a hormone called estradiol during the first half of the menstrual cycle.  It is released by the anterior pituitary gland.

Your FSH can be tested via your Gynecologists /OBGYN’s office via an ordered blood test that most likely will not be covered by your insurance.  I highly recommend, everyone to be your OWN ADVOCATE to find out how your FSH is functioning.   It costs around $100 dollars – and will be one of the most important $100 you spend on yourself.

Normal Results: FSH levels will differ depending on a person’s age.

  • Female:
    • Before puberty: 0 – 4.0 mIU/ml
    • During puberty: 0.3 – 10.0 mIU/ml
    • Women who are menstruating: 4.7 – 21.5 mIU/ml
    • Postmenopausal: 25.8 – 134.8 mIU/ml

As a general rule of thumb – The lower the number, the higher the fertility.  The higher the number, the more your body is working to put it’s foot on the gas petal to stimulate the production of eggs.

Note: Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Talk to your doctor about the meaning of your specific test results.

* mIU/ml = milli international units per milliliter

When I received the call from my OBGYN to tell me that my FSH was 12.6.  I will never forget her words.  “It actually should be between (1 – 10).  So 12.6 is considered elevated for your age.  If you were ready to have a baby right now, I would recommend that you see a fertility doctor.”

In this moment, my decision to freeze my eggs became something I could base on fact, rather then emotion.  Feeling empowered by knowing my FSH results, it became very clear to me that being only one year into a serious relationship with my boyfriend who was 8 years younger then me, I would need to take the necessary next steps towards preserving my fertility.

Now, to have the talk with him…

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