Posts Tagged ‘Finances’

Petri Dish Pregnant-ish?

PetriDishI remember after I’d gotten married, how many of us who were over the hurdle of wedding planning would jump into ANY conversation we overheard from other people who were planning their own.  We’d found our way through battles of chicken or fish, and we’d managed to find a safe seating chart where our divorced aunts and uncles weren’t forced to sit within each other’s eyeline.  We were vets basically, and could solve whatever little issue the newly fianceed would possibly face. (whether they wanted our advice or not)

Infertility feels like it should fit in that vein, but it is not one of those situations for me.

I don’t believe, outside of just continuing to encourage people, that I’ll feel like much of an expert after this.  It has moved so fast and so…seamlessly, that it freaks me out a bit.  Like I’ve said before, I’m so used to this NOT moving smoothly, that the idea that it has, is uncomfortable for me to say the least.  Every phone call, I’ve expected or at least prepared myself for bad or disappointing news.  Every visit, I’ve been expecting my blood pressure to be high, or my uterus to have decided suddenly that she’s had enough and would like a divorce.  Every time, they say, “Nope, everything looks great!” or they give me instructions for the next step.

I’m constantly wondering why then, if this is all so simple now, was it so horribly NOT simple before.  The only answer I can surmise is that it’s simple now, because now is the time.

So Thursday was our egg retrieval.  To prepare for that procedure, you have to take what is called an HCG Trigger shot about 36 hours before.  So remember when I said I had to take Ganirelix, the medicine that tells your ovaries to tighten their grip on those eggs?  Well, the HCG shot is what tells them, “It’s cool now, I got it, go ahead and let em go.”

The problem with the trigger shot?  It has to be taken at PRECISELY the time they tell you. And of course, on the day I receive mine, I’m scheduled to work until closing.  Because of course.

In a sheer stroke of ingenuity and spinning plates, I found myself asking someone to man my desk at work for ten minutes while I ran out to my car, had my husband drive us around to a side-street off the path and give me a shot from the front seat of the car while I sat in the back.  I am absolutely CERTAIN that anyone who just happened to have the misfortune of laying eyes on our ridiculous ordeal believed wholeheartedly that their friendly, neighborhood librarian was on the side of the alley shooting heroine.  I’m convinced there are rumors.  I’m certain I don’t care.

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The next day, nothing really felt much different, and I was convinced that we’d done it wrong and the whole cycle would be cancelled.  Because that’s how my brain deals with things not being chaotic.  My husband rolled his eyes at me, and proceeded to plan for the retrieval as though I was speaking gibberish.  He’s smart like that.

Thursday morning, we flew down the highway to office, and things moved really fast from there.  A really nice anesthesiologist gave me some really nice happy juice through an IV, and a really nice nurse came in to talk me through everything that was about to happen.  My doctor sat with me for a sec just to explain why the timeline had moved when it did.  My body, as predicted, had gotten seriously excited about the meds and was very close to hyperstimulating.  For my safety, and to save the cycle, it was best to move now.

Egg Retrieval Day

The face of someone who could use a nap, and is waiting for the IV to provide one.

So what is involved in egg retrieval?

The procedure involves using a needle to extract the eggs directly from the follicles.  Yes, ANOTHER needle.  Hence, the need for light anesthesia.  You aren’t completely asleep, or at least I wasn’t, but you’re out of it enough to not freak out about that.  Overall, I think most of mine was spent yammering on about whatever came to my brain. Nervous tick.

On the way out of the room, and back to recovery, my doc stopped my chair and showed me the lab techs already at work cleaning and counting the eggs.  I told her, “You do realize the blogger in me wants to take a picture of this whole situation, right?”  She said, “I know,…but no.” LOL

Back in recovery, or just across the hall, I was finally allowed to have something to eat and drink.  The most delicious saltine crackers and apple juice I may ever have, to be exact.  And then, I was allowed to just chill for a bit and get my bearings while the nurse came in to talk to me about what was going to happen next. Basically, once those eggs are extracted from the follicles, the follicles tend to fill back up with liquid.  This is what causes much of the discomfort people feel after retrieval.

While I don’t really make much of a fuss about discomfort or even pain sometimes, I have to admit that it isn’t the most comfortable of feelings to basically have saddlebags inside of your hips filling with fluid. And that’s generally what’s going on in there, I’ve decided.  Also, I’d suggest getting your hair done sometime before this.  You feel really yucky and hideous, but if you can look in the mirror and say, “Oh, but no, my hair is laid.”, it helps. I promise.

Once the techs have counted and cleaned the eggs, they immediately collect the sperm as well so as to move forward with fertilization.  It still amazes me, that people get pregnant unexpectedly, when I look at all of this really intense biological precision.

Anywhoo, our final egg count at the end of the day….TWENTY.  The average?  Eight.

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Come on, overachieving ovaries!

Now, after retrieval, most people are highly uncomfortable.  You should really go home and lie down if possible.  So of course I instead went to the Goodwill for a few minutes, and then went to look at an apartment that we’re interested in.  Because I’m hardheaded.

Fast forward to the next morning.

Do you ever get annoyed at your phone ringing because it isn’t who you’re expecting to call? That was my Friday.  It just kept on ringing, and none of the numbers belonged to my doctor OR her office.  I told you, I tend to expect the worst, (I’m working on it), so I was curious about whether any had fertilized at all, let alone if anything had gone wrong overnight.

Finally, a little after 2, my phone rang with the right numbers.

Call #1, was the lab, to process payment on that embryo storage fee.  They’re serious about that. Thank you to EVERYONE who has bought a shirt from our shop, or attended our fun-raisers. You helped pay them!

But call #2, was finally my doctor, to let me know how things were looking.

In the follow-up call, we talked a bit about just what has been the problem all these years, and it was explained in what I have to say is the best way I’ve ever had it explained.  Looking at the full picture now, she was able to see CLEARLY what had been our issues.

Basically, my PCOS and Hypothyroid have been BFF’s for years.  Together, they decided that they ain’t have no time for no stupid ovulation.  Add to that a pair of blocked tubes and what you have is great eggs, that have been all dressed up with nowhere to go, for decades. Then, on my husband’s side, you have diabetes and a childhood hernia surgery that made breaking through all my barriers basically impossible.  IVF was and is the only route to getting around our unique and numerous hurdles.  Through ICSI (Intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection), the magicians of the lab were able to further get around the foolishness of our bodies by taking one individual sperm and implanting it directly into one individual egg.

So,  what’s the final count?

Of the 20 eggs collected, only about 13 of them were mature.  This is fine.  Again, remember the average is eight.  Of that 13, one presented with an extra set of DNA and was therefore abnormal.  Also fine and common.  Of those 12 left, NINE fertilized and were growing as of the next day.  She said, “everything looks PERFECT. IVF was the only way we were going to get around this stuff and it worked.”

So, those nine are being housed in what is called a MINC Incubator. Now, according to the manufacturer of the incubator’s website, (Yes, I looked it up, because I am a librarian and a thug), the MINC is described as such: “the MINC holds a constant temperature, provides rapid pH recovery and helps the embryo maintain homeostasis to reduce embryonic stress.” All of that to say, this thing is a pretty big deal and the BEST possible place for them to be.

In traditional IVF, this is where my doctor would let us know if she wanted to let them grow for 3 days or 5, and when the transfer would be.  However, a TON of research has suggested that a better route is to get to day 3 or 5 and then freeze the embryos.  Freezing them, allows for the woman’s body to take a little time to decompress from all those medications and stresses of the stim phase.  It will allow for my ovaries to calm down, and my body to get back to pre-meds status.  As my nurse described it, “it took two weeks to get up, now you take two weeks to get yourself back down”.  After that time has passed, then we’ll move to the transfer. (and then wait another painfully slow two weeks to see if any of this worked).

So we’re giving those little guys a five day, all expenses paid (by the sheer grace of God), vacation in the MINC.  On Tuesday, we’ll find out how many of the 9 have continued to grow and will be frozen.  Also on Tuesday, we’ll decide a transfer date.

And that, my friends, is how you work around a lazy Stork and get pregnant in 9 petri-dishes…kinda.

Next up…seeing if any of this works.

Getting to Go Time.

My mom always says, “You have to have yourself in order, even if nothing is moving forward, because when God finally says “Go”, it’s gonna move SO fast, you have to be ready.”   She’s right, you know.

So following my initial appointment, where we found the dreaded polyp, I was scheduled for yet another polypectomy and hysteroscopy.  Big whoop.

Cue panic #1

When the nurse called to pre-register me for surgery, he let me know that the hospital where the surgery was scheduled, does not typically accept my insurance, and that I should check in with them again in two days to make sure that I didn’t have a bill.  I freaked out EXTENSIVELY (and internally) as I waited the couple days before I could call the office and ask.  When I finally got in touch, they assured me that all was covered. giphy (1)

Having had this surgery previously, I was expecting more of the same.  But my doctor came to my room to greet us.  She hung out with us for a few minutes, explained the procedure and talked with my mom for a good while.  She even apologized that I’d had to get up so early to make it to the hospital.  She stopped in to see me two more times that day, and walked alongside my bed to the OR, just chatting away.

Have I mentioned how much I love her? I think I have, but I’ll say it again: I LOVE HER.

So, last week, I went into the office for my follow-up. I was prepared for a repeat of the stalled out meeting I had following the last procedure with my previous clinic.  You know, the one where they lay out all the things that don’t work, and how much delay we can expect?  As hopeful as I’ve been trying to be, I’m also cautious, having been at the starting line more times than I can count, and STILL never taking off.

So imagine my surprise, when my nurse proceeded to move along to baseline testing and ultrasounds. giphyWhile drawing my blood she said, “So did you get your meds yet?”  I didn’t even try to hide my confusion.  “I sent in the order for your meds and you should have them by Friday because your protocol will start Saturday.”  Here’s some perspective,…this was Thursday morning.

I went into my ultrasound, still reeling from that little bit of info.  They were a little wary of my notoriously ridiculous uterine lining, but said it wasn’t a huge issue and that most importantly, I was polyp free!  From there, we sat in an injection walk-through and a layout of our drug protocol.

Let me remind you, when I came into the office, I was expecting to just hear about my polypectomy, and find out what was the next thing for us to wait on.  At this stage in the game previously, we were again at “hurry up and wait”. We were extremely unprepared for the amount of information that was being hurled at us.

We left the office, called the insurance regarding the meds, and were told to await a call from the pharmacy.

Cue panic #2

When the pharmacy called to confirm the meds order, they ended the phone call by saying, “We’ll call you back with your final bill.”  I freaked out.   Everything had been going so fast and so well, that here was where the hammer was going to come down.  They were going to call me back with an astronomical cost that my t-shirt sales and fundraising events weren’t going to be able to cover.

The pharmacist called back.  She said, “We just need a credit card to cover your final balance on your meds.  The total is $5.85.”

I asked her to repeat herself.  I thought I’d heard $585″.

She laughed and said, “$5.85.  Your insurance covered everything except for an antibiotic.” Remember how I was freaking out because my insurance had changed?  Turns out, it was for my good.  

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In 24 hours,…this was in our front hallway:

IMAG5953 In 20 minutes, this was in our apartment, along with the giant cooler of follistim cartridges that was also packed in the huge box:Untitled

 

When I talked to my aunt, to fill her in on the meds being PAID FOR and DELIVERED,…she said, and I quote:

“They not playing around.  You are.”

She’s right too, you know?

When you get used to being slowed around and pushed back, it can be easy to fall into routine.  We have had so many stops and starts.  Job changes, insurance changes, new diagnoses, extra issues, dosage changes, and a few mind-calming breaks in between. Every, single, time that I have gotten really excited about this, or even when I put this aside completely, and stepped out on faith for adoption, things have consistently found a way to grind their way down to a standstill.

There have been times where I couldn’t even bear to visit my own site, because it seemed like a glaring reminder of failure and the most excruciatingly slow timeline. People have asked me if I was afraid of getting pregnant, or if I was choosing not to move forward, because they couldn’t comprehend just what was taking so long.  Most of these stalls and setbacks were so unbelievable that even explaining them sometimes, made people look at me like,

But as discouraging as it’s been, and as long as it’s taken, and whatever other dramatic culmination I could use right now…

TODAY, is stim day 3.

And we are officially in an IVF cycle.

And regardless of the 1 1/2 inch needle that delivers these meds intramuscularly.

And not getting focused on the money we still have to spend on embryo storage, etc.,

Whatever else happens on this journey, for just getting HERE, to this exact moment of this exact thing,

THANK YOU LORD.

1st Peter 5  10

Fertility Fundraiser Fridays: Vacation Renting

FFF - Vacation Rental

Ever thought about hosting a few friends to crash in your spare room for a weekend?

Yeah?

Okay, well how about starting a Bed & Breakfast?

The other day when I was having lunch with a friend, one of her Sorority sisters happened to drop into the same restaurant.  She sat down with us to catch up a bit, and we started talking about her use of this service that allowed her to rent out her condo to make a couple of extra dollars.  Using the money to feed back into the unit’s furnishings and appeal, she said it was one of the most unique but well-worth-it ways she’d come up with to supplement her Chicago teaching salary.

It made me think of you.

Air B&B sounded REALLY insane to me when I first heard of it.  Basically you create a listing through their company, allowing for guests to room with you.  If you live in a pretty cool or interesting place, it’s a cheaper lodging alternative for people, and they may look to sites like this before they book a traditional hotel room.

Safety was my first thought and concern, but, you also don’t have to be present while they’re there. The young lady I met who uses the service, sleeps over a friends’ house on the weekends, and rents her upscale Hyde Park Chicago apartment to parents visiting their University of Chicago students, or those looking to be within close range of the downtown area.

The company verifies your information through a mixture of online and personal identification measures.  They also encourage guests to provide detailed reviews, so that more renters will see your score and increase the amount of bookings you get.  From what I saw in my brief tour of the site, they’re pretty flexible with your reservations, so let’s say you have to go out of town for business suddenly?  You can open your house up to make a couple of extra dollars while you’re away.  They also explain pretty thoroughly how to become tax compliant and ensure that your money comes in pretty timely.

The Host Guarantee, is also listed and included to protect you from any damages incurred during a stay:

The Airbnb Host Guarantee provides protection for up to $1,000,000 to a host for damages to covered property in the rare event of guest damages above the security deposit—or if no security deposit is in place.

The Host Guarantee Program does not cover cash and securities, collectibles, rare artwork, jewelry, pets or personal liability. We recommend that hosts secure or remove valuables when renting their place.

I found this review of them online, and it sounded very much like that what I’d heard from the young lady I spoke to.

I think the program is excellent.

I’ve had no issues with AIRBNB either as a traveler or a host. The problems have been with the actual hosts of properties I’ve booked. They have been the misrepresentative ones and I now carefully read all reviews and identification process on the people I will be interacting with.

As a host, I screen the requests the same way. Read the reviews and decline ANYTHING fishy. People will try to go around the system to get to your home.

AIRBNB is a tool and with skill of your own it can work well for your purposes.

 

Similar options for using your home as a fundraiser include VRBO or HomeAway.

I still don’t know that I’m personally comfortable with this service, but hey, you may try it and love it!  Just a thought! Could be a pretty interesting way to make that one-day nursery pay for itself! As usual, go research it for yourself if it sounds doable, and  if you try it out, don’t forget to come back and let me know how it turned out!

Fertility Fundraiser Fridays! – Backyard Cinema

FFF - Backyard Cinema copy

Looking for a fundraising idea?  Here’s one on a smaller scale.  How about a drive-in movie?!

Supplies: A projector, dvd player, speakers clean garage door or white sheet, popcorn, beverages, candy

Who doesn’t want to watch a funny movie with friends?  Right?  Right?  This summer, my family and friends came together to do just that.  I borrowed a projector from work, borrowed a musical from a friend, and asked everyone to bring their own lawn chair.  We met up around dusk, my aunt made chilli dogs and popcorn, and we enjoyed a nice warm evening together in her driveway and patio.

Now, while we did it just to hang out and enjoy the summer, it dawned on me that this could have easily been a fertility fundraiser.  I don’t believe it’s legal to charge for the film, but If I’d asked people to donate $5-$10 towards “backyard admission”, or made snacks and run a “concession stand”, I could have walked away with at least $100 to throw into my baby fund, without having spent a dime! Thinking outside of the box, ya know?

To avoid too much of a startup cost, I’d ask around or rent a projector rather than buying one if you don’t already have one.  You never know who may have one lying around.  I’d also recommend making the snacks yourself rather than buying up a lot.  Also, resist the urge to go overboard cutesy.  It’s nice to have little knick-knacks to give away, but remember, you’re trying to raise money-not give it away, so maybe sending a nice Thank-You card over email, is better than purchasing paper ones or party favors.

If you do want to give something back, consider having a roll of raffle tickets.  Let people buy a few tickets and win a movie basket with a bag of popcorn, box of candy, and a couple of cheap DVD’s.  All of these things can be found at your nearest dollar store, and you’d make the money right back(and more) just in the sales of the tickets!

Theres a few more summer weekends to be had, so think about this one, will you?  And if you decide to try it, don’t forget to come back and let me know how it went!  Good luck, and happy fundraising!

The later it got, the better the picture got!

The later it got, the better the picture got!

Fertility Fundraising & The Willingness to Help Others!

Fertility FundraisingA few days ago, I witnessed a discussion on FB about people using crowd-funding sites.  Most of the comments were based around the idea of people who have taken to posting “Go Fund Me” pages for things that others have deemed frivolous.  Pay for me to go to hair school, or help us fund my sister’s babyshower, are some of the topics I’ve seen across my Facebook feed through the last couple of years.  For the most part, I tend to ignore the ones that I know I can’t (or won’t) fund.  No harm, no foul.

In this discussion however, my spidey senses began to tingle when someone’s response was close to saying that it’s “tacky” to ask others to help “fund your dreams”.

In theory, yeah, okay, I can see that on some level.  But then, as with most things, it made me think about those of us in the infertility fight, and how sights like GoFundMe have actually helped some of us do just that.  Is growing our families a “dream” that others should scoff at helping us fund?

Crowd-funding sites have helped many couples on the infertility journey find a way that they can allow family and friends who previously felt helpless, assist them on their way.  For many, the sites have given them the opportunity to take their own first steps into self-advocacy and find their voice.  Even if no one ever clicked the donate button, for a lot of couples, this was their way of boldly announcing just what their years of struggle had entailed, and how hard they’d been trying to work towards it.  I’m sure that countless individuals were able to at least send a message of support that was like a drop of water to someone dying of thirst.

Over the past few years, I’ve built up my skills at design.  When it was time for me to suck up my pride and work on raising funds for my own IVF, my husband and I decided that the best way for us to do that was to use my designs toward our dream.  I am also blessed to live in one of the few states that includes fertility treatment in health insurance.  Many times, however, I wonder what I’d do if I didn’t have that skill or that health benefit.  How devastated would I be if I had no money to start from scratch, AND no tangible thing to use as a fundraiser?

I can only imagine.

As people continue to exploit these sites for all kinds of reasons, that many will no doubt judge, I’m sure that those who were already debating whether or not they should move forward with fundraising for infertility will decide to go back into the shadows.  There is a personal fight that many of us have when financial issues come into play in infertility.  It is the fight that whispers, “If you have to raise money to even do this, maybe that says you shouldn’t do this”.  We cower behind it, and swallow our sorrow, and retreat into defeat.

I don’t want you to do that.  I want you to have a safe space to shout from the rooftops, “I’m struggling, and I would like some help.”  Even if you never get a dime, I have always been about empowering others to self-advocate.

Fertility Fundraiser Fridays, will be a weekly promotional kickstart on The Egg, where I will share an idea for a cool Fertility Fundraiser, or a link to one that stands out.  We’re in this together, and I hope your dreams come true.  Allow me to be your platform, and please, if you can, reach back and help someone else by sharing theirs.

Fertility Fundraiser Fridays

 

Proactive Hope

For the past few weeks, I’ve been going back and forth with a couple friends and family members about how to get over the hump that finances have placed smack dab in the middle of reproductive progress.  I had qualms about applying for grants, for fear of taking those resources away from someone else who needed them much more, and trying to save has really not gone over as successfully as one would hope.  I wasn’t too keen on the idea of crowdfunding, while it’s another great option, because I’m just not that great at accepting gifts.

As with most things in my life, on this journey especially, I decided that I wanted my needs to be filled by meeting the needs of others.  Even if it’s in a small way.  I wanted to do more.

So, without any more flourish, I’m pleased to announce the launch of the “Carton of Hope” Apparel and Accessories shop.

Carton of Hope header 2 copy

I’ve always hesitated about having Broken Brown Egg related t-shirts or other items because I know that people are particular and private concerning infertility, and would rather not walk around in clothing that shouts about it from the mountaintops.  The items found in The Carton. however, are each designed by me, and there was special care placed in creating subtle yet powerful statements which speak to the fight of not only infertility, but life in general.

It is time to put my faith, and my hope into action.  It’s painfully clear at this point, (and it really should have been clear years ago), that if we want ANYTHING to happen for us in this, we’re going to have to step out and get it done.  Or if we can’t seem to get it done on our own, that we raise enough of a rally cry that it just gets DONE.

This is my rally cry.

Please stop by and take a look around.  The designs are all original creations by me, and featuring thought-provoking and inspirational concept art.  Any purchases made, especially from The Broken Brown Egg Signature Series collection will go towards paying for our urology and IVF medication bills.

And even if you don’t buy a single thing, I just want to say Thank you SO very much for supporting The Egg.  I appreciate your company.

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