Starting Our Family

The reality of infertility, IVF and donor eggs

Tick, Tock, Tick, Tock & A Donor Program

on May 25, 2013
 

Originally posted Mar 17, 2013 – 

Sorry I haven’t posted anything but I was waiting to find out whether or not we are switching insurance.  If we switch to Cigna MY end of the IVF cycle will still be covered because of the NJ Infertility Mandate.  The mandate requires (with some exceptions that we are excluded from) that insurance cover IVF- diagnosis, medications, office visits (blood work and ultrasounds) 4 retrievals in a lifetime (I still have 2 left) and the transfer.  ICSI would be covered because of M’s morphology issue.  Our current insurance will cover all the previously mentioned items for me and a donor as well.  I’m not sure if that will be the case with Cigna.  In an email I was told by my company’s insurance broker that the donor “should” be covered but I’m not celebrating until those quotes on should are removed and I know for sure.  My company hasn’t even decided if we really are switching yet so I’m in limbo until April 1st when the current insurance renewal is due.  Since I’m still waiting  I figured I would at least update you on our visit with the new clinic.

We went to the Somerset office of IVF NJ on March 11th.  It was a long ass day- got there at 10:15 am and didn’t leave until 5:30 pm.  They seemed to be very busy and were somewhat unorganized but everyone was incredibly nice.  They told me ahead of time that I was going to have a saline ultrasound and a mock/practice transfer so to come with a full bladder.  When we got there I was ready to burst at the seams but of course we didn’t do the practice transfer first- we met with the matching coordinator instead.  She was there with her husband- she talked and he took notes on his laptop.  They were the 1st donor egg recipients with IVF NJ about 20 years ago.  They have twins as a result of that.  In fact, if anyone has seen the video interview on YouTube of the teenager talking about being a donor egg child- that’s her daughter- pretty cool.  We basically reviewed the donor “wish list” profile that we emailed her previously.  She told us all about her matching techniques and what we could expect from her.  Once we sign up she will send us 1 profile at a time.  It will be about 20 pages long and tell us all about the donor- what she looks like, her nationality, religion, hobbies, interests, family history, etc.  If we think she would be a good match we can then request her picture.  Majority of the donors submit a current picture- some even submit a childhood picture.  If we don’t like the profile then we can pass and get one from a different donor.  We can pass as many times as we need to.  If we change our minds and decide we actually prefer a previous donor profile we can request to go back to her.  In doing so we run the risk of her not being available.  We get the written profile before the picture to prevent people from solely selecting based on looks.  And the 1 profile at a time is to prevent people from laying them all out and comparing them.  She explained the whole psychological reasoning behind that and it made sense.  She also discussed whether we want to do a full donor or shared.  Full would mean we pay for everything ourselves but get to keep all the eggs the donor produces.  Shared is we would split the costs with another couple but also have to split the eggs with them as well.  Based on the average # of eggs retrieved, minus the % of those that fertilize and then go on to mature for transfer we decided to do a full donor.  We also had to keep in mind that we would eventually like to have a 2nd child so full would give us the best chance of having embryos left over to freeze for the future.  In addition, shared would most likely mean that our child would have a half sibling somewhere out there.  We still run that chance if the donor cycles more than once and someone else gets her eggs from another cycle. 

After the matching coordinator meeting I asked if we could do the practice transfer next so I didn’t wet my pants.  I had gotten my period early, and still had it, so they said I wasn’t going to be able to do it.  Naturally I ran to the bathroom and peed for what felt like an hour.

Next we went upstairs to meet with our donor/patient coordinator.  She is the person that will schedule all of the office visits, medicines, retrieval, transfer etc. for me and the donor.  LOVED her!  I was so relieved because I’ve really grown close with our nurse from our other clinic.  Its so important to be comfortable with this person during this journey or it makes it that much harder.  I gave her a list of the medications I have left over from my last cycle and she said I could use them for the donor.  That’s awesome because I have about $4,000 worth of Follistim that would have been thrown away if we couldn’t use it.  If we are not going to have insurance coverage this is going to cut down the cost a lot. 

After meeting with her we went back downstairs and met with our doctor.  Loved her too- she seems like the female version of our last doctor but not as witty- another win for us!  She reviewed our medical history and our previous 3 IVF cycles.  I asked her about her feelings on doing the chromosome/genetic test on donor eggs.  She said nobody that’s she’s dealt with has done it on donor eggs unless they were a carrier of something specific.  It would make sense to do it with my eggs because of my age and the poor quality of them but felt it was a waste of money to do it with donor eggs.  She explained that they don’t normally do the amnio test on young pregnant women, just older ones so it was the same scenario.  I asked about the 50%-70% miscarriage rate due to chromosome abnormalities and she said the miscarriage rate with donor eggs is 10%.  With the CCS test you run the risk of damaging the embryo when cells are removed to do the test.  She said the chance of this was higher than the miscarriage chance.  We have now decided against doing the test, which means MORE money saved because that is not covered by insurance and would have cost us about $4,500.   She also felt that I was far enough along in my period that she could do the practice transfer so I started guzzling water.

We both had blood drawn- M only have 2 vials drawn but I had 8 vials.  We hadn’t eaten all day so it made me a little light headed.  M was taken to the “sample” room to give a deposit to be frozen.  We plan to use fresh sperm the day of donor retrieval but they require a back up frozen sample at this clinic.   It makes sense to have in case of an emergency (ie: M being sick the day of retrieval, etc.).  After drinking water for another 20 mins. they brought me into the exam room.   I had to give a small sample of pee in a cup so they could do a pregnancy test.  Do you know how hard it is to have a full bladder and only be allowed to let a few drops release into a cup?  I had to lay (naked from the waist down) on the table while they put cold gel on my belly and pressed on it with the ultrasound wand.  Luckily they saw that my bladder was full so they could proceed with the 2 tests.  The practice transfer was a little uncomfortable-having all kinds of “items” inside me with a full bladder and period cramps.  They always have a hard time getting the tube through my battered cervix.  We watched it on the ultrasound monitor.  I couldn’t help but get excited for the day there would be our embryo in the tube.  Next they did the saline test.  There is nothing like feeling water squirted INTO you when you have to pee.  I felt the saline pouring out and kept asking “Am I peeing on you”- M was cracking up.  I guess that’s practice for childbirth where I will inevitably poop on the delivery table lol.  Luckily there is a bathroom attached to the exam room so I was able to run to it as soon as everything was over.

Our next trip was back upstairs to meet with the psychologist.  She was still meeting with someone so we were sent back downstairs to meet with the finance coordinator.  She gave us some brochures for loan programs and told us about the Attain program.  That is a program where you can pay more money up front but they guarantee you a “take home baby” or they give you a large portion of your money back.  We decided against that because it would be about $20,000 more and you have to do a series of fresh and frozen transfers.  We will just keep those fingers crossed that this works without it.

So back upstairs to meet with the psychologist.  At this point it was 3:15 pm and we hadn’t had anything to eat all day.  She was still running behind and would be about another hour.  They let us leave to go get a slice of pizza.  Nothing to drink for me thank you- I’ve had enough with full bladders for one day.

The meeting with the psychologist went better than expected.  I thought she would grill us like a CSI agent but she just talked with us openly and it was more of a discussion rather than an inquisition.  We reviewed the psychological aspects of having to use donor eggs and how that could effect me, us and our future child.  We talked about who we would tell, if anyone, and if we would tell our child.  That’s a whole other pandora’s box that I will table for its own blog entry.  We left with a 4 page list of books, websites and support groups to look into. 

The entire day gave us a new feeling of hope for our future family.  Most of what we were told I had already known from my research but it was great to re-learn everything with M at my side.  Now all we have to do is wait until April 1st to find out which insurance I will have.   Once again, another major IVF step lands on a holiday.  I hope since its April Fools Day it will be just a coincidence and not another sign.  Fingers crossed!

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