Thursday, November 08, 2007

My IF and RPL Story

From when I was a very young child, my dream was always to be happily married, financially well off just enough that the bills were paid without worry, and to be a stay-at-home mom to several children. As I grew older, most of that dream remained...although the details of it became a little hazy with going to college, getting a degree, starting a job, marrying later than I had hoped to, and starting a family later than I had ever planned on. The attempt to start a family later is when my dream began to really fall apart...and so did my heart. No one ever expects Infertility. No one ever expects Recurrent Pregnancy Loss. Why was this delivered to OUR doorstep? What did we do wrong in our lives to deserve this? Why did I have to become a part of that 12.5% of the population experiencing infertility and recurrent pregnancy loss...which, statistically, ranks right up there with so many other medical "epidemics."

I have gone to three ob/gyn's in my lifetime - but, only Dr. D (my third and current ob/gyn) was ever concerned about my long, erratic cycles I had lived with all of my life - by Jove! Someone was finally concerned! He did some preliminary testing, but could not really find anything wrong that would be causing them. So, we just waited a bit with the caveat that 1) when we were ready to TTC, that I call him and let him know when we were going to start trying so he could re-run the testing he had done and 2) that whenever we started getting frustrated if things were not happening, that I call him (even if it was under the 12 month TTC wait for someone under the age of 35 years old) so he can really start running the full IF testing. We started TTC in January 2002 - by November 2002, nothing was happening and I had probably 4 cycles in that time period. So, we called and scheduled the TTC consult that month...and testing began immediately. By June 2003, all testing was complete - problem was ovulation, as in I wasn't at ovulating at all and was told that if I did finally ovulate in a very long cycle, that the chances of the pregnancy being viable would be slim to none since the uterine lining would be too old to support a healthy PG, making miscarriage inevitable. Hearing that the chances of me ever conceiving naturally just broke my heart. For someone whose dream was essentially to be a mommy, it was the worse news you could receive. After that, we started our first Clomid/IUI cycle in July 2003 with Dr. D - and, so thankfully, it worked and Christopher was born in May 2004.

Dr. D, after Chris was born, had told us that when we were ready to TTC #2, to let him know immediately - since I have the erratic cycle history and documented ovulation issues, that I would not have to TTC for 12 months before he could intervene. So, we contacted him in June 2005 to start TTC - and my dreams began to crumble when even what worked to conceive Chris didn't work now. Our first cycle in July 2005 of 50 mg Clomid never even produced an ovulation. Our second cycle in September 2005 of 100 mg Clomid finally produced an ovulation - but, so poorly and without warning even on u/s, we scrapped the IUI. But, I ended up getting PG, only to start bleeding a week after my BFP... Three weeks later, a blighted ovum was finally confirmed 100% and a d&e was done on 11/22/05. The Thanksgiving weekend was the worst in history...facing the family was horrible. I couldn't escape the pity in their eyes...and the total lack of mentioning what had happened, for fear I would break down at the beautifully decorated table. In an attempt to "recover" from the loss, we pushed forward into the next cycle in January 2006 - yet again, 100 mg Clomid and IUI. But I never made it to the IUI because I couldn't recover from the stomach virus DS had gifted to me. The IUI was canceled. When I finally felt better, I found I did ovulate (checking OPKs and temping) - Hubby and I made due, and DTD. Two weeks later, I got the BFP. This time, I felt PG - so, although very guarded, we went into the first u/s with joy and laughter...only to be swatted down again when no heartbeat was discovered and the baby was measuring more than a week behind. I had a missed m/c...although I still had all of the symptoms. Of course, my doc did another u/s a few days later to confirm...and I asked for the d&c right away. I was just devastated... This was now my third loss total. How could that be, after having a perfectly normal, successful PG with my DS? I ended up spiraling into anxiety for more than a year...and only with counseling and medication did I finally begin to learn how to deal with it all and accept where my life was going.

The most amazing thing - and I know I am in a very small the minority for this - is our insurance coverage came through with flying colors during all of our experiences of heartbreak and joy. I am a State Employee in NJ - and the medical benefits makes working full time so worth it. The ONLY things not covered by my insurance were OPK's and HPT's. All of my IF testing (loads of b/w, HSG, pelvic/trasnvaginal u/s's, etc.) with the exception of the prerequisite co-pays ($5 in 2002 - $15 now); the IUI cycle that resulted in my PG with Chris, including the semen wash/semen analysis and the monitoring u/s's; all of the prenatal checks and birth expenses of Christopher, again with the prerequisite co-pays and with the exception of the additional cost of the private room I wanted; both the d&e in 11/05 and the d&c in 3/06, along with the genetic testing of the fetal remains removed; all of the recurrent pregnancy loss testing (viles after viles of b/w and other tests); and, finally, all of the care (so far) of this very surprising, high-risk pregnancy - ALL of it was covered. I cannot even fathom how much money all of these tests, procedures, medications and care would have cost me out of pocket. My insurance covered it all, except for the simple co-pays. I don't think DH and I could have come this far without the coverage - coverage that, quite frankly, if mandated correctly by the States of this country, should be available to all of us. I was able to get IF testing done earlier because of coverage - so, it did not take me nearly as long as some women TTC to get PG because the resources and money were there. I was able to get RPL testing done much earlier with my coverage - saving us from longer-term disappointments and heartache, not to mention, allowing me to be TREATED for the medical conditions I have that will affect me later in life. Our coverage, in the end, not only saved us financially...but also gave us peace of mind that we didn't need to worry about the expense of it all during our journey. Less worry = less stress.

It is heartbreaking - and unfathomable - that couples in the US have to risk it all to have a child. Having a child is a natural part of life - or should be made as natural as humanly possible with the appropriate resources and coverage. But, with a statistic of 12.5% of the population experiencing infertility and recurrent pregnancy coverage needs to step up and start helping people become families. IF and pregnancy loss is not only a physical condition - but, eventually, they become emotional conditions as well resulting in lost hours with family and at work. The coverage I have - which includes 4 IVF cycles lifetime (which I wish I could gift to someone who could really use it) - should be the model for all States to copy from.


The Town Criers said...

I love reading the other side where coverage = less stress. Thank you for writing this.

amy said...

I agree - if only the US would cover the important things in life. It sucks that our health care isn't great. But I'm glad to hear that it can sometimes work. With Peter, I was also on medications which my dh's insurance covered. Without the coverage, I can only imagine how much I would have to pay.

How are you feeling?? Any ms?