Processing

Originally written on April 22, 2019

I over-slept. I snoozed my alarm for 45 minutes. When we finally rolled out of bed, we decided to do a quick workout, even though we were significantly behind schedule. I rushed to get in the shower. When K got in the shower he was asking what we wanted to do after the appointment. It was then I started crying. With tears in my eyes and a sob in my throat I said we could only do this day once and I didn’t want it to be sad. Then, I stared at the red, puffy eyed, dripping wet, vulnerable, naked girl in the mirror and firmly told her that she would not cry again today. Today is exciting. Today you get to learn and plan. Today is a good day. I didn’t want to cry. I reminded myself that I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me. And it is hard to not feel sorry for someone in tears. 

We cut up some fruit to eat for breakfast on the drive to the appointment. It took about 4 minutes to get to the business park and another 5 minutes to find the unmarked building that housed the reproductive office. We didn’t even finish the apple. 

We followed another couple up the stairs and into the waiting area. The waiting area was dimly lit with seating around a coffee table covered in magazines. All kinds of magazines. From men’s and women’s health to business magazines, TIME, to gardening. Apparently, infertility affects people all over the magazine spectrum. This magazine table also told me that this office was wanting everyone to feel comfortable. The receptionist even said we should get “cozy” while they went through all the paper work. Cozy. There was no way I was in a cozy mood. When I had showered, I panicked and went to town shaving my legs. It was as if I was preparing for prom or my wedding day, but at a last-minute pace. Not cozy. Several nicks and dings later I was not feeling cozy. After a rushed morning, I was not feeling cozy.  K picked up a men’s health magazine.  

A couple minutes later we were called back to another waiting room to get our vitals. We were told we would go separately, and I felt my eyes fog. I followed the nurse, alone. I forgot vitals simply include blood pressure, pulse, weight, height, and a picture. It was quick, I laughed at myself, and soon K was right back with me. After this, we met our doctor. She was bubbly, bright and happy. We sat down in her office across her desk and I felt like I was in a movie. I had seen this scene so many times played out on camera. This room was not as nicely lit, but I could see some trees out the window and pictures of her beautiful children. 

I took deep breaths. I stared at K willing him with my eyes to answer her questions so I wouldn’t have to speak, rather I could swallow the sob in my throat. I was not going to cry. After a couple minutes of idle chit-chat, we got to the paper work and the facts. Facts are safe. I can talk about facts all day. I spoke. I chatted. I laughed. I started to feel a bit cozy. 

The doctor had many questions about a surgery I had in 8thgrade. I had an aortic aneurysm and had a surgery to remove an extra rib in the area to help the aneurysm. I don’t really talk to much about the surgery. It was scary and long ago. To hear that procedure could play a factor in fertility was something I hadn’t even thought of. I can’t imagine it is a factor, but I think it is interesting and shows how she plans to help us learn as much as we can. She said she would speak to some cardiologists she knows to learn more. 

We asked as many questions as we could and after about an hour I started feeling my brain fogging with information. She mention some blood work, RH positive and negative. Rather than listening and processing the implications for our future baby, I was thinking about the Golder State Killer, because I’m pretty sure that RH was what the police had used, originally, to eliminate a group of suspects, which included the GSK himself. 

We discussed what she was thinking our possible course of treatment would be at this point. I appreciated her being open and honest. She said that insemination, IUI, is typically done when there are between 5million-10million sperm per milliliter. Because K has 0.7 million sperm per milliliter, she thinks the best course of action would be IVF. It felt so good to hear someone start to give us an idea of what the next step would be for us both long term and that day. The doctor told us all the blood work and tests we should get done to get a better understanding of our health and fertility. Next we would do a vaginal ultrasound, followed by of blood draws. 

K was with me during the ultra sound. It was really neat! I got to see my ovaries and ovarian follicles, which I learned is where the eggs come from during ovulation. It is average to have 5-10 follicles in each ovary. I had 10 on my right and 8 on my left. I’m average! Woohoo! We were both excited to get an inside view. 

Next, the dreaded blood draw. I’m not sure why the idea of blood draw is so negative to me. It doesn’t hurt, I don’t mind blood, for heaven’s sake – I had just been thinking about one of the worst serial killers of all time. I can handle blood. I chatted away as she took the vials. The nurse was one of those people who has never watched “Game of Thrones.” I don’t think we are going to become fast friends, but she did a decent job drawing my blood. I was most excited about the vial to be sent away for genetic testing. Oh, genetic testing. I have had many opinions about genetic testing and now it’s show time. Time to decide. I feel so lucky that this is the testing situation we were given. 

From movies, (minimal) research, and friends, I knew that there were different times you could do genetic testing. You could test early in a pregnancy with the option of terminating the pregnancy, or you could test later (a bit risky) later in the pregnancy so you could make the necessary plans for a child that could be carrying a genetic disorder. Or is the correct word disease? Clearly my research was minimal. I thought I wouldn’t want the testing because I’ll take what I can get. Please. Let me get a baby. 

This is not the case for us. Because we are trying to conceive with support, we can do the testing and the doctors can choose embryos that do not have any of the genetic markers of genetic disorders. But the doctors have to know what to look for. K and I had talked and decided we wanted to learn as much as we could, and that included genetic testing. The blood draw will be screened for 240 disorders, diseases? What a number! I am eager to read through those results. K got to have some blood drawn as well, then we walked down the hall to meet with the financial support. 

This woman was full of life and a joy to be around. She has many children and grandchildren and she was one of those people who seemed to radiate positive intentions. Good thing she was so lovely, making her the perfect person to show us our potential future bills. Wow. I remember watching a documentary called “The Business of Being Born,” and learning the business behind hospitals and pregnancy medical expenses. I found the documentary fascinating. Almost as fascinating as the numbers in front of me. Holy cow, reproductive medicine is wildly expensive. I am thankful that money is not going to stop us from a baby, but I instantly felt a bit of anxiety around the prices. $16,000-$19,000 for a single round of IVF. $16,000-$19,000. A pop. A round of IVF, or a wedding. A round of IVF, or 3 honeymoon trips. A round of IVF, or a down payment on a house. 

There are many reasons why I love K working at a major tech company in the Northwest, and today was one of them. His work offers infertility benefits. The benefits will cover 90% of the cost of IVF for two rounds and an additional round if we are still not pregnant after the first two rounds. This is very exciting that our first rounds will be supported. Unfortunately, I have my own benefits and am not on K’s. This will change on September 30th , the last day of my insurance coverage from my soon to be old job. Ideally, I will be on K’s benefits in October and we could use the infertility benefits for our first round of IVF then. We will have to wait until October to try, but that is ok. I can work on getting in good baby carrying shape. Because, let’s be honest, all this wine drinking has allowed me to put on some lbs. Time to shed my winter wine coat. 

I learned that during IVF they create as many embryos as possible from what they have and then freeze the extras. IVF from a frozen embryo only costs $3,500. We could use the infertility benefit for the first round and cover the frozen transfers out of pocket. The financial support shook our hands and told us good luck. I sure hope we get lucky. 

At the front desk, K made an appointment to give another semen sample. We made an appointment with the urologist to go over the sample. We made another appointment to come back after the urologist appointment with our doctor to make a game plan. The end of May, we make a plan. 

We left the appointment feeling positive and hungry. We had missed breakfast! We drove down the road for a burger and a beer. We both texted our parents to give them a little update and spent the lunch mentally planning. We decided not to go to my cousin’s preschool fundraiser. We decided not to go and visit the house in Seattle we had considered. We decided we would make smart money choices, because making a baby with science is really neat, and also really expensive. We enjoyed lunch and started processing all the new information we had been given.

Now I am sitting by a fire K made while a light rain is falling outside the window. I am drinking a glass of my favorite wine and our two cats are spooning next to me. I smell K making dinner while I sit and write in my bathrobe. This morning a stranger told me to get cozy in the waiting room of the fertility office. This evening, I am cozy in my home surrounded by all my favorite things. This evening I am cozy and hopeful. We are going to have a baby.

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