The genetic offspring of my sperm donor

I've posted about how committed to my sperm donor I am. In fact, I'm so committed that when CCRM raised an issue about me using a CMV+ donor (I'm CMV-), my heart sank. I knew I would not proceed with CCRM if they didn't allow me to use him (and more because the basis for asking me to use a CMV negative donor is extremely weak).

It's weird. I used a different donor for my IVF (turned IUI cycle, which failed) last March and I really liked him. Good pictures, intelligent (physician), reported pregnancies, great voice (Fairfax has audio records) and I loved what he had to say - I could tell, conversationally, that he was bright. But I felt no overwhelming tug towards him. In fact, when that cycle failed and I was offered a donor embryo cycle, I jumped at it (the donor embryo came from an anonymous donor egg and father sperm but I had little information on father - lots on egg donor).

But once I found this guy - I don't know....I guess after the interview I heard and his educational background, his interests, values, I was as sure as anyone could be that this is someone I would have chosen in my life as a mate and to father my child. Kooky, I know.

So I went onto the donor sibling registry a couple of months back and found a couple of people who used him. One woman (a SMC, like me) was nice enough to send me a picture of her son and reports that her son is "smart, happy and easily soothes" and what a beauty!

It only confirmed I'd made an excellent choice!


The Top 10 Most Annoying Things People Say to You When You Are Trying to Get Pregnant

(I've posted a lot today, I know :)

At my old RE's office in late June - just before the donor embryo FET that resulted in a chemical pregnancy, I'd gone in for my first progesterone injection and so the nurse could make big Sharpie circle's on my hips so I'd know where to inject ('cause my biggest fear was stabbing into a bone with that unbelievably LONG needle). So as I was leaning over, waiting for the shot, I saw a stack of pamphlets and I just loved the headline. Here's the list and my commentary below the ones that annoy me most!

1) Just relax
(Listen, the most stressed-out, drug infested crack whores who are running away from their pimps get pregnant so please don't insult my intelligence! And how exactly am I supposed to truly relax knowing I'm spending enormous sums of money on a chance at having what aforementioned crack whore gets so easily and for free?)

2) Stop trying so hard.
(Hmm....okay. Do you say that to your son who's studying for the bar exam? Do you say that to your daughter who's working on a promotion? But for the baby I need, I shouldn't try so hard - uh, okay, thanks!)

3) Do you have children?

4) Take a vacation.

5) Have a glass of wine.

6) Don't think about it so much.
(Right, I won't. I'll just think about it sometimes - until I'm 50 and then no fertility clinic will take me - great idea)

7) Oh too bad because you'd make such a great parent.
(Don't count me out yet, okay!)

8) Why don't you just adopt?
(HOLY FUCKING SHIT! If there was one that really kicked me in the stomach, it would be this one. NO ONE outside the infertility world has the vaguest idea how utterly stupid, uneducated and completely EXCRUCIATINGLY DIFFICULT this is. There is no such thing as "just adopt" or I would have "just" adopted already. In fact, I'd be too busy changing diapers right now to bother ranting about it. Get a clue!)

9) You should do what my mother's cousin's friend's daughter who got pregnant did.
(I love this one. It always comes from some stupid jackass who compares apples and oranges in life ALL THE TIME and lives blissfully unaware that NOTHING in life works that way. So someone will offer up to me that Janice's daughter went to wonderful Doctor so-and-so who performed IVF on her because her fallopian tubes were bad and she has twins and 8 embryos in the freezer. Uh-huh and do you realize Janice's daughter is 24 years old with no other infertility issue but fucked up tubes - the very thing IVF was created for - and THAT is the reason she was successful on the first try?)

10) I know exactly how you feel (from the person with a child.)

Insurance Coverage

I don't even remember what I've posted about anymore but I did want to mention this little tidbit.

Back last January (seems like a million years ago!) I was freaking out over the cost of IVF and with good reason - it's fucking scary! And don't think for an instant that it's ceased to be any less frightening just because I've gotten used to shelling out THOUSANDS of dollars to fertility clinics without batting so much as one single lash. I mean, at this point, if I am going to be suicidal over it, I might as well get out of the game, ya know? Sort of like going to a Mercedes dealership and having chest pains over the cost of upgrades vs. what you paid on your Corolla five years ago. You kind of develop brand new lenses by which to view it all or you'd go insane. (and, like, I'm not leaps and bounds away from that right now!)

So...back to my first IVF round (and only round - which turned into an IUI 'cause my eggs suck the big one and I have technically never had an IVF round - round #2 was a donor embryo cycle which resulted in a chemical pregnancy). Shit, I sound bitter. Oh well.....

When I plunked down nearly 12K for that round, I remember the finance person over the telephone telling me that they submit all of the charges to my insurance company and any reimbursement I receive will be returned to me. hee hee hee, I just chuckled 'cause you see, my insurance has NO INFERTILITY COVERAGE. But what did I care, if they made a mistake and cut me a check for 12K, I sure wasn't going to be Miss Honest and return it or anything wild and crazy like that. Besides, if they can pay for Viagra so some guy with a walker can get his boner going, I think contributing to the life of a baby is more than called for - but that's another
rant post.

Guess what arrived in my mailbox a few weeks later? Yeap, reimbursement for a saline sonogram (about 70% worth). I thought, okay, well, that wasn't "technically" the IVF, that was a test to ensure I didn't have some big ass polyp or fibroid in there like the one that had to be removed during the laprascopic surgery in June '07. But then something else happened, another reimbursement and another and another and another - all at around 70% for the ultrasounds and for the bloodwork, office visits, etc.

I thought, crap, how long will this last? Don't get me wrong, I signed the backs of those checks, hopped in my car and floored the gas pedal to the bank to deposit them at all hours - just in case they caught on. But would I have to reimburse big insurance company later - when they fired the nitwit who'd approved the claims? Would they take me to court? After all, I didn't submit the claims, the RE's office did - as a matter of protocol. I could just feign ignorance. In fact, I had my story all worked out and, actually, it wasn't far from the truth. It goes like this:

I didn't know if I had infertility coverage but I'd saved up enough for 1 IVF cycle. Since you guys sent me checks, I realized I must have insurance coverage so I signed up for more IVF cycles. Not only do I not owe you the money you sent to me but I will countersue you idiots - because of you, I got into extended fertility treatments when I could have been on the adoption trail only to have you pull out the rug from under me now when I'm too old to adopt (at 41). Yeah, okay, not great but it was my story.

Then came the "denied" claim. I got an Explanation of Benefits on my IUI ($300 for the insemination) and the denial explanation was that infertility coverage is not part of my plan. WTF?! Hey, assholes, you've been paying claims from a doctor's office whose name leaves NO DOUBT whatsoever that it's an infertility center and you're onto it now?

But as long as they didn't come after me for the thousands reimbursed up to that point, I was super happy. Next claim for blood work, paid again. Huh? I guess the nitwit insurance processor was on vacation so they rightly denied my insemination claim but thank-my-lucky-stars she's back and now they're paying again. Woo Hoo!

Fast forward to donor embryo frozen transfer. I was at the 3K out of pocket maximum for the year even though they'd been covering 70% thus far and for that cycle, I was reimbursed 100% of nearly all services. Holy shit! Again, I laid low, cashed the checks and kept my passport handy in case I had to flee from the cops when I was busted for this major heist.

Then came CCRM - Oh, this one's big. They charge a fortune - I mean, the place is beautiful and rivals a high-end spa. There is a lovely water feature in the lobby and the location is pretty stunning. Surely big insurance company is going to bust me now. This is just plain asking for it. But what could I do - they hold the #1 spot in the country, likely the world. I have no choice - this time there will be no reimbursement.

Guess what the finance person said to me right before the 1-day workup? That they take my insurance (Huh? Who cares lady 'cause my insurance doesn't pay for fertility treatments) and that the approximately $2,300 bill for the day's tests will likely be paid by them. Okay. Sure enough, got my Explanation of Benefits - they paid (a smaller, contracted rate with CCRM, but they paid). And since then the CCRM finance person told me that she spoke with my insurance company. Ugh! I wanted to yell at her "WHY are you killing my mojo?! What have I ever done to you!" when she said "your policy doesn't include IVF but includes all of the ultrasounds and bloodwork."

WHAT?! Well, then it all made sense for certain. I thought the ONLY way these reimbursements all year long were legit was something funky like this and WEEEEEEEE, that's what it is!

So check out how bizarre this is. An IVF cycle is 12K plus 4K in meds. My insurance company won't pay the meds so that's 4K out of pocket. And they won't pay for assisted hatching or ICSI or anything related to the egg. But they'll pay for all of the ultrasounds and blood work which as you ladies know is an ENORMOUS part of IVF. So about 7K (out of 16K) will be reimbursed to you. Okay, that's less than half but it's still a WHOLE LOT more than zero reimbursement.

I don't know what's going to happen with my donor egg cycle. I know I have to write CCRM a check for 29K when the cycle begins. Seriously, I just chuckled sarcastically over it - the number is STAGGERING - I could buy a brand new SUV outright, with bells and whistles!

But I think I might start getting reimbursement checks from big insurance company as soon as my cycle starts ringing in the fees. If I get even 5K back, I'll be THRILLED!

Big smiles over surprise gift this year!

In the 2WW

What a stressful time - Boy do I know it! I remember coming home from the transfer thinking I couldn't last through dinner without POAS (peeing on a stick), never mind last 2 weeks. Okay, and my RE didn't even wait two weeks but 9 days! Seriously, I couldn't even go to a 2 week RE - I'd just consider them sadistic!

It's maddening. You think, oh, there's a twitch, yeah, it's working and then you bend down to grab your shoes and berate yourself for killing the embryos. You read into everything - the achy boobs or lack thereof, the nausea, the hiccups, the headaches, the irritability, the moodiness. Now every last symptom - YES, EVERY LAST ONE - has been attributed to zero pregnancy and pregnancy with triplets. Unfortunately, between the estrogen and progesterone IVF queens take, no symptom can be trusted as it could be chemical or natural.

And do you know what the agonizing truth is? It WILL NOT end - EVER! Because even if you're lucky enough to get that BFP - the two elusive lines, that sweet magical state of being, you'll then obsess over the initial beta. Then you get a beta over 100 - good number, but you'll still worry that it won't double within 2 days and that it would not be a good sign. Then you'll worry about the egg sack, the fetal pole, the heartbeat, the amnio, the baby's weight at birth and is he meeting his milestones 'cause you'll see other babies at 3 months who are doing geometry! Ugh! It's maddening and, I suppose, par for the course in the life of a woman who is a mother. :)

But right now my heart goes out to the lovely ladies whose blogs I frequent that are in the very very very early stages of this - their 2WW's. So if you get a sec, stop in and wish them well:

Emily the Hopeless
And Jill (who will be in the 2WW in a couple of hours)

This is the most anxiety-ridden time for these ladies (and their other half) but it's also exciting!

Best wishes girls!


Next Flight Denver Bound

Okay, don't get too excited there - that was me playing with words. No, I have no match yet and don't really expect to hear a peep until after the New Year. Digressing for a moment, isn't it odd that I have this deep-rooted feeling that I'll hear from CCRM in mid January with a potential match, that I'll take it and that I'll be in Denver late February/early March for transfer? Nuts, I know, but it's just a feeling - maybe a timetable my brain set up when I wasn't watching.

Anyhoo, I just got back from Charlotte, NC and Miami, FL before that - a week away on business. HATE IT, HATE IT, HATE IT. My boss loves to travel for whatever reason and loves off-site meetings and being the center of attention. Me? Not one bit. So when I landed in Newark International Airport today (for those of you who've never lived in NJ, please refrain from judging NJ by the standards of the airport surrounds - they're dismal and embarassing. Truly, NJ is called "The Garden State" for a reason - it's really beautiful but there are definitely hell holes and the airport is smack in the belly of the beast!).

The instant the wheels touched down I thought, no more air travel for me - forget it! It's a major inconvenience (and expense - I have to kennel my amazing little dog whom I absolutely adore!) and I dread traveling for business. This was it for me.

So now that all of that 4Q business travel is out of the way, the next time I board a jet will be for my flight to Denver and I'll leave there with a couple of lovely embryos inside me.

I still vacillate between "Am I nuts?" and "There is nothing I want more!"


Cold Feet?

I don't know what to make of this, really, but for the past couple of weeks, I've been getting a pit in my stomach to imagine myself with a baby. I have had some really bad dreams (unrelated to pregnancy or babies) that have left me feeling scared and barely able to imagine my life going on forever without a husband to quell those fears, never mind having the enormous responsibility of a baby's fears to deal with too.

So why is a childfree life something I can't accept, given I'm unmarried?! It's not even like I have brothers and sisters to help - I'm an only child. Sure, I have a wonderful network of friends but it's SMALL and my closest friend - the one I could count on when the shit hits the fan - lives in Florida. What if something happened to me in the middle of the night that required me to go to the E.R. - who would watch my baby while I was there for a day or more? I can hardly imagine it!

When this kind of fear and insecurity creeps in, I think, heck, I have enough trouble worrying about my animals - how can I deal with a baby?!

This happens VERY infrequently but once in a great while I think about how much I'd love to meet a wonderful man who is smart, interesting, funny, makes a good living and has boundless integrity. Not much to ask for, huh? In the meantime, I'll take someone like Nima Arkani-Hamed (yes, I have very odd interests, heros and tastes in men!) with Chris Rock's quick wit and sense of humor. Hey, he's working in Princeton - just down the road from me!

Back to my chilly toes....For the last few days I've been thinking that if CCRM called me right now with a "perfect match," (not that I am looking for a perfect match) that I would want to say, "I need six more months to give you an answer."

How crazy is that?! (very, I know)



I hate root canals. And I should know, before today I'd had 5. Don't take care of my teeth you say? Ugh! ON THE CONTRARY! I just didn't inherit my mother's good teeth, rather my father's poor ones (just my luck!) and I can remember having abscesses in my gums when I was in second grade.

Of course, if you saw my teeth you'd think I was nuts - they look great. And that's why appearances can be deceiving. They look good 'cause I take good care of them and have spent a small fortune on them (and yet not quite as much as the baby pursuit! :)

Anyway, the only painless root canal I had was my first - at 15. I was riding my ten-speed bike when the chain slipped off, I lost control and had a collision with a white car that then had a big splotch of red blood all over it. Well, the impact to my front tooth was enough to kill the nerve instantly. So I went to the dentist and he did the root canal, sans Novocaine. Didn't feel a thing.

In my 20's, I had 3 more and all were very painful - started out as a tooth ache. But the one I had 7 years ago is something I will never forget. The pain of the procedure was excruciating. My teeth seem difficult to numb. I cried and I screamed MANY times. One time I actually flailed my arms in a completely involuntary act and my dentist said that was a very unwise move when he was holding sharp instruments in my mouth - as if I could help it!!! I wanted to kick him square in the nuts with a steel tipped boot and scold him for bending over in pain. It's a reaction I couldn't possibly have controlled.

So, when my back molar started to hurt weeks ago, I began the spiral of anxiety and panic. Oh my God, I can't go through that again - I just can't! My dentist is on vacation so I saw his partner last Saturday and thought for sure I would need a root canal. Lucky for me, the x-ray of my roots and the tooth he was tapping on which felt most sensitivity was not the tooth I claimed the pain was coming from, rather the one next to it. He suggested a fluoride varnish on my teeth and see if it helps - can't hurt - and call him if it doesn't work. Well it didn't work and I went back in yesterday. But we still couldn't agree on which tooth was the problem and this is why I said "lucky for me," he referred me to a practice of endodontists.

I went this morning at 9:15 am. I was shaking when the lovely doctor entered the room. She was a super attractive, very contemporary Indian woman with a gentle demeanor and kind nature. There are 9 doctors in the practice and I think everything was going my way that I got her, to boot.

Let me just say this, if ANYONE out there needs a root canal ever (and I hope you don't), DO NOT go to a dentist - I don't care how much you love yours!!! Go to an endodontist. Not only are root canals ALL THEY DO (so that should tell you something about expertise) but these guys have equipment that was beyond impressive. Microscopes over he chair that can find the teeniest cracks. The worst part was the freezing method she uses to determine which tooth is the sensitive/problem one. But that gave it away as tears streamed from my eyes.

She gave me the initial injection and when I was numb, about another half dozen injections. Then she tested my tooth again with the freezing method - but I still felt some pain (slight but there). This is where my regular dentist would have said "fuck it" and just started drilling. Not her. She gave me another half dozen injections (remember, I felt none of it 'cause my gums were numb) and another freezing test - I still felt some pain. Then she said something to her assistant and told me I was proving more difficult to numb than usual and I got scared but nope, she then did something else - she seemed to drill into the side of my tooth (I felt none of it) and put something in it (maybe like a funnel to pour novicane directly into the channel of the tooth). I saw none of this, of course - I just could imagine. Freezing test again and I felt nothing - nada! Whew!

Then she was in and cleaning out the canals in less than 4 minutes - no kidding. And they have this little mouth piece you wear that stops you from biting down accidentally and a dental dam to keep all of the debris out of your throat and glasses to protect your face from the flying debris. I mean, it was such a professional operation (literally and figuratively) and do you know how much the root canal hurt?
NOT ONE IOTA! I cannot believe I just wrote that but it didn't.

I have to go back for them to close up the tooth in early December but that part is a nothing - the hard part is done. I'm actually going to write her a note in a few days to thank her again. I wanted to kiss her, I tell ya.

So learn from my lack of knowledge if you're ever in my shoes: ENDODONTIST! :)


Amendment 48

For those of you unaware, there was an amendment on the ballot in Colorado last week that, if passed, would have provided every fertilized egg with the same protection as every human being is granted after birth.

The amendment was voted down by a wide margin and, at least, I’m grateful for that.

But I wonder how long – how long until it’s resurrected in another state where it does pass and what will that mean for women, children, the United States of America and our future as a leading democracy.

Imagine the path this amendment would set. Every single abortion would become illegal, that’s a given. Even a 12 year old girl raped by her father and impregnated would be forced to birth that child (Sarah Palin would be so thrilled!). And despite us all knowing that an ectopic pregnancy is doomed, the woman carrying that life-threatening pregnancy would have to die along with her embryo. It would be illegal to intervene. Embryonic stem cell research would be outlawed. Every single embryo that resulted from an IVF practice would have to be implanted – so too bad if you didn’t want your genetic offspring in the hands of someone else – it wouldn’t be your choice any longer.

You think that’s bad? It could be much, much worse. You could be charged with murder after a miscarriage – because someone thought you ate too much salt, took a hot bath, carried a too-heavy box – anything.

This amendment was written by Kristy Burton, a 21-year-old, self-righteous religious wing nut who hasn’t lived long enough to learn that life is so rarely black and white. I’d like to see how Miss Burton would respond to being forced to carry the product of a violent rape. Worse, that her pregnancy would risk her life and that she’d have to face her own mortality knowing her death would instantly terminate the child inside her as well – that neither of them would benefit.

What sad times ahead when we snub our noses at the folks in the Middle East for living in a theocracy, for not observing a separation between church and state when we – the land of hypocrisy – nearly elected a Vice President who would support an amendment that would have put us on par with a government dictated by religious belief.

Pathetic, truly.


Needles don't bother me

Can I just say how grateful I am about that!

Public speaking will cause me to hyperventilate in a manner that is EXTRAORDINARY and beyond phobic - I can't even speak! Well, I don't do it - that's just all there is to it, I don't. When I have to give an update in a staff meeting or on a conference call, I take 5 mg of Propranalol (a beta blocker) about 30 mins prior and it gets me through. But a stand-up-in-front-of-a-room-before-50-people-and-present?! No. Fuck no.

Airplanes cause me some anxiety (the whole crashing thing or watching 3 Middle-Eastern looking men jump from their seats and tie red swaths around their heads) and I'm just not good with turbulance. But, overall, it's okay - I try not to think about it. Heck, if I was truly phobic, I would NEVER have chosen a fertility clinic halfway across the country!

But needles - something that strikes major phobia in tons of people - nope! I'm A-Okay on that front! And good thing, huh? 'Cause by now I've probably injected myself with HUNDREDS (stims, suppression, progesterone) and blood tests galore. Heck, I've even injected Progesterone into my own hip (both sides!), with that thick, long ass needle that looks like it'll hit a bone!

So, for whatever it's worth - I thank the needle gods for giving me a pass on this one! (because how you do IVF with a needle phobia is TRULY beyond me!)


Monitoring with my old RE

So....ya know I'm with CCRM now. They're in Denver, Colorado and I live in NJ. Clearly I need monitoring from a local RE. And since I'm on CD17 of a mock cycle, today was my lining check day.

Because I'm established with my old RE's office already, I decided to go there for monitoring. Yeah, I thought it would be awkward but it didn't quite zing me like when I walked in and realized it was my old doctor (who I really like, btw) who was on for morning monitoring today. Ugh! It was awkward as shit I tell you!

I sat in the room with the paper sheet over my legs and she walked in - pretty and sweet and gentle as always. I felt so badly. I'd been sweating it out before she entered, running through what I'd say, how I'd justify this, how embarassing it is to say the truth: CCRM's stats on a DE cycle is over 80% take-home-baby vs. this clinic's which is in the mid 60's. And I felt badly to even have to say that (though I shouldn't have - it's my money, my time, my body, my future baby and my business). But, still, I'm a good person who still has feelings.

And do you know what happened? Nothing. Dr. H walked in and said "oh hi, how are you - it's been a while" and I said "yeah, it's great seeing you" and she said she thought she recognized the name. Then she told me my lining was 9 mm, 3 follicles in right ovary (what a joke!) and none in left (bigger joke!) and detected what could be some endometriosis. Endometriosis 6 weeks after the laprascopic surgery that cleaned it out - HA! Now I'm doubled-over with laughter over the irony! Whatever!

So she finished and said "well, we'll get this over to wherever it needs to go" and "I wish you the best of luck" and, somehow, I knew it was heartfelt.

Once again, I freaked out and obsessively worried over nothing!