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What I wish I'd known. Advice for those TTC #1

hopeful-in-seattlehopeful-in-seattle Posts: 416
edited January 2013 in Trying to Conceive
I've been off the forum for some time now. I found it wasn't healthy for me to see all the news (good and bad), especially once folks who were TTC when I started began reporting their 2nd and 3rd pregnancies while I'm still waiting for #1. (No bad feelings, just realized it wasn't healthy for me to linger here.)

However, when I started all this nearly 2.5 years ago, ladies on this forum were very generous with their time, helping me through my questions and anxieties, and so I'm breaking my hibernation to just offer a little bit of advice to some of you who are new to this. Warning that this post will not be very encouraging, so feel free to stop reading if you don't want to read a "Debbie Downer" post. :)

I want to tell you what I wish I had done differently, so that maybe some of you won't end up undergoing the sort of grueling 2.5 years that my wife and I have endured.

LONG story short - over the last 2.5 years we have tried
-4 cycles of ICI at home w/ frozen sperm, always using at least 2 vials (spaced apart by 12-24 hours)
-8 cycles of IUI in doctor's offices
The first two were unmedicated and unmonitored (other than using OPKs at home)
The third one was w/ an RE but we saw her late so we only used an HCG trigger
The next three (#4-6) we used femera or Clomid + trigger
The last two (#7 & #8) we used Clomid, FSH, trigger, progesterone
-4 cycles of ICI using fresh donor sperm, usually two insems with 12-24 hours between them. These cycles were monitored closely by our RE, and we used Clomid+HCG trigger for two and Clomid, FSH, HCG and progesterone for the last two.

So after a total of 16 active cycles (at least; I stopped counting after awhile) we have never had a clinical pregnancy. Nor a chemical one. And we've seen 3 different REs, none of whom can explain this. My wife is healthy, thin/fit, all her labs are perfect, her AMH is that of a 20 year old. We've tried acupuncture, dietary changes, chinese herbs, pregnancy tea, cutting out caffeine/alcohol, and taking breaks from TTC when we needed a break from the stress.

I had NO IDEA that it could take this long and cost this much. Weve spent more than $20,000, though I must say that about $11,000 was due to the use of a known donor, which cost us about 5k in attorney fees (two attorneys, ours and his) and 6k in labs and set up. None of that would have been required if we just did fresh cycles on our own, as some other ladies on here have done. But we needed to use the donor sperm in the doctor's office, so that is why we had to do all the legal and medical leg work, plus counseling sessions with us and our donor.

What I really wish we had done is consulted an RE much sooner, and when things weren't improving with that doctor, we should have changed clinics sooner. Ultimately, what I wish is that we'd moved on to IVF long before we got to this point. Because we've slowly drained our financial and emotional resources to the point that we could have paid for an IVF cycle by now. I know that hindsight is 20/20 and all that jazz, and we couldn't have known, etc etc etc. But I just thought that maybe this post would motivate some other family like ours to be more aggressive and move forward more quickly, rather than languishing in TTC land longer than is truly necessary.

Edited to add a little bit more info:
We discovered that OPKs didn't really line up well with ovulation when monitored by u/s - our RE said that happens for a lot of women. We got a +OPK well after DP had already ovulated.

We changed donors regularly, and have used 6 in total, from 2 different banks

Our insurance only covers doctor's visits for diagnostics (i.e. not for procedures like IUI), and diagnostic labs and ultrasounds, so that is why our costs have been so high

The RE I liked the best looked at each cycle and how we timed it, what we did, etc, and she said she wouldn't even count any of the cycles we did at home ICI w/ frozen sperm b/c the chance of success is so low (she guessed maybe 7% at best). I was surprised to hear that, given the number of ladies on the forum who've been successful w/ @ home ICI. But our doctor said she wouldn't even count those cycles as "active cycles"

For those who are considering IVF, I found that Walgreens has a nearly 50% discount on high dose follistim cartridges if you register for their Rx savings plan, which costs $20/person/year or $35/family/year. With the discount, 1 fresh IVF cycle's meds will be $4,000 (not including BCP, antibiotics for both of us, and prometrium)

Might add more later if I think of other tricks/tips we learned along the way.

All the best

PS if you want to read more about our LONG journey, please see
#1 ICI-BFN #2 IUI-BFN #3 IUI-BFN #4 ICI-BFN; #5 IUI-BFN; #6 IUI-BFN; #7-no follie; #8 IUI-BFN; #9 IUI-BFN; #10 IUI-BFN; #11 ICI, fresh-BFN; #12 ICI, fresh-BFN; #13 ICI, fresh-BFN; #14-cysts; #15 ICI fresh-BFN; #16 inj+IUI-BFN; #17 inj+IUI-BFN; #18 inj+IUI-BFN; #19-cyst; #20 IVF=BFP


  • aplusaaplusa Posts: 1,919
    edited November -1
    Hi Hopeful,

    It's kinda funny you posted tonight -- I remember about two years ago when we joined the forum (we read it long before we joined) -- I found you and your partner. And from time to time I wondered where you had gone or got confused and wondered if other Seattle couples had been you -- something about your story resonated with me.

    In short - we've only done 13 cycles and 7 of those were home ICIs -- just like you, with multiple vials per cycle. We moved onto 6 cycles with our RE. After 18 months, and $12,000 in 2012 alone in RE and sperm expenses, we've moved on to IVF. It looks like we may be right in line with each other. We also have the great bloodwork, fit, etc etc. (I was finally diagnosed with PCOS, but given my weight/lifestyle, I think it keeps it pretty much at bay since I ovulate each and every month, etc etc. Our doctor considers that we are "unexplained," as well.)

    I feel like the harbinger of doom on this board when I say things to folks, but if something doesn't add up -- I would never spend money on sperm because it worked for someone else. Those someone elses may be few and far between.

    I will be hopefully optimistic for you and your partner and I, for one, am grateful for honest posters who don't always just see the positive side of things.
    Lucky Cycle 14: IVF!! Antagonist Cycle with Lupron Trigger
  • scorpiogrl7scorpiogrl7 Posts: 1,386
    edited November -1
    I am in the same boat as you. I tried with my first gf (way back in my twenties) for 3 at home frozen cycles, 3 at home fresh/KD cycles, 3 clomid and fresh cycles, 9 injectable+IUI cycles, had sonohysterogram, hysteroscopy, and a few cycles in between there I had to sit out and be on BCPs due to residual cysts. Never a positive pregnancy test, never had abnormal labs...nothing. I do have irregular cycles and PCOS tendencies, but none of the tests indicated anything abnormal. The ttc (among other things) took a toll on our relationship and we broke up, thus I lost my health insurance.

    About 4 years later, I tried again with clomid +trigger and ultrasound monitoring with frozen for 3 cycles then lost my insurance and gave up for good. Or so I thought.

    Now, we are on cycle #3 of at-home with frozen and I am going to the RE at the end of the month. I am going to push for IVF after 1cycle of injectables. Our insurance has a lifetime max of $10,000 and that's basically 1 shot at IVF...I don't want to max out the insurance doing injectables and still not have a baby.

    So don't feel like you're being a downer; some of us have been (and are) right there with you. I'm glad you shared.
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