I kept all of these thoughts, feelings and stories about our IVF journey bottled up inside of me, knowing when the time was right I would write about them on my blog. Last week I told you how and why Tommie and I made the decision to have an addition to our family and pursue fertility treatments. This week I wanted to share with everyone why IVF was the choice and qualifying in the Ivy study (the study is no longer taking patients).
After my initial appointment with the fertility doctor and preliminary tests at the Houston Fertility Institute, the doctor met with me to go over goals. I told him that my tubes had been tied since I was 22, for the last 15 years and that I had met my husband and he had no children. We wished to grow our family and hopefully become pregnant before Christmas. I was the beginning of August, so I knew we had time. Both the doctor and I decided that IVF was the best route since I was 37. After a woman turns 35 years old, her fertility clock begins ticking very loudly. I had better chances of getting pregnant using an In-vitro fertilization method instead of any traditional methods.
The Ivy Study was a trial for women between the ages 35-42 that could not get pregnant the natural way. It included a new drug called Afolia. This medication is a FSH medication that has been approved and used in Europe for several years. And this was the third and final phase of being approved for use in the United States. There were a few testing qualifications that I had to meet, but so far I had pre-qualified.
One of the main reasons I opted into the study was the cost. Just one cycle of IVF could cost more than $10,000 plus medication that could cost more than $5,000. These were cash price costs if you are as unlucky as we were where our insurance does not cover fertility treatments. By participating in the study the Houston Fertility Institute had discounted the IVF cycle to $3,500 plus a few medications that were estimated to cost about $500. I was lucky enough for my insurance to cover any fertility testing with co-payment and most medications at a discount, but not the actual treatment.
I had all my genetic testing and cycle day 3 ultrasound done with good results. I had 12 follicles and my FSH levels were 7.2. Tommie went in to have a sperm sample given to make sure he was not infertile. The last test that was required was a sonohystrogram or hysteroscopy. The clinic referred me to a location to have the hysteroscopy with tubal catheter and told me they knew the location was out of my insurance network but it would still be worth spending the money. Besides, scheduling it some place else may take months to get me in. This gave me red flags. When the location contacted me to give me a quote they told me the one procedure, that is actually covered by my insurance would cost me over $6,000. — Well that was not going to happen. I called my nurse back to have it scheduled somewhere in my network. She did so, but scheduled it for the end of September. I felt a little weird about this.
By the end of September, I went to the hospital to have pre-op tests done for the hysteroscopy. I was quoted only $600 to have this procedure done at the hospital. Huge difference, but I did have to wait 2 months.
I talked with my friend who had already had a successful IVF cycle. She asked me if I had a met with the Dr about Tommies’ sperm sample results, was given schedule or knew any other information for the doctor. I told her no, they had not contacted or communicated anything with me since I told them I would not pay the $6,000. So I messaged my nurse to ask what the next steps were. She sent me a message back that 2 weeks to a month after the hysteroscopy the doctor would meet with me again. Then she said “By the way, the Ivy study is on hold, so we will place you on a waiting list.” Ummm, no! This was not acceptable, and I was in tears. I immediately contacted one of the other clinics in Houston that was participating in the study to ask if the study was on hold. The first one I called was Fertility Specialists of Houston. The study nurse told me no. OMG!
I told the Houston Fertility Specialists of Houston study nurse what I had gone thru for the last 2 months and she apologized, asked if I could come in the next day, and told me that they do not preform the surgical hysteroscopy unless medically necessary. They offered a sonohystrogram in office to study patients for $250. My jaw dropped. You best bet I met with that nurse the very next day.
I know others that have loved working with HFI, but I had nothing but let downs. There was a lack of communication, no follow up, and when I refused to have a VERY expensive procedure done at a place that they were partners with, I felt as if I was not an important patient of theirs. That is not a way you treat patients.
This is where my journey actually became hopeful. I had no regrets from changing clinics. Next week I will explain my cycle, the ups and downs, and more of my emotional roller-coaster. Thank you for reading. If you missed last weeks post about making the decision of pursue IVF and growing our family, make sure you catch up.
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