HSG – Candidly.

Browsing the internet (ironic right now), is not the best way to assuage your fears – when you think you might be having some kind of reaction following your HSG procedure.

HyCoSy procedure.jpg

Mine was on Wednesday, five days ago, and it was pretty simple. I learned that my cervix is on an angle and that means it needed to be grabbed (like calf-roping) during the procedure… (called an HSG) which involves a catheter being inserted up through the cervix, so they can pump a solution into your uterus and up into your tubes; this lets them see that your tubes are open and that if you were to insert ‘specimen’ you are more likely to have open pathways for the sperm to travel.

One bit of good news: the results were good.

My tubes are awesome. Doctor says so. It looks like everything is ready to go. I found all this out a few days ago. Even got a selfie.

The procedure was uncomfortable, (see speculum above, lol) and now it has occurred to me that I should probably be annoyed at potentially having to do this multiple times, due to our whole plan heading sideways – thanks to the clinic’s unannounced vacation; I realize this might all have been for naught.

Today, I’ve been looking at message boards and discussion groups online, looking into the symptoms and side effects. The results I’ve found are very polarized. I’m monitoring symptoms, sans doctor to ask about it… because I have brutal cramps and bleeding. But this didn’t set in for four days. Now I am waiting to see if the cramps and symptoms are more than average… because the normal symptoms are the same as the warning signs of infection. As long as I don’t get a fever, I should be okay.

The worst is when the dangerous symptoms are just more pronounced versions of the normal side effects… how much is ‘regular’ bleeding?

We also have some good outcomes: I contacted my uncle, a doctor who is prominently positioned in the fertility world, but not in my province. I chatted with him about my experience and we may have some really great solutions ahead for us. Also, the sister clinic reopens and I might get some answers about my cycle-on-hiatus…

Keep your fingers crossed! I’ve really loved the support this blog and its readers have provided. I will try to get a more upbeat entry together for next time.

 

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The duck-duck-goose of fertility clinic experiences

Just like ‘Duck, Duck, Goose’…Except not fun. Refer back to yesterday’s entry, which I wrote to keep from crying, in self-pity, about how many setbacks we’ve had. I actually turned to Allia and admitted: I like to watch Grey’s Anatomy, because when I feel like things are really devolving for us, I turn to my friends on Grey’s and their lives are total shit. Calley almost lost her baby in a car accident, then there was a plane crash, Lexie died and Arizona lost her leg. And Sloane dies, too. Spoiler? Sorry, not sorry. I’m well aware that things are not so dire. But they feel like we are getting the poo-covered end of the stick, over and over. We are employed, healthy and love each other. But the baby train is off the track.

So, here we are again. Charm is on vacation. How charming. My final call, after waiting to see if N would call back to let me know she had somehow solved the problem created by yesterday’s news… was to a voicemail that simply said: Charm will be closed for summer holidays. Fuck. Off. And they won’t be back until two weeks from Monday. The other clinic, where the procedure is to happen, is not accepting patients while they are away, but I will call them on Monday to ease my stress about whether potentially they can inseminate without the pre-procedure monitoring.  T

hey monitor for follicles, hormone levels, etc. But… N let me know that I could be induced to surge… so, if they can check to see that there is an egg (or two) and can force a surge,… why, when it’s not my fault the cycle can’t be monitored, can’t I just come in once they are back and do what we can to salvage the cycle? These are questions that can’t be answered. So, let me tell you a story:

Once upon a time Allia and Alison wanted to have a baby. They laughed recalling all the straight men in their lives who had creepily/not creepily (?) joked about offering to ‘help them’ get pregnant. They began their journey by signing up with a local, recommended clinic, to monitor their bodies (which – after years of not worrying at all about accidental pregnancy) seemed to be wonderfully fertile – and able to conceive… except for one small (or whatever size you’re into) problem.

——

Our first clinic was called ISIS, terrible name right? But we liked the doctor there; her name started with the word “Good” so it seemed serendipitous. We thought, since it was close to my work we might actually be able to make things less stressful, given that we only have one vehicle and Allia commutes an hour into Toronto for work. This clinic, ISIS, is paired with another one 45 minutes AWAY… That’s okay on a weekend, but not when your commute to work is an hour and they don’t guarantee appointments at hours early enough to avoid having to take a half day each day of monitoring. But…it’s fine. Or is it?

After accepting her administrative fees, a few months in, and one miscarriage later, they tell us that the clinic is going to be closed for six months, diverting all patients for all procedures to the clinic that is completely the wrong direction to salvage a work day. Then there is the fact that this massive clinic treats everyone like cattle, which wasn’t what we had signed up for. Also, it was super annoying having to explain to a rotating list of attendings and nurses that we are gay, what our process has been thus far, and highlighting all the fun details of the numerous miscarriages that we had had.

There is nothing quite like telling people over and over about the worst moments of your life, when it’s already in your chart and you are trying not to lose your job by missing more time than you have to. So, could we just hurry this up a little?

Then… that clinic lets you know it is rebranding (fine), and merging with another facility which will make it even busier and less personal. This, after they already have your money and you are just… done.

So we took a bit of time, and found a clinic (our current one), which was a satellite for a Larger clinic (ONE Fertility), only to find out (again) that it’s closing. We worry that again, we are losing the close, relatively convenient location. But wait… they are being bought by one doctor who is going solo,… we can stay!!! So Charm Fertility is Born, re-born? in the same building as the old ONE satellite. But… duh, duh, dunnnnnnn…Charm Fertility, where we are now… is just about to close for vacation. So, here we are. Again.

Unable to actually get pregnant because all the people who are supposed to be making that happen are, with our worst possible luck, flying the coop and leaving us with an empty nest…. not the kind you get after 20 years of raising them.

Seriously? Seriously. 

I know it’s supposed to be a predictably unpredictable journey to have Children.  But how much more complicated can it get?

Yesterday, (I had to wait a day for my rage tears to subside), we finally pinned it down. Made the call to the sperm bank to order the goods.

Here is how this went.

1) Decided on the donor from Xytex.

2) Called to see about ordering three units.

3) Must get Canadian company to order on our behalf.

4) Called the clinic, Charm Fertility, to find out where the the units should be sent.

5) Nurse N. called back and a number of the things she said were a concern.

-She didn’t know how many units we should order, because she thought 750 sounded expensive.

-Or that it must be enough for multiple tries.

-Then she told us that in the six months she’s been there she has ‘never seen anybody get pregnant using I donor.’ But then added: One single woman she knows has been trying for months.

-Additionally, she also told us that in spite of me just having an HSG two days ago, which I was told I needed, they are going to be closed for two weeks starting on Monday.

6) So, 6… they are closed for two weeks.

7) It was only when I asked how that would impact my cycle that she explained all the cycles and monitoring and procedures are on pause. I asked why we were not informed about the closure, and she said we must not have been into the clinic, but everyone at the clinic is apprised of our plan.

8) Based on the timing of my cycle this means that the entire summer is a write off, because I will start my period midway through their vacation, which means I will not be able to do a procedure at the end of July, having missed the mandatory monitoring.

9) Nor will I be able to complete one in August before returning to full time work which is next to impossible to book off because (well, high school teacher).

10) My monitoring will start in the last week of August, then I will be back at school by the time the insemination is supposed to happen, which is exactly why we set aside an entire summer to try to begin this process.

Some questions: Why were we not told? Why aren’t they backfilling the jobs so people can continue this very important process? Why can’t we go to their sister clinic, or be transferred, when my psych evaluation, seminar, consent and the actual procedure will happen there? Why did I go for a hospital procedure two days ago when it was completely unnecessary given their closure? Why can a clinic, our second now, collect your money but not tell you they actually can’t provide the service you’ve discussed with them? Why doesn’t anyone communicate?

I don’t even want to add numbers to this list of frustrations (which won’t even include the fact that as a lesbian couple, everything is inherently more expensive, annoying and seemingly unfair, because the price just skyrockets with the assumption that you aren’t having sex with a man who might be donating for you). And…This isn’t the first time we have been set back months by their disorganization.

We first signed up with them and waited to get an appointment to sign consent to be on the waiting list for IVF. Then at the appointment, for which we book the day off work, we were told we couldn’t sign until we had attended a seminar, which hadn’t happened and it wouldn’t happen until six weeks later. There was NO foreseeable way for us to have a baby that would not have involved seeing this psychologist and attending the meeting/info session, etc. So why did we only hear about it when we were there to sign forms we couldn’t possibly sign without the other two steps in place?

So …we attended the seminar, and found out that before we could make another appointment to sign her paperwork (this is when we were switching from Allia to me for potential carrier), we needed an interview with a psychologist, for which we had to wait weeks for the appointment. Then we had to reschedule another day off work to come in to sign the papers we should’ve been able to sign almost 8 weeks before, just to get on the list to wait potentially two years to get IVF.

How many months of our lives will be just spent waiting due to administrative incompetence? It’s not like it’s life or death or anything? Just life or no life. And with all our past hoops and pitfalls, is it too much to expect that the stuff you can control would just roll out smoothly for once? Did I mention that this is the second, technically third clinic?

So what does a gong-show of a fertility journey look like? Maybe I’ll tell you one day, maybe tomorrow.

 

Just Your Average Day: the Kind Where you Might drop a few Grand

Fertility-2.jpg

What are you up to today?

Oh, me, nothing much… just a little online shopping. I’m chatting with Nanette from Xytex in a chat window.

Hi, Nanette! Yes. This is Alison from Canada. Just wondering if you have three units of Carter’s* sperm that you could put on hold for me? (name changed for privacy) And how much does shipping cost?

No? You can’t place orders via the international helpline? Understood. Yes. Okay, for sure. We’ll call Outreach, your Canadian suppliers. Thanks so much. You have a great day, too.

————-

Unwashed units are $700. Washed are $850. The American ‘product’ can’t get shipped to us or our clinic directly. It has to go through Outreach, an intermediary. This is fine. But trying to work out… how much to buy, when to buy, how to hedge your bets to guarantee you get enough of the stuff from the right donor… but not so much that you’re stuck with lots of expensive, unused product…, how much the shipping costs, where to ship it, and how to put it on hold til you can get answers to all these questions…

These are the days of our lives, currently.

But, it’s all pretty amazing. But expensive. Some people just get a bottle of wine.

Let’s say you get 3 x $700 (USD) units. You ship it (depending on the clinic, it’s $60 – $75 to get it to ONE Fertility). The bargain shopper in me was super excited to hear about the flat rate shipping… so if we get all these units, they are the same price to ship (and you get a discount if other people are also shipping to your clinic… like a Groupon).

Though the last thing you want to be about your future offspring is frugal.

The other costs:

-$260 USD to access the Xytex site for 90 days

-Again for the next 90 days because we were preemptively looking

-Buying the product at $700 a pop

-Shipping $60-75

-Admin fees at the clinic

-Storage fees

-Thawing fees

-Freezing fees (if we have embryos via IVF that need freezing)

-Washing, if you get unwashed

-Fertility drugs ($3000 – $6000) some of which might be covered by my drug plan IF it’s the right versions of the drugs

-Procedural costs (TBD)

-We are on a waitlist for IVF and will have about $6,000 of the 10,000 covered for our first try… not including drugs

-While we wait, we are going to try IUI and, in the swirl of numbers, I can’t even remember how much that costs (even with subsidization from the government) … which is grimly funny, as I’m getting to a point where ‘oh, it might be $600 or $6,000, I can’t really remember’ is my mindset. It’s like I’m some fabulously wealthy socialite contemplating buying a new handbag from a capsule collection and I’m so rich that I don’t even need to wonder if I can afford it; except it’s the exact opposite. The numbers are just so staggering that I don’t know what they are, but I’m sure we’ll figure it out; all I know is that we will be spending an amount I don’t want to think of, even with our awesome ‘Canadian Healthcare’ and my private insurance via my job… it’s definitely feeling like a not-perk of being a lesbian.

I just bury my face in delicious food, and we keep looking at adorable baby photos of potential donors and reconvene every so often to affirm our choice: this is the one. He looks like a kind, charming, sweet person. He’s the one.

A Long Social Media Discussion on Gender and Raising Babies: Sparked by an Article on Buzzfeed

HSG

HSG. Holy Shit Guys.

Also the name of the procedure where they fill your insides with liquids to make sure it’s smooth sailing for the little travellers to make their voyage to your egg. This fun experience happens in hospital and I cannot wait.

But with all these appointments and hurdles, we routinely have the ‘we still want to do this, right?’ conversation. Which is sometimes just a look. We think about how much effort this is all taking and, rightly, whether this effort is still what we want for the life we have together.

Think of all the things that might happen if we don’t have kids: we’d be rich (comparatively), we would save hundreds of thousands of dollars over the lifespan of the future offspring; we wouldn’t have to move and our current home would feel like a palace… and keep being a spacious, tidy, often immaculate and tranquil abode; we could just be really amazing aunts; we could travel whenever we wanted; we could get a whole whack of pets (if we decided living spotlessly was no longer our thing); we could keep our pre-pregnancy bodies; we could eat for two for fun, then go work out vigorously without worry of upsetting a budding babe-in-the-making.

All of these are the fantasies I lubricate my brain with – mostly because I like to imagine I have choices – likely the self-preserving kind of self-talk that helps me feel in control when so much is out of our control. I can hardly imagine how any autonomous person hands over their body to tiny aliens that just get bigger and bigger then absorb your entire life, heart and savings. Except that we see this as the norm. Some do it better than others. Some people even make it look easy. Instagram helps. But I really do love those ‘Asshole Parent’ posts, because I feel that there must be a happy medium  – between heavily curated ‘I make my own homemade organic baby food on my hobby farm where my organic produce grows in the rose-smelling shit of my Angora rabbits’ and the ‘I am being terrorized by my toddlers and held-hostage by my entitled, social media zombie teen’ posts.

Does everyone go through this range of emotions?

It reminds me of when I was a student at the National Ballet of Canada – the summer intensive – and they did psychological testing on all of us to see if we would be good candidates for the full time program, should we pass all the other barrage of tests; they asked us leading questions, like ‘What would you want to be if you couldn’t be a ballerina?’

The answer they wanted was ‘what do you mean? this is the only-thing-i’ve-ever-wanted and I would die if I couldn’t dance’ delivered through hysterical sobs, or saucer eyed bambi blinking lashes.

My answer: I’d be a vet. Or a teacher. Or I might design houses, or write a book. Can I still horseback  ride if I make it into the program? What about jazz? Will I have to just do ballet?

I didn’t make the cut.

But I feel like my answer is the same, at least in theory, here. If I can’t be a mom, will I be a shrivelled waste of human womb and potential? I hope not. I would never let myself be defined by one component of myself. I just wouldn’t. But, like anything, if someone tells me I can’t – I rebelliously challenge that idea, too. Then decide for myself it I want to be that thing: whether it’s ‘being sporty,’ ‘looking like a lesbian,’ ‘not looking like a lesbian’ or ‘being handy.’

Tell me what I am and what I’m capable of. I dare you.

But all of this, too, might be a coping mechanism for the doubt I have in my own capacity; to do it well, or to do it at all. There needs to be a trap door of doubt, so that if things don’t work out – I will know that I can overcome this, or fall down a passage way and claw myself out from under it (if we are going with that trap door analogy).

Either way, I don’t think that a healthy amount of questioning, or a screechy ‘I must be a mother’ reaction is a good fit for me – like my marriage, my career, my breakfast; every day is a choice and I want to do things because, yes, I still want and am committed to them every day, not simply because a while ago it seemed like a good idea or everyone thought it was a great plan.

For now, we are off to the hospital, for a bunch of stuff to go on up there, so that a bunch more stuff can go on up there… and that’s where we’re at. And if tomorrow the news is bad – we’ll go from there.

Does anyone always know, with certainty, what they want, without question?