Wednesday, September 11, 2013

IVF Abroad - Week Two

            On the day of fertilization (the day after the egg retrieval) Jill and I left to travel northwest to Berlin, Germany for the duration of our embryonic development.  At that time our job was done for a few days except for the continuation of drugs Jill has to consume, and a shot of Progesterone in oil every night in the upper buttock for two weeks.  She thought the ovarian stimulation shots were a pain in rear until I had to stick a 3-inch needle in her rear.  Of course the first time was painful for her and I realized you literally had to stab her abruptly with this almost lethal weapon to deliver the drug intramuscularly.   WTF?  Though after the first time I became pretty good at it with almost no pain at all.  Jill is also taking an estrogen supplement three times a day as well as her prednisolone and folic acid daily.

            However, we were given a chance to see the beautiful and historic city that Jill and I both missed our last time we were in Europe.  Finally a city with a normal infrastructure for easier navigation and sight seeing, and with three days to explore this colossal city, we took to Berlin.  On our first day we visited the Pergamon and Neues museums on museum island.  Followed by the astounding Berlin Cathedral.  After lunch we spent some time around Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag Building.  The next day we went to the superb Berlin Zoo, rated the best zoo in the world.  We spent about four hours documenting our travels wandering through the park.  We took about 600 pictures of everything we saw to have a plethora of animal pictures to choose from for our future baby’s room.  On the way back we stopped at an intriguing street market and of course, bought souvenirs.  The following day we sought out and found our limited edition German beer stein with a piece of the Berlin Wall on the stein’s cover, and then headed back down to Brno for the final stages of IVF.

            At Reprogenesis the next day was the egg transfer and there was good news and bad news but the good news is great.  First, the bad news, of our six embryos only three made it.  Apparently this is quite common as the jump from morula to blastocyst is quite a huge developmental hurdle.  Two of the embryos just simply stopped growing.  The third had no inner cellular mass although it became a blast.  At the blast stage the cells divide into two groups - the outer which will become the placenta and sac and the inner, which becomes the baby.  With no inner cells our embryo could only form an empty sac with no baby.

            On to the good news!!!  All three of the remaining embryos made it to become a blastocyst and are AA quality - the best rating they can get.  Two of them were hatching - meaning getting ready for implantation and the best possible stage for IVF.  The third is an AA expanded blast, meaning it is great quality and about to hatch.  We had the transfer on 9/9/2013 and all went well.  They put the two hatching AA blasts into Jill’s uterus via catheter and we had the third blast cryogenically frozen and will come back for it later.  We briefly considered using all three for IVF, but because they are all AA it would be pretty risky to do so and the embryologist was definitely against it.  So our doctor impregnated Jill with our fertilized blastocysts as I sat next to my wife with her hand in mine as we silently prayed for our two little blasts to implant and grow.  Jill is now taking it very easy with mostly bed rest on the 10th and 11th, and then also pretty easy for the next couple weeks as well. 
            To end week two when Jill was off of bed rest we drove a half an hour northeast to the Moravian Krast and the Punkva Cave to take a boat ride on a under ground river the runs through the largest cave system in Europe.  A little adventure and fresh air for us after two days lying around in our hotel room was well needed.  Not to mention our 2nd anniversary on the 10th was spent eating doner kebab and watching BBC World News.  Though we keep on telling ourselves, “it will be totally worth it,” and now that our IVF cycle is complete we are in the two week wait to find out our results.  However, I apologize to my readers, but our results (positive or negative) won’t be announced until 12 weeks after IVF because we fall under the category of a high-risk pregnancy, and we prefer to keep a certain amount of privacy concerning the actual results.  Only our parents will be informed when we find out.

            In the upcoming week 3 of our IVF journey abroad, we built in 6 extra days for any mishaps or miscalculations during our trip.  Since everything actually went according to plan, well actually, we were one day ahead of schedule; we will spend the rest of our time in Europe in Vienna, Austria and Prague, Czech Republic starting tomorrow (9/12/2013).  Now that the IVF portion of the trip is over and went very well, my last blog post will be the results of our hard work and due diligence.  Thank you for reading and please keep praying for our success with our IVF journey abroad. 

Friday, September 6, 2013

IVF Abroad - Week One

            We flew over the Atlantic to arrive in Prague where we drove to Brno to check into our hotel in less than 24 hours from departure.  A feat that would seem impossible less than a century ago, yet in the course of our travel I was never really that uncomfortable.   Fatigued, sure, but having made this trip six years prior for a backpacking adventure through Europe, I felt prepared enough to ready myself for the stress of travel; and stressful it is.  With calamity lurking at every corner in a airport, one must rely on a certain amount of luck to navigate the ever pending doom of delayed flights, canceled flights, or if you are even going to see your luggage 5,500 miles away from where it was entrusted.  Luck would have it we had a four hour delayed flight in Cincinnati, Ohio due to weather in New York, and would indeed cease any chances of making our Prague flight.  (We were not made aware of the delay until one hour before our departure.)  Luckily, a fellow international traveler sitting behind us on the flight from Denver intelligently found another commuter flight to New York a few gates down as soon as she landed.  Having heard of our travels from the inquisition I’d endured from the woman sitting next to me, she actively sought us out to relay this information.  She literally saved the day, and with her the help we were able to switch flights and obtain the last two out of three tickets available on the plane.  Once we arrived in New York we found our gate and made sure our Prague flight was on time, and just less than two hours later we boarded our international flight and nestled in for our last leg of travel to Europe.  The flight was actually decent, except for the knees in my back all the way to Europe.  Though we loved the on demand movies with plentiful choices but didn’t love doing an injection mid-air so much.

            Once we arrived in Prague, Czech Republic we rented a light blue 4-door 5 speed manual transmission Skoda.  A very economical European car with minimal amenities, or as I see it, a stripped down Corolla.  Nonetheless, it does its job nicely, and armed with our Skoda, IPod, European Garmin, and utter excitement to lie in bed at our hotel, we traveled to Brno.  The next day we had our first appointment at Reprogenesis, and Jill received her ultrasound to determine the exact time for egg retrieval and any medication adjustments.  Our doctor, Tomas Vrana, conducted the study in his office (which is in a older mansion that’s been rehabbed into a state of the art fertility clinic) and determined that Jill responded really well to stimulation drugs with a count of 16 follicles.  10 on the right ovary and 6 on the left with every other measurement taken produced good results too.  So he felt that there was no need for a second ultrasound and we reserved the date of 9/4/13 for the egg retrieval at 8:00AM.   Only being August 30th at the time, we were allowed some time to experience Brno, and Jill continued her stimulation injections up until the day before transfer. 
So I put my Pumas to the pavers, and walked the cobblestone pathways that led to such marvelous sights such as Spilberk Castle, Cathedral of Saint Peter and Paul, and old town square.  We happen to stumble upon a folk music festival where we witnessed the actors on stage dressed in presumably traditional Czech attire, slaughter a women dressed as a giant pink pig.  We had no idea what was going on.  Then had the pleasure of listening to the best xylophone exhibition Jill and I have ever encountered.  Quite a treat really, considering the beautiful courtyard that held the show was riddled with Romanesque sculptures and marble slabs and columns at every turn.  The next day we experienced Brno once more and on our stroll we found ourselves at the Moravska Galerie (the Moravian museum).  With high hopes of seeing something ancient and interesting we entered enthusiastically, but only to find bitter faces and bad attitudes.  We started walking through the museum with the hickory wooden floor weaved in the basket formation crackling with every step we take.  Which then alerts the hound dogs that follow us through the museum watching every movement we made, as if we were casing the place.  I tried to reassure the museum attendants that I came only to be enlightened by the exhibit with a smile to show my intent.  Though, to no avail, we were just silently followed around by dour older women with frowns on their faces.  Creepy, to say the least.

            On Sept. 1st we traveled to Bratislava to stay in the Marrol’s hotel, a very charming upscale hotel just down the street from the main square.  Jill and I fell in love with this area with its street markets and delicious food and sight seeing.  We traveled up to the Bratislava castle and walked into beautiful cathedrals.  We bought souvenirs at a local artisan fair and here we decided to buy a decorative beer stein in all the cities that we enjoy the most.  The next day we traveled into Poland and stayed at the Piramida hotel (a hotel that is fashion after the pyramid of Giza), a pyramid in Poland.  I know, right?  It would be weird if we didn’t stay there.  However, we were only in Poland for one reason, to visit Auschwitz concentration camp.  We felt that it was important to remember those who tragically lost their lives, and honor people like my grandfather who fought against the Nazis for freedom.  We also need to remind ourselves that it can never happen again, because, as they say history repeats itself.
            We drove back to Brno that Tuesday for the embryo retrieval and stayed at the Holiday Inn due to their reviews of having the best beds in Brno.  We haven’t had much luck with a comfortable bed thus far, though to our surprise they did indeed have the best beds in Brno.   And best of everything else too, but of course, everything seemed to be a surcharge and very expensive.  Totally worth it though, because up until then I had been suffering from a mild case of insomnia.  The next day Jill underwent the egg retrieval under general anesthesia for approximately 10 minutes.  During the procedure our doctor was able to aspirate 11 eggs (oocytes). 
The next day, the clinic informed us that 9 of the 11 eggs were mature and suitable for attempted fertilization.  They work on fertilizing these 9 eggs with first using a procedure called PICSI to collect the best of the best of my little guys and then used ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection) to fertilize the eggs, and 7 of the eggs did indeed fertilize and became embryos.  On Friday, day 2, we received another update on our embryos. (Embryos that are developing properly should have 2-4 cells by the second day and continue to multiply from there.)  Of our 7, one stopped developing.  Though 5 of the remaining embryos have 4 cells and one has 3 cells.  So they are all potentially viable!

            Each day until we do the embryo transfer we will get an email of an update on our little guys, or girls.  The clinic actually uses embryo monitoring to visually inspect the stages embryonic development, and we get a DVD copy once completed.  Tomorrow will be day 3 and our embryos should have 6-8 cells to complete week 1 of IVF journey abroad.  Week 2 will have the exciting conclusion of the embryonic development and the adventures that come along with doing IVF abroad.

Monday, August 12, 2013

IVF Abroad - The Plan

            The great lengths that we subject ourselves to in order to achieve life goals result is a test of human fortitude.  Whether it’s scholastic, endurance, personal challenge, or even infertility, a similar outlook remains the same, to gaze upon the finish line.  With any challenge though, there is always the subtle undertone of failure that lurks in the idle mind, so this is why we train; to stay focused, conditioned, and goal oriented.  As with infertility, an adversity that directly affects both individuals in the relationship is met with the same spirit and fortitude that any life changing event has the tendency to create.  Of course with any obstacle in life unfortunately we often face scrutiny from our peers and loved ones, usually innocent in nature, but sometimes hurtful nonetheless.  Comments typically range from, “oh you just need to relax and it will happen.” Or my personal favorite, “just go out and get drunk.  That’s how I got pregnant.”  These types of insinuations lead me to believe that some people don’t even realize that they are indeed blessed.  All the while this disease is affecting 1 in 8 couples, but yet, infertility remains underrated and unappreciated by health care and health insurance alike.   However, like many diseases, infertility is not life threatening, but it is life altering.  The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines disease as: a condition of the living animal or plant body of one or more of its parts that impairs normal functioning and is typically manifested by distinguishing signs and symptoms.  By this definition it would appear to me that infertility is the diminishing function of the reproductive system, and thus a disease.  And yes I can see that a 45 year old woman having trouble conceiving can be suffering from aging, not infertility.  Though in our case and many others, Jill and I are still young, healthy, and been trying for a long time.  So please, next time don’t tell me I should just adopt.  Adoption should be a choice, not caused from unfortunate circumstances.  We want to explore all options before adoption is necessary, because we also need resolution and the clarity that only comes from knowing you did all you can to conceive.   In other words, this is not the end of the road for us; it’s the beginning of a new chapter.
               So we bought our plane tickets with Delta Airlines and will be traveling for our European IVF journey on August 28th through September 18th.  Our adventure begins at Denver International Airport at 8:20AM.  We bought modestly priced tickets, so to be expected, there are some speed bumps along the way.  We fly from Denver to Cincinnati where we change planes and have a 3 hours and 45 minute connection time.  At 4:40PM we leave Cincinnati to arrive at JFK in New York where we change planes once again and have a 1 hour and 20 minute wait.  At 8:10PM we finally leave America to arrive in Prague, Czech Republic at 10:40AM the next day with a total travel time of 18 hours and 20 minutes.  Jill and I decided it would be best to rent an economy car, something comparable to a ford focus, and drive from Prague down to Brno where ReproGenesis is located.  We have already made reservations at Orea Hotel Voronez in Brno, and during that time Jill is scheduled to have an ultrasound on Aug. 29th and Sept. 2nd.  Tentatively on Sept. 5th is the egg retrieval and sperm collection. 
               TVOR (transvaginal oocyte retrieval) is the technique used under general anesthesia to remove oocytes (immature ovum, or egg cell) from the ovaries, enabling fertilization outside the body.  With the use of ultrasound to guide a needle through the vaginal wall and into an ovarian follicle, our doctor will carefully aspirate follicular fluid containing the oocytes.  The procedure will then be repeated on the other ovary with the hopes of having several quality eggs to choose from, and if we are really lucky to freeze any extra embryos for future use.  Before all this happens though, the ovaries need to be pharmacologically suppressed and then hyper stimulated.  The treatment started with one birth control pill a day from July 30th- Aug.14th.  From Aug 15th- 18th Jill will take two birth control pills a day plus prednisone and a massive dose of folic acid every day.  On Aug. 19th Jill ceases the birth control but continues folic acid and the uses prednisone to suppress the immune system, because in an IVF pregnancy the body may consider the embryo to be a foreign invader and declare war upon our embryo.  On Aug. 22nd her period will come.  Then Jill starts daily injections of 225 iu gonal-f to hyper stimulate her ovaries on Aug. 24th, which will continue through Aug. 29th.  On Aug. 30th in the Czech Republic Jill will have an ultrasound and adjust medications accordingly, though will receive some injections of orgalutran, to keep her from ovulating to soon.   On Sept. 4th Jill will receive a shot of HCG to trigger ovulation, and TVOR is typically preformed 34-36 hours after HCG injection.  Assuming Jill will be wiped out after her invasive procedure, we will go back to the hotel for recuperation.  The next day Jill will be on progesterone in oil injections for 2 weeks daily, and we will be told how many eggs have been fertilized.  The fertilized eggs (zygotes) are carefully cultured as cell division immediately begins, and approximately 5 days after fertilization, the zygote has about 100 cells and is now a blastocyst.    Between day 5 and 7 a healthy blastocyst begins hatching from its outer shell, called the zona pellucid.  This is when the embryo transfer takes place (tentatively Sept. 10), and two of Jill’s best quality blastocysts (assuming we get at least two blastocysts) will be released into her uterus via catheter for the embryos to (hopefully) implant in her uterine lining with the hopes for the embryonic period to begin (the beginning stages of formation.) 
                After IVF our clinic requires a 48 hour bed rest with only getting up to use the bathroom.  With this in mind I insisted on Jill to stay in the nicest hotel Brno had to offer from Sept. 9th-12th, and not mention September 10th being particularly special to us because we exchanged vows on 09/10/11.  So not only for our anniversary, but also implantation we will be staying at the Barcelo Brno Palace, the swankiest place in town, and by looking at the pictures online, I’m not sure if I would want to leave.  Fortunately, Jill and I always believe in having a contingency plan, so we built in 5 extra days after bed rest for any unexpected mishaps or miscalculations with IVF, and of course relaxation and recovery.  So maybe I could talk Jill into staying another night at the Barcelo before we downgrade to a cheaper hotel for the duration of our stay, since she will be bedridden during our anniversary. 

              With high hopes for success we leave from Prague, Czech Republic on September 18, 2013 at 1:25PM.  We arrive back at JFK in New York at 4:38PM.  From there is a 2 hour and 22 minute connection time and then we leave for home at 7:00PM.  We finally arrive in Denver Colorado at 9:31PM with a total travel time of 16 hours and 6 minutes.  In our minds, totally worth it, especially if we come back with a souvenir or two!  Never know, so stayed tuned as the IVF abroad chronicle continues, and as always thank you to everybody that has extended their prayers, support, and sympathies towards our cause.  Your empathy and selflessness helps fill the void in our life.  

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

IVF Abroad - an Introduction

              There have been times in my life that I have been consumed by guilt, anger, confusion, and sadness.  Typically these emotions result in short-term internal dialogues of pessimism and melancholy points of view.  Internal debates on why life is not fair.  These emotions, however, are only temporary.  As they say, “life goes on.”  That is until you have been diagnosed by what some may call a condition, while others refer to it as a disease.  Like any disease, our condition doesn’t just magically disappear; it manifests itself into our lives and consumes our emotions and thoughts daily.  The only disease that affects two people at once: infertility. 

                My wife and I began our journey through Infertility approximately two years ago.  When we married Jill was 35 years old and ready to start her family.  Being 6 years younger I honestly could have waited another year to have children, though Jill instinctively insisted on starting on our honeymoon.  Being concerned about her age and her mother’s infertility, Jill feared that her prediction of infertility would come true.  Of course being completely na├»ve of this lurking disease, I reassured her an innumerable amount of times that there is no need for alarm.  I’m a young healthy guy.  I got this!  Ha, what an idiot.

                A year later I find myself in a doctor’s office filling out a questionnaire about all the lovely details of my past.  How much do they really need to know?  There should be a box to the top right hand corner of the medical screening sheet that says, check here if you are not currently dying.  Once done we were subjected to a slew of test conducted on us, and were referred to a specialist.  At first nothing really seemed to be medically impaired for Jill or I.  Nonetheless, the poking and prodding continued.  The first invasive procedure Jill was subjected to was an HSG (hysterosalpingogram.)   A contrast enhanced exam that examines the reproductive organs.  The test results showed a possible blockage in the left fallopian tube, due to the left ovary not spilling out the contrast in a fashionable manner.  The right tube and ovary had a good report though, however, we had mixed emotions on our prognosis.  We were told about the flush effect the contrast may provide after the HSG.  Being that the contrast acts as a roto rooter for fallopian tubes, cleaning out the menstrual debris from the past two decades.  Well that sounded great at the time, but with no avail, we were back at specialist a few months later.    

                Being 36 now, Jill and I felt more of a sense of emergency to conceive a baby before all the dreaded statistics of conceiving after 35 become a reality.  So our specialist recommended surgery to visually inspect the reproductive organs, and Jill underwent her next invasive procedure, a hysteroscopy: a laparoscopic general anesthesia exam that allows the doctor to correct certain fertility issues.  A day I’d never forget, and think about often.  It started with our RE (reproductive endocrinologist) telling us right before the surgery that there’s a chance he will have to take Jill’s fallopian tubes from the result of the HSG.  Jill and I were shocked because we were lead to believe that this surgery would be at most exploratory, and to clean up any scarring.  It’s scary enough to go under anesthesia for abdominal surgery, but then to tell us something completely different from the consultation right before surgery is horrifying.  Being in the medical field for the past 10 years I have seen some bad bed side manner, but this just seemed unprofessional.  So naturally I said “What are you talking about?  You’re freaking us out man!”  Then he reassured us that it was a last case scenario, and left us to prep for surgery as I sat next to Jill while she lay in her stretcher looking helpless and frigid from only wearing a gown and hair net.  I held her icicle fingers tips and tucked her tightly in with her only blanket. 

                I was eventually ushered to the waiting room where anxiety and boredom slowly crept in.  I tried to entertain my brain with magazines, TV, and IPhone games, but I became more restless as the minutes added up.  About an hour later our doctor came to my rescue of burdening myself with every worst case scenario and gave me the rundown, and a nurse eventually walked me back to the PACU.  Seeing Jill after an elective surgery lying helplessly on a stretcher in the recovery room for us to have a baby made me infinitely sad.  The thought of her diligence and willingness to create our family tugged at my heart.  My cheeks became heavy as they pulled the sides of my mouth down towards my chin.  My eyes felt like reservoirs, holding back my emotions.  However, I stood strong as possible to give Jill the support she needed.  “The surgery went well,” I said.  “The doctor believes we will be able to conceive with a low tech solution.”  A sign of relief came across her face as I held her hand, and she sighed from the anesthesia wearing off and pain increasing. 

                Jill’s surgery results revealed that the HSG was a false positive and both of Jill’s tubes were completely clear after all; however, the surgeon did remove all the endometriosis he found.  A moderate amount of scarring at best, and the best news we have had in a while.  The specialist recommended that we do IUI (intrauterine insemination) as soon as possible, due to the endometriosis can start to come back within six months.  So a few months later Jill followed through with her next “low tech” invasive procedures.
                To successfully conduct an IUI, first you need to hyper stimulate your ovaries with the drug Clomid.  During our first IUI, Jill took Clomid from days 3-7 of her cycle and was then given a shot of Menopur on day 9.  At an ultrasound on day 12 the nurse told Jill there was only one follicle developing on her left side.  This was disappointing as she normally ovulates every month – to take all those meds and only get one follicle was the worst case scenario since she would already normally produce a follicle anyways.  This is when we started wondering if our RE was the best option for us.  When Jill went back two days later for her next ultrasound, another nurse showed her two big follicles on the right side and one still on the left.  How the first nurse missed two follicles was beyond us but definitely a cause for concern.  With three good-looking follicles on day 14, the nurse gave Jill a shot of a huge dose of HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) – the pregnancy hormone that forces ovulation during IUIs.  The next two days the sperm were washed, counted, and placed directly into the uterus via catheter.  That is if the nurse can find the cervix and push through it without spending too much time hunting and pecking, which apparently I’m told is very uncomfortable.   Jill was then prescribed progesterone twice daily every 12 hours vaginally for the remainder of the cycle and into the first trimester to reduce the risk of a miscarriage.  Not only progesterone is taken in an uncomfortable manner, but it is the also the hormone that gives women PMS before their period.  So in other words, they don’t call it “progesterage” for nothing. 

                After fertilization there is a two week wait for a positive pregnancy test to appear, and the first one we’ve ever seen together.  Jill was so excited to finally see a positive test, however faint at the time; so she peed on a new test strip six more times over the course of the weekend.  Each one becoming darker and darker as the pregnancy hormones began to populate her body.  A weight had been lifted off of us and I just simply look up, smiled, and said, “thank you.” 

                The next day her blood was drawn to confirm the pregnancy and her HCG level was at 22.  Two days later the HCG measured 15 (in a healthy pregnancy it should approximately double every 48 hours), and last blood draw on the fifth day was 14.  A positive indicator for a chemical pregnancy and an extremely sad, confusing, and overall depressing day for us.  What torment my wife had to endure.  After several failed months, surgery, meds, procedures, and appointments we’ve got good news for one day.  Then our fertilized egg which could have become the child we’ve been working towards ceased to live.  Surprising, however, this supposedly happens all the time and women have no idea that they were even pregnant or had a miscarriage.  That is unless you are struggling with infertility, and are all too aware of how difficult it is to conceive.  How guilty you become from the self interrogation of your past and how anything could be linked to this short coming.  The confusion of why this would happen to us when we’ve tried hard to be healthy, balanced, and positive.  The void and disconnect from lack of answer for unexplained infertility ultimately conjures my worst emotion: anger.  If this is a test, I don’t think I’m passing, or even learning from it.  I’m just too upset.

                As they say, “life goes on.”  My wife and I waited two months for the second IUI due to the doctor’s request.  We used the same protocol, though Jill only had two follicles, one on each side.  She was triggered on day 12, and we waited for two weeks.  Jill once again began her progesterone regimen, however, to no avail, we were unsuccessful.  The next month we tried our third IUI and we enhanced the protocol.  This time Jill stilled received a 100 mg of Clomid on days 3-7, though we did two Menopur injections on days 3 and 6.  There were 2-3 follicles for the HCG injection on day 10, with progesterone after ovulation.  Then begun the agonizing two week wait.  We tried our best to stay happy and healthy, but we were let down once more.  After this we naturally felt a little defeated, however, Jill and I don’t give up that easily, and during our ordeal we managed to save the money needed to do the high tech solution. 

                IVF (in vitro fertilization) is the process by which an egg is fertilized by sperm outside the body.  A high tech and high price elective procedure to conceive our biological baby to fulfill our dreams and aspirations of joining our hearts and souls in harmony to raise our child with love, respect, and good Christian values.  This is our goal in life, and I’m guessing some people with children who are reading this right now are probably saying to themselves, “ok, good luck.”  Though unless you have been down this rocky road, and come out on the other end with more love and respect for your spouse than ever before, I can see how some may find it hard to understand how overcoming adversity in life and marriage molds you into a better person and lover.  I wouldn’t necessary say this experience has been humbling, but a true test of character for sure.    However, fortunately, in life tough times don’t last, just tough people do.

                We decided to break away from our current RE and look into highly specialized IVF fertility clinics.  We found numerous clinics in the nation and around the world.  Ironically the best IVF clinic in the nation is about 30 minutes from our house.  Though one cycle of elective IVF would cost us between 20 and 25 thousand dollars, and unfortunately that’s just too expensive for only one cycle.  Always believing in a having a contingency plan, we looked elsewhere, though found the same results.  Any clinic with a good success rate would break our bank without any chances of doing a second cycle if needed.  Then Jill found our clinic, which seemed a little unorthodox at first, but the price and success rates were right for us.  ReproGenesis in Brno, Czech Republic, a highly rated and specialized clinic for reproductive medicine.  The cost of IVF at Reprogenesis is 2000 euros (2654 dollars), plus 500 euros (664 dollars) for advanced embryo monitoring, a technology only beginning to see use in the best clinics in the US.  Add in the cost of medications (about 1500 dollars) and it still adds up to significant savings.  With Jill’s parents showing enormous generosity they offered to buy our round trip plane tickets for just over 2000 dollars.  So with travel, lodging, food, IVF, and a little sightseeing we have estimated that we will spend at most 10,000 dollars.

                Whether it’s greed, governing bodies, supply and demand, or health care that drives the cost of IVF in America to be the highest in all developed counties, not sure, but Jill and I are adding to the statistic of 40% of Americans traveling aboard for reproductive medicine.  We just want the same insurance as the other pioneers of infertility, the ability to afford a highly rated clinic and second cycle if needed before age really becomes an issue.  Not to mention the six month window Jill was given before her endometriosis starts to reappear.  Europe is also specializing in new practices and procedures that increase the chances of conceiving by 10%, which have only recently begun to be used in some clinics in the US.  So a little extreme, some may think so, however, we are willing to do what it takes.  Besides, anything worth having in this life is worth working for.   

                Originally this blog was intended for our family to catch them up to speed with some insight into our personal lives; however, I thought it would be appropriate to share our story with friends as well.  This is our journey through infertility from my point view, and with reading other people’s blogs and stories of infertility, our journey fails in comparison to the horrors some people are subjected to.  We feel blessed that we have had relatively uncomplicated ordeal.  It could be way worse.  Nonetheless, we also always find time to laugh, love, live, and appreciate life even when the stress becomes overwhelming.  A trick that took a while to learn, but yet, I’m sure I’ll never master.  I want to thank everybody that has given us kind words and encouragement throughout the past two years, and for letting me vent from time to time.  A big shout out to my co-workers in MRI that have adjusted their lives for three weeks to allow Jill and I to explore IVF in the Czech Republic.  Also Jill and I will be writing daily in Europe and plan on posting a blog at the end of every week of all updates, adventures, and shortcomings.  So stay tuned as the saga continues, because as they say “life goes on.”