The Journey to IVF

Monica standing at a metro stop in DC.

*This post talks about the most recent events leading to IVF. These events happened in 2019.

It was a sunny day in southern California. In June 2019, I sent the email. This was the inquiry about starting the process of IVF at Walter Reed in Bethesda, MD. Here I was 10 years after first contacting them. I was sure I’d just need to let them know I was back and ready to go again. I’d already been accepted once. Turns out that wasn’t the case. As can be expected, government facilities are full of bureaucracy and this was no different. It took a few months to get the required tests done for myself and my husband. I had to have a letter from my doctor stating that I needed fertility treatments. That was the silliest part of it all. They already knew this. My doctor was less than happy to do this and charged me to send the letter. Time for a new doctor. We also had to do a battery of blood tests including genetic testing. My husband had to have a sperm analysis and I had to have a hysteroscopy. My weight also had to be below a certain BMI which it hadn’t been for years. 

I had worked for months to get in the shape I needed to be in and was finally there. It’s hard to stay positive about your body when you’re happy with it but the doctors insist you’re not fit to carry. It’s a complex situation for another day. Walter Reed isn’t the only facility I contacted. There is this amazing doctor who works with patients with a higher BMI. I found her while reading a blog post about success with IVF and obesity. I met with Dr. Ghazal and it was an amazing visit. She happened to be in Southern California which meant we’d be able to easily do treatments without having to fly across the country. Her medical suite was what I’d envisioned in my dreams. Soft music. Bottled water. California coastline. I felt supported and seen. I had all of these warm and fuzzy feelings in the very first visit. 

There was a problem though. She didn’t accept my insurance. Not even for office visits. I had to pay out of pocket for the initial consultation. Even more, I’d have to pay out of pocket for everything including medications and the procedure we knew my husband would have to undergo. As lovely as this opportunity would have been, the cost is 3 times what it would be at Walter Reed…even with the flights and hotel stays. So, we officially settled on Walter Reed. 

There were just so many tests to do. Not only did I have to have bloodwork done, but I also had to have it done on certain cycle days. This on top of the fact that I was working at Disneyland in the summer season. Thankfully, I was able to work out all of my appointments. If you’ve never had a hysteroscopy, I promise you’re not missing a thing. It wasn’t required but my doctor recommended it over the saline sonogram. She was able to do the hysteroscopy in office and I’d have to be referred for the saline sonogram. I trusted her judgment but now wish I would have gone the other route. It wasn’t the worst experience of my life but it definitely wasn’t pleasant. If you follow me on Instagram, you may have prayed for me or sent me good thoughts without even knowing why. Last year, I mentioned a procedure that I had to have and just asked for prayers, good vibes, and comforting thoughts. I know you all came through because the procedure went well despite the hiccups.

A hysteroscopy is when a camera is inserted into your uterus through the cervix. You read that right. In order to get the camera in there, I had to have my cervix dilated. I was prescribed medication to take the night before the procedure that would tell my cervix to dilate enough to get the camera in and was warned that it might be uncomfortable. I took ibuprofen as recommended along with the prescribed medication and attempted to get some sleep. Imagine the worst cramps of your life. It was a super deep tightening and discomfort that I got no relief from. I barely slept. Apparently, it’s like back labor. Fitting. After a restless night, I awoke and got ready for my appointment.

Camera to be inserted during the hysteroscopy.
The camera to be inserted is on the left.

I arrived at the doctor’s office on time and was called back. I was so nervous. The doctor had warned me that this would be painful. Those were her words. PAINFUL. I have a high tolerance for pain but I don’t want to have to endure any more than needed. My blood pressure was elevated and I admitted to the nurse that I was extremely nervous. Some valium would have been nice. After waiting another 20 minutes, the doctor brought me back. She let me know there was a problem. Great. A piece she needed was missing. They rigged a system to try and get everything to work. There were about 5 women in the room holding various pieces of the makeshift contraption while I was spread eagle on the table with my feet in stirrups and my lady bits free as a bird. The good news, everything looked great and the pain was very tolerable albeit uncomfortable. The bad news, the printer wasn’t working. She wouldn’t be able to get the images needed. She assured me she’d be able to write a report and that this should be acceptable. I was just hoping I didn’t go through all of that for nothing. I got up, got dressed, and looked at the bloody mess that was left behind. Thank GOD that was over.

In even better news, my husband was able to meet with a great urologist. He was much more positive and had no doubt we’d be able to find sperm via surgery. We were both really excited. The consult 10 years earlier left us feeling lost and discouraged but this new doctor gave us new hope. 

Everything was finally done. I sent off our final results for everything and we were welcomed into the program. We were officially on the road to parenthood. Our next step was to head to the orientation out in DC. 

We visited DC in December 2019 for orientation. It was nice to be back in familiar territory. It was cold though. So, so cold. Our only obligation there was a day at Walter Reed for appointments and orientation. The orientation was at 7 am. We were in from the west coast so that’s even earlier to our bodies. Our hotel was about 45 minutes away in the city of DC so we had to get up super early so we’d have time to get on the Metro and get to Walter Reed on time. We did it though. I was so sleepy. I barely stayed awake despite my readiness to start this journey. I won’t lie. That orientation was awful. It was just a bunch of PowerPoints that could have been done virtually. They were able to answer questions but I was too tired to ask any.

My husband also met with the urologist. His appointment was very informative. She informed him of the recommended procedure, a TESE, and let him know that we really wouldn’t know anything until she got him into surgery. We remained hopeful though. In my mind, there was no doubt we’d find sperm. We did have to be realistic. The truth is, we had no clue. 

Tickets to A Christmas Carol

We still had a few days left in DC so we decided to take in a show. One of our favorite things to do is go to plays and musicals. We were fortunate enough to find tickets to A Christmas Carol at Ford’s Theatre. The one where Lincoln…visited. I loved the performance because there was a multicultural cast. Ebenezer Scrooge was played by a Black man! We also took some time to meet with a local DC family we are close with. Overall, the trip was a good one. It was a nice getaway for such a great reason.

The next step was to pay and get scheduled. We did that and we got a date for our baseline appointment…April 22, 2020.

Love always, Monica

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