This morning Mr. Husband and I went to the third and final RE in our area. Honestly, I went in with low expectations.
As we drove the 3/4 of a mile to the office Mr. Husband said, “Well, he sure gets an A+ for location.” I could not argue there. We could walk to his clinic, which is good since we only have one car. When we arrived we were the only people in a poorly decorated waiting room with uncomfortable seats. The receptionist, though, was very sweet and took care of things promptly and professionally.
We waited less than 10 minutes (unheard of in infertility land!) and were taken back to a room with two sofas, two comfy chairs and some IVF literature. I appreciated not having to spend the consultation on a table with my pants off.
A nurse came in to take my history and was very sweet and understanding of my strange medical history. After she left I could hear her briefing the doctor on my case. No one laughed at my problems and no one speculated anything super scary. I liked that she spent time explaining everything to him.
Then Dr. A came in. I was first struck by how very tall he was. Mr. Husband is 6 foot 4 inches so it takes a REALLY tall man to trump him. Dr. A also had a great head of thick hair that made me wonder, “Is there anyway we can get his hair gene added to our embryo?”*
Dr. A was very thorough in discussing our options. I explained how I hyper stimulated on just 75 iu of Gonal-F and then had a poor response to 37.5 iu. He said he would recommend the same protocol that he does with his egg donors. We would use Ganirelix and Gonal-F to produce as many eggs as possible with no worry about OHSS. I would then trigger with Lupron, retrieve the eggs, fertilize them and freeze all the embryos. One to two months later, after my ovaries had calmed down, we would do FET’s.
This protocol makes me really sad because there is a lower chance of success with a FET. However, both Dr. A and Dr. Hope are adamant about avoiding OHSS again. Dr. A explained that OHSS with pregnancy is even more serious and he would fear a potentially life-threatening situation based on my history. Mr. Husband and I agreed with him. This is just how my body is and no amount of fussing is going to change that.
Dr. A was optimistic that we might be lucky enough to get 20 + mature eggs from my crappy ovaries. In a perfect scenario, we could have enough embryos on ice that we never have to do this again. His clinic is also open to shipping our remaining embryos wherever Mr. Husband gets a job in the fall.
Then we got to the price tag. Let me first say that I did really good this time around and did not start to melt down at the talk of dollars. I am not one to drop large sums on money, especially on something that has a low rate of success. At Dr. A’s clinic, one round of IVF without medications will run me $8,250.00. Unlike many other clinics, this includes ICIS. For me, medications should be right at and additional $1,500. The additional cost to freeze the embryos is $600.
Each FET cycle will be $2,200.
I have no idea how this stacks up against other states and clinics. I know that it is more than Dr. Hope would charge, but I also realize that Dr. Hope has not performed IVF in several years. Dr. A does this on a regular basis. This is a really tough decision – I really like Dr. Hope as a person, but I don’t want to wait an indefinite amount of time for his clinic to open. I also don’t feel good about being his first IVF patient in a number of years. I do believe that practice makes perfect.
We talked with Dr. A about the shared risk programs and he gave us his honest opinion about them. The physicians he knows offering shared risk often boast that they never give money back. They choose the women who are the most likely to successfully conceive and carry a baby and then sell them a procedure that is twice the regular price. When they take home a baby the first try the doctor walks away with an extra $10k in his pocket. Dr. A said he, personally, has ethical qualms with this system. He said he considered offering it for a long time, but no matter how he spun it, he just did not feel comfortable with it. “I prefer to sleep well at night knowing I’m doing the honest thing,” he said.
I see Dr. A’s point, and if I were in his shoes I would probably feel the same way. However, no one knows how my body will react to an embryo. I also feel like having the “insurance” of shared risk will make the cycles less stressful. As I type those words I know, in my heart, that even with a 100% guarantee that this will work and I will bring home a long-legged, thin haired, dorky baby I would still be tremendously stressed. No amount of money can buy peace of mind. With that in mind, is it worth the hassle of working with a clinic an hour and a half away from home to have a shared risk program?
Mr. Husband and I gathered our things and made the pilgrimage to the checkout window to pay another $200 for another consultation. “We have a lot to discuss and decide,” I muttered. “Yeah…” he said.
As we paid I looked into the waiting room and saw one woman waiting. “Gosh it is quiet here! Is it always this quiet or is it just like this on consultation days?” I asked.
The receptionist looked in my eyes and said, “It is always quiet here. We NEVER over book.”
Once in the safety of the car Mr. Husband and I agreed that we liked Dr. A, we liked his protocol as much as anyone would like a FET and we like that the clinic is less than a mile from our house. The real sell, though, is that they never over book. Can you imagine an IF cycle without countless hours of waiting for your doctor? My brain has a hard time wrapping itself around that!
We have a few weeks to decide still. What do you all think? How do you feel about FETs? Do you know anyone who has done a cycle like this to avoid OHSS? I would value your thoughts.
* Mr. Husband and I have terribly thin, boring hair. I spend a lot of time coloring mine and styling it and Mr. Husband spends a lot of time talking to his, asking it to please stay rooted on his head and not move south to take new residence on his back. Our child is doomed in the hair department.