Now it’s time to weigh my options. I have enough money (due to a friend’s generosity) to pay for an entire cycle of IVF. After shopping around a bit it seems like most clinics change about the same for a cycle. Because my crappy work health plan doesn’t cover anything IVF related, I’m going private. I’m hoping to get more personalized treatment as opposed to the cattle call I’d get with my HMO.
A lot of women at my job have done IVF or some sort of infertility treatment. I guess this makes sense because I work in law and many of us have waited to have kids due to pursuing our careers. One person took me out for coffee to discuss her IVF history and she connected me with two other women in the office who also went through it. They both asked me out of coffee too and were full of advice, support, and suggestions for where to go. Another colleague, who also did fertility treatments, has offered to help me with injections. And, my boss is amazingly supportive and has assured me time and time again that I should take all the time off that I need to go to appointments. I feel super, duper, lucky (despite my guilt complex about missing work).
I live in the San Francisco Bay Area ( the world of rich tech people) so there are tons of options IVF wise. Two of my co-workers told me about this aggressive doctor ( one called him ” the cowboy “) who specializes in taking on difficult cases with high success rates. He is also someone who has written books, gets quoted in news articles, and is considered on the cutting edge of his field. He is quite a bit more expensive than my various other options so I was going to cross him off the list. But, I noticed he gives free one on one consults and I decided it couldn’t hurt to get some advice.
During our consult the cowboy explained that he is the only doctor that does procedures in the clinic. This means that he does all of the follicle counts, retrievals- so I would have complete continuity of care. He also talked about his philosophy between mind and body and he is a big proponent of acupuncture, meditation, and herbs. He was also adamant that I be gluten and dairy free throughout treatment- especially in the months before the retrieval.
Then we talked about my weight. My BMI is about a 34 ( I weigh 211 pounds) and he said if I can get below a 30 BMI (about 180) it could double my chances at success.
I was upset. I am an extremely fat positive, body loving feminist. I have struggled with loving myself since puberty and swore off dieting a few years ago. The Cowboy was really respectful during this conversation but said he wanted to give me the best chance possible at success. He said he would email some studies to back it up.
His treatment plan was that I go gluten and dairy free for the next few months, have a retrieval, freeze the embryos, and transfer a few months later after my weight was down.
He said based on my FSH (4.1) and other numbers that he thinks I have a good chance of success. I have mild PCOS ( polycystic ovarian syndrome). The cowboy said that while it makes it hard to ovulate, women my age with PCOS respond well to IVF because our bodies produce a lot more eggs than other women our age. He also highly recommended genetic testing of the embryos so we can pinpoint the best possible ones for transfer.
Dr. Cowboy spent over an hour talking to me and answering all of my questions. I just knew I wanted to go with this guy but the cost was about 20% more than other places. I know I am so lucky to even have the option of IVF but it sucks to not be able to go with the doctor that I feel will give me the best shot at becoming a mom.
A few days later I got a packet from the clinic with a bunch of articles the doctor suggested I read. They also had a financial packet that described the various pricing options. I don’t qualify for any of the shared cost plans (where you get a percentage back if it doesn’t work) due to my age and BMI. Ughhh. But then I noticed that they have an IVF Assistance program. After reading all of the materials I realized that I qualify for a 25% discount on all of my treatment (minus a few things). Huzzah! Now my treatment would cost less than my crappy HMO!
I immediately scheduled my antral follicle count (the next step) and started looking at gluten/dairy free recipes. IVF…Ho!!!