Right before I was wheeled back for our retrieval
Morning friends! Today’s post is a lengthy one so I hope you have a big cup of coffee poured and a little bit of time. I’ve shared some about our struggle to conceive, our journey through fertility treatments and our clinic on the blog before but have recently been getting some more detailed questions. So when our clinic, the Colorado Clinic for Reproductive Medicine (CCRM) asked me to partner with them on raising awareness surrounding infertility I jumped at the chance and thought it would be the perfect time to answer your questions! If you haven’t seen much of the backstory you can always check out these posts too. So, let’s dive right in!
How did you know you had infertility and how long did you wait to see a doctor?
We started ‘trying’ like most couples by not trying. It’s crazy how quickly those months start to fly by and after we had ‘tried’ for 12 months we made an appointment with my OB. After seeing her she referred me to a fertility specialist at a clinic in downtown Chicago. After a series of tests and blood work with no findings we were diagnosed with Unexplained Infertility. I think it’s more of a catch all for people who aren’t getting pregnant but for no specific clinical reason.
Did your age have anything to do with your fertility troubles?
When I asked my doctor this she said most likely no. I was 30 years old when we started trying to have a family and obviously your ovarian reserve diminishes as you age but none of the indicators they test for showed that in my case. My AMH was great for my age and I always showed a lot of follicles.
I just want to be careful to not put too much emphasis on age when it comes to fertility. I know women who got pregnant the first month they tried at 40 and women who couldn’t get pregnant at 23. I just don’t want to give the impression that you have to try for a family before you are ready because you may be scared.
As a woman who went to graduate school I wasn’t ready to start a family sooner and that’s okay. While I was struggling to conceive I obviously beat myself up for all of these imagined reasons but everyone’s path is different and that’s okay too. Don’t ever blame yourself.
Why did you choose CCRM and why not stay in Chicago?
Trevor and I were initially seen at a clinic in downtown Chicago that was highly recommended to us and where friends had found success. From the moment I was seen there I was not satisfied. I’ve been honest about the fact that I found the clinic cold, understaffed and impersonal. I honestly felt like an animal that was herded from room to room with large groups of women for testing. It often seemed like no one knew what was going on with my treatment and we never saw the same people. I did one round of IUI there which ended in a miscarriage but after I knew I wouldn’t return.
After a lot of research and talking to friends we decided on CCRM. Trevor and I are both very fact based and one of our biggest struggles with infertility was not having a specific problem to solve. We knew based on data (you can always see fertility clinics unbiased rates on SART) that CCRM was one of the top clinics, delivering some of the highest rates in the industry and had several friends that spoke highly of it. Unlike lots of clinics they have in—house reproductive endocrinologists, embryologists and geneticists. We thought if we went there and didn’t have success we would at least have closure and be able to move forward with another route knowing we had tried with the best. One of my greatest fears was getting stuck in a cycle of treatments with no success.
Which CCRM did you go to? Are there differences?
We went to the first clinic they opened in Lone Tree, Colorado. It’s just a short drive outside of Denver and was an easy flight for us from Chicago. Each location obviously has different doctors and labs but the clinics are all run so well. I know they now have eleven locations in the US and Canada and we have had friends have success at several of them.
Was CCRM covered under insurance or was it out of pocket?
Both. I will preface this by saying no matter where we went our fertility treatments were not going to be covered. Trevor was in residency at Loyola University which is a Jesuit institution and therefore does not believe in IVF nor cover it (even though they have an IVF clinic…don’t get me started on this) so we didn’t have to debate that part of it. CCRM billed our insurance for routine blood work, labs and some testing. We paid out of pocket for travel, medications and fertility procedures. Despite our specific insurance situation they are more of an ‘out of pocket’ clinic. I think this contributes to how efficient and well run the clinic is but that’s just my opinion.
How many times did you have to go to Colorado?
Three! We had a phone call with the doctor prior to scheduling anything. Here’s a little breakdown of how each visit went:
One: This was an initial appointment where we met with the doctor (LOVED her!), had a slew of tests done and toured the clinic. We were blown away at how different the environment and staff were from where we had been previously. We finally felt hopeful and that we made the right decision.
After returning back to Chicago and getting our test results we had a call with our doctor and nurse (everyone has one assigned nurse which is so helpful!) to review them and what they felt was our best option. After that we set up a tentative calendar for stimulation. Medications were ordered and the shots started. You will ‘stim’ for two weeks before you are required to be present in Denver. After this time they want you there because everyone reacts differently to the medication and they don’t want to miss that window for retrieval of your eggs.
Two: This time is the long one! I don’t think most people’s proposed retrieval date is precise due to medication and mine was a few days later than planned. Trevor couldn’t take off weeks of work so my mom came with me. You present to the clinic each morning for blood work and an ultrasound and continue your medications till you are ready. It was nice to be so close to Denver so we could explore the city and keep ourselves busy.
CCRM also does a really great job of looking at the whole picture which I really appreciated. While we were there we also attended a group counseling session that was offered. My mom came with me and we had dinner with the other couples going through stimulation and the clinic therapist. It was so wonderful to connect with them and gave me such peace of mind. When we finally got word that I was ready Trevor flew out and my retrieval was a breeze. We flew back to Chicago and just waited for the news!
This wait period between appointments was tough! You will wait for several calls to see how many follicles survived, then how many fertilized and then how many make it through genetic testing. Once our embryo’s were tested we were able to schedule a transfer date.
Three: You arrive at least a day prior to your transfer and stay two days after on modified bed rest before you go home. It was easy, relaxing (they offer acupuncture before which I wish I had done) and is totally painless. It’s so wild to think back to seeing the embryologist wheel our embryo in and realize that is my sweet Zain.
I have a lot of friends struggling, how can I support them?
This is such a good question and why I love you all so much! I will say it’s a tough spot because it’s so hard to talk about especially with someone not going through it. I think just always be supportive and don’t ask for information unless your friend is ready to talk. Also, if you have several friends who may not know each other going through infertility it may be great to connect them. Obviously ask first but talking with other women in similar situations was SO helpful for me.
How did you tell your parents since they were doing the TWW with you?
My parents were actually the only people that knew we were doing IVF in our family. My mom was traveling with me so there was really no option. Since we had previously done the special announcement thing after we got pregnant from IUI and that ended in a miscarriage we really didn’t want to make a big deal about anything this time around. We were obviously beyond excited but still very cautious and reserved with it all. We told them over the phone and eventually told Trevor’s parents over the phone as well. We didn’t keep things to ourselves to leave people out we just simply didn’t want to talk about it and keeping things quiet was easier.
If you guys have any other questions at all feel free to send me a message or email and I hope this helps continue to open the dialogue!
Waiting to board our first flight to Denver
Back home receiving my first medication delivery
The photo I texted Trevor of the first injection I gave myself (besides IUI but that was nothing) Trevor was working crazy hours and I just wasn’t sure I could do it myself. I finally did it and after the initial fear it got much easier.
Back in Denver with my mom treating ourselves to Mcdonald’s cones 🙂
My medication setup at the extended stay hotel. We rented a car but a lot of the local extended stay hotels have shuttles that go back and forth to the clinic.
On our way to the retrieval after Trevor finally arrived!
Before I was wheeled back for my retrieval
Trevor had to leave right away after my retrieval so mom and I flew back without him later. We were so thankful to finally be heading home!
Excited and eager for our transfer!
I can’t believe looking back that this was my sweet baby! He was ‘hatching’ when we were beginning 🙂
The medication really relaxed me post transfer 😉
This post was sponsored by CCRM to raise awareness around infertility and I couldn’t support that more! Thank you for coming along on this journey with us and for all your love and support!