Journey To the Finish Line

PR's, 4 children, hopes and dreams; I'm always running after something



National Infertility Awareness Week – The Cost of Infertility

I’m putting a couple regularly scheduled posts on hold this week (except for my weekly twins update) in order to participate in National Infertility Awareness Week. This years theme revolves around the idea of “resolving to know more”.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, fertility treatments are not cheap.

The American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) lists the average price of an in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle in the U.S. to be $12,400. (ASRM does not qualify if this includes medications.) We sought to find the price of intrauterine insemination (IUI), one IVF cycle using fresh embryos, and the additional charges for intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) and preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) (where offered) from a cross section of clinics throughout the U.S. We called and e-mailed clinics that did not list prices on their websites, and discovered that some clinics generally do not give cost information over the phone (but they did for this story). When clinics do list the prices on their website, the information is clear and easy to understand, without many exclusions or disclaimers. RESOLVE encourages all clinics to post updated pricing on their websites.

  • Average cost of an IUI cycle: $865; Median Cost: $350
  • Average Cost of an IVF cycle using fresh embryos (not including medications): $8,158; Median Cost: $7,500
  • Average additional cost of ICSI procedure:$1,544; Median Cost: $1,500
  • Average additional cost of PGD procedure: $3,550; Median Cost: $3,200
    (Note: Medications for IVF are $3,000 $5,000 per fresh cycle on average.)

Several interesting trends in clinic pricing have surfaced:

  • In areas with few infertility clinics, prices, on average, are higher
  • High cost of living does not equate to high treatment costs
  • IUI prices ranged from $275 to $2,457—a huge differential. Some prices quoted include medications, blood work and sonograms; others do not—hence the huge price differential.
  • ICSI prices across the country are within $500 of each other—$1,000 to $1,500.

Our total cost, including initial docs visits, tests, medications, one IUI and one IVF cycle was 17,000+. And many spend much much more.

(Info taken from the resolve website.)

Finances aren’t the only expense though. To give an example of this I’m going to resurrect/link back to one of my old posts written before we started our IVF cycle on The Cost of Infertility.


You Can’t Beat Me (Joining the Movement – NIAW)

National Infertility Awareness Week is drawing to a close. Yesterday a fellow blogger on Twitter posed a very interesting question (and I am paraphrasing) asking how many of us with infertility who have kids (regardless of how) feel like they beat infertility?

My immediate response (in my head) was ME! YEAH! TAKE THAT INFERTILITY! (admittedly my head response also contained profanity) And then I put down my boxing gloves and thought about it for a minute. The truth is, the answer to that question is not at all cut and dry.

Personally I’ve felt that 1-2 children would be enough to make our family feel complete, and so when our successful IVF turned into a twin pregnancy part of me was VERY relieved that there was a decent possibility that we wouldn’t have to fight this battle again. For most people, though, a child doesn’t signify the end of the struggle. Often, an attempt for a second child, something that is still very easy for most, starts the whole process of emotions and frustration all over again. Whatever the method, it brings up all of the questions you thought the first time: how long is this going to take? How many cycles? How much money? How much heartache? Will it work at all? Can we afford adoption again? Can we afford surrogacy again? Can we afford more donor eggs?

Then my thoughts jump to the place where we all started: those who are still childless and still struggling through round one. The ones that read a blog like this and think to themselves be thankful you have even one child. I know this because I thought it not too terribly long ago. Not because I didn’t get that the struggle continued but because I would have given anything to have even one. Happy for them but still sad for me. Even those who have completed their families or have made their decision to stop treatments and remain child free after months or years of heartbreak- they are often left with unwanted reminders in the form of continued irregular cycles thanks to PCOS ovaries or no ovulation at all,  pain from endo, or whatever dysfunction of the system that caused the issue in the first place.  Without all of that, there are always memories. And Mother’s Days.

Doesn’t make infertility sound very beat-able.

Childhood was a bit awkward for me. I had big poofy hair and until high school when I joined band didn’t really have a group I fit into. I was teased through all of elementary school, some of middle school and even a little into high school because wasn’t I lucky getting a locker next to one of the kids who had teased me all through elementary school. Bullying is not something I have or ever will take lightly. I struggled with body image, disordered eating and depression in college. I’m not saying I blame these kids for that as I was also generally just a very sensitive kid and person. The point is that I pushed through it. I survived. I am living a life that I am proud of. It took awhile, but in the end I didn’t let the bully beat me.

One of the things I admire and respect the most about my fellow infertility sufferers is their strength, their determination, their resilience and refusal to give up. They struggle, their relationships struggle and their finances struggle and regardless of where the path leads them: to a child or a decision to remain childless, they continue to stand strong. They find a way to not only survive, but live.

In the end, do I feel like I have beaten infertility? Do I feel like most of us would feel like we’ve beaten infertility? No.

But we won’t let it beat us.


*For more information please visit:

Infertility Overview

About NIAW


Twelve Percent (NIAW)

National Infertility Awareness Week kicked off a few days ago. Anyone who has read this blog for any length of time knows infertility is something I feel passionate about. The fact that its the same week I start my maternity leave is just ironic.

Twelve percent.

On a normal basis inclusion in a somewhat special, different or elite group would excite me.

Graduating in the top 10% of my high school graduating class. And above a certain grade point average in college and grad school.

Percent of people in the US who have run a half marathon: 17% (though not 100% sure about this stat, it was harder to find) (source)

Percent of people in the US who have run a marathon: .05% (source)

Graduating at the top 10% of my high school class isn’t really as relevant anymore, but I have to say that it feels satisfying knowing I’ve done something that only .05% of others have done.

Percent of couples who suffer from infertility: 12%

I got included in this group, too.

I read back through several old blog posts I wrote during our IVF cycle, and doing so brought back many memories of worry, anxiety, hope and fear. And this was during a time where we were given the best odds of achieving a pregnancy, meaning that I had the most hope of any other attempt and yet still felt mostly fearful. It is difficult for someone who has not been there to understand, and I get that, because I remember some comments I made while younger and totally uninterested in children at the time, and just how insensitive they would have been to the wrong person. I, too, am guilty of saying stupid things. I won’t deny that.

We finished the nursery recently, and as it was being put together I spent a good deal of time resting, sitting in the glider and looking at everything in awe. I felt amazed and grateful, like I couldn’t believe it was in our house. That this monster belly houses two babies. That the constant jiggling I feel is their movement. I remembered what we went through to get here.

Around 90% of couples are able to get pregnant on their own within the first year. The rest who haven’t then usually begin to seek treatment. Many are unsure where to start. I got a bit of a jump on our situation because I had always had irregular cycles and asked for some testing during  a routine visit. My hormone levels were all normal, but it was discovered that I had a blocked tube. Nevertheless I was told “you only need one”. One didn’t work. We sought out a fertility specialist and discovered that due to testosterone replacement therapy, hubby had no sperm. And that the chances of recovery were not guaranteed. Several months of further testing lead to some sperm but only enough for the mack daddy: IVF. A VA hospital endocrinologist put him on a regimen of other hormones which did at one point raise his count to within normal limits nearly 8 months later. But then my blocked tube issue got in the way. We set up and postponed two IVF cycles before diving in, trying and hoping for a miracle naturally in the meantime.

It never happened.

There were hundreds of days counted, ovulation sticks used and prayers sent up. Hundreds of runs used to rid myself of the frustration. Many conversations about whether my desire to have children or my relationship was more important because it became such an obsession. Much bickering when not enough attempts were made during that critical window allowing us to have the best chance. Depression.  Tens of thousands of dollars. Damaged and nearly damaged friendships. 3 years. Jealousy. Lots of jealousy.

Thousands of tears.

And in the end we were lucky. We needed only one IVF cycle. So many attempt cycle after cycle without success and continue to push through. It is a feat that I cannot imagine. We may be nearing the light at the end of the tunnel  but it doesn’t mean we come out on the other side unscathed. This 12% is not a group I would have elected to add to my list and yet that is how it happened.

Pardon my mouth when I say this: this shit is no joke. And if you happen to know someone going through it, just keep that in mind.

We will never forget.

For more information (if you are going through infertility or just want to learn more), visit Resolve’s website. They can probably  manage to explain it without the use of curse words. 🙂

NIAW: Dont Be Sally – A Lesson in Infertility Etiquette

Disclaimer: I have not personally been on the receiving end of all of the comments below. This post is meant to bring awareness, but is also meant to be a tongue-in-cheek post. This is not meant to make anyone feel badly. This is written with the understanding that these comments are intended to be helpful. If I have insulted you, I apologize. However, I am blunt. I will not apologize for that. Here’s the thing: I get that you can’t know our situation unless we tell you. But once you do know, please just try to be sensitive. Just like you wouldn’t want me telling you to just relax when you find out you lost your job or say that “your loved one is in a better place” after suffering a loss.

Every infertile knows a Sally. (name not chosen for any particular reason)

Every infertile has a list of suggestions or comments that make us cringe. I personally rate them at three levels:

1. Eye roll – the mildly annoying but forgivable. These include:

  • “Just relax and it’ll happen” – yeah, tried that
  • “Oh my gosh if I even LOOK at my husband I get pregnant” – great for you
  • “Just get drunk and it’ll happen” *cough* tried that *coughstumble*
  • “Take a vacation and it’ll happen” – first, you have to take a vacation at the right time of the month, and if you happen to be like us and trying to save for an IVF, we can’t afford the vacation. Trust me, we WANT a vacation! (and may be able to get both thanks to IVF Vacations!)

2. Huge sigh – the moderately annoying but forgivable if its understood it came from the right place

  • “Just adopt” – I GET where this one comes from, and unless you’ve had any education on what adoption entails, it seems like a fair suggestion. I’ve considered adoption and in fact would like to adopt in the future. Just not right now. Adoption, however, is extremely costly, time consuming, and overwhelming. You have to go through a home study, a background check, answer questions about your relationship etc.  There are no match guarantees. They can fail just like fertility treatments. On top of that, you really have to be READY in mind, body and soul before taking that step. Just try putting yourself in our shoes – if the children you gave birth to never existed and someone said this to you, would you be ready?
  • “Just do an IVF” – although this is our current plan, sometimes I want to say “Ok great, you willing to give us 15k?”
  • “Take mine for a day – you’ll reconsider” – really? REALLY?
  • “Just be glad you get to sleep in” – I wake up at 6am on weekends anyway. Plus, come on!

3. Death stare  – did you seriously just say that?

  • “Maybe you aren’t meant to be a mother”
  • “Maybe that’s just the way it’s supposed to be” – I’m sorry, who died and made YOU God?

So back to Sally. (conversation is fictional)

You’re at a gathering, glass of wine in hand (thankfully), when Sally,who is more than likely no more than an aquaintence, walks up and starts a conversation. It begins honest enough. She introduces her husband and you introduce yours. You talk about how you met. She shows you pictures of her kids (probably on her Iphone – who has wallet pics anymore?) and then asks the infamous question – “so, do you have any kids?”

I’m an open person, so I typically respond something to the effect of “we’re trying, but haven’t had much luck”.

“Oh my Gosh!” Sally says, “if my husband even LOOKS at me I get pregnant. I mean, I was barely off the pill and BOOM!”

You stare, unsure of how to respond. She continues.

“You know what you should do? Just drink that wine and go get it on! You’ll get pregnant in no time. Just relax!

At this point I usually offer more detail – it’s been several years,we have a condition, etc.

“Oh, well why don’t you just adopt? Or do IVF? Technology is so crazy these days”

Insert short blurb about expense and stress of IVF and adoption here.

Oh, well don’t worry, you’re young, just enjoy being able to sleep in. It will happen when its meant to. In the meantime, you can take my kids for a couple of days – you might change your mind then! Maybe you are meant for something else – maybe this is the way its supposed to be.”

By the end of that conversation Sally has been on the receiving end of 3 eye rolls, 3 huge sighs and 1 death by stare.

Don’t be a Sally.

Death by stare is no fun.

For more information

NIAW – Dont Ignore….Your Strength

This week symbolizes a great deal for those of us pounding our heads against the infertility wall. (So that’s why I have a headache…) This  week, National Infertility Awareness Week, gives us a voice. The theme “Don’t Ignore Infertility”, is meant to bring awareness to others about what Infertility is. While I absolutely believe in the importance of this and will likely publish a couple of posts this week to that effect, I think its more important to start with us – the ones who face this every day.

In the 6 months that I have been blogging, I have read hundreds of stories. Many of us have been at this for years and have suffered multiple miscarriages and failed cycles. We’ve gone through counseling and attended (or avoided) a dozen baby showers. We’ve prayed, we’ve taken our temperature at 5am and taken just about every available natural remedy. We’ve depleted our bank accounts, infertility insurance, and emotions.

And yet we are still standing.

Infertility has a way of leaking into every aspect of our being. Marriages suffer. Vacations go by the wayside. We give up hobbies to allow our bodies to be in an optimal situation, if you will. Something that was taught in school as so simple and natural (and why you should ALWAYS wear protection) suddenly makes no sense. No one taught us that this might be difficult. We feel that mix of emotions when someone announces  a pregnancy that I can only describe as a “happy depression” -happy for the friend who is blessed with a pregnancy, depressed because we have been passed over yet again, especially so when it’s a second or third child.

But we are still blogging.

We’ve ridden the roller coaster of hope, whether through a natural cycle, IUI or IVF. The rollercoaster that finds us high with possibility one moment and crushed with failure the next. We’ve questioned our bodies, our expectations, the way things are “supposed to be”. We find ourselves drying tears and wondering if we want to get on the rollercoaster again – if the ride for the 34th time is really worth it.

Somehow, we are still trying.

If there is one thing I’ve learned from this group of women I have met both in real life and in the blog world, it is that we are incredibly strong.

We don’t really have a choice. There is no way we couldn’t be.

There is no way around it. Infertility sucks. We question. We scream. We cry. But we are still standing, we are still blogging and we are still trying for the chance to have a family, the chance we will all get someday.

This week, during National Infertility Awareness Week – Don’t Ignore Your Strength.

For more information:  (Basic understanding of the disease of infertility.) (About NIAW)

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