Here’s our Infertility & Adoption Timeline, now combined, for those who are interested in our story, which I’ve combined the two pages so people can understand how two people can try just about everything within their financial, emotional and physical abilities… and still remain childless.
* January – got off BCP.
* December – officially started “trying” – OPKs, thyroid, etc.
* March – Blood tests: FSH 18, thyroid struggling. IUI/IVF not covered by insurance.
* April – AMH: .1 . Visited doctor who told me I “couldn’t get pregnant with my own eggs” yet recommended 4 rounds of Femara with IUI. Went for a HSG (not painful) – fallopians normal, but uterus is severely retro/tilted (no comment from any doctor – ever – about this my whole life). Began IUI Cycle 1 with Femara (worst bone aches of my life – never again). For unknown reasons RE refused to ultrasound, didn’t respond to attempts to find out why, then left town & office said I had to go to ORM for the procedure.
* May – Researched international adoption and met with a couple who’d adopted from Ethiopia 3X and highly recommended. Met with Adoption Avenues, submitted application with fee. IUI Day: OHSU collected husband’s sperm, report showed great motility, volume, count, viscosity, etc. Naturopath ended up doing IUI as ORM suddenly wasn’t available on the big day, but ND had too big of a catheter so basically just “got close to it”. Ugh. Unsuccessful. Scheduled appt @ NW Fertility – WAY better fit. Seemingly more humanity, empathy, intimate, no sales pitch, small boutique clinic.
* June – Completed 10 hours of adoption education. Mailed USCIS I-600A and Ethiopian embassy dossiers (incl proof of financial, employment and housing status, 6 recommendation letters and DHS & OSP fingerprints) with 1st payment. IUI Cycle 2: added gonadatropins/HCG/progesterone as “last try” (Bravelle), but ultrasound showed only one almost normal egg. IUI incredibly painful due to manual dilation, in severe pain for many weeks. Unsuccessful.
* July – Home Study completed, signed copies received & mailed with I-600A to USCIS for approval. Selected “Proven” Egg Donor from RE’s database (has donated 5X successfully with 2 kids of her own). Began Doxycycline antibiotics.
* August – Received USCIS receipt confirmation & fingerprint appt notification. DEIVF Cycle 1 – BCP. Major yeast infection from antibiotics (took fluco, boric, supps, etc., nothing worked. Only all-types-of-sugar elimination did the trick after 3 months). Started Lupron.
* September – Completed USCIS fingerprinting. Received request from USCIS for more documentation on Dan and because of that, an updated Home Study. Delestrogen shots. Ultrasound: good. Weekly acupuncture + massage.
* October – Agency updated HS & delivered. Mailed updated packet to USCIS. Donor Egg Retrieval + Sperm collection = Insemination. Started Progesterone & Delestrogen IM. 20 eggs retrieved, 20 fertilized, 13 blastocysts!!! Embryo Transfer: 1 “AA” transferred, 12 frozen. Began Estradiol. FAIL.
* November – I-600A approval! Notary for dossier certification @ state capitol. Mailed $/packet to agency for embassy & Ethiopia. Still no period, no ovulation, missed starting Cycle 2 in December because fertility clinics only does transfers every other month (client “batches”).
* December – Dossier arrived in Ethiopia for translation and processing. Started BCP. Still no period.
* January – Dossier translation complete, awaiting referral. Due to political turmoil and MOWA reorg, wait is expected to be longer (2017). Period. DEIVF Cycle 2 – Delestrogen, PIO. Ultrasound: good lining.
* February – Frozen Embryo Transfer – 1 “AA”. Daily PIO, Estradiol. FAIL. Started BCP.
* March – DEIVF Cycle 3 – Delestrogen. Ultrasound normal – 7mm.
* April – Diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma (skin cancer), went through outpatient surgery to have it removed. Started daily PIO injections. FET – 1 “AA”. Daily PIO + Estradiol. FAIL. Tested NK, ANA, thyroid (Results: negative NK & ANA, thyroid off so upped Synthroid). Started BCP.
* May – Agency advised new MOWA staff in place in Addis, activity should resume soon. Endometrial scratch to encourage implantation. Doctor had not told me about this – a nurse at the clinic whispered that I should ask for it.
* June – HS renewal. Now informed us that it’d be 2-4 years til referral/match, and advised wait times post-referral (to bring child home) are currently 14-18 months. Asked if we wanted to change to India which would mean starting over at back of line AND another $15K (they said our $ paid to them so far ‘keeps the orphanages going’ and is NOT transferable – WTF!!). DEIVF Cycle 4 – Delestrogen, PIO, Prednisone. Transferred 2 “BB” embryos 6/23.
* July – POSITIVE!! HSG @ 8dp5dt=50; @ 12dp5dt= 271! Progesterone good! Ultrasound at 6w5d: saw the heartbeat, baby measured at 5.54mm (“a little small but within range”).
* August – No heartbeat. Our baby died and our hearts were crushed into pieces. Took misoprostol to induce MISCARRIAGE at home @ 9 weeks. Ignorant fuckwit pharmacist prick said I “shouldn’t take this if I’m pregnant”. Devastated. 12 hours of hardcore contractions. Worst day of my life. 2 weeks of painful bleeding. Started back on BCP.
* September – I-600A renewed by USCIS through 2018. DEIVF Cycle 5. Began Low-Dose Naltrexone, Delestrogen, Estradiol, and changed thyroid meds to compounded T4/T3 (TSH @ 5.2). Vitamin D, fish oil, prenatal w/o folic acid (didn’t test for MTHFR test but treatment for a positive result is methylated folate, so took as precaution). TSH @ 3.9, upped meds. Ultrasound @ 8.5mm lining (best ever). Started Prednisone, PIO.
* October – Fingerprints renewed through 2017. Ethiopia is now in 6 month State of Emergency – no one beyond staff allowed in orphanages. Transferred 2 “BB” embryos. Prometrium suppositories post-transfer. Our RE “couldn’t remember why” he used BBs instead of existing AAs. Embryologist said she “just gives him the ones he chooses”. Furious. FAIL. Scheduled 2nd opinion. TSH 2.1, antibodies very high. Stayed on LDN, adjusted compounded T4/T3 dose.
* November – Attended domestic info mtg in case international program closes. Second opinion recommended ERA, karyotyping (latter is completely irrelevant to our medical situation). RE was horrific – a real bastard, trying to require unnecessary tests (AIDS test for my husband even though we had existing embryos? WTF!), treated us like a number, shouting at me then overcharged for visit AND fraudulently tried to charge $100 for an unscheduled call he made to me! Asked regular RE about ERA, he agreed to try it for first time with Igenomix. Retested thyroid, TSH 2.5, antibodies up, changed T4/T3 again. Provera to stimulate period. Suffered stress-induced herniated disc injury to lower back (L4/L5) and hospitalized over Thanksgiving weekend.
* December – Noticed agency is promoting India and to adopt in either country, couple’s combined age must be less than ours. Agency claims we’re fine. Began Mock ERA Cycle #1. Delestrogen. TSH tripled to 7.5 in 3 weeks, with antibodues up to 323. 175 mcg Synthroid + 5 mg Cytomel. Ultrasound just under 9mm (best ever), began PIO+5. Weekly physical therapy for back injury.
* January – Agency’s guest house for adopting families has been closed. ERA= pre-receptive!!. Started Mock ERA Cycle #2 to confirm PIO+6. Weekly PT for back + acupuncture + chiro.
* February – Attended $500 2-day domestic adoption training to learn more. SHITSHOW – agency contractually requires regular visitation with birth parent(s) after adoption, and were treated like hell after my emergency medical situation and not allowed to make up the final 4 hours of training on a different date! Withdrew. Adoption Avenues says they are still processing referrals, albeit slowly. 2nd ERA attempt = Unsuccessful – my cervix would not open enough to allow the catheter in no matter how much meds I had in me. Excruciating beyond belief. Called Igenomix’s geneticist who said it’s 90% probability that P+6 is my implantation window. Scheduled 6th transfer at P+6 in April. Started BCP. Weekly PT + chiro.
* March – DEIVF Cycle 6. Delestrogen. Weekly PT + chiro. Back begin to flare on the hormones, debilitating pain.
* April – USCIS announced Ethiopia has suspended its adoption program. The country has not responded to any inquiries. Looking semi-open adoption through another agency. Ultrasound: 7mm. Borderline but “acceptable”. Extra acupuncture as precaution. PIO+6. Transferred 2 “AA” embryos with Demerol to ensure smooth transfer (bonus – no dilation required for 1st time ever). FAIL. Nine embryos, 1 international adoption, and over $60,000 later, we were still without a child. Weekly PT.
* May – Contacted domestic adoption agency focused on trans-racial, semi-open adoptions, with average wait time of 6-12 months. Obtained copy of HS from Adoption Avenues and created 30 profile books ($500 w/ Mixbook coupon).
* June – Right retina spontaneously detached (idiopathic – doctor said it can be stress induced), had emergency vitrectomy same day as diagnosis, requiring general anesthetic, 2 hour surgery to repair 2 tears and 3 days of face-down recovery to start. Biweekly PT.
* July – 6 birth mothers have viewed our book. Vitrectomy surgery recovery continued. Biweekly PT after car travel allowed.
*August – 16 birth mothers have viewed our book – sent 30 more books to agency (they don’t do online profile books). Made the excruciating decision not to pursue any more rounds of DEIVF with the remaining (BB) embryos, and signed paperwork to have them donated to medical research. The most difficult decision of my life but with my body failing me in so many ways, from skin cancer to herniated disc to detached retina along with 9 failed embryos and a miscarriage, I could not in all self-respect to my body put it through any more rounds of IVF, not to mention the massive risk to my mental health should we miscarry again. RE tried to call to get us to change our minds after thinly veiled accusation that we were trying to “kill” the embryos by “not giving them a chance” (and refused to discuss embryo donation), we did not pick up the phone. One woman in the office there had been through failed IVF and ultimately adopted, and emailed me with her empathy and support. There are no words that can wholly describe our heartache after these years of failures to build a family, or what it’s done to our hearts and our perspectives on the world around us.
* September – 22 birth mothers have now viewed our book.
* October – 30 birth mothers have now viewed our book.
* November – 42 birth mothers have now viewed our book.
* December – 57 birth mothers have now viewed our book.
- January – 63 birth mothers have now viewed our book. Asked for social worker feedback and while they love the pictures and language, they did suggest we do them in a more “cheerful” color & font, so changed from black backdrop to a serene ocean-y blue type of background and a perkier font (hey whatever works).
- February – 68 birth mothers have viewed our book. We are #10 on list. Updated HS & background checks for 2018.
- March – 89 birth mothers have viewed our book.
- April – 100+ birth mothers have viewed our book. No longer counting, it’s too difficult as it now feels like a rejection list every month. We are #5 on list.
- June – We are #4 on the list.
- July – Relocated so scheduled required Home Study update + redid profile books.
- August – Completed updated Home Study (home visit), ordered 30 new profile books.
- September – We are #3 on the list. (NOTE: adoption is not ‘first come first serve’ – what this means is we and 2 other couples have been waiting the longest for a child…so someone waiting one day could be chosen while we still sit here twiddling our thumbs a year and a half later).
- October – We are #2 on the list.
- December – Asked agency AGAIN for feedback previously unresponded to, now telling us BMs are saying we are too old and that we should add pictures to make ourselves look “more youthful” – because I guess clearly my husband’s tattoos and our cycling and beach bum and international travel photos make us look like geezers? And we can’t change our age – excuse me for being 44! After my tearful anxiety attack reading that email, my husband called them out on this email and the director said that oh, it was just ONE birth mother who came back with that and why don’t we talk after the holidays? Well considering that the holidays for infertile folks are often the most nightmarish time of year with the constant reminder of childlessness, he got on the phone with her immediately and followed up with an email to get clarifications…and four days later, nothing. Because oh yeah, they have children and grandchildren to attend to over the holidays while we have…a quiet, too-big house with just the two of us. May 2019 be our year.
- January – Mixbook agreed to provide digital file for agency at no cost (we still have to pay to print books but this allows for any last-minute situations that might arise with birth mothers).
- February – 3 1/2 pages of names of BMs who’ve looked but passed on us. Sigh.
- April – Ordered another 30 books.
- May – Selected by birth mother 5/3 with 6/14 due date! Spoke with her twice, and she told us and agency she was relocating across the state. She then texted to say the baby had had dropped and so she was headed for the doctor but we never heard back. Then on 5/22 the agency called us to let us know she was inviting us to meet her at the hospital for the ultrasound on 5/24 (6.5 hour’s drive away). It appears she has not received any type of medical care during pregnancy so this is a required medical record before we move forward as all we have received thus far is a pregnancy confirmation from 2018. She called us while we were trying on baby carriers and personally wanted us there for all appointments. Paid agency $3,000 to reimburse existing BM expenses (ultrasound results would determine if there is a match – in the meantime our profile is still being shown). I was not able to physically make a 13 hour round trip drive, as my husband was working that day. We found out from the agency on 5/24 that she lied about moving to that new region and has been committing various forms of wire fraud, lying to the agency to get money in multiple ways. While it’s been said by many that she “looks” very pregnant, we have no idea what reality is. She was given some severe ultimatums by the agency for getting her act together and knows of the possibility of felony charges against her not to mention CPS. Is she really pregnant? If she is, is she really wanting to place her baby for adoption, and with us, or is she scamming multiple couples? Also coincidentally discovered (not told directly by AA) that Adoption Avenues has gone out of business after losing their international accreditation. With that, it means their social worker who did both our international and domestic home studies will not be doing our post-adoption visit…and of course yeah, they kept our $15K when Ethiopia closed their doors. IFS refunded the birth mother expenses since a match was never formally made. I had taken out the remaining balance of my 401k via early/hardship withdrawal to cover the loss of income from Dan’s unpaid paternity leave that he was about to schedule, and lost that.
- June – “Danielle” is AWOL. IFS has filed felony wire fraud charges against her and CPS will be called as well. They never heard back from her after 5/24. Ordered 30 more profile books.
family-building attempt costs** (ZERO covered by husband’s so-called-progressive (now former) employer’s health insurance plan):
* 2 rounds IUI + 6 rounds Donor Egg IVF + 2 ERA cycles = ~$65,000
* International (Ethiopia) failed adoption = $15,000
* Domestic adoption (in progress) = $21,000 (+ $18K estimated for agency, legal, birth mother, and post-adoption visit fees due if we get a genuine birth mother)
**this is not including the other massive physical and emotional costs – 60 lbs weight gained, the back injury that, 3 years later, still leaves me unable to do yoga like I used to, and the eye surgery that we paid $2500 out of pocket ($28K actual cost before insurance) to keep me from going blind in my right eye. And, oh yeah, therapy bills. Loads of that not covered by insurance and now that we are without insurance because husband’s employer coverage sucks and doesn’t cover spouses (or dependents)? Off the table as we figure out what the hell is next.**