Caitlin and Brandon's IVF Fund


             If you're visiting this page, then you probably asked how you can support us in our IVF journey, and we thank you.  We have chosen to create a GoFundMe account to help with a portion of the expenses, so that we can keep IVF loans to a minumum and focus on treatments/surgeries/procedures and being as stress free as possible.  The financial burden of IVF is high at approximately $25,000+ per cycle, not including all of the additional procedures and tests.   On average it takes 3.4 cycles to be successful with IVF, but it is the first step to starting a family when the traditional method doesn't work, and less expensive than using donor eggs or traditional adoption.  Unlike almost any other medical condition, there is 0% insurance coverage for IVF treatment.  We are fortunate to have each other, our family and friends, our health, and to have attained our dream jobs (even though Caitlin is currently off work due to a wrist injury).  No matter what and no matter how, we will make this happen! Please keep in mind that even if you cannot help financially, we love you for your support and distraction  :) Your kind words are so so welcome! Please feel free to follow our journey and learn about the IVF process by clicking the “heart” on our campaign photo.  


Here's our story...

          For over three years we have been hoping to grow our little family by one. Like every other recently married couple, we envisioned that this dream would be easy. Unfortunately, we were wrong and now we have been given a very large mountain to climb - the same one that one in every eight couples has to endure.


          The more difficult part of our journey started in February 2016 when all the invasive diagnostic testing was initiated. By chance, we were referred to one of the best Reproductive Endocrinologists in the country (with the highest IVF success rates) and ended up with the diagnosis of "unexplained fertility." Unfortunately this diagnosis can present quite the challenge for specialists, as there is no identified problem to "fix".

          In August 2016 we decided to give the IUI procedure (or intrauterine insemination) a try. This procedure involves close monitoring (every other day, then daily) of ultrasounds and blood work, along with daily injections, and ending with the actual IUI procedure. After two failed IUI attempts we decided we didn't want to risk the lower success rates of the IUI procedure (each round is a few thousand dollars), and decided it was time to look into IVF.

          In February 2017 our first frozen IVF cycle began. The process of the IVF is similar to the IUI in that it involves close monitoring and blood work, however, involves more injectable stimulation medications and ends with a surgical procedure called an "oocyte retrieval" which we did on March 2nd. After the eggs are removed, they are immediately fertilized, and then monitored by embryologists as they grow and divide for the next five to six days.  While we had a decent number of eggs removed (nine) from ten follicles, we were unfortunate in that we lost several embryos each day; and only one embryo survived to day five. On day five our embryo was biopsied and underwent what is called PGS (or Pregenetic Screening). This screening is important, as only approximately 50% of embryos tested are genetically normal (and transferring an abnormal embryo will likely lead to a miscarriage-something you want to avoid after going through all of this). After a week of waiting, we found out that our little embryo was in fact genetically normal-such a relief and a wonderful 30th birthday present!

          Prior to the start of the second part of the IVF process (the transfer of the embryo), we decided to take a month off to allow Caitlin's body to recover. This part involved preparing the uterus with a myriad of medications (and unfortunately many more injectables) as well as more monitoring. Slowly, but surely Caitlin is getting better about not passing out with each poke. Her coworkers and friends have been AMAZING in assisting her with this task. They also took great care of her when her medications made her ill and she ended up a patient in her own ER.

          On May 3rd, we had our embryo transferred. Caitlin was on bedrest, then house arrest; was not permitted to work for almost two weeks. We were so excited and hopeful. We had waited for this day for almost three years! Though bedrest was a challenge for Caitlin (because she cannot sit still), she adhered to doctor's orders because she didn't want to take any chances after coming this far.


       The day before Mother's Day, we found out that our IVF cycle had failed. We were hoping to surprise our parents with news that they were finally going to become grandparents. But this didn't happen. It was such a difficult time for us. We had previously thought about the possibility of IVF not working, but once again, we didn't think that would be us since statistically we had an 85% chance of success, we have no diagnosed "problem," and everything looked perfect-including our little girl embryo.
 
          Unfortunately, in the U.S. fertility treatments and diagnostic tests are rarely covered by medical insurance. Ours, like most others, covers 0% of treatment. On top of the physical, emotional, and psychological components associated with infertility and IVF treatments, hopeful families have to endure a substantial financial burden; of course we want to be as financially responsible as possible.   There are options of moving out of state, traveling out of the country, or changing careers in order to have lower costs or better IVF insurance coverage; but at this time we are hoping to keep our amazing doctor (and nurses of course ;), and maintain our routine and careers in order to keep stress to a minimum.

          This has been by far the most challenging journey we have ever been through. Each and every step gets a little more difficult.  Even though we have not been successful yet, we aren't giving up and we are maintaining hope that every step brings us closer to our ultimate goal (no matter how we have to get there).  Through this journey we have learned that infertility and IVF is a process.  You must give your all in one step in order to feel comfortable moving to the next.  And when it's time to move to the next step, you just know (with the recommendation of the specialists).

          We cannot wait for the day we get to bring Little Bear home and we thank you for your overwhelming support and love. We promise to keep you updated along the way!


RECENT UPDATES:

April 5th: We're pregnant!  Baby boy due December 11th.  Thank you for your continued support.

March 26th: Transfer day

March 5th: Transfer protocol began

March 1st: 3 embryos are genetically normal!!!

February 26th: 5 embryos sent for genetic testing! (Grades 3AA, 4AA, 5AA, 6AA, 6AA)

February 24th/25th: Blastocysts(embryos) biopsied for genetic testing

February 22nd: 4 perfect 3 day embryos and 3 embryos just one or two cells behind.

February 20th: 8 of 8 mature oocytes fertilized normally

February 19th: Oocyte retrieval (8 mature oocytes retrieved); Oocytes fertilized

February 2nd: 3rd IVF retrieval start!

November 28th-We are officially on the embryo adoption list :) We are told this is an average of a two year wait.

Nov 13th-Discussed with specialist the next best plan of care: another oocyte retrieval within the next few months for best chances of success.  Currently applying for grants to assist with expenses (we are looking at an additional $18,000 because of our recent loss).

October 15th -Nov 13th 2017- IVF round 2 unsuccessful. Both embryos were tested as abnormal.

October 12th 2017: Acupuncture treatments have begun.  Acupuncture  is proven to help improve IVF success by improving follicular growth and egg quality; also aids with implantation during the transfer process.

September/October 2017
Currently on a hormone break and preparing for the next round.

Hysteroscopy-this procedure will visualize the inside of the uterus to make sure everything is in check prior to the start of a new cycle. It is performed in the specialist's office for diagnostic purposes. This test may be performed during the IVF stimulation phase.

*September 12th 2017
We finally received the results of the ERA (Endometrial Receptivity Array test). The test showed positive results, which gives us a possible answer as to why the transfer of a genetically normal embryo did not work. We found that on the day that most embryos are transferred (day 21 in the IVF world), that the uterine lining was not receptive and that Caitlin will require just 12 more hours of medications the next time around.

*August 2nd 2017-August 22nd 2017
-Endometrial Receptivity Array Test was performed. This test determines whether the standard transfer date needs to be adjusted slightly (as there is a very narrow range of time in which the uterus is receptive to an embryo in conjunction with the IVF medication regimen). This test is approximately 3 weeks long and is practically a repeat of the medication regimen for the transfer portion of the IVF, ending with a biopsy of the uterine lining instead of the transfer of an embryo.  From this test we found that Caitlin needs just 12 more hours on progesterone injections in order for the uterus to be receptive to an embryo!!!!

*June 2017
Immunological blood testing or Recurrent Pregnancy Loss (RPL) Panel





*****Here is the breakdown for another shot at an IVF cycle (discounted Physician and Lab fee since this will be our third retrieval)******:

-Initial Day 3 diagnostics (blood work and U/S). $455
-Physician fee $5,274.25
-Ovation Embryology Laboratory fee $6,417
-Newport Beach Surgey Center fee for oocyte removal and anesthesia $1,710
-Cryopreservation (freezing) of embryos. $800 (for one embryo)
-FET physician fee $2,142
-FET embryology laboratory fee $1,350
-PGS (Pre-Genetic Screening) $1,950 (for 5 embryos)
-Medications: $6,091.21 (discounted for stimulation) + $533.88 (transfer); with the recent change to Brandon's health insurance some of the transfer medications will be covered :)

TOTAL: $26,673.34


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Organizer

Caitlin Bear 
Organizer
Aliso Viejo, CA
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