Sam & Michelle's Baby Fund

Our story: Boy meets girl (in 3rd grade).  Girl sees boy many years later while on a date and boy gives girl his phone number in front of her date.  Girl and boy fall madly in love and cannot wait to start a family. 

I have known since I was a young girl that my dream was to be a mom.   My allowance was spent on diapers and baby food for my babies and it was not uncommon for all of my dolls to have dried, crusted food in the corners of their mouths from “feeding” them. 

We started trying to get pregnant right away.  Month after month of basal body temperature graphs, ovulation predictor kits, negative pregnancy tests, and lots and lots of tears, we underwent a full infertility work-up.  We received the shocking news that it was unlikely that we would be able to conceive naturally.  And thus started the long road of out-of-pocket expenses for treatment because the state of Maine does not have a mandate for insurance coverage for infertility treatment.

We had our first IUI (intrauterine insemination) in June 2014.  We left the office with big smiles on our faces telling everyone we would see them in 2 weeks when we returned pregnant.  We did not get pregnant.  We did our second cycle the following month.  Again, negative pregnancy test.  We were in the process of starting our third attempt when I was unexpectedly diagnosed with thyroid cancer.  I went to the consult alone having no idea that I would be having the biopsy done that day, let alone that I would be hearing the surgeon say he was pretty sure it was cancer.  The very first question out of my mouth was “will I still be able to have children?”  This was not the surgeon’s primary concern but it was mine.  We took a 9 month hiatus from what had become our life (because trying to conceive when you are struggling with infertility becomes your entire focus and everything is planned around trying and planning for the possibility of being pregnant) in order to undergo surgery to remove my thyroid and have radioactive iodine ablation.  We resumed our mission as soon as we were given clearance in July 2015.  We did a third round of IUI, this time with ovulation induction which involves a ‘trigger shot’, the first of many, many injections.  After 2 more failed IUI’s, we moved into the world of IVF.

Making the decision to move from IUI to IVF was difficult because it meant a jump from $800 to $11,000 for 1 cycle of treatment and medication, and this was with our income-based discount.  However, it also meant that our chance of success would be much higher.  Typically a woman will produce 1 follicle that has 1 egg in it every month.  The goal of IVF is to take stimulating medications via injection to try to produce a lot more eggs (ovarian hyperstimulation) which are then removed via a surgical procedure.  Sperm are then injected into the eggs and this is followed by a nerve racking 24 hour wait to find out how many fertilized…followed by a nerve racking 3 or 5 day wait to find out how many are still progressing normally and ultimately how many embryos make it to the day of transfer when the embryo(s) are inseminated…followed by the nerve racking 10-12 day wait until the pregnancy beta test.

We made the decision to take out a loan and to move forward with IVF knowing that we would likely only have one shot due to the cost.  The cycle ended up being very difficult emotionally as we lost both of our beloved fur babies , Maya the cat & Milo the dog, during this time.  We were heartbroken and the only thing that kept us going was the hope that we would have a baby in our arms after all of this.  We had one of the happiest days of lives on December 23, 2016 when I got the call that we were pregnant.  That Christmas was filled with so much excitement and hope, knowing that it would be our last Christmas as a family of 2.  We had our first ultrasound at 7 weeks and saw our baby’s heartbeat.  The doctor had concerns about the growth and heart rate so we scheduled a follow-up ultrasound for 1 week later.  I thought everything would be fine because life could not be that cruel to have us go through all of that only to have it taken away.  We were absolutely devastated when we went back 1 week later and our baby no longer had a heartbeat.  The depth of our grief was overwhelming, grief over the loss of this little being that we had never even met but already loved so much and had so many plans for. 

We took some time to grieve and heal and started talking about our options, feeling hopeless that we would ever be able to have a child but not accepting that our journey was over.   We could not just give up because even though we lost our baby, IVF proved that I was able to get pregnant.  We did not feel we could afford another cycle because we were (and still are) paying off our IVF loan.  Grant options are fairly limited as we already qualified for a discount on treatment and any grant monies would disqualify us from receiving the discount.  So the grant payment would have to be substantial or else we would end up owing more than if we had no assistance.  We applied for a grant that offers a $10,000 award but we were not the chosen recipient.  We attended a consult with an adoption agency thinking that this was going to be a more affordable way to grow our family but discovered that the cost was significantly higher than IVF and still not a guarantee.  We felt we had hit a dead end again until my ob/gyn recommended exploring IVF internationally because the treatment and medication costs are less than in the U.S.  We did not know where to begin so our doctor connected us with one of many angels along our journey who helped us navigate the world of international IVF.

In October 2017 we headed to Spain for another round of IVF.  Unfortunately, I did not respond well to the medications and by that time we were too far down the road financially to turn back.  We wanted to make sure that this being our last shot, we would do everything possible to make it as successful as possible.  So we froze my eggs that were retrieved and came home to start the process all over again.  We headed back to Spain in January, funding both trips with our savings and credit cards.  It would be worth it in the end when we had our baby.  We returned home pregnant but again, I lost the pregnancy early on.  So now here we are, still paying off the loan from the first cycle, in debt, no baby, and heartbroken.

We again have taken our time to grieve and heal.  We cannot pay for anymore treatment that will not guarantee a baby but we also cannot accept that this is the end for us, that we cannot have a family because it’s too expensive.  Many people do not have to think about this because they are able to conceive naturally.  Can you imagine if you were told that you can only have your children if you pay thousands of dollars up front and there would be no guarantee how many times you would have to spend thousands before it worked?  We returned to the first IVF center for another consult and after reviewing our losses and follow-up testing, our doctor is recommending a different type of IVF that has a higher chance of success and includes an assurance plan – up to 6 cycles and if there is no baby at the end you get a 100% refund.  The plan costs $42,000.  We compared this with adoption which is comparable in price so we know either way we need help to make our dream come true.

It will cost a minimum of $1,300 (what we know will not be covered by insurance) to undergo testing that is required prior to acceptance to the assurance program which has a 96% acceptance rate.  Medications are not included in the program and are estimated to be about $1,000 per cycle.  We are also continuing to pay off our first IVF loan and our credit card debt from the last 2 cycles.  We are asking for support with the cost of the assurance program which is $42,000 and payment is required in full once accepted.  The success rate is estimated to be 90% within 6 cycles .  If we were to take a chance with a single cycle with the new protocol, the base cost is $18,000, not including medication, and you do not get your money back if it does not work the first time.   Should the assurance program not be successful, we plan to use the refunded money to go toward adoption expenses. 

Please donate if you can.  Any donation would help tremendously and would be so appreciated.   There are many ways to donate: through our fundraising site, in person, though the mail, directly to paypal  (please contact me for the e-mail address), and we have set up a donation savings account at Norway Savings Bank where you can go in and make a donation directly to "Sam & Michelle's Baby Fund" under Sam & Michelle Haverinen.  We also accept prayers, well wishes, positive thoughts, and good juju.  Please feel free to share our story with others.  We want to share our journey in the hopes that we can be a part of breaking the stigma of infertility and be a support for others who are in this struggle as well.  Please reach out to us if you have any questions about our journey.  Thank you so much for supporting us and being a part of helping us build our family.

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Michelle Longstaff Haverinen 
South Paris, ME

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