Great Egg-specations: My Journey with IVF Pt 1
Two days earlier in my initial meeting with my doctor she urged my husband and I to start fertility treatments just in case cancer treatments put me into early menopause.
Here we are sitting in a fertility clinic. Joyce and Rose the dynamic duo. This is what Ashley and I nicknamed ourselves. She was Joyce and I was Rose. We sat there observing all the other people also waiting. Some couples looked as though they could be newlyweds, some women are by themselves, some are older looking couples. I created a story for each of them in my head and wondered if I would recognize anyone that shared my same story.
This was still so new and I hadn’t begun sharing my diagnosis with many people yet. This was the biggest secret I’d ever had to carry. I was usually such an open book but this...this was different.
Joyce and Rose were like two little old ladies; together around the clock. The only thing missing was the senior discount. She was about to accompany me to all the doctor's appointments that my husband couldn’t make it to since the FMLA didn’t kick in for another few weeks. It was nice having her there. It lightened the mood because Ashley wasn’t like some sugary sweet character in a Babysitters Club book. Not a lot of softness but still a whole lot of love in a, “Girl please, You’re going to fight this shit, now shut up and take this shot of Tito’s with me” kind of way.
I loved it. It was exactly what I needed. A different kind of “tough” love.
Now back to Joyce and I in the waiting room of the fertility clinic. We jokingly laugh about being a married couple for the day, here to get information on how to freeze my eggs. This is the kind of funny banter that we kept up throughout my breast cancer journey. It meant the world to me. The constant laughter allows me to forget about my sadness.
I sit there filling out what seems like a phonebook-sized amount of paperwork. They want to know EVERYTHING. How am I supposed to even remember all of this? After about twenty minutes or so my name is called and my wife for the day asks if I want her to go back with me. I tell her without hesitation, “Hell yes. You think I’m going back there alone?”
This is just the beginning of many private moments that I will share with her. After all, she isn’t just some girl that I went to college with, she’s my sister. To the back we walk.
We are taken to a doctor’s private office and told to wait for the doctor momentarily. A short while later, in walks Dr. Loretta. She is a short woman, about 5 foot 3, wearing mules that give her an additional 2 inches in height. She has shoulder length, thick black hair that has a few grays shining through. She reminds me of a slightly older Tina Faye.
Her warm demeanor wraps me like a blanket. She makes me feel like everything will be ok. She goes through her spiel, asks me questions, sympathizes and then goes over what my options are and what the medical process will be. There will be 3 parts to this appointment. One part with her, a 2nd part to discuss finances and a 3rd part to discuss how to get the ball rolling.
The information sloshes around in my head. I’d heard about how expensive IVF is and I knew for certain that we didn’t have that kind of money on hand. How in the world were we going to do this? My stomach was in knots.
Loretta sees the sheer panic on my face and assures me that there are ways around the costliness. One thing that I was very thankful for during this journey was people’s constant desire to see me win every step of the way. This stranger doesn’t know me. She doesn’t have to be so comforting and reassuring, but she is. She tells me that there is financial assistance for women in my exact situation and can even be covered fully for single women. (Wink wink)
The knots begin to loosen a bit. Ok, maybe we can do this. Maybe I’ll set up a GoFundMe? People set those up for A LOT less legit reasons. Puh. I would NEVER.
We wrap up meeting 1 of 3. Dr. Loretta leads us to another room for part 2 of 3. Ok, on to how much this is going to cost me. Ashley and I sit at the table nervously like two kids who have just been sent to the principal's office. Already on edge, I’ve already decided that when they tell me how much I need to pay I’ll just pathetically blurt out, “I ain't got it. None of it. I’m poor. Help me?”
No, No, you will not grovel Jennifer. Calm down.
Despite being filled with anxiety we sit there with a smile on our faces hoping that the next person will bring us good news and maybe have a little pity on me too. Blah. This is the only time I’ve ever wanted or needed anyone’s pity. But seriously, I don’t need any additional curveballs thrown my way. My goal is to hurry up and get these eggs frozen so that I can start treatment and get this nightmare behind me.
After sitting there a short while, in walks a woman with scraggly, badly dyed hair. She looks like she’s gone one too many times to the tanning bed. She’s almost orange. Eeek.
Pleasantries are kept to a minimum. Wonderful, she looks as if there is not one ounce of pity in her bones. Does she not know that I have cancer?!
The knots are back in my stomach.
I exhale and force the smile back on to my face that was beginning to fade. Ok. Be positive. Despite this gal’s no-nonsense demeanor maybe she just suffers from RBF (Resting Bitch Face), she may very well be a nice lady.
A minute and a half later...Oh. Nope. She’s an actual B.
She has paperwork out and she is explaining the process and costs and how the organization that Loretta mentioned earlier may be able to help me.
“Well depending on how much you and your husband bring in annually…”
“Husband?” I ask as if she must have me mistaken with someone else.
“Yes, husband. I see here that you have listed him as your spouse.”
“Oh umm, we like just got married. I haven’t even officially changed my name yet. Uh, can we um...just scratch that part out or something?”
Ashley and I continue to peer over the table at the chart with the cost breakdown. I’ve never been good at math, so I calculate it again in my head. Twenty-thousand dollars??? Yep, twenty-thousand dollars. I guess people have this kind of money saved up, but we just paid for a wedding and just closed on a house. We certainly do not have this kind of money saved.
Ashley chimes in nervously as if she is a child about to ask her parents if she can stay out past curfew. “Well can we just...ummm...say that she’s single so that she can qualify for financial assistance???”
I was sitting there literally ready to whine like Keith Sweat in 5, 4, 3…
“No, absolutely not. That would be insurance fraud”, she says shutting us down.
I know that Ash and I both said in our heads in unison, “So?!?!”
Instead, we both lean back in our chairs exasperated and out of ideas. She hands us a packet of paper and sends us on our way to part 3 of the meeting.
Those smiles immediately turned to RBF’s. Sigh. What are we going to do? How are we going to figure this out? Ashley is right there with me, as stressed and annoyed as I am.
On our way to meeting number 3 just a few doors down, we stop to talk to the receptionist. Inside we’re screaming, “How dare she not commit insurance fraud to help us!”
Instead, I say with slight disgust in my tone, “Hi, yes, we don’t want to see her again. Can we switch to someone else?”
The audacity of us to be mad at this woman for trying to keep her job. But we are as desperate for help as one of the animals in one of those ASPCA commercials. We need a loophole however we can get it. The receptionist knows immediately who we are talking about. “We get that a lot. Not a problem. I will make the switch” she assures me with a smile.
We thank her and turn around and make our way to part 3 of this appointment.
We enter a small office and sit across from a woman that looks no older than about 25 years old. She has long brown hair and pictures of herself with her German Shepherds framed on her desk. My favorite dog breed. This immediately turns the worry on my face to a smile.
She has a look of intimidation on her face. One of those looks that some women have on their faces right before they micro-aggress you.
Geez, she’s not going to help us either is she, I think to myself.
Ashley and I force a smile and try to prove to her that the RBF’s we walked in with are out of panic and not us being actual bitches. She should understand, right?
We both sense that this woman feels bullied and we’ve only been in the room for 2 minutes. We crack a few jokes to lighten the mood. She loosens up immediately. It’s as though she is relieved that we aren’t like the “aggressive” black women she’s seen on TV.
It feels good having Ashley there. It’s like having an extra person there to strategize with me. There’s that paper again. We all take another glance at it. A full breakdown of the cost for everything. I sit there adding it up again juuuuust in case they had pity on the young, childless, cancer patient and have decided to reduce the cost. Nope, nothing has changed. Still twenty thousand dollars.
Twenty-thousand-dollars. I was ready to hyperventilate.
Finally, Ashley blurts out, We don’t have TWENTY-THOUSAND-DOLLARS and the lady next door to us won’t help us. How are we…
The girl interrupts confused, “Twenty thousand dollars? Where did you get that number from?” She takes a pen and crosses out two of the line items, then puts a star next to the cost that applies to me.
“You would only need to pay this amount” she says pointing at the number.
Ashley and I lean over, basically squinting and holding our breath as we peak at the new number. The number she’s starred says $5,500.
“Oh, well girl why didn’t you just say that?!?!”, we blurt out like she’s now one of our homegirls. We are practically squealing with delight. To say we are relieved is an understatement.
The girl looks back at us also relieved. Probably for different reasons than us. Whew, they aren’t going to fight me.
Finally, there are smiles on our faces. Ashley and I laugh and crack jokes for at least the next 3-5 minutes afterward.
“Whooh girl, we were about to have to set up a GoFundMe!”
“We thought were about to have to go work at Stadium this summer!”
“We were just going to have to tell Navient we ain’t got it for a few months!”
The lady sits there nervously laughing, awaiting our faux Def Comedy Jam act to come to an end. The jokes were blazin’. We were firing them off one after the other.
We were ready to go on tour, baby!
After a few minutes go by, the comedy duo takes a break and notices the woman sitting there awkwardly waiting for us to knock it off.
Oh. Ahem. I clear my throat and sit up straight in my chair. Ok, back to business.
We turn back toward her and ask what we need to do next, almost as if this new number would allow us to make it rain on her if need be.
Not exactly the case, but definitely better than having to come up with TWENTY G’s.
She goes over the next steps, hands us the paperwork and send us on our way.
Whoohoo!! We practically skip out of the office. We head to the car with victorious smiles smeared across our faces. We immediately drive to the Trader Joe’s where we buy cheese, crackers, and charcuterie. Our 2 hour long attempt at being con artists caused us to work up quite the appetite. We sit in the car, turn the music up and ravage the adult Lunchables.