Always, Katie: IVF Adventure: A Change in Plans

Saturday, March 15, 2014

IVF Adventure: A Change in Plans

This week brought a huge and surprising - even to us! - change in our IVF plans!  

We have had a lot of problems with our fertility clinic lately - to put it mildly! When I blogged on Monday, I said that we were waiting to hear back from them to schedule my baseline ultrasound. They called shortly after my second blog post went live, and told me that they were pushing our cycle back a month, due to problems coordinating both of our doctors and the lab. We wouldn't be able to do retrieval until early May. I spent a lot of Tuesday on the phone with both of our doctors, explaining why (a) my diabetes and my weight couldn't tolerate an additional month on birth control, and (b) that this was at least the third time we'd been put off for non-medical reasons, and why that was unacceptable.

Ethan's doctor suggested another route, in which we retrieve my eggs and vitrify (freeze) them immediately, then they would coordinate the actual fertilization and transfer when he and the lab could be coordinated. It would be slightly later than we had planned, but not May, and I could be done with the birth control almost immediately.

MY doctor shot that plan to pieces when they told me that after my retrieval, I would have to go RIGHT back on the birth control to get my lining synced up to the embryos for transfer. And be on them until June. Remember when we were going to do retrieval in early March? Then mid-March? Then the first week of April?! Then early May!?! And now we're talking JUNE and SEVERAL more weeks on birth control?!?!?

So we started doing some research on something I had read about - in passing - on other fertility blogs and message boards.  It had intrigued me years ago, but I assumed we weren't the "kind of people" who did this kind of thing, so I mentioned it briefly to Ethan as an "isn't this interesting" kind of thing, then we dropped it and proceeded to make plans in SC.  After the drama with Kettering Reproductive Medicine, we started researching "medical tourism."

Courtesy of:

The place that kept coming up in our searches as legitimate, highly-accredited and universally well-recommended was Barbados Fertility Centre.  Seriously, we spent the better part of two days (which I took off from work) researching their accreditations, media coverage, and personal testimonials of patients - both on their website and on independent message boards, and did not find any red flags.  Not even any dark pink flags. Not even any flags that used to be white and went through the laundry with a red sock. Their reputation is pristine!

Once we were reassured of their safety, legitimacy and commitment to staying on the cutting edge of fertility technology and innovation, we allowed ourselves to start thinking of Barbados Fertility Centre as a real possibility for us.  We fell in love with their relaxation-focused approach to fertility treatment, especially as we were in the middle of a hugely stressful interaction with KRM at the time.  I know how stress affects my diabetes, and I have read a lot of research about the effects of stress on the outcomes of fertility treatment, so an approach that emphasizes stress reduction seems like a smart one.  Their success rates support this - for my age group with the procedures we will need, their success rate is 77%!  For comparison, KRM's rate is only 56%, and most of the other clinics in Ohio are between 35-50%.

So I spoke with the IVF coordinator and co-founder, Anna, by phone on Tuesday.  She assured me that our assortment of conditions will be something that they can work with, gave me some general info, and scheduled a phone consultation with the doctor, Dr. Skinner.  Anna was wonderful to talk to, very calming and reassuring.  She and I have emailed several times this week, coordinating the release and gathering of our medical records (from way too many doctors) and getting other information the doctor needs to review before we talk on April 1.  We even set a target date range for our trip, July 1 - 15!

Assuming all goes well with the phone consultation (and there is no good reason I know of to believe it won't!), I will go back on birth control in May (oh, did I mention I got to quit it this week?!?!)... have a baseline ultrasound with my general gynecologist here, start some of the injections here, then fly to (what we are now referring to as) BarBABYdos for monitoring, retrieval, fertilization and transfer.  Then, we'll recover on the white sand, and fly home to wait to take a pregnancy test.  During our two weeks there, we will both be able to get massages, reflexology and acupuncture as part of their Healthy Mind and Body Programme, and the clinic has staff who will help us arrange transportation and accomodations.  They truly work to make the experience as low-stress as fertility treatment can possibly be :-)

Courtesy of: tourist-destinations
I know it probably seems strange to put treatment off until July, when I was so upset about being put off until May.  But, Barbados was able to give us a date, a couple of months out, that we will actually land there and begin treatment.  That reassurance is huge!  If all goes well with the phone consultation, we WILL be in Barbados on July 1, we WILL have an egg retrieval (and hopefully an embryo transfer) before July 15, and we WILL know if we're going to be parents by the end of July. KRM couldn't even tell me that much with supposedly only a few weeks' notice.  Barbados will go out of their way to help us relax, KRM was making me pull my hair out and ugly-cry.  Barbados has white sandy beaches, KRM is in Ohio ;-)  Oh, AND treatment in Barbados, including medications and the extras like the Healthy Mind and Body Programme, plus airfare and accomodations, will cost about $1000 less than just treatment/meds here! And we'll get to spend our 5th anniversary on a second honeymoon at the same time :-)

We're very excited about our decision!  If anybody has been to Barbados and has any recommendations of great places to stay or eat, or places we have to go while we're there, we'd love it if you'd share :-)  If you're praying people, please pray for our phone consultation on April 1 to go well, and that all of the travel details will work out perfectly!

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  1. So exciting and so happy for you!!! :)

  2. Wow how exciting! Having the peace of mind of a solid plan is hugely reassuring, and I'm glad you have that now. All the best. :)

  3. How exciting! Hopefully it will be a wonderful experience and your second honeymoon will be simply FABULOUS in that beautiful location! Wishing you the best!

  4. Debra King, BarbadosMarch 18, 2014 at 6:56 PM

    Hi. I live in Barbados, was born in Barbados. Have a beautiful three-year-old thanks to the Barbados Fertility Centre. Dr. Skinner is wonderful ... brilliant! Anna is terrific - in fact the entire staff are all wonderful. You will feel so well cared for! Did I mention that I had my daughter at 47, when chances are usually quite slim? The BFC will recommend several choices for hotels, from luxury to budget. There are many great places to eat in Barbados. When you get here, good places to go include Champers and Tapas on the South Coast and Cin Cin and The Cliff of the West Coast. Have a blast! Travel safely and relax and enjoy your stay. We are praying for you!

  5. We did two cycles of IVF in Barbados (we live in DC area). It didn't work for us (I'm over 40), but it was one of the best and most relaxing medical experiences I ever had. I'd definitely recommend it to anyone who has to go thru IVF. It's amazing the difference between medical care in Barbados and all the BS at US clinics. The first time we stayed at the Amaryllis Resort- you can walk to the clinic easily and prices thru Travelocity type places were much better than otherwise posted. The second time we stayed in the Santa Rosa Apartments right next door to the clinic. My husband would like to stay there again if we ever get back. Tapas is excellent for good food, as is a cheap kiosk type place called Just Grilling a little further past the clinic. We had a blast on the Segway island tour. And you MUST visit Carlisle Bay. Very nice beach and swimming and there are turtles there to swim with. Good Luck and Enjoy! If I had the funds I'd do it again.

    1. Debra King, BarbadosMarch 19, 2014 at 6:03 PM

      Hi Diane. Sorry it didn't work for you. We actually tried four times. The last time it worked with the help of IVIG, which Dr. Skinner recommended. I hope there is some way you can afford to come again.

  6. Hi Katie, I just wanted to say Best of luck to you! My Husband and I are now the proud parents of boy girl twins thanks to BFC. Like you we didn't have the best experience with IVF here in the US and after 3 failed attempts turned to BFC and had success the first cycle. The staff there are amazing and you will truly enjoy your time in Barbados. The balance BFC provides with treatment and relaxation makes you sometimes forget that you are in the midst of an IVF cycle. Their approach is phenomenal and the results back it up. I'd be glad to answer any questions you have about our experience.

  7. Katie,

    My husband and I are at the point where we're considering IVF, and I like the idea of escaping for three weeks to go through everything. Keep us updated on how everything goes!


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