Saturday, February 2, 2008

Miracle makers

Fertility Centers of Illinois (FCI) was recommended to me by one of the therapists I work with. She had tried for four years to get pregnant, and on her first attempt at in-vitro fertilization (IVF), she finally succeeded and her little girl has to be close to a year old now.

We first met with Dr. Aaron Lifchez at FCI in March or April 2007. We discussed our history of infertility treatment, and told him that we were ready for the next step. He had us obtain copies of my OBGYN medical records and also required that I have my rheumatologist and a hematologist sign off that I was medically stable for addition fertility treatments in terms of my rheumatoid arthritis and spherocytosis (a blood disorder that basically causes chronic anemia).

Once he had everything in hand, Dr. Lifchez sat down with us again and told us that IVF was probably our next best option. We would be skipping a step in the ladder of fertility treatments - that step being intrauterine insemination (IUI), or artificial insemination as it's better known. He said that because of my history of possibly having a blocked tube on one side and possible anatomical problems on the other side due to the cyst I had removed in November, he did not feel that IUI was a viable option for us. I was ready for the next step, however we hit a minor snag financially.

In terms of cost, IVF is generally inexpensive in Illinois, since there is a state mandate requiring that companies of 50 or more people provide fertility coverage, including up to six attempts at IVF. So in that regard, we are lucky - we have only had to pay co-pays and towards our deductible and out-of-pocket max. However the hard decision came when I lost my short-term disability coverage (and therefore maternity leave coverage) at work, due to budget cuts. They offered us an optional plan, which I applied for, but got denied due to my medical history of arthritis.

Ben and I had to think long and hard about what to do. Would we be able to afford to have a baby without maternity leave coverage? Certainly not, because without my salary, we couldn't pay the mortgage! But we looked at everything on the table... we agreed that we would both save as many vacation, personal, and sick days as possible, and make due with what we had. Finally we decided - we would do IVF!

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