Saturday, April 28, 2012

RE Appointment Take 2

Sorry for the delay in updating about our appointment on Tuesday. I (Bran) came down with a cold and have been just feeling kind of blahhhh. I know many of you have been wondering how it went and if we are officially on the books for IVF this summer.

Let me start by saying that for the past three weeks, KU Med  has given us the ultimate run around with getting our medical records transferred over to our new clinic, Midwest Reproductive Center (MRC). I have been so stressed out about this, I finally just had to let Josh handle it. They were very uncooperative, rude and strait up lied to me. I don't really want to go into details but if you're reading this and are in the Kansas/Missouri area and are thinking about going to KU Med, please feel free to email me at and I'd be happy to tell you about our experience there.

So the day before our appointment, MRC still doesn't have our medical records. About 4:00 pm Josh texts me and says that MRC has some of our medical records-finally! We really didn't want to go to our appointment and our new clinic not even have our medical history...especially my latest blood work, ultrasounds and Josh's semen analysis information. I can finally relax now, everything is good to go.

Tuesday was beautiful, sunny and high 80s. We arrived at the clinic with a warm smile from the receptionist and a refrigerator full of bottles of water (they read my mind!). We waited for about 15 minutes and then a nurse called our name. I was expecting her to just take us to an office to meet with the doctor but instead she spent the next 40 minutes talking to us about our IF journey. She explained in detail what our issues were and told us why we cannot do this and that and why IVF is our it best and only option. I noticed she was asking a lot of questions about our diagnosis that I felt she should have already known (like Josh's sperm counts and what tests he has had done). I asked her "umm just out of curiosity, do you not have our medical records?" she said "no, KU Med just sent over two pieces of papers".

I could instantly feel my cheeks getting hot. You've GOT to be kidding me. I wanted to cry.

She was very nice about it all and assured us that even though it would be beneficial to have those documents it's not necessary. Luckily, I was able to tell her all of Josh's counts from his past SA's and tell her about my follicle filled ovaries. She was impressed that I remembered such specific details (I told  her I blogged lol). She talked to us more about IVF and what types of medications I would be on. I appreciated that she explained the cause and effect of each medication in a way that we could understand. She was very nice and answered all of our questions with knowledge and respect. She left and said they doctor would be in to visit with us in just a few moments.

Josh looked at me and sighed a HUGE sigh of relief and said "a thousand times better". We hadn't even met the RE yet and we were already sold. Before we knew it, our RE knocked on the door. That was fast!

Meet Dr. Dan Gehlbach! 

Dr. Gehlbach is a native of Kansas City. He received his BS degree from the United States Military Academy, West Point, in 1979. He obtained his MD degree from the University of Kansas in 1983 and completed his residency at William Beaumont Army Medical Center in El Paso, Texas. In 1992, Dr. Gehlbach completed a Reproductive Endocrinology fellowship at John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. Dr Gehlbach is board certified both in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility and Obstetrics and Gynecology. 

When he first walked in I thought "Oh my gosh he looks like Josh's uncle Paul" lol. Not so much in this picture but Josh agreed too. Paul seems to be more tan though...maybe that's because the only time I see him is in the summer :) One thing I noticed about Dr. Gehlbach is that he wasn't wearing a white coat...just regular slacks, shirt, nice tie, and a name tag. Maybe he does wear one and he was just hot that day, who knows but I liked it. He just seemed so normal, Josh and I both felt genuinely cared for. Which is the completed opposite of what our experience from Dr. Kim was. 

We talked with Dr. G for about 15 minutes about IVF and what our thoughts/concerns/feelings were. He never hesitated when he answered. Not once. He was very confident in what he was saying and how he treats his patients. We really just had two concerns. One was that because I have PCOS and have "ripe" ovaries, I am a perfect candidate of OHSS (click the link to learn about that). So you know...I don't want my ovaries to explode while on fertility medication. That really doesn't sound like a good time for anyone. He told us that he and many other RE's have a method to prevent OHSS from happening. He has never once had a patient experience OHSS. I breathed a sigh of relief. 

Our second and biggest concern was embryo quality. This was something that in February, Dr. Kim brought up. Dr. Kim said that since Josh has such low sperm count and poor quality that our embryo quality may be poor. He then suggested sperm donation but we'd already decided that wasn't something we were interested in pursuing. This really made us rethink things and want to seek a second opinion. I know of people with lower sperm count and quality than Josh's and they went on to have very healthy IVF babies. I know no one has a crystal ball and we certainly want our RE to be honest with us. But what he said just didn't sit right with us.

When we told Dr. G about that, he kind of shook his head and cocked an eye brow. He said "well Josh you do have sperm, and I'm certain we can get at least a couple dozen healthy ones. That's not an issue at all." He told us that our chances of a successful IVF baby(s) ((hehe)) will not decrease because of our diagnosis. We finished our appointment and shook hands. I wanted to hug him. Josh told him how impressed we were and that it was a night and day experience from KU Med. He thanked Josh for the kind words and said that when he decided to open his own clinic he knew he had to have a great staff. Very true, because even though Dr. Kim may be a great RE, his staff is terrible and not at all something that we want to deal with while going through IVF.

Then we met with the financial coordinator (who looked just like Sally Field) to talk about when we're game for IVF and how we're going to pay. Can I just tell you how RELIEVED Josh and I were that we were able to decline the financing applications. When she asked "do you guys know how you'll be paying for your treatment?" we just smiled big grins because we could say - CASH! She was so happy for us, she said it's rare that people are able to pay for it all up front. We're unbelievably blessed and grateful. I wish I could tell you how I felt, I can't even think of a word. A huge burden has been lifted off our shoulders, we never would have imagined that we'd be able to do IVF this summer. I had hoped for this fall and Josh was thinking Spring 2013.

Things are going really smooth right now...hoping it stays like that too. I'll post later on when I start meds and what are protocol will be like. As of right now we're just taking it easy and Josh is wrapping this semester of college. He's thinking about taking a course or two this summer but not sure. I have a couple of weddings lined up to shoot for May and June so that will keep me occupied. I think that's all, hope I answered some questions. If not feel free to leave a question and I'll get back with you :)

 I can't believe we're //this// close to treatment AHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!! 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Fat Little Piggy

When we were told that we would need to purse IVF w/ICSI to have a biological child it seemed impossible. Everything just seemed like a blur. How? What? When? Where? WHY (us)??? I remember talking to my sisters about it and it just sounded so...foreign. Like a dream nightmare. I couldn't believe the words that I was speaking, I couldn't believe that I had developed this whole new language called infertility. That's probably one reason Josh and I kept our IF battle to ourselves for so long. When we'd start to talk to someone about our issues it didn't take long for the deer in the head lights look to happen. It was so overwhelming. 

But here we are. Just three months ago (exactly) we had our first RE appointment. We knew ahead of time that we he would tell us that we would need to do IVF. I felt prepared to hear it...but I wasn't. Oh my how it stung. It's one thing to read something on Google and gather your own information. But when you hear your diagnosis from someone who's profession is (in)fertility, it just becomes so real. My head was flooded with so many thoughts and fears but my heart was full of as much peace and hope as I could muster.

We didn't know what we were going to do. How would we get through this? How in the world are we going to pay for this? $15,000 is a TON of money and we do not live on credit cards. Do we just drain every last penny in our savings account and then some? Should we tell our parents? Should we tell our friends? Will everyone think we lost faith and hope in our Almighty Creator?? What about all those shots I'll need....ummm is Josh going to be able to stab me in the booty with those?!?! ((I may require him to practice on some oranges first))

So much has changed in three months.

We started our IVF savings account with $5,300 of our own money (technically my sister, Mea jump started this account on my 25th birthday with $25 : D). We knew draining our account was unwise so we left some in there and set back a chunk for our treatment. Then a family member generously donated $3,000. We were blown away and realized that people simply love. People want to help. We would want to help too if a family member or friend was going through the same thing. It's called being a blessing. Though at times it's been hard to receive, we know we need to. Then another family member donated $1,500. Then $300, then $100, random $25-$40 donations started coming in, then within 2 days we received 2 checks for $1,000 each. Is your jaw dropped too???

Tuesday I found out that our new RE clinic (which we'll have our first appointment on 4/24) offers a $1,800-$2,000 discount for those who's insurance covers blood work, ultrasounds, and office visits. I was pretty sure we qualified for that because everything from KU Med has been covered so far. I called our insurance company to double check and YEP, we are covered! I was so excited when I got off the phone! What a relief. Luke and I did a little happy dance together (although he was not happy about being on 2 paws).

We didn't know how we were going to make this happen but it is happening. It's not just about the financial part of it either. We've finally found a church that we really love. This is something that we've been praying about for years. We honestly didn't think we'd ever find "our church" in Topeka. I am so thankful that we have Journey Church, it came to us at the most perfect time. Our friends and family have reached out and smothered us in love and prayers. I love getting little "thinking/praying for you guys" messages. Or a big hug from a family member-mmmm the best. Things have been going quite smooth since we made the decision to do IVF. I feel like I've been able to breathe just a little easier, especially now that we're seeing a new RE. 

After I got off the phone on Tuesday with the insurance company, I took a long hot shower. The bathroom window was open and I could hear birds chirping outside. I cried, I prayed, I laughed. For the first time in a year and a half, I felt deep in my heart like I was going to be a mama and Josh was going to be a daddy. We still have a long ways to go but I have hope, I have faith. Something that has been stolen from me for a while now. I said out loud to the universe, "next spring, I'm going to have a newborn baby". I was feeling so happy, while out shopping for a friends birthday gift I didn't avoid the baby/kids section. I actually walked through there and touched things. I even bought a little something :) Sweet little burp cloths with duckies on them. $4 well spent, it was a huge step for me. Walking to the counter holding something for a baby, I smiled too. It felt good to not feel jealous, sad or empty. I was buying something for my future kid. And I liked that feeling.

We'll confirm with the new RE, but we're hoping to schedule our IVF this July. Wow.

And just to wet your appetite for a baby Eckhardt (or two)...

{little Bran}

{little Josh} 

Again and over and over again, thank you so much for helping us, praying for us and loving us. We have joyfully closed the paypal donation link. Come on July!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Video tour of IVF

Hey everyone, this is Josh. Brandy and I just want to say thank you again to everyone who has donated to our IVF fund and for keeping us in your prayers. We are so close to our goal and we could not have made it this quickly without all of your generous donations. So once again thank you so much. 

As you know our appointment with the new doctor is not until the end of this month so we are kind of in a holding pattern until then. But while we are waiting we just wanted to share this video with everyone. Brandy found it the other day so we watched it and thought it was pretty cool. It is an IVF lab in New York that has walked through the basic steps of the actual IVF procedure inside the lab. We thought it was pretty cool to be able to see how the procedure is actually done. The type of IVF that we will have to do is the second one that they talk about called ICSI. This is where they take a single sperm and fertilize the egg manually. So anyway here is the video, enjoy.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Our Anthem

This song has been our anthem. Every single word of the song reaches to the core of our hearts. Enjoy :)

Also, the little piggy bank is getting bigger! We received a $1,000 gift from a family member today. I cried. Shocked and so thankful. We have awesome family and friends...and an awesome God. He is able.