What I Wish I’d Known About the IUI Process
Our fertility journey with Camden wasn’t easy, but this one is so much harder. We were supposed to start all of the testing and such back in March, and then COVID happened. So we finally got started on it all in August, only to have insurance issues, have to switch doctors/clinics, and miss out on multiple cycles and chances. Here’s what I wish I’d known about the IUI process going in (and what’s next for us):
Insurance is a Problem
We live in Illinois, but my husband’s insurance coverage is out of Missouri. Missouri only requires diagnostic testing to be covered, but good luck convincing the insurance that the testing you’re having is diagnostic, even when it’s coded that way by the hospital. We had a heck of a battle with them over the astronomical costs of the diagnostic testing.
And then, as far as IUIs and IVF, we’re COMPLETELY on our own.
My recommendation: Check very carefully and clearly with your insurance about what they cover and how it must be coded before you do any testing or cycles.
Hospitals and Clinics Set Their Own IUI Costs
I knew that, obviously. But what I wish I’d known about IUIs and the fertility process is that some hospitals choose to charge astronomical amounts, just because they can. The fertility center at the first hospital we went to was going to charge us the exact same rate, out-of-pocket, that they charged the insurance: $10,000. For an IUI. (The national average for an IUI is $1,000-2,000. And the national average for a round of IVF is around $10,000. Just for reference.) Thank God a sweet nurse warned us about the cost before we got too far in.
We ended up cutting the cycle and not doing it, so we lost 2 entire cycles by the time we stopped that one and spent the next one establishing care at a new clinic.
My recommendation: Make sure you check into the costs before you get started with a cycle.
IUIs are a Game of Chance
At least in the US. Or in Illinois. Or just for us. I don’t know.
An IUI has to be done at a very specific time – within 24-36 hours of ovulation – and the trigger shot has to be timed appropriately before that. But, if you’re like us, you run into the issue that the clinic doesn’t do IUIs on the weekend.
So I needed a final ultrasound on a Friday – and the clinic doesn’t do ultrasounds on Fridays, so I had to find a different place to have them send an order to. It was more costly, but since it was our first actual round, we decided to go for it.
Then, it turned out that we were already too late – on your first cycle, the doctor doesn’t know your cycle and how fast or slow things go, so they’re guessing. We missed our chance. Plus, if it would have fallen on the weekend, we would have missed our chance too.
My recommendation: Prepare yourself for the possibility that you’ll just be doing a medicated timed intercourse cycle.
What I Wish I’d Known About the IUI Process: It is Time Consuming
My entire life feels consumed by the IUI process. On the first day of my period, I mourn the fact that we’re not pregnant (stages of grief).
Then I call my doctor to schedule the day 4 ultrasound. On day 4, I have the ultrasound and the order for meds is put in if everything looks good.
On day 5-10, I pick up meds, fight with the specialty pharmacy to get it filled in time and take meds.
Between day 12-15, I have another ultrasound and the IUI is either scheduled or rejected.
The next few days are timed intercourse (so far) or IUI.
Then you spend two weeks waiting (and trying not to let it consume you).
And after that, it all starts all over again. There really isn’t even mental capacity to take on much more stress and trauma.
IUIs Take a Heavy Mental Toll – Take Care of Yourself
3 months in, and no actual IUI completed. Just two rounds of ‘timed, medicated intercourse.’ But a lot of money out the window. And a lot of waiting. It’s all waiting. Waiting for the right time to starting. Then waiting for the right time to trigger and do the IUI. And after that, a two week wait to see what happens.
And then, if you’re not lucky enough to be pregnant, it starts all over again.
I’ve often heard it said that infertility puts you through the 5 stages of grief every. single. month. And I couldn’t agree with that more. We’re 24 cycles in – almost 2 years this time – and it hasn’t gotten any easier or more tolerable. Maybe worse, honestly.
And the IUI process definitely adds an extra grief strain to the whole thing. Plus there’s the stress of the money and time put into it. And the questions: how much money do we put into this? how many cycles before we say that’s it? what’s next?
While I’m sure that COVID and the 2020 world in general and the election – since it’s the day after the election right now – have played a part in my rocky mental health, our infertility struggle has definitely had the biggest impact.
I’m learning to embrace self-care in whatever form seems to work for me that month.
This is such an important point in the ‘what I wish I’d known about IUI’ process.
My recommendation: Keep a list of things that feel like good self-care, stress relievers, mindless entertainment, etc. Make these a priority as part of your infertility journey.
What I Wish I’d Known About IUIs: Set Time Aside to NOT Talk Infertility
COVID has put a severe damper on our ability to go out on a date and really get away from it all. But I’m finding – as another mental health buffer – it’s so, so important to spend time together where we DON’T talk infertility, insurance, frustrations, sadness, etc.
Infertility is overwhelming. It bleeds into every part of your life. The process dictates when you make plans, how you travel, when you take vacation days from work. It’s all-encompassing.
But it’s really important to keep your relationship healthy, too, and that means some time when it’s not all about IUIs and IVF and infertility.
It’s also okay to take a break. You can take a month of from the process, or three months, or just stop altogether and regroup when you’re ready. That’s a hard point for me, but I’m working on keeping it at the forefront of my mind.
What’s Next for Us
We’re not really sure. We hope to get an actual IUI cycle in during the month of November, but the Thanksgiving holidays may be a problem. And as Illinois continues to keep shutting things back down, we don’t really know what’s going to happen with elective procedures and such.
So for now, I’m going to enjoy the holiday season with Camden and Andrew. I’m going to decorate for Christmas, go see some holiday lights, and plan a little Grinch party for Camden. I also can’t wait to introduce him to Elf!!
Honestly, I’m so terrified that Camden is the only chance we’re going to get to go through the childhood journey, so I’m trying to make sure that I don’t get so focused on infertility that I lose the chance to experience it all with him.
How do you deal with infertility stress? What are your go-to self care or mental break ideas?