You read that right. 2.1. There will be a 2.2, too. It’s been a long day and it’s only halfway over, but I know TIm and everyone else wants an update about how orientation went. Because this whole process is long and complicated, I thought that lumping together our business and leisure from today would be too much and I wanted to get the important part, the business, off my brain before our last night in DC gets kicked off. Also, I have gotten a lot of texts asking how it went and the only ones I’ve been able to respond to are Tim’s.
So, here goes. DC Day 2.
As you can see, I ALMOST forgot to take a picture before we left! I was so overwhelmed by getting to Walter Reed on time, finding our location and then processing all the information as well that I didn’t even take my phone out til after we were headed back over the river. BUT, I did get this shot of Walter Reed. Soon, this will be my home for about a month. I am so ready and I am so nervous.
As I expected, I didn’t get all the answers I was looking for, rather a new set of information that will eventually lead me to another set of information that will someday get me to my final goal. Y’all, this is like the National Treasure of reproduction. Clues and maps and things you have to figure out all by yourself and hope you didn’t make one wrong turn in the labyrinth like seven steps back.
The orientation began with the head IVF Doc at Walter Reed. He gave us a run down about IVF, what it entails and all the possible complications and outcomes. Most of these things I already knew, but as Allie turned to me and said “Man, this is complicated” it gave me a selfish sense of satisfaction about my own persistence and resilience. Yes, it is complicated and we have even really started. The Doc also talked about what the Walter Reed IVF calendar looks like for each cycle and the time commitment it will take to complete one round. He kept saying things like “you can expect to go home for these four days in between baseline and monitoring” or, “you won’t need to be close for this weekend”. Like, HOKAY Doc, I’ll totes just pop on home 20 hours away! No prob! Clearly, I am in the minority of distance travelers though there was another individual all the way from Texas! Next up was the head nurse for the IVF Program. This is where things get a little hairy and I start to panic (poor Allie, I was snippy!). Remember back in my early posts where I lamented about our original RE (Reproductive Endocrinologist) suddenly closing with no warning right before we were ready to start treating? Well, appliances and medical staff seem to fall apart around me on the regular. APPARENTLY they have lost an integral part of their IVF personnel AND the head nurse is going out of the country for two weeks for the next cycle, so they are only taking on 42 patients (more than half their normal intake) for the upcoming cycle.
Y’all. My stomach dropped when i heard that. I could feel my body temperature rising, my ears ringing at the sound of those words and i was immediately devastated.
The difficult part of all of this is I was sure where I stood. I understand all of the necessary steps but no clarity about where exactly I was in the queue. So, before I go any further, let me back track and give you a rundown on the actual steps of the process here so you will understand where I am and how the information I received today fits in with my story.
To get on an IVF cycle at Walter Reed you have to first meet these requirements:
1. You must be Active Duty Military or the Spouse of an Active Duty Military member
2. You must be Retired Military or married to a Retired Military Service Member
Ok, ✅ for me on #1. There’s step one.
After that, you have to complete these steps:
1. Obtain an Infertility diagnoses (you can do this at WR (Walter Reed) or another RE)
2. You must provide proof that IVF is MEDICALLY NECESSARY to reproduce
3. If your diagnoses was not obtained from WR, you must have your RE submit orders to WR for IVF and supply written documentation with supporting evidence that indicates that IVF is medically necessary
4. Submit steps 1-3 to WR in the totally backwards way the Army does everything
5. Wait for all of that documentation to be reviewed and cleared by the WR Docs
6. Receive your welcome packet from WR. This packet information is 56 PAGES of forms, many of which are mind numbing, redundant information requests all with the disclaimer that at anytime you could be removed from the program if your chances of success are deemed not high enough for this particular program
7. Fill out the 56 pages of information
8. Make sure that you have every single one of the 60+ Lab test results for you and your partner indicated on page 50 within the past year.
9. Submit your packet to Walter Reed
11. Learn your admission status to the program (we were accepted)
12. Complete the orientation
13. Get medically cleared
14. Get financially cleared
15. Schedule your cycle <—– This is the big one I’ve been waiting for (obvs)
So, this is the very abbreviated list of steps for admission and scheduling of the cycle. Rest assured, there is a list just as long once you have your cycle scheduled, but that is a post for a different day. The frustrating part is there is no app or website or anything you can log into to see your status. Where am I in this long list of crap?? As far as i knew going into the orientation, I was going to get medically and financially cleared today. As I soon found out from the head nurse, neither was happening that day and the likelihood of me getting on a cycle this year was pretty slim. The strange thing is that the nurse really skirted by this most important issue. Like, that is why everyone is here. I know you HAVE to probably go through what IVF is, but I guarantee you that everyone in that room already knows all of this. Basically, no one was getting up and leaving after they heard the part about the super long IV needle getting inserted into your vagina through your abdomen and accessing your ovaries to aspirate your eggs. Promise, we all know this part of the plan. (If you didn’t know this part of the plan, sorry I didn’t break it to you gently, its just the ugly truth) Why would you spend so much time on this and apologize your way through how to achieve the next steps since you’re leaving on a two week vacation. Why not let us know that BEFORE scheduling us for orientation when we all assumed these next steps were getting ticked off the list.
All of these thoughts are rapid fire in my brain all at once in the three minutes she took to wrap up how to get on a cycle. The only thing I gleaned from the last bit is that there’s basically a very slim chance I’m getting anything done before the new year.
But then, a light! She said the entire staff would be available for scheduling questions after the orientation. I could not get out of that room fast enough.
God bless understanding people that are put in my path. The sweet nurse that pulled my chart today was seriously an angel. She took me back and patiently listened to me launch into my story. She quickly sifted through all of the superfluous information I gave her (as I tend to do) and immediately categorized just the info that would help me today. See, remember way back in this post where I said you have to be active duty to retired to participate in this program? Well, Tim is only active duty while he is deployed and he won’t be retired for some time. He has to remain active duty for the entirety of our treatment. Enter, time crunch. She empathized with my situation and told me that while every person in our orientation will want to be on the next cycle, too the majority of them are full time big military and aren’t at risk of losing this benefit soon. While she couldn’t tell me I would definitely be on the next cycle, she took my chart and said “I am going to hang on to this because we need to get YOU onto our next cycle, can you do august?” Y’all, I almost cried. While I can’t do the august cycle because it’s too late in MY cycle, the likelihood of us getting on to the LATE October, early November cycle is very high. I won’t know until the first week of September (of course, more waiting) but I feel oddly at peace with this.
So, long story short, I didn’t get any of the answers I came for today BUT I did get a date. I will not know which cycle I will be on until the beginning of September which really isn’t that far away. In fact, its the same amount of time I would have to wait to find out if I am pregnant after a transfer, so I’ll look at it is a test to see if my patience can tolerate the waiting. September 1, once I know if I made the cut for the small cycle I will have to immediately pay the $7366 (less the $350 deposit I made today) in order to secure that spot, so y’all pray that nothing new comes up so we can make that happen.
WHAT I KNOW
-We have completed all the steps necessary for medical clearance
-We are hopeful that we will be placed on the small cycle sometime early November and I will know for certain by the beginning of September
-We will have to clear financials (which means pay in full) when they call us to let us know that we have been put on the next cycle
-There is a very small chance I will make it onto the August cycle
-I am completely mentally drained from today and while I am trying to maintain my understanding of this incredibly complicated process, it is a very tedious and precarious knowledge so if you have questions about what’s going on, please don’t get frustrated if I am not sure or if the information is conflicting. All this patience I have been exerting probably won’t extend past my interaction with WR and I apologize in advance if I am snappy
After today, I really needed this:
I am still hopeful for the next cycle, and I am still in need of all your calming thoughts and prayers as I continue to wait for answers. AND patience from you guys while I deal with all of my emotions and maybe don’t answer my calls and texts.