Well, it’s official– we have a transfer date for our embryo.
It’s still a tentative one, meaning that there is a small chance it could change slightly based on Becca’s response to the medication, but plans are in motion. Becca texted me one morning last week after she’d received a med protocol from our fertility nurse; I was doing laundry or cleaning up a mess or something equally mundane, and as soon as I saw her text with our projected date, my stomach dropped.
I don’t plan to share the date here, only to say that we are preparing for February. While there have been a number of good things to come from being open throughout these years, one of the hardest parts has been the pressure to immediately share the results– both good and bad— following our embryo transfers. So, for now at least, I’m keeping things a little vague.
In the meantime, I’ve been checking off the last things on our list: completing the order for the transfer meds, which Becca received last Wednesday; finishing the set-up of our escrow account; and purchasing an insurance policy for the cycle (a pretty standard part of surrogacy). We also read through and signed an 18-page document full of scary possibilities, however unlikely, and gave the clinic our consent to move forward.
All that was left on our end was to sign the financial forms, paperwork that my gmail account thoughtfully filtered out of my inbox and into a file labeled “promotions,” where I found it a few days later. I have been extremely fortunate to have the ability to receive treatment over my last two IVF cycles with enormous help from my insurance. That is not the norm in the US, where many don’t even have coverage for the diagnostic testing when it comes to infertility, let alone any actual treatment. But with surrogacy there is no help; everything is paid for out of pocket. My insurance cannot be used for a transfer because even though it’s my embryo, from my body, I am not able to receive it, and Becca’s insurance can’t be used because the procedure is not for her.
I saw the listed cost for the transfer for the first time when I opened the document– and yes, it’s expensive, but I expected that– what shocked me was the extra $2,500 tacked on beneath it simply labeled GC rider. Obviously it was referring to our need for a Gestational Carrier, but nothing about the transfer itself would be different from a normal IVF situation– besides a couple extra people being in the room to watch the ultrasound screen. Becca would be following the same basic schedule and protocol that I would’ve been if I had been able to receive the transfer. I reached out to my financial advisor at the clinic for clarification, hoping that it had been an oversight, or that there was at least a reasonable explanation for it.
The next day I received the following message:
The $2,500 is added on for all patients using a GC due to coordination of the cycle and additional communication/administrative work.
My initial reaction was just pure shock. Then anger. There is absolutely no reason at all for such a steep fee. If it had been an extra $500 I would have been more likely to roll my eyes and accept that this is just the way surrogacy is. But this feels downright exploitative. The “additional communication” essentially boils down to our nurse usually copying me on emails when there is an update. Already, once Becca became involved in the process, communication with me changed. It was a noticeable shift from when I was undergoing treatment before I had matched with a carrier, despite the fact that both of us are hugely invested in the outcome– it is her body, but it is also my baby.
I want to refuse to pay the added fee, purely on principle. For days now the financial consents have sat, unsigned, as part of my own silent protest. But I know that eventually I will sign them– because what choice do I have? My irreplaceable embryos are stuck there in the freezer, my doctor is out of this clinic, and we have already sunk so much into getting here. Even if I chose to move everything to a different clinic, it would cost far more than this $2500 money grab. And so, altogether, the embryo transfer alone will cost more than I paid for my entire IVF cycle, including an actual surgical procedure, anesthesia, insanely expensive hormonal injections, a dozen ultrasounds, and countless blood tests. It adds even more pressure to a situation where the pressure was already unbearable enough.
As far as actually having a date for transfer and making progress, I do feel sparks of excitement and hope… but I am also so scared. I’m afraid of the unknown, the overwhelming risk of loss, the lack of control I have over everything. Every time that excitement rises up– mostly at the thought of that moment when I first see our embryo on the live feed from the lab or can finally hold a photo of it in my hands– fear comes along to extinguish it.
The surrogacy process is all about finishing one battle only to get to the next one. Strung together, these battles form what feels like a never-ending war, and moving forward is often almost as excruciating as not making progress at all. I am feeling terrifyingly battle-weary, but we still have so far to go. The burden of stress and pressure from the legal process that consumed us between August and December seems to have shattered our momentum and taken the wind out of our sails a bit.
And now we are preparing to face the biggest, most emotionally challenging battle yet.