At the age of 42, I was reaching the end of my fertility journey. I had already gone through 12 unsuccessful attempts at IUI and 1 unsuccessful attempt at IVF at a different office. In between treatments, I conceived naturally 4 times but miscarried 4 times. 2 of the 4 miscarriages were confirmed due to chromosome abnormalities. I therefore decided I was going to stop trying unless it was via IVF with genetic testing.
Life IVF offers Minimal Stimulation IVF which I had never heard of before. Traditional IVF involves pumping you with lots of drugs for a single egg retrieval at the goal of harvesting as many eggs as possible. Mini-IVF on the other hand uses minimal drugs with the goal of retrieving fewer but higher quality eggs. It may however require multiple egg retrievals. After attending one of Life IVF's free seminars, I decided to give them a try. I purchased a mini-IVF package that included 3 egg retrievals and I paid extra for PGS (Preimplantation Genetic Screening).
I started treatment in November 2015. After 3 egg retrievals, I had only 3 viable day-5 embryos. Since I was paying for PGS that included the testing of 4 embryos, I paid extra for 2 additional egg retrieval cycles in hopes of increasing my odds with extra embryos. Unfortunately the 2 additional egg retrievals were a bust as they did not produce any viable embryos. After already spending more than I was expecting, I decided to move forward with the genetic testing of my three day-5 embryos. Miraculously my PGS results came back with 1 single good embryo.
The next step was the transfer cycle. With only 1 good embryo, I had only one chance. I needed the perfect conditions to increase my odds that this single embryo would attach. Unfortunately my first 3 transfer cycles ended up being cancelled due to thin uterine lining. It was hard to be patient but I finally had my transfer on Oct 21, 2016, just about a year after starting this final journey. With the odds stacked against me, I was ecstatic when my pregnancy test came back positive. And at 44 years of age, I delivered my healthy baby girl.
Infertility is extremely stressful and emotionally taxing. It's at this vulnerable time you hope for moral and emotional support. Especially from a facility that specializes in infertility and should understand what women/couples go through at the chance of conceiving. Be prepared that you may not find that level of support here. Life IVF is run very much like a clinic where they're trying to shuffle through patient after patient and although there are a few friendly faces, for the most part, don't be surprised if you feel just like a number. I suppose that's how they maintain efficiency but at times it'd be nice if they were a little more cordial and respectful. And unfortunately it seems there was often drama among the front office staff that then affected their demeanor towards patients. Diana Van, one of the ultrasound techs was maybe the only person in the office that I could count on to always offer a friendly and genuine smile.
There's also no hand holding at Life IVF so you'll need to be vigilant in making sure you follow directions and ask questions if you're unsure about anything, especially because timing is extremely critical during the IVF process. Ideally try to ask questions during your appointment and when you're physically in the office because once you leave, communication is done primarily through email. And unlike other offices where you see the doctor at each visit, that's not the same here. The majority of appointments will be with a tech and/or nurse only.
One big plus with Life IVF is that everything is done onsite. All blood draws, ultrasounds, egg retrieval's, embryo transfers, etc. They also offer early morning as well as Saturday appointments.
The billing department needs improvement. I did not have infertility coverage so all the treatment I paid out of my own pocket. But once I was pregnant and was going there for ultrasounds, appointments were finally covered under my insurance. Perhaps me having dual insurance made it more complicated but it was irritating that they tried to bill me when my secondary was supposed to pick up the balance. They did this by sending me a "final notice" email when I didn't even get a first or second notice. Then I find out when I called my secondary insurance company that the office never even billed them when they insisted they did. I had to do a lot of the leg work myself but in the end, everything was covered and paid.
If I were to rate my experience alone, I'd give Life IVF 2.5-3 stars with a bump up to 4 stars due to the convenience of extra hours and having everything on-site. I'd obviously give 5 stars for results since they did ultimately help me to conceive my little miracle that recently turned 7 months. Overall...4.5 stars which I'm rounding up to 5 stars!