Tuesday, February 28, 2012

What we know about the accommodations...
  OK, so what do we know??  Well probably not as much as we would like.  We are going to be there for 3 weeks which is a long time.  Anadolu Hospital is not in Istanbul but on the outskirts in Gezbe.  It is purposely isolated because it is a private hospital.  There are often cancer and other longer term patients staying there so we were told they wanted it quiet and out of the way.  The Titanic hotel (if you search for it make sure it is the one attached to the hospital there is a luxury hotel with the same name in Istanbul- don't confuse the two) which is attached to the hospital has different kinds of rooms.  There are regular staterooms and larger ones with kitchenettes.  If you book plenty in advance you can request a room with a kitchenette if one is available.  
  You can also stay at a hotel in the city, but a nice hotel will cost considerably more and you will have to pay for transportation back and forth. If you stay at the hospital hotel there is transportation into the city.  At this point we have no idea how that works so more on that when we get there!
  There is a view from the hotel that is attached to the hospital of the water on one side and the forest on the other.  We were told that there are queen beds, TVs and DVD players, and breakfast is provided daily.  There are no restaurants near the hospital so our plan is to go to local markets and get a few staples for the times we can't get to the city.  I guess we will see how that plan goes as well!! Most of this we either learned from the Anadolu website or from Burcu and Mark.  If you have questions about the hospital or hotel check out their website.  They have virtual tours and pictures of the accommodations.  There is also information of the doctor and hospital facilities.    http://www.anadolumedicalcenter.com/en/Default.aspx

More to come...


Please comment if you have any questions...we will get back to you.
  After deciding to go to Istanbul the next step was to make sure that we had all of our ducks in a row.  On www.IVFvacationcenter.com there are documents explaining which tests are required by Dr. Arici and the Anadolu Medical Center.  After deciding to go we the first thing that we had to do was get our medical records.  If you have done fertility treatments recently you most likely have a lot of the required tests.  The tests should be current within 6 months to 1 year.  Burcu our contact in Turkey has been very helpful by making sure that we had everything done.  We scanned and emailed tests in as we received them and she would email us back and let us know what we still needed.
   I recommend contacting your regular OB/GYN and telling them what your plans are.  You want to ask them if they will support you before and after your trip.  You will need a prescription for birth control pills before you leave and if you are pregnant after the trip you will need progesterone to support the pregnancy.  If you haven't already had a HSG or other uterine cavity check you will want to ask if they can do that test as well.  I was due for a yearly, so before I made that appointment, I called and let them know, and luckily my OB and nurse practitioner were very supportive.  I was even able to get samples of birth control.  At that time they also ordered the blood tests that I needed for my trip.  
  My husband also needed blood work so it was the perfect time for us to get established with a primary care physician.  We both scheduled physicals and our new PCP ordered the required blood work for John and also seemed very supportive of our plans.  Support from our doctors was very important to me.  In a way it validated what we were doing and made me more confident in our decision.   Don't be surprised if you need other tests.  Burcu contacted us at one point saying that Dr Arici would like us to get a complete blood count(CBC).  John was NOT happy...he is a big chicken when it comes to needles!  

 Another thing you will need to send to Turkey is your marriage license.  Couples wanting IVF must be married under Turkish law.  Make sure that you have a current passport as well.  I needed to renew mine so I went to http://travel.state.gov and had it rushed.  It was more expensive but I received it within 2 weeks.  You will need a Visa but it is purchased upon entry into Turkey and I believe is $20 US dollars.  I was told it is to be paid in your own currency.  

  My husband spent weeks looking at plane tickets and trying to find the best prices.  We ended up getting a good deal on a direct flight to Ataturk Airport in Istanbul, which is about an hour away from the hospital.  There is a closer airport called Sabiha Gochen, but it is smaller and a lot more expensive.  The hospital will pick you up at either airport.  We made sure that we had the go ahead from Dr. Arici before booking our tickets.  

    At this point we are all set to go.  All of our testing and medical records have been reviewed by Dr.Arici. We both have our passports, ordered plane tickets, ordered Turkish currency (Lira) from the bank and have family coming to stay with our boys.  Well maybe we aren't ready to fly out tomorrow but all of the major things are done.  

  I hope that if you are reading this that it is helpful.  We obviously don't know everything yet because we haven't gone but as we get further along in our plans and trip my hopes are that the information we provide good and bad will ease your decision.  We are very excited and when our trip comes along we plan on doing short blog entries and videos of everything from the hospital to the procedure to the food and accommodations.  If you have questions please leave a comment at the bottom of any post and we will get back to you.  

Stay tuned for information on the accommodations...at least what we know so far!


Monday, February 27, 2012

Why Istanbul?
   We chose Turkey for several reasons.  First, because we had been to Istanbul on our honeymoon, second the hospital is affiliated with Johns Hopkins, and the third and most impressive, was the doctor's resume.  
   Being the skeptic I checked and doubled checked everything that concerned me.  I looked into the Anadolu Medical Center making sure that it was indeed accredited by the Joint Commission International (JCI), which is the same accreditation used for U.S. hospitals. I also checked to make sure that it was affiliated with Johns Hopkins.  I checked out the doctor, Aydin Arici, who teaches and researches at Yale part of the month.  I made sure that the company that was helping us was a member of the Better Business Bureau and had no strikes against them.  
  My husband went above and beyond, doing everything that I did and then some.  He called the President of IVF Vacation Center and we asked him question after question.  He answered all of them and eased any concerns that I had.
   Our next step was to get in touch with the international liaison for English speaking patients at the Anadolu Hospital that would be our contact throughout the process.  We were soon emailing and talking to a wonderfully helpful woman named Burcu. 
   About two weeks after John started researching, I slowly began to become more comfortable with the idea of going to Turkey for IVF.  At first we were thinking about going in September of this year but pretty soon my head was spinning and we instead decided to go this Spring!  
 Stay tuned for more of our Journey...


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Our Story
My husband John and I have been married almost 5 years.  When I met him over 8 years ago he already had two wonderful little boys and had a vasectomy shortly after the youngest was born.  I knew I wanted to add to our family so before we got married we decided that when the time was right John would have a vasectomy reversal.  Our plan was to have the procedure done shortly after we got married but unfortunately John was laid off.  We ended up moving 1250 miles away for a very good job but again he was laid off 1 1/2 years later. We moved again and finally got settled in a great place. John finally had his surgery after we got settled and we have been trying to conceive for two years now.  
   After the surgery we were told it could take a year for John's sperm count to reach a level that would make it easier to conceive naturally.  On the upside the surgery was a success because there was sperm but unfortunately his levels never reached past 14 million.  After a year my OB/GYN decided it was time for us to see a reproductive endocrinologist or fertility specialist. 
We did the all the normal tests, hormone levels, sperm counts etc.  The conclusion was that our difficulty was most likely due to John's sperm count so we decided to try IUI.  
   We did 2 rounds of IUI and another round of just Clomid unsuccessfully.  Our RE decided that the next best step would be to try IVF.  It was a very emotional experience and last fall we decided that we would take a break.  We had spent the last two years tracking my cycle and being disappointed every month.  I decided to quit tracking my cycle and not do any fertility treatments until we had the money for IVF.  I also went back to work to not only help financially but to alleviate the stress of trying to conceive.
  In the US a single round of IVF can cost upwards of $15, 000.  Our plan was to hopefully have the money in the next year.  In January of this year I looked at my husband one night in bed and said we need to come up with a different plan because there is no way we can save the money soon enough.  I had just turned 34 and I had had enough of a break.  I knew I was ready to try again and I didn't want to wait, knowing it could take us 2 years because realistically it will cost us about $20,000 for one round after all is said and done. 
  That night we both sat in bed on our laptops and searched away looking into how we might be able to finance the treatment instead of waiting.  We inquired about refinancing and home equity loans but neither was an option that we wanted to do.  We also looked into medical loans but that wasn't the answer either.  At some point I stumbled upon www.IVFvacationcenter.com.  I mentioned it to John, jokingly, and that is where it all began. He looked it up and his head started to spin.  You need to understand my husband.  When he starts to research something that interests him he doesn't quit until he has all the information.  Don't tell him I said this, but he is awesome at research! 

Stay tuned for more of our journey...

Welcome to our Journey

  IVF in Istanbul...To start let me just say that this was a difficult decision to make.  Never in my wildest dreams did I think that we would be heading to Turkey to try and conceive a child.  I was actually very skeptical throughout the beginning of this journey about going to a foreign country to do something so personal and important to both of us.  My husband John is the researcher and did a phenominal job looking into this option and making sure that we were making a good decision. Our reason started out strictly financial in the beginning and slowly has turned into a personal decision that we feel will make the whole process more relaxing and less stressful.  Any of you who have been through fertility treatments, trying and failing to conceive, know how difficult and stressful it gets month after month.  At this point the information that we have to share is simply that of our decision and preparations for our trip in a few months.  We plan to share as much as we can and feel comfortable telling the world.  Welcome to our journey.