How was your experience with Brian Cooper at Mid-Iowa Fertility?
From the get-go Dr. Cooper was extremely open and honest. i always knew what we could expect going into any test or treatment. He explains everything in full detail. The only constructive criticism I would have is that he talks very fast. He is obviously very smart and this shows, but when you're hearing life-altering information for the first time, he may go through it rather quickly. But, we got used to his style quickly and I learned to always ask any and all questions or ask that he repeat something he said. He would answer everything to the absolute best of his ability and never showed any impatient behaviors during conversations. He shows so much compassion for the people he treats, you honestly walk away feeling like family. I felt that I was in great hands with someone who knew what they were doing but was always willing to adjust when necessary. Through each test or treatment, I never felt overwhelmed and I always felt like I was being heard. We would take it one treatment at a time and then convene to discuss next steps.
During the initial testing process, it was determined that I had about 22 resting follicles. At 31, I was very happy with this number as was Dr. Cooper. After going to three unsuccessful IUI's (all of which I had at least 2-4 mature follicles), we moved onto IVF. Both Dr. Cooper and I (including my husband), felt like we had a really great chance to retrieve a high number of eggs that would result in at least a handful of embryos. All the testing we underwent showed that both my husband and I were very healthy and there was no scientific reason as to why we weren't able to get pregnant after four years of trying. All in all, this was great news as our insurance doesn't cover fertility treatments, so all fertility treatments were out of pocket and we felt like we were going to have great results with IVF.
During the IVF process, Dr. Cooper was great. Before egg retrieval it was determined that I had 12 mature follicles with a few smaller ones that might also be candidates for retrieval. I remember sitting in the recovery room after the retrieval anxiously awaiting the good news. I thought for sure we would get at least 12 eggs. Unfortunately, Dr. Cooper had to deliver the news that we only got 5. He wasn't expecting the low number just as much as were weren't expecting the low number. But, he was so kind to me. It was obviously a blow. We had just spent thousands of dollars hoping to create our family with one retrieval. I never expected that, that wouldn't be the case. We suspect that I may have low ovarian reserve. Although my body created a large number of follicles, the majority of my follicles either contained cysts or were empty. Resulting in the 5 eggs. I was devastated. Dr. Cooper remained hopeful though and really gave me the hope that I needed to get through the next five days.
On day 5 we had our transfer. From those 5 eggs, only one great embryo was created. This embryo decided to stick and now we have our beautiful daughter. Although we will have to go through the entire IVF process all over again, which may result in the same number of eggs or less, I wouldn't want to be under anyone else's care except for Dr. Cooper. We was just so incredibly warm and kind throughout all of our treatments, failures and ultimate success.
What's one piece of advice would you give a prospective patient of Brian Cooper at Mid-Iowa Fertility?
Be prepared to take notes, write really fast and always stop to ask him questions or have him repeat himself. He does not find this annoying at all and always welcomes an honest and open discussion. It's scary walking into a fertility clinic for the first time, but you'll walk away feeling heard, understood and taken care of.
During treatment, were you treated like a number or a human with Brian Cooper at Mid-Iowa Fertility?
Dr. Cooper was incredibly compassionate. We suffered a miscarriage about a year and half into trying to conceive. This information was passed along from my Gyn to Dr. Cooper and as such he really handled both my husband and I with so much care. He has a wonderful bedside manner and is willing to do anything and everything to help create the family you desire, while maintaining realistic views. I never felt like a number to him. He truly cared about me and I felt it.
Describe the protocols Brian Cooper used in your cycles at Mid-Iowa Fertility and their degree of success.
Femara days 5-9 with ultrasounds to watch for approaching ovulation starting on day 14.
Birth control: 14 days
Flagyl (500mg): Twice per day for 7 days
Augmentin (875mg): Twice per day for 7 days
Baby aspirin (81mg): Daily with the start of birth control to my 6 week ultrasound
Menopur (75IU): Once per day in the evening for 8 days
Follistim (150IU): Once per day in the morning for 8 days
Dexamethasone (1mg): daily for 8 days
GnRH-antagonist: Ganirelix for 2 days
Recombinant hCG: Ovidrel x2 for trigger
The rationale behind the protocol and the amounts I was prescribed were used because as far as we could find there was no reasonable explanation as to why I couldn't get pregnant and stay pregnant. Dr. Cooper wanted to use a soft method as he thought I would respond well. He was right. I responded very well to the treatment, we just didn't know that my follicles weren't actually producing anything. When we go back for round two, there will be discussion about what we can do differently this time around to ensure that we retrieve more eggs that could potentially go to become good quality embryos.
During IVF round one, we had the following results:
Follicles to retrieve: at least 12 (we were hoping that the smaller ones would catch up by retrieval day)
Eggs collected: 5
Eggs mature: 4 (ICSI was used on all four eggs)
Eggs fertilized: 2
Embryos created: 1 day 5 embryo was created
We went ahead with a fresh transfer with no PGS testing. This transfer resulted in a successful pregnancy and live birth of our daughter at 40 weeks + 3 days.
Although we were initially disappointed with our retrieval results, we were obviously thrilled with the ultimate end result of a successful pregnancy and our little girl. We don't have any other embryos frozen, so another round of IVF will be taking place in the near future to hopefully expand our family.
Describe your experience with your nurse at Mid-Iowa Fertility. (Assigned nurse: Sheila Rees)
The entire nursing staff, including our care coordinator were simply the best of the best. Every single person that I interacted with showed true compassion and understanding at every stage of the fertility journey. I honestly cannot say enough about the entire staff (including the front desk, billing coordinator, lab staff, etc.) Literally, every single person that we talked to or helped us in any way was truly wonderful. Everyone is hoping for the same end result, a successful and healthy pregnancy. No judgment or negative feelings along the way. It made one of the hardest times in our lives a little easier. They really took care of us.
Describe your experience with Mid-Iowa Fertility.
All in all the clinic is wonderful. I was very nervous going in as we only have two fertility clinics available to us in the state of Iowa. This sounds crazy, but it is true. The clinic we chose was geographically closest to us (an hour and twenty minute drive), the other clinic was about two and a half hours away. Being that there is little to no competition for Mid-Iowa Fertility, I was afraid that we would just be another number and that we needed them more than they needed us. But, it was the exact opposite. The minute we walked in the doors we were shown compassion. (I keep using the word compassion, but it is the only word to best describe Dr. Cooper, his staff and the clinic as a whole). They have signs posted about not bringing babies or young children into the office as it could negatively impact another patient, and I thought it was so thoughtful. Everyone at the clinic is open, honest and caring. The only weakness I saw was one that couldn't really be helped. The wait times to get into the clinic to initially be seen and the wait times while you're at the clinic are long. I would simply tell others that you need to plan ahead and be prepared to wait, which can be the hardest part of the journey. But, an average wait time for a first consultation can be anywhere from 6-8 weeks. And there were many times that I would need to plan to be at the clinic for a couple of hours at the minimum. But, again, I expected this so it didn't bother me. The strengths of the clinic far outweigh this one slightly negative thing. I think it also says a lot about the quality of the clinic.
Describe the costs associated with your care under Brian Cooper at Mid-Iowa Fertility.
Pre-testing: Any testing that was done before treatment could begin, including IUI and IVF cost roughly ~$1500
IUI: ~$1000 per IUI. I don't respond to OPK's, so I needed ultrasounds to determine when an IUI should be performed. This increased the cost to us as we had to pay out of pocket for each ultrasound. An IUI without ultrasound cost ~$500 per IUI.
IVF: ~$14,500 (including medications)
IVF pre-testing: ~$2000
IVF (baseline, stims monitoring, egg retrieval, embryo transfer): ~11000
IVF meds: ~$1500
Describe Brian Cooper's approach to eSET (elective single embryo transfer) vs. multiple embryo transfer at Mid-Iowa Fertility.
We only had one embryo available for transfer, but we did discuss the possibility of transferring one or two embryos during our initial IVF consultation. Dr. Cooper recommends transferring only one embryo at a time, but would follow our lead. If we wanted to transfer two embryos, then he would leave that decision up to us. We really felt like we had a say in all of this and he understands both sides of the argument.