How was your experience with Christopher Sipe at Fertility Centers of Illinois?
Dr. Sipe has a very sympathetic and kind disposition. He helped my husband and I keep a sense of humor throughout this process, which really resonated with us. He was also very upfront about the risks of multiples and advised against multiple embryo transfers in our particular situation. He took great care to explain our test results and treatments. We met with him at our first initial consult, a follow-up consult to begin IUI treatment, a consult to begin IVF treatment and then a review of our first IVF cycle, which failed, to talk about what he would change for the second cycle. He also did perform my embryo retrieval. 3 different other doctors performed my first transfer, second retrieval and second transfer--doctors in the practice rotate for those procedures and you work with whomever is on duty that day. Dr. Sipe is just the right combination of frank and empathetic.
What's one piece of advice would you give a prospective patient of Christopher Sipe at Fertility Centers of Illinois?
Do your own research and ask questions! The more you show that you know about the process, the better conversations you can have. Also, there are no dumb questions. Dr. Sipe can break down anything for you and make it more understandable.
During treatment, were you treated like a number or a human with Christopher Sipe at Fertility Centers of Illinois?
FCI is a very large organization, but I primarily went to a suburban satellite office that was small in size. There was always the same receptionist, same billing person, my doctor and three nurses. 90% of the time, it was my primary nurse who called with my results. It was only on weekends for monitoring for my two IUIs and IVF cycles that I felt more like a number when I had to go to their central River North location. The waiting rooms are full and several women are herded in many at a time for ultrasounds and blood draws. During IVF procedures, however, the experience was very intimate and we did not feel like a number at all.
Describe the protocols Christopher Sipe used in your cycles at Fertility Centers of Illinois and their degree of success.
For the first IVF cycle, we did the standard protocol for an unexplained diagnosis: One month birth control, Lupron for suppression, followed by Follistim and Menopur. We retrieved 11 eggs, 8 of which were mature and 4 fertilized. 3 made it to Day 3, he recommended we transfer 2 10-cell embryos and the third leftover made it to blastocyst and was frozen. At our IVF post-mortem, Dr. Sipe told us that I didn't respond as well as hoped to this protocol and that my follicles grew in a wide spread of sizes. His goal with the second cycle would be to change the protocol with the goal of creating more eggs that are closer in size. The second cycle protocol was three days of Ganirelix only for suppression, followed by higher doses of Follistim and Menopur, then Ganirelix introduced again prior to retrieval. The second cycle retrieved 11 eggs, all 11 were mature, 8 fertilized and 6 made it to blastocyst stage on Day 5. We transferred one single embryo on Day 5 and have just received two positive betas with hope for a successful pregnancy. We have 1 embryo frozen from the first cycle and 5 from the second cycle for future attempts. Though we did not meet the goal of creating MORE eggs the second cycle, it was far and away a better cycle with better results, and my follicles grew close in size with the second protocol. It was obvious throughout the whole cycle that my body responded better. I was also more relaxed because I knew what to expect.
Describe your experience with your nurse at Fertility Centers of Illinois. (Assigned nurse: Agnes)
Agnes called me with test results and always responded to my emails in a timely fashion if I emailed her with lower-priority questions. It was obvious to me that she works with a lot of patients because she would not remember specific details about my past with the practice, such as whether or not I had IUIs prior to IVF, etc. The more time I spent with the practice, the more familiar I felt she was with me. When other nurses subbed in for Agnes or when I was monitored over the weekend at a different office, I found that other nurses often gave me more information as far as specific numbers; sometimes I would have to ask for exact values rather than just hearing from her that they were "good" or "normal" or "a little low."
Describe your experience with Fertility Centers of Illinois.
FCI has a state of the art IVF clinic that's one of the biggest and best in the area, which I consider a good thing for IVF because you want experience on your side when it comes to embryologists and doctors. One thing to keep in mind is that the chances are small that your doctor will perform one or more of your procedures. Nurses perform IUIs and the doctors rotate for retrievals and transfers. I had 4 different doctors (one was my own doctor) for the 2 retrievals and 2 transfers I did and you will be meeting those doctors on the day of the procedure just a few minutes before. Being monitored at one of the smaller suburban satellite offices provided a more intimate experience than the main hub in River North, which is higher volume.
Describe the costs associated with your care under Christopher Sipe at Fertility Centers of Illinois.
We have insurance coverage for infertility after meeting our $5,000 deductible. Items not covered by our insurance included backup sperm freeze for IVF ($500) and embryo freezing ($1200 up front plus additional yearly cost, about $500)
Describe Christopher Sipe's approach to eSET (elective single embryo transfer) vs. multiple embryo transfer at Fertility Centers of Illinois.
Dr. Sipe recommended a single embryo transfer on Day 5 for my age (35). We also wanted to reduce the risk of multiples and we agreed with this recommendation.
What specific things went wrong at Fertility Centers of Illinois?
Describe the specific things that went wrong at Fertility Centers of Illinois.
For our first IUI, we were scheduled for the procedure on Friday for Monday morning. Because my nurse called after office hours and the scheduler had gone home for the day, our IUI appointment did not get on the actual schedule. We showed up early Monday morning and the staff was not expecting us for our IUI. The one andrology staff member had been moved to a different office that morning because they were needed elsewhere and the schedule at our clinic showed no IUIs. Once the oversight was realized, the staff worked quickly to resolve the problem and sent us to a nearby clinic 20 minutes away to have our IUI. As an added complication, we brought our semen sample with us and were on a time limit, which added to the stress. This was not any one person's fault, but rather a perfect storm of scheduling snafus that could have been prevented if a better system was in place. I notified my doctor of the situation (he was away at a conference at the time) and he responded quickly and apologetically, which I appreciated. We never had a scheduling problem after that first time.