How was your experience with Rachel Ashby at Brigham & Women's Hospital?
Dr. Ashby is pretty straight forward, she definitely gives you a dose of reality, but in a compassionate way. Prior to seeking her help I had one cycle converted to IUI, and one cycle where I ovulated prematurely when I went in for retrieval of two follicles (both at Boston IVF). My numbers were not good when we met - my FSH was basically 12, and she did not think my chances of getting eggs were great. We discussed considering donor eggs, and tried to help me see that a child that wasn't genetically mine would still be a child worth loving. She also said that she felt IVF cycles might be robbing me of getting pregnant naturally, because I was spending a lot of time to get one egg, which I was already getting each month on my own. I left her office a MESS. My previous doctor had mentioned donor eggs, but had seemed more optimistic about my chances of conceiving with my own eggs. It was definitely a hard conversation to have, but I appreciated her candor.
Despite her concerns, Dr. Ashby said she would try her most aggressive approach (Lupron flare) to see if she could wake up my ovaries. It felt like it was going to be a last ditch effort, and if it didn't work, I was likely to stop trying. Well it did work. I stimmed for 18 long days, but they retrieved 4 eggs, all which fertilized and were frozen (my progesterone had spiked so I had to freeze all and wait to transfer in the next cycle). Dr. Ashby was SO happy for me. She said she had hoped for 2, and was amazed I got 4, and they all fertilized. She was newly optimistic for me - and said she would definitely do it again if this time didn't take, based on those results. Ultimately 3 were transferred (4, 7, 10) but none stuck - so we are back at it again next month. But Dr. Ashby is confident now - and said the two larger embryos were really nice - so my chances aren't bad.
What's one piece of advice would you give a prospective patient of Rachel Ashby at Brigham & Women's Hospital?
Dr. Ashby wants you to succeed in getting pregnant, that is her goal, she is on your side.
During treatment, were you treated like a number or a human with Rachel Ashby at Brigham & Women's Hospital?
Dr. Ashby and her nurses have always spoken to me by name, called me with results on time, returned calls when I had questions, and treated me with compassion. The clinic at Newton - Wellesley is MUCH smaller than Boston IVF, so while there is the 7am ultrasounds with check-in sheet, the waiting room is small and cozy, the check-in people (Kim and Alicia) are always there, there are only a couple different US techs, and usually the same woman drawing blood. Familiar faces are nice to see. Even though it is a hospital, it isn't a very large one, it feels more like a doctors office inside of a medical building. But a very clean, newly renovated one - not like an old crusty one.
Describe the protocols Rachel Ashby used in your cycles at Brigham & Women's Hospital and their degree of success.
We did a lupon flare protocol. BCP for 10 days before cycle, then 300 iu Menupur and diluted Lupron in AM, and 300 iu of Follistim and diluted Lupron in PM. The downreg of Lupron really slowed me down so they could kick as much FSH into me as possible. My follicles grew really slow, then in a day grew 5mm all of sudden. Ultimately I stimmed for 18 days before an Ovidrel trigger and retrieval.
Describe your experience with your nurse at Brigham & Women's Hospital. (Assigned nurse: Nancy)
There are multiple nurses - Nancy, Lisa... those are the names I remember. If you call the nurses line someone always returns your call. They call you with test results usually around lunch time and give you further details. Sometimes you need to know what to ask, but they will give you the info you want if you do. Nancy specifically was VERY helpful to me this new cycle - when my first one failed I was really upset and she took the time to talk to me in her office for a few minutes. I have a feeling my husband's company may revise our plan to remove fertility benefits at the end of the year, and this was already October when our first cycle failed. So I was concerned I would have issues completing another cycle before I lost benefits - and she went above and beyond to help me get Dr. Ashby's new plan in place AND insurance approval by the following day! That was CRAZY fast - and because of her we were able to start this new cycle this month so we can get through it before the end of December!
Describe your experience with Brigham & Women's Hospital.
Brigham Women's is a state of the art hospital, and Partner's Healthcare is at the top of the medical profession. The clinic at Newton Wellesley Hospital in Newton has a small and cozy waiting room, and new and clean medical rooms with new equipment. They can do everything the large clinics can do, but better - they can even do simple procedures in their offices there like the mock transfer or hysteroscopy. You have your surgeries at BWH in Boston, and while when I was there there was construction happening on the floor, the facility itself was perfect. The nurses there were also so nice, the doctors were considerate and informative, everything went smoothly. I actually liked being there :) which matters when you are about to have surgery. Love everything about my experiences at BWH.
Describe the costs associated with your care under Rachel Ashby at Brigham & Women's Hospital.
the appointment was $645 to meet with the doctor, my meds were about $30k (but that was billed to insurance so I don't know the real cost) my surgery for retrieval was $12k and the transfer was $4,500. I am so fortunate to have had insurance coverage.
Describe Rachel Ashby's approach to eSET (elective single embryo transfer) vs. multiple embryo transfer at Brigham & Women's Hospital.
We transferred 3 - Dr. Ashby said she would transfer 2 if they looked good or 3 if they looked not great. The embryologist said the algorithm they use said to put back 3 - but the smallest was only 4 cells so I kind of felt like that one was a low chance shot of 'why not?' since the 4th was only 3 cells - it didn't make it to refreezing.