How was your experience with Randall Barnes at Northwestern Medicine?
Dr. Barnes was great for our initial and IVF consults. He answered our questions clearly (and there were a lot!) and was prompt with follow-up questions I sent through the patient portal. I wish he'd talked with us more during our failed IUIs to see if we could change the protocols, but ultimately I think we would have ended up doing IVF anyway.
What's one piece of advice would you give a prospective patient of Randall Barnes at Northwestern Medicine?
Advocate for yourself! Ask questions and make sure you are clear on answers.
During treatment, were you treated like a number or a human with Randall Barnes at Northwestern Medicine?
I saw Dr. Barnes for our initial consult, IVF consult, egg retrieval, and then early pregnancy ultrasounds. He was great about answering my questions, even if I sent them through the portal. My monitoring visits were managed by sonographers, lab staff, and nurses. There are a lot of patients at this clinic, which can make you feel like a number, especially during early morning monitoring appointments. However, all of my nurses were wonderful about communicating with me directly and responding to my questions quickly.
Describe the protocols Randall Barnes used in your cycles at Northwestern Medicine and their degree of success.
For our IUIs we used clomid with an Ovidrel trigger. The first month we did 50mg of clomid on days 3-7, the second 100mg days 5-9, an the third 100mg days 3-7.
Once we decided to move to IVF I started birth control for 21 days. On day 15 I added 10 units of Lupron, which I stayed on through my stimulation phase. I began 150 units of Follistim and 150 units of Menopur on day 2 of my cycle. From there I stayed on the same dose for 13 days, along with the 10 units of Follistim. On day 13 I decreased the Lupron to 5 units and added the Ovidrel trigger. Egg retrieval was scheduled for day 15.
12 eggs were retrieved, with 11 being mature. 8 fertilized normally with ICSI. On day 3 we went in for transfer and still had 8 growing. We transferred two 8-cell embryos and on day 6 two were still growing and were then frozen.
I tested positive 7 days after my transfer and had my beta 10 days post transfer. A week and a half after my positive beta I went in for an ultrasound where we saw one gestational sac; a week later we saw one fetus and the heartbeat. Our daughter was born in February 2017 at full term.
Describe your experience with the nursing staff.
The nursing staff was phenomenal, with the exception of one nurse. The IVF nurses were significantly more responsive and compassionate than the nurses who just handle IUI.
Describe your experience with Northwestern Medicine.
Strengths: Academic institution, good results, high quality, seamless process (runs like a well-oiled machine). The front desk staff is incredible, as well as the lab staff. They're always cheery and friendly, which is helpful during a stressful time.
Weakness: Due to the large number of patients they see, it's easy to feel like "just a number" if you don't advocate for yourself. The early morning monitoring appointments are great for working women, but it can sometimes feel like you're being shuffled from lab to ultrasound and then waiting for a nurse to meet with you or contact you (for IVF they would call me later that morning).
Above all, advocate for yourself. Do not be afraid to ask questions or push for a specific protocol if you think it will help.
Describe your experience with your monitoring appointments at Northwestern Medicine.
Monitoring appointments take place between 7-7:45AM on weekdays and 8-8:30AM on weekends. Only once was there a line out the door in the five months I worked with this clinic. The other mornings it was a breeze to check in, wait to be called for lab/ultrasound, meet with nurse (for IUI only), and then make a new appointment or head to work to wait for more information pending lab results (IVF). It's a well oiled machine.
Describe the costs associated with your care under Randall Barnes at Northwestern Medicine.
I don't remember the exact numbers, but I think our meds were around $2700 (with insurance) and most of our procedures were covered by insurance. In the end I think we spent around $2K toward procedures, including embryo freezing, which was not covered by my insurance.
Describe Randall Barnes's approach to eSET (elective single embryo transfer) vs. multiple embryo transfer at Northwestern Medicine.
Dr. Barnes pushed SET and advised against transferring multiple embryos. We felt more comfortable with two and we were OK with the possibility of multiples. He was out of the office the day of the transfer and his chief, Dr. Jared Robins, did our transfer with one of the fellows (Dr. Okeigwe). Dr. Robins suggested transferring two embryos based on quality and my age.
Be advised that Dr. Barnes will try to push you toward SET.