Fertility Vacation // Practical Tips

Hi friends,

As many of you had requested, here are some practical tips from our fertility vacation in Prague. Hope it helps for your journey!

Flight
I booked my trip on WOW Airlines from Los Angeles to Berlin with a stopover in Iceland. I loved seeing the magic of the Northern Lights to fill up my spirit before the unknown of IVF.  I choose WOW for their stopover options.  Be careful on luggage charges and pack strategically.  Mike flew on Copa, a Russian airline that had some great last minute options into Prague since we didn't know exactly what days he should be there.

Home Away from Home
We booked a few Airbnb apartments throughout our stay. We prefer to get to know a neighborhood, and then book last minute while we are on site. Other people like to book in advance to feel a bit more settled before their trip. We loved the photogenic Vinohrady district, which is an art deco neighborhood off the beaten path, but still close enough to everything.

Time Commitment
I would recommend about a month-long trip for a Fertility Vacation; give or take a few extra days for travel and to account for what day your period will start. Technically, the guy only needs to be there a day or two for sperm retrieval, but having Mike as my emotional support during implantation, and also my adventure partner was necessary for a few days longer. Here is a sample schedule from our IVF clinic:

Day 1 – arrival
Day 2 – Initial consultation, gynaecological examination. The man will follow with blood sampling and sperm freezing. Paperwork, payment, signatures, man can leave if necessary.
Day 3 - 7 eggs retrieved from the donor, their fertilization
2 - 5 days after fertilization (i.e. between Day 5 – 12) cultivation of embryos takes place. It is finished by embryo transfer
After the transfer we recommend to relax at least for 24 hours before you fly back home.
In total 7 - 12 nights

Fertility Clinic - Praga Medica
Overall, we had a really positive experience at Praga Medica. The staff made us feel comfortable and understood, despite the language barrier. They provided a translator as part of the fees. They were helpful and competent, even if their approach to kindness was different than smiling (they’re definitely not going to smile at you!).

Money Money Money Money….Money
There are a lot of factors to consider with a Fertility Vacation. Vacation days from work, life commitments, how many times you want to try IVF, etc. Cost was a huge factor for us and with our flexible lifestyle and love for travel, a fertility vacation made the most sense.

In total - the cost of IVF, travel, room and board - our trip was about $10,000. Keep in mind, we also lived for that price - meals, shows, etc. IVF in the U.S. runs about $15-$20k. Most people I have spoken with said the cost is $20k, if you’re lucky, as it’s not uncommon to cost astronomically more than that. One of my friends was close to $65k and was successful on the first IVF attempt although they tried multiple options along the way.

Research
Prior to choosing Praga Medica we Googled a few IVF clinics in Prague. We compared each clinic and then also asked our friend who is an IVF consultant here in the U.S. to see her recommendation. After interviewing Praga Medica, we felt like they stood out to us and were the best choice. Here is our list of questions from the interview

Prague
Being in Prague was the best part of our experience; away from everything and focused on us. Prague is a big sprawling city that is affordable and has a ton of activities including unique cafes, foodie hot spots and art classes. There were historic city tours, food tours, music performances, day trips to charming towns like Cesky Krumlov, Karlovy Vary, Vienna and Budapest. So many choices!

Is a Fertility Vacation right for you? You should:

  • Love to be in a new city
  • Want to be parents
  • Feel comfortable being away from home
  • Have a support system in place; smart phones, Hello TMobile, friends to visit, etc.
  • Find a way to communicate with your people so you don’t feel alone and so that everyone at home still feels included

While on your fertility Vacation - Suzanne says:

  • Pick a place and neighborhood to stay; let yourself feel the routine of it
  • Pick what time of day to take for your shots that fits best into your desired routine - mine had to be between 6 and 8pm. I choose 6 but as a photographer I wished I had chosen 7:30 so I didn't have to miss the golden hour
  • Discover your favorite coffee shop and become a regular
  • The shot has to be refrigerated so bring a cooler/ice pack with you so you don't have to go all the way back to your hotel if you don't want to

While on your Fertility Vacation - Mike says:

  • Find a way to relax and enjoy your time, instead of constantly thinking about the procedure
  • Spend enough time in your city: two full weeks for me was enough time for fun and exploration
  • Treat yourself while you’re there
  • It's a journey and it’s hard, but it also builds character and a sense of adventure
  • Be willing to allow yourself to have fun
  • It's not a dreadful event, but rather a life adventure

Things that made us feel at home - Suzanne’s lens:

  • Went for Mexican food (Las Adelitas - Malé Naměstí 13) so many times, nothing says home more than tacos
  • Drawing classes make me feel comfortable to me when traveling
  • Mike’s walking tours. I pick places I’m interested in and then Mike holds my hand and and navigates me around the city, adding in his own special stops. I love following him around and he loves logistically organizing everything.
  • Lunch and going to the museum
  • English book store called “Shakespeare's” where expats congregate
  • I feel really at home amongst tourists and listening to all of the languages being spoken.  You find tourists in the most incredible places; they are my tribe.

Things that made us feel at home - Mike’s lens:

  • Going to the movies (three times!)
  • Museums
  • Visiting historical sights and art exhibits
  • Farmers markets and swap meets
  • Finding every cool coffee shop
  • Drinking a beer before noon
  • Walking  5-8 miles a day
  • Endless picture taking and mini photo shoots of each other
  • We had friends meet us there from England, Dubai, Switzerland and Sweden

Emotional Preparation
IVF Is hard. There are no two ways around it. PMS has nothing on IVF.  It is identity shaking, emotional, disruptive. The weeks during the actual IVF process were fine, even great, but the aftermath of the hormone depletion was completely overwhelming. I feel much better equipped for the second time around. I have less fear and will relax more, now that I understand the upcoming challenges.

Lots of love to you!!

Suzanne & Mike

Fertility Vacation // The First Injection

There we sat, the carefree girls from 8 hours earlier, now on the apartment couch, overcome with fear. In a brave moment of, "let’s just get it over with", I grabbed everything out of the fridge. Jenny and I set it up as fast as we could, just as the nurse had explained.

I pinched the skin on my stomach and pointed the needle at my skin. I didn’t want the medicine. I didn’t want to willingly hurt my own body. Logically, it made sense, but a part of me felt like I was betraying the universe and the gratitude I work to cultivate. I recognized this as the fear talking and remembered the greater purpose.

I pictured the nurse looking at me and I heard Jenny's helpful voice that felt steady and determined. "Is this the right number? Then push."

I pushed the needle in. The pain was small and only at the beginning. I awkwardly pushed until everything was in my body; exhale.

The three of us congratulated ourselves and drew on some shrinky dinks to distract our minds. 10 minutes later I was coloring the mane of my shrinky dink horse and my eyelids were suddenly heavy. I laid down.

The translator mentioned I might get hungry, tired, and feel a deep swell in my lower abdomen. I closed my eyes wondering if I would be out for the night.

I noticed an odd feeling in my belly and drifted in and out of consciousness. After about 20 minutes, I slowly sat up on the couch and felt myself waking up; as if I had been asleep all night and had to transition to being awake.

The rest of the night I surprisingly felt a general ease. I enjoyed chatting, eating tacos, and sipping the smallest amounts of tequila.

I can’t really tell how I feel in the end. Do I feel balanced and relaxed because nothing other than an unrequested nap happened? Or do I feel good because my body somehow needed those hormones?

Either way I’ll take the win. I feel good, normal, and balanced. Really good actually. I have exactly 7.5 hours until my next injection so I will see how it goes.

I’m actively choosing activities and thoughts that feel beautiful and in alignment with positivity.

4 Things // The Land of Fire & Ice

Iceland yay! Our trip is finally here.  We made it! The midnight sun is beautiful.  It never really sets.  It's hard to ever go to sleep when everything is so beautiful.

Adventuring : Frolicking around with Mike in a Kukucamper and having total freedom to go where we want.  Our cute camper has a bed and a stove. 

Eating : Mike cooks us eggs and bacon with Cafe Moto coffee on the edges of cliffs with the most extraordinary views.

Photographing : The living watercolor that gives Iceland a new landscape around every bend.

Dreaming of : Right here, right now.