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