First Ultrasound: Not At All What I Expected

It was 9:30 a.m. and the sun was already beating down on me. I had just stepped out of my apartment and I could see my Mom rounding the corner with a huge smile on her face.

“Today is the day” she said as she gave me a hug. “How are you feeling?” she asked.

“Incredibly nervous and super excited” I said with a smile.

I ordered an Uber and we stood outside in the heat talking about what we had been up to the past couple of days. When the Uber arrived, I felt relieved to just sit down. Had no idea I’d be this nervous to go to my first ultrasound at 8 weeks. My legs felt like jelly and it was nice to just sit down and relax.

Our drive was bumpy and my Mom was telling me all about going out for dinner the other night and the server that they had.

“You know. The dinner was exceptional but I think it may have been the servers first time serving.”

I couldn’t concentrate on what she was saying. Instead I was watching the time, watching how the Uber driver was darting inbetween traffic, and I was just trying to focus on my breathing in order to stay as calm as possible.

“What would you like from Starbucks?” my sister J texted me. She was kind enough to make sure that she changed her day at the office so that she could come with us. She had been to so many appointments and it was so beautiful that she could come to this one.

“Just water” I said feeling so thirsty.

The Uber driver finally dropped us off at the fertility clinic and I was excited to show my Mom that this was the place I had been attending for almost a year. It was also a place where I went for about 30 appointments over that time.

“This is it” I proudly said to my Mom.

We went into the elevator and I pressed seven. “This is really starting to feel real” I said. “It also makes me somewhat sad as this will most likely be the last time I come to this clinic.”

When the elevator doors opened nobody was in the waiting room.

“This is so odd” I said to the receptionist. “Where is everyone? It is a weekday.”

“It is eerily quiet right now” she said with a laugh.

My Mom and I sat down for a couple minutes before I was told that I could get changed into a hospital gown. My Mom got to come with me and suddenly all of the places in the fertility clinic that I had described in my blog were coming to life for my Mom.

“This is where I sat when the women all coached me on what to do before my first ultrasound” I said.

“I am here! Where do I go?” texted my sister J.

My Mom knew she would get lost if she went to find J so I just went out in my hospital gown.

“This is so exciting” she said as she followed me into the room with the hospital gowns.

“Sarah?” asked the nurse. “Have you had a chance to use the restroom?”

“I will go right now” I said remembering that every time before an ultrasound I had to empty my bladder.

“Your family can follow me” she instructed to my Mom and sister.

“They get to actually go in?” I asked.

“Of course” she said.

It was so exciting walking into the room with the nurse, the ultrasound equipment and seeing both my Mom and sister sitting on chairs.

“Are you ready?” asked the nurse.

“Great it is an internal ultrasound” I laughed. There is nothing like something going inside of you as you look at your Mom and sister.

“Take her picture” instructed my Mom to my sister. “We need to remember this.”

“Really?” asked my sister laughing.

“Of course” I said with a smile.

The probe was inside of me and my Mom, sister and I just started catching up about various family members and how everyone was doing. I could hear that the nurse was taking pictures and it was taking a bit of time.

From what I had heard from other people regarding ultrasounds, the nurse would not say anything so I didn’t expect to hear or see anything.

“Do you want to look?” asked the nurse.

My Mom and sister stood up and came closer to the screen. I stared closely at the screen.

“Is there a baby in there?” I asked. “Please just tell me a baby is in there and that the baby is okay.”

“Look at this” said the nurse. “If you look close enough you can see the heartbeat flashing on the screen.”

I saw it.

It was beautiful but also made me feel something I did not expect – absolute and total fear.

This was not like the movies. I was supposed to have my belly out and we were supposed to hear the heatbeat. We were supposed to all scream with excitement and I was supposed to start crying tears of joy.

It wasn’t happening.

Instead, I felt this intense feeling of protection.

When I first told people that I was pregnant, they would say “congrats Mama” and I didn’t get it. Yes I had something instead of me, but I totally didn’t feel like a Mama.

Now, looking at this heartbeat I finally felt like a Mama. It was a feeling of so much joy but it also felt like all of this weight being added to my shoulders.

Things were changing.

There was no denying it. I was no longer single independent Sarah anymore. I was a Mama who was going to do anything for that little baby. My needs didn’t matter anymore because all I cared about was making sure that little one was protected. I was going to sacrifice and do anything so that I could to be the best Mama that I could to that little heartbeat.

With that image on the screen my life had completely changed. I was now responsible for something so great and now every single decision in my life would be made thinking of that little heartbeat before my own wants and needs.

“Here are the pictures” said the nurse printing out the pictures of the ultrasound.

“Thanks” I said laughing at how there was really not that much to see in the image.

Yet one thing was for certain – that tiny little seed had a heartbeat and my life was transforming infront of me. I would do absolutely anything for that little seed.

After being in the room we saw my fertility doctor and I thanked her for everything.

“You are now graduating from the clinic” she said.

“I feel like I need a graduation song” I said thinking of Vitamin C’s graduation song that plays at literally every graduation of life.

“Do you want me to play a song on my phone? “asked the other nurse in the room.

“It’s okay” I laughed. I knew that even the words by Vitamin C would be too much at that moment. It was super emotional and I knew that I’d burst into tears.

Mount Sinai Fertility made me feel at home for the past year and it made me so sad (and happy) to be leaving and graduating from the clinic. The nurses had helped answer every single question I had ever had. They had called me and given me life-changing news. My fertility doctor (Dr. Jones) was also the most compassionate, empathetic, intelligent woman. She always had this calming nature and was there to support me through everything.

As my sister, Mom, and I all left I couldn’t help but notice that the waiting room in the fertility clinic was completely full. There were hardly any seats available.

My heart sunk and I just wanted to reach out to everyone there.

I also felt guilty that I was holding pictures of an ultrasound and that other couples had been trying so hard and for so long without their pictures just yet.

“Magic happens here” I thought. “Don’t give up.”

We pressed the elevator to go down to G and I couldn’t help but become very sentimental about leaving a place that gave me so much.

Thank you Mount Sinai for everything and thank you for giving me a little heartbeat inside of me. I promise to make all decisions based on what is right for the little one and to be the best Mama that I can possibly be.

How Much Did It Cost to Get Pregnant and How to Start a Side Hustle

The back of my business card. I’d show you the front but there is too much personal info 🙂

Let’s talk money. 

For people thinking about going through the fertility process, this is a very important topic. 

Most people feel uncomfortable discussing finances but I plan to be as open as possible.  So how much did it cost me to get pregnant and how did I come up with the money?

Before I started this journey I had not saved a single dollar and to be honest, I really struggled to save money.  Living in Toronto, Ontario, Canada is expensive and it is also amazing because there is so much to do.  I often found myself spending a lot of money going out for fun dinners with friends and because Toronto had so much to offer, I was constantly spending a lot of money participating in really fun events.

When I started to create a budget I knew I was in trouble.  The money for this process was not going to fall from the sky and upon seeing the fertility doctor; I knew that I needed to get started with the process right away because I was around 38 years old.

Then I started looking at what I could do as a side hustle.  As a teacher, I work in both the classroom and in an online environment (I teach some courses that are entirely online).  It allows me a bit of flexibility which is amazing. At first, I started to think about working for VIP Kids (teaching kids overseas and getting paid to do it).  Then I thought about being a tutor.  None of these jobs seemed that appealing to me because even though I love teaching, so many of my hours were spent teaching kids in person or online.  I was clocking so many hours doing that and I needed something different and something preferably active.  Something that didn’t feel like work and that is when I got the idea to start my own babysitting services.

By babysitting I was continuing to work with kids of all ages (not just teens which is the age group I normally work with).  Nothing in life made me happier than working with kids plus I could be active and away from the computer screen.  The first thing I did was look up how much babysitters in Toronto make and on average it was about $15.00 an hour.  I figured that with my experience as a teacher and in teaching the parenting program at my school, $20.00 seemed like a fair charge for families looking for a babysitter.

When I told people my plan, the results were mixed.  Why not just save money and allow myself to have evenings and weekends free?  If I only charged $20.00 an hour I would never make enough.  Why would I go back to a job that I did as a teenager after all of the schooling that I had gone through to be a teacher?

These were all valid questions but something inside me told me that this was the perfect job for me that wouldn’t feel like work.  I just needed to know if I could get clients and how to get clients.

The first thing I did was make business cards from Vistaprint.  They cost me about $20.00 and they were great because when parents went out, I’d give them my card with my phone number.  They also gave my business card to other people and word of mouth started spreading.  I also found the facebook group “Moms and Nannies” (Moms looking for nannies or babysitters via facebook).  It was crazy because I didn’t know that my friends were in the group looking for babysitters for their little kids.  It felt amazing when I posted about my babysitting services and my friends confirmed that I was a great babysitter and could totally be trusted.  It can be a scary world out there and it is hard to find someone you can totally trust with your kids.

At first I started going long distances to babysit and then it wasn’t long before I had my preferred clients – people that lived really close with the most adorable kids of all time.

I started babysitting in October and by February I reached my goal of a couple thousand dollars.  Babysitting on evenings and weekends also meant that I wasn’t spending money so I actually saved quite a bit.  I set up a different bank account for babysitting and promised myself every single dollar that I put into the account would be spent on fertility.

Don’t get me wrong – babysitting wasn’t all sunshine and roses. My social and family life took a blow and I had a lot of guilt about missing events with the people I loved.  It was also hard to give up time with my niece and nephew to spend time with other kids around their ages. There were also times that I struggled with a baby crying (the youngest baby I babysat was three months).  Babysitting taught me so much though.  I changed countless diapers, learned several strategies to get a baby to sleep, and nothing beat baby/kid cuddles.  If it paid better, I would totally do it for a living. 

I was also exhausted.  I felt like I didn’t have the same energy as I once did in the classroom and I didn’t get my weekends to sleep in and relax.  I also found myself incredibly attached to the kids and didn’t know how to say goodbye.  Since I am so bad with goodbyes, I sent the moms/dads messages stating that I had reached my goal for the fertility process (they all knew why I was babysitting and were all so supportive) and I am now friends with all the moms/dads on facebook and Instagram.  That way, I am still connected to the kids and can watch them grow up.  Can’t even imagine being a nanny, being with kids for years, and having to say goodbye.  I couldn’t do it. In fact, this week I ran into one of my favourite kids I babysat.  It seemed she remembered me right away and it felt so wonderful to be able to hug her and she even gave me a kiss when we parted ways (she just turned two).

So in terms of making money, it took about two-three weeks for word to get out there and then the babysitting business took off.  I was babysitting ALL the time and had to keep declining babysitting jobs because I was too busy.  It was insane.  If you are looking for a side hustle, there is a lot of money in babysitting ($20 an hour adds up quickly).

So what did I spend all of my money on? Below is a breakdown of every single expense I made in this process.  Hopefully it helps anyone thinking about becoming a single mom/dad by choice or a couple who is starting their fertility journey.

1. Repromed – Sperm Donor Catalogue $67.80

I wanted a bigger list of sperm donors to select from and this allowed me to have three months access to the Canadian sperm donors (there are so few Canadian sperm donors).  Don’t do this. Save yourself the money and just sign up as a new client from multiple email addresses. That way, you will always have access to sperm donors after your free trial is over.

2. Social Worker – through fertility clinic $250.00

If you want to have a baby on your own, it is mandatory that you see a social worker. My social worker asked me a variety of questions and created a report about how prepared I was for becoming a Choice Mom. I plan on writing a blog entry about this process because it was quite an interesting chat.

3. Counsellor – $2000.00 ($1000.00 paid through benefits)

I saw a counsellor bi-weekly through the process because the journey was tough.  I needed the support and needed to make sure that I was doing the right thing for me. *Most of this was fortunately paid by my benefits from work.  I strongly advise you to see a counsellor at least three times through the process (the beginning, after your first procedure, and at a later time).  The support is essential. I am still going to her now and she keeps my anxiety in check at all times.  After talking to her, I feel a huge weight lifted.

4. Sperm – $3000.00

The fertility doctor suggested that I buy three vials.  I bought one vial from one sperm donor (Repromed) and two vials from the second sperm donor (Can-Am).  Because I got pregnant on the second try, I can sell the sperm back to the clinic for $500.00 (only available at Can-Am Cyrobank in Hamilton, ON)

5. Storage for Sperm ($30.00 a month and I am now at $90.00)

I am still storing the extra vial from Can-Am and will sell it back once the pregnancy goes to term.  If you want to hang on to the vial for a sibling in the future you are looking at paying this fee until you get pregnant again. I feel blessed to be able to have one child so will sell back the sperm.

6. Shipping of Sperm $30.00

This was a new fee that started at Repromed in May 2019.  I highly recommend Can-Am in Hamilton since the shipping is free.  I went with Repromed the first time (my donor only had a vial there), and Can-Am for the two other vials.

7. Sperm Washing at Clinic $500.00 each time = $1000.00

This is the fee I had to pay for the sperm to go through the process of unfreezing/freezing and washing the sperm.  Please note that the fees have gone up. As for June 2019, this fee has increased but I am unsure what it is now.

8. IUI Procedure (Covered)

If I had started this procedure when it wasn’t covered (the fertility clinic ran out of coverage from Jan- May), it would have cost me an additional $800.00 each time I had an IUI procedure.

9. Shipping of Sperm $30.00

This was a new fee that started at Repromed in May 2019.  I highly recommend Can-Am in Hamilton since the shipping is free.  I went with Repromed the first time (my donor only had a vial there), and Can-Am for the two other vials.

10. Fertility Meds – Letrozole (Covered)

I have coverage through benefits but 30 pills cost $101.00 (drugs.com). I only had to take five pills. 

11. Fertility Drugs – Ovidrel (Covered)

I used one needle and had coverage through my benefits.  Without coverage, this costs $181.00 (drugs.com).

12. Massage (Covered)

I had coverage through my benefits but went twice.  This whole process is extremely stressful and I went for a massage two times.

13.Chiropractor (Covered)

I was tense AF and had a lot of issues in my neck and back because of stress.

Grand Total = $5, 437.80 OR $4,437.80 (if you decide not to do counselling).

Please note that I was VERY lucky and that few people actually get pregnant on the second round of IUI so you can see that this adds up.  I have also attached the fees that I have received from the clinic below.

The bottom line is that fertility is expensive. It is financially and emotionally draining and can take a huge toll on you/your partner. My fees don’t include costs for IVF which is even more expensive.  The first IVF procedure is covered by the government, but after that you have to pay for future treatments. I have watched as friends have spent so much money and don’t have any more savings and they are still trying to have a baby.  It’s crazy that you spend so much money and it is still a total gamble.  It feels so unfair.

My post today hopes to shed some light on the financial costs of this and is not meant to scare anyone or to suggest that it costs too much.  Please know that when I started the process I didn’t have a single dollar saved and somehow worked really hard doing a side hustle to make this dream a reality.

I always wondered what I would do if my IUI’s didn’t work.  There are so many people that go through this process and find themselves left with no savings.  It breaks my heart.

Please know that this blog post was written because someone sent me a DM on Instagram and asked me to write about all of this.  If you have any questions at all, just sent me an email, DM, or message on Facebook.  I am totally here to help you and hopefully I can prove that you can do this! If there is any topic that you have wondered about, or that you would like to read about, ask away.

Also wanted to say a HUGE thank you for the outpouring of love that I have received through this journey.  Thank you for all of your messages and please know that I respond to every single one.

This was given to me a year ago so most fees have increased.
This was given to me a year ago so most fees have increased.