How was your experience with Christopher Sipe?
Dr. Sipe listened to our concerns and responded with helpful advice (encouraging us to seek further information from third parties so we didn't feel as though the information was biased). He always seemed to remember information about us as though he really did remember us (I have a hard time believing any doctor really remembers many of their patients :)), always set us at ease by joking with us, and showed a lot of compassion for the rocky rough road of infertility. He also never pushed us to pursue any course of treatment and was willing to work with us - we wanted to use any embryo we created but also didn't want 10 children, so we limited the number of eggs we attempted to fertilize. It was clearly not normal procedure for the clinic, but he was willing to do what we were comfortable with. Anything negative I would say about him would actually be about the clinic or certain nurses, so perhaps the negative about him is that he didn't watch a particular nurse closely enough, but I'm not sure how much control he has over that.
What one piece of advice would you give a prospective patient of Christopher Sipe?
Be willing to voice all of your concerns - he will listen and he will do his best to reassure/respond.
During treatment, did you feel like you were treated like a number or a human?
My husband and I were very hesitant to pursue IVF for ethical reasons. Rather than just writing us off or dismissing our concerns, he addressed our concerns and encouraged us to talk with a Christian doctor we trusted or a pastor at our church. It is thanks to his willingness to listen that we now have 3 beautiful children.
Describe the protocols Christopher Sipe used in your cycles and their degree of success.
I know there were adjustments made from my first IVF cycle (4 embryos created, negative pregnancy test with first two embryos, and chemical pregnancy with FET with remaining two) to the second, and I believe it was to potentially improve the quality of the eggs retrieved (we were limiting the number of eggs retrieved and fertilized for our personal ethical reasons). The successful IVF cycle (twins with the 2 embryos, and then singleton with FET with remaining embryo two years later), we asked that Dr. Sipe do ICSI with only half of the eggs we were choosing to fertilize. Of the 10 we chose to fertilize (we froze the rest), 2 of the non-ICSI eggs became our twins, and 1 of the 5 ICSI became our singleton. The rest didn't make it.
We started with birth control pills the cycle before retrieval and added lupron a little under a month later (my cycles were always screwy, and I always developed cysts with the birth control pills that slowed the process down). I don't remember cycle dates of when we started the remaining medications, but as we were trying to limit the number of eggs retrieved, we lowered the dosage of medications for the second round. I was on Lupron, Follistim, and Menopur for stim. Then did the HCG shot, and began progesterone in oil injections, vivelle dot patches, and baby aspirin during the 2ww. (And beyond for this cycle!)
Describe your experience with your nurse.
My final primary nurse (I had several over the years) was awesome (how can I not remember her name?!). She was so caring and was willing to talk on the phone as long as I needed, answered any stupid questions I had (I had already gone through 2 IVFs and an FET at this point, so you would think I didn't have any more questions). She was so compassionate - I really like her a lot. The first I had no longer works at FCI, but she was terrible - if she was still working there after messing up one of my cycles really badly - resulting in cancelling it and delaying starting again for 2 months - we would have requested a different nurse. Thankfully she had moved on (of her own choice). The second was ok - Amanda, she just didn't have great "bedside manners", but she was efficient and organized. She may have been going through something because some days she was really friendly and others she seemed to be in a bad mood.
Describe your experience with Fertility Centers of Illinois.
I've heard it described as a "baby factory". I personally don't think this is completely fair. It seemed to me that the doctors were willing to and wanting to deviate from "normal" protocols for individual women and do what is best for each patient. I even had a doctor perform a procedure on a holiday at the request of Dr. Sipe just because I had been traveling and if we didn't do it on this particular day, my next IVF would have been delayed by another month. He didn't have to do this, but he was willing to help us out. I appreciate that it's a huge clinic as it meant I didn't have to "cycle with other women" - we did it on my cycle, and there were doctors available every day of the week. Dr. Sipe did not perform all of my procedures, but that didn't bother me, either, as I know all the doctors at this clinic are very good at what they do.
Although at first I felt a bit nameless in the clinic, by the time I got pregnant with my twins, the nurses and office staff were asking to see the ultrasound pics and celebrating with me. They knew me by name and were so compassionate and kind. I cried when we left for the final time because although I was glad to have that journey behind me, I appreciated the people who worked in the clinic very much and still kind of miss seeing them at 6:00 in the morning!
It was also super helpful that they have clinics all over Chicagoland as I was able to do a lot of the monitoring at a clinic that was closer to my place of work, thus meaning I didn't miss work as much as I otherwise would have.
Describe the costs associated with your care under Christopher Sipe.
We had fantastic medical insurance, so I'm not entirely sure. I do know that when we had the first round of testing done and discovered that insurance didn't cover these tests, we didn't think we could afford to do anything else, but the clinic worked with us so that we could continue. The woman I talked to on the phone from the billing office was absolutely wonderful.
What specific things went wrong at this clinic?
- Failed to call with results
- Failed to order appropriate test
- Failed to send your chart to another clinic
- Failed to inform you of changes in protocol
- Provided conflicting information
- Failed to convey critical information
- Canceled a cycle due to clinic error