When I last left off, the plan was for Chris and I to go on vacation, then start our IVF cycle when we got back home. And that’s exactly what we did. I notified our fertility clinic when I started my period after we returned from our trip to Alaska and they started me on birth control pills the next day. It may sound strange but being on birth control is a very important part of the IVF process because it basically shuts down the ovaries. Everything needs to be very controlled with IVF and timing is crucial, so birth control is oftentimes the first step in the process. The same day I started birth control, I got an email from our nurse with our official IVF documents. It contained a list of do’s and don’ts, consent forms, a calendar, and links to injection how-to videos. I was scheduled to be on birth control pills for three weeks, take a few days off, then start injections. I’m not going to lie, I had a minor freak out when I got that email. I think it was my reality check that this was actually happening.
I scheduled our appointment to sign consent forms and learn how to administer the injections. At this point, my anxiety was starting to build. It’s one thing to know you have to give yourself injections at some point in the future. It’s another thing when you’re ordering incredibly expensive medication and watching videos on how to inject them, knowing that will be you in two short weeks. It was very surreal.
Within a week we had made the payment for our IVF cycle (fun fact: everything has to be paid upfront) and ordered my medication. A few days later these boxes filled with medicine showed up at our door.
In case you’re wondering, that’s about $4,500 worth of medication. And I was going to inject all of it into my stomach in about 10-12 days time frame.
I had my baseline blood work and ultrasound on Friday, June 15, 2018. The purpose of this appointment was to make sure everything was “quiet”, especially my ovaries. That afternoon I got the phone call that everything looked good and I could start injections, aka “stims” the next day as planned. Everyone’s protocol is different but my doctor had me scheduled to start with 2 injections a day – 1 in the morning and 1 at night. These medications would stimulate my ovaries to grow multiple follicles and eggs. The clinic would see me every other day for blood work and ultrasounds, and at some point add in a 3rd shot when my body was ready. This shot is added when the follicles reach a certain size and it will keep me from ovulating before the egg retrieval.
*I’m going to pause here. Rather than continuing to share high level details of how things went during my injection and “stims” cycle, I am going to share what I wrote in real time as I was experiencing everything:
Day 1 (6/16/18): My first day of shots is done! I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t crying when I did my first injection. I woke up this morning (my first shot was at 7am) and reality hit me and I just started crying. I was so nervous! (Side note: Chris was more than willing to do my injections for me but I insisted on doing them myself. I think I needed to prove to myself that I was strong enough to get through this). Luckily the injection wasn’t nearly as bad as I had expected, so that is good news. I mean, I still had to mix the medication properly and stick myself with a needle, so it wasn’t exactly a pleasant experience. But it was better than I thought it would be. Then I cried some more because I felt stupid for crying in the first place. This process is so emotional and bizarre.
My evening shot isn’t as bad as the morning injection. No mixing is required and it is in a pen form. So I just dial to the correct dose and give myself the injection.
Day 3 (6/18/18): Today is my first monitoring appointment since starting injections and I had blood work done this morning. Our nurse said everything looks good and they are keeping my medication dose the same. Right now I am feeling ok. I have been extremely tired and I am getting headaches. My stomach has also been very upset and I get waves of nausea. I don’t want to complain because I know this will be worth it if we get our baby out of it, but I sure hope the next 10ish days go by fast. I know that I will only feel worse as time goes on.
Day 5 (6/20/18): I had my first ultrasound since starting stims today and it went really well. I was very anxious going into this appointment and hoping so much that my body is responding well to the injections. I have been telling myself over and over again “I can do this. My body can do this. My body is doing what it is supposed to be doing.” It gives me a little bit of peace and helps keep my anxiety at bay.
The appointment went well and so far everything is looking good. I have a lot of follicles growing (like 30+). My doctor adjusted the dose of my evening medication a little bit and added in the 3rd shot starting tonight. I’m not thrilled about giving myself another injection, but this is a good sign that things are moving in the right direction. If things continue to go well, my egg retrieval may be a week from today.
Also, our nurse is seriously awesome. We got to talking today and she is struggling with infertility too. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone, but it was nice to talk to someone who understands the roller coaster of emotions infertility causes. We talked about how hard/bittersweet it is when our friends get pregnant without assistance and I felt normal in that moment talking to her. It really gave me so much peace, she is awesome.
Day 7 (6/22/18): I had another doctor’s appointment today. Are you noticing a trend? When our nurse asked how the 3rd shot (Ganirelix) was going I told her that it was not very much fun. It’s causing burning and itching that lasts for 30 minutes or an hour afterward. She told me they have nicknamed it the “Queen Bee” because it stings! Haha I think the name is very fitting because it does sting.
My ultrasound today went well. My doctor and nurse are happy with how my follicles are growing and they aren’t adjusting any of my medications. It looks like my retrieval will tentatively be on Wednesday (Day 12) and I am ready. I am feeling more uncomfortable as time goes on and there is just a real heavy feeling in my lower abdomen with some pain and discomfort. I know these are good signs and my body is doing what it is supposed to be doing, so I am very thankful! But I am happy to be in the home stretch of this part of the process. I am anxious and nervous for the egg retrieval and I will be happy to get that behind me.
My arm is bruised from all of the blood draws and my stomach is bruised too from the injections. I am bloated and puffy and feeling so beautiful, let me tell you!
Day 10 (6/25/18): I had yet another doctor’s appointment today: blood work and ultrasound. I got the good news that I am triggering tonight and my egg retrieval is officially set for Wednesday morning at 8am. A special injection aka the “trigger shot” has to be given exactly 36 hours before the egg retrieval. This shot basically tells my body it’s almost time to ovulate and helps mature the eggs that are growing. The timing is very specific so I had to inject it at 8pm on the dot tonight. And the amazing news is that this is my last injection for this part of the process!
In 10 days, I gave myself 26 injections in the stomach.
Day 11 (6/26/18): I had another doctor’s appointment this morning. I just had blood work done today because they need to make sure the trigger shot hormones are in my system, which they are. So my egg retrieval will be tomorrow morning as planned. I am feeling a lot of things. Physically, I am incredibly uncomfortable and bloated. Walking hurts and I have resorted to taking the elevator up to the second floor at work. My stomach is very tender from all of the injections and my jeans aren’t fitting comfortably. I basically feel like a puffy marshmallow. Emotionally, I am a nervous wreck. I started crying the second I saw Chris tonight after we both got home from work because I am feeling so emotional. I know some of it is the hormones because my estrogen level is through the roof right now. But I am also scared and nervous for my egg retrieval. I’m scared of how I’m going to feel and I’m also terrified of the results. Will there be a decent amount of eggs? Will they be of good quality? Will they fertilize? There are so many unknowns and I am so nervous. I’m just ready to get Wednesday behind me.
The next day was our egg retrieval. Stay tuned to hear how it went!