After what seemed like an eternity, I FINALLY started and completed an IVF cycle. If you thought TTC itself is a roller coaster, IVF feels like all of that condensed into one month. I have a lot of commentary on IVF, so I will break it down by category:
This part was not that bad for me. I am by no means minimizing the fact that it can be very hard to deal with multiple daily injections! What helped me was that I kept telling myself these medicines will hopefully help me achieve my dream of parenthood, so what’s a pinch here and there for a few days? I also had a relatively simple medication regimen, which helped. For about 9 days I took Follistim daily. The needle was small and thin, and injections were easy. Then, I took ganirelix for the last 3 days. A warning about ganirelix- the needle does not go in easily! So this was not particularly fun. Also, after injecting, I would get a pink rash which would go away in an hour. Annoying, but I’ve handled worse. I did not end up taking Menopur this time around because my body made enough LH on its own. Then there was the trigger shot- an intramuscular injection in the butt. This was the most daunting for me, A) because the needle was quite long, and B) because my dear husband faints at the sight of blood and needles, so I was somehow supposed to inject this myself! I was pretty nervous about this one. I was able to get the needle in, but I couldn’t hold it and inject at the same time, the angle was off. My husband mustered up some courage and was able to help me inject! He then pretended to faint after which was not funny.
The retrieval was not so bad and also very bad at the same time! I was put under conscious sedation for this, so I was awake. But I felt almost everything! I’m not going to lie, it was painful. The pain was bearable, but having to be in pain for 20 minutes straight starts to become unbearable. My advice- ask for general anesthesia. The clinic I go to performs the retrievals in the office and so general wasn’t an option for me, but boy I wish it was. I will say that there are ladies out there that had their retrieval under conscious sedation like me and didn’t feel any pain at all. But I will also say that I was talking to a colleague of mine who also had her retrieval under conscious sedation, and it was painful for her too. After the retrieval, I did have some pelvic pain, but was able to keep it at bay with some motrin. I wish I didn’t have to do this again, but I do (see “The Numbers”). If I know that this will get me what I want, it will be worth it.
This is tricky. On the one hand, more is better, because the more follicles are mature, the more eggs are collected, the more embryos are made. But on the other hand, “all you need is one.” Not all eggs are necessarily “good” eggs (Ugh I hate using terms like good and bad). As you go on with each phase of the IVF process, the numbers go down and down. Here are mine for example: I had like 23 follicles the day I triggered. Great right? Granted they were different sizes, so not all will be retrievable, I get that. On retrieval day, they were only able to collect 8 eggs (not all my follicles had eggs in them). Of the 8, only 4 were mature. Of the 4, 3 fertilized properly. Of the 3, 1 made it to blastocyst phase. So of course I am so happy that I have something, but sad that I don’t have more in case this one God forbid does not work out. So before doing the transfer, I will be doing another round of IVF (stim + retrieval) which will hopefully yield more blastocysts.
This is by far the hardest part for me, not just during IVF but throughout my whole TTC journey. No amount of physical pain can match the heartache that I have been going through. That being said, the beginning part of IVF was great! I was feeling very hopeful, and things were going very smoothly. I downloaded a meditation app and meditated each night for some extra calmness. I was eating well, sleeping well and feeling well. Then the retrieval. I was excited and nervous. After the retrieval, happy that eggs were retrieved, disappointed that more weren’t retrieved, and anxious about how many would make it to the blastocyst phase. Then the negative emotions returned. Can something finally work for me please? How much longer do I have to go through this? WHY do I have to go through this? What did I do to deserve this? I’m still roller coastering through these emotions. I have my good days and bad days, but the best thing to do is to find your supports, turn to them, and remain hopeful.