IVF Prep

Super-Secret Post
Concerning month 36 (approx. September, 2014)

The protocol we were put on didn’t require any ramp up of medication in the cycle preceding IVF so we could go straight to IVF. But my hubby should visit his grandmothers every chance he gets and there’s a wedding in his hometown next cycle, so we’re taking a short break (and a leisurely pace to get all the paperwork and information sessions out of the way) before we jump in.

Personally, I can’t believe everyone’s acting like I should just take this in stride. From one moment to the next I can go from accepting that it’s just the next step in our journey to NOPE NOPE NOPE like that picture of the dog who doesn’t want to get in the bath. I remember how I used to draw the line before IVF and now here I am and everyone just expects me to do it because our chances are so high and money is not an issue (yet).

We again chose to see the therapist associated with the clinic but had a much more positive experience than at our last clinic. Even though she identified the same challenges as the other therapist, all of her body language made a huge difference in making me feel that she was finding things we would work on instead of blaming me for my negative reaction. She also grounded me in the moment and urged me to take this one cycle at a time, although also wanted me to know what my backup plan was. A shortage of time meant I didn’t have a chance to explain that can’t form a backup plan without a lot of research, and yet she doesn’t want me to get too far from the present. Something to talk about next time.

One thing I am annoyed by is how, during an IVF cycle, I am expected to act as though I were made of spun glass. My entire post-post-secondary life I have heard all about how pregnancy doesn’t reduce women to helpless creatures, and I’ll still be able to rock climb (top-roping with a special harness) and keep up the level of fitness I have pre-conception. But IVF is not pregnancy. Stimulating ovaries is not natural. My body does not know what’s about to happen. I can do myself a lot of harm if I don’t take it easy. There will be mandated days off (and I don’t even have a job outside the home but I will need to take a break from my duties at home!)

Cue the placebo side effects. I spent most of the first two weeks of September in one kind of pain or another — weird body aches one day, abdominal pains another, headaches throughout. The worst part of these was knowing I would doubt myself if I had these aches and pains while being medicated; how would I know what my mind is producing vs. actual effects of the medication?

Back to discussing side effects, the higher risk of twinning (even from single embryo transfer), birth defects, and even complications in future spontaneous pregnancies is terrifying. Specifically, the literature about the risks of carrying multiples is very distressing and definitely makes me not want multiples…. and then is followed up with the fact that single embryo transfer if the embryo is grown to Day 5 carries a 3% risk of splitting into twins. Clearly the doom and gloom surrounding carrying multiples is meant to dissuade ambitious couples from transferring more embryos than strictly indicated, but I didn’t need convincing at my age and stage and it only served to make me even more terrified of IVF. What am I about to put myself through?

Thinking ahead to the large bill coming our way and applying some wisdom I learned in my Vancouver support group, we also prepared to maximize the return on our spending by looking into credit card rewards. We decided the easiest thing to do was use our cash back card, so we applied to raise our limit so we wouldn’t have to split the bill with a card with worse rewards. Gaming the system, oh yeah.

Lastly, I had to learn about doing the needles. In Kitchener I would have been spoiled as the clinic would have done my injections for me except for one autoinjector jab.

Come to think about it, the Kitchener prep was very different on a lot of stuff. I was also way less informed about other risks (like twinning) or how little I would be able to physically do while stimulated. And, chances are they would definitely have over-medicated me from the information they had. And I don’t remember seeing a list of contraindicated medications (like the fact I can’t take antihistamines on Gonal F… it’s possible that restriction just didn’t exist for whatever FSH replica Kitchener would have given me, but I don’t remember seeing any list of restrictions).

Wait, how was I hours away from starting IVF and yet still had so much left to learn? Hmmmm.

Anyway, the last appointment before my next cycle covered the details, again, and then had the needle education session.

At first it was entirely academic. These medications in these doses. This procedure for this injection. This sharps box is travel sized but you’ll get a big one from the pharmacy. Keep your thumb on the plunger as you withdraw the needle.

“Ok and now you’re going to stick yourself for practice.”

Oh. Right. Good idea.

Wash hands. Disinfect site. Attach new needle. Dial the pen for the right dose. Hold it so I can see the dialed amount through the window. Pinch site. Go.



Nope. Burst into sobs.

The nurse offered to stick me so I would know what the sensation would be. I agreed. Ok fine. My turn again.

Repeat, including the sobs.

It was an odd sensation being unable to move my arm the last inch. Just unable.

The next question was, was my husband able to do it. Yes; with barely a hesitation, in fact. It was slightly worrying how easily he stabbed me.

But thank goodness he could since I couldn’t. And the timing for doses should work fine with his schedule, although I will have to wake up early with him (which actually will be healthier for our relationship, syncing our sleep schedules).

Now, it’s just a matter of waiting for the next cycle.

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