Lauren shares the raw and honest truth about an IVF cycle from day one to retrieval and everything in between.
I did my first round of IVF back in 2015 after two-and-a-half years of ‘oh well, hopefully next month’, and was lucky enough for it to work first time around.
At the time however I do remember wishing I had someone to experience this with – to ask questions, share stories and compare who has the best looking doctor (jokes!), which is why I’ve documented my IVF journey round 2.
Why IVF you’re probably thinking?
That’s a story for another day, but in a nutshell my husband had tests which showed that his sperm had below average mobility and stamina, basically giving us a very slim chance of conceiving naturally. Thank goodness for IVF.
So how does it all start?
As this was my second round I skipped the consultation and had to call the nurses when it was Day 1 of my cycle. Your first (of many) blood tests is scheduled for Day 2 and it’s also when you pick up your medication, which is when it all begins. Side note: I feel like I’m a pro at blood tests now. I really love it when you can run in and out and not go over the free 15 minute parking at the hospital! (Cheap thrills…literally!)
What is IVF?
It stands for In Vitro Fertilisation where an egg and sperm are placed together outside the body. I was placed on an antagonist cycle (which is said to be the quicker and easier of the cycles as its more in line with your normal cycle) with frozen embryo transfer next month.
Why not transfer this cycle? My doctor said that there’s a good success rate with frozen embryos being transferred in a natural cycle. I did the same thing last time around and after it working I was happy to roll with it again. I also did ICSI (Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection) which is where they inject a single sperm into each egg using fancy fine equipment. This is different to regular IVF where they place the egg with many thousands of sperm and hope for the best.
So what happens day by day?
Hot tip #1 – Always have your phone on you when you’re on an IVF cycle. You get called most days by the nurses and it’s so much easier if you can answer their call rather than chase them up, these women are busy people! I began my Bemfola injection (used to stimulate follicles) on Day 2.
I found it better to do the injections myself rather than have my husband do it (he was far too keen with that needle in his hand for my liking). I always did mine in my lower abdomen area. The quicker you go the easier it is! Oh and always do it around the same time each night – 9pm after my two glasses of vino worked for me.
Over the next four days I continued taking my Bemfola injection each night. I had a few cramps here and there but nothing too bad. You have to remind yourself that you are pumping your body with hormones so you might just have some days (or nights) where you’re a hot emotional wreck. It was quickly fixed with an episode of Real Housewives and a glass of red.
On Day 6 I began my cetrotide injection which turns off your hormones and prevents premature ovulation (release of eggs).
On Day 8 I had my first ultrasound (internal yes) – which brings me to my Hot Tip #2. If you’re lazy like me and never got around to getting laser (you know where) then you will HATE the ongoing maintenance needed for an IVF round.
The ultrasounds don’t take too long. They’re looking for how many follicles you have and are measuring the size of them. Today – five on one side, four on the other, all looking good. What’s the ‘norm’? The nurse said around 10 is ‘normal’ but I guess everyone is different.
It was around this time that I began to feel sore to touch. It’s very normal so you just suck it up and move on, which is why my hot tip #3 is to stay positive. This can be really hard, particularly when you’re getting bad news or feeling shitty, but I kept a positive mantra through this whole journey and I really do think it helped. Keep your mind on the prize.
On Day 10 I had 10 good follicles which were growing well with a nice thick lining, go me! Downside – I’m a hormone-related migraine sufferer and this is when they kicked in for me. Three in two days! I also began to be quite sore around my lower back and side area (aka muffin top), which the nurse said was all normal.
Cramps were also very prominent and I was quite moody (lucky hubby). I got the call to say I was booked in for my retrieval on Day 15 which I was super happy about, because of the maturity of the eggs – and that it lined up with babysitting for my toddler.
Now, it was just my luck that the retrieval was booked in for after lunchtime. This means that not only do you have to fast all morning and watch your husband and son scoff down a coffee and delish brekky roll at our local hot spot (hangry Lauren may have appeared) but you also have to get up at a ridiculous hour to take your trigger injection (which triggers ovulation).
It’s supposed to be taken 36 hours prior to retrieval so in the early hours of Day 14 (2:50am to be exact) I had my decapeptyl injection. I woke the dog on the way down to the fridge, woke my husband getting back into bed and then woke the toddler knocking my phone off the side table. Bravo to me! Cue 3am party in our house.
Another migraine and I wasn’t sure if I should pop my pills or not as I was supposed to be fasting. I did anyway. The anaesthetist later told me popping was a good idea…phew! I was excited for the retrieval, no more injections, no more sore stomach and you get a general anaesthetic. After filling out a shitload of forms, sending hubby off for his ‘job’ and gowning up I was ready to go. Wish me luck….
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