In Navigating IVF, IVF Steph takes us on her journey through the wilds of fertility treatment.
Starting IVF requires a lot of phone calls and emails and waiting. And paper signing. My husband and I have signed so many things in the last week that I wanted to invest in one of those signature stamps. Not only do you have to do the usual things that you do when you see a specialist — health history, signing a bunch of permissions — but you also have to decide a great many legal things. What will happen if you get divorced? What if one of you dies? What if both of you die?
I believe we legally determined what would happen to any embryos we had left in the event of a zombie apocalypse at some point.
Our first appointment was almost four hours long. It began with even more signing of papers, followed by paying the kind of money that usually means you’re driving something home. That part was both exhilarating and terrifying. We did a warranty program, meaning that we paid a greater amount of money up front, but we get the benefit of three guaranteed cycles (minus the cost of meds), and most of the money will be refunded if we do not get pregnant. The idea of having to pay that much money if we didn’t have a baby seemed awful, which was part of why we chose this. There was also the fact that two cycles would cost more than the price of the warranty program.
When we got to the clinic, I was instructed to go pee. It was a two-hour trip, so I was all right with that. Then I had to drink water. 48 ounces of water. So much water. I was not allowed to pee during this time either. You see, for some of the necessary tests, you need a full bladder. By the time we got into a room to see the doctor, I wasn’t exactly on the verge of peeing my pants, but I couldn’t sit in certain positions without it being uncomfortable. The doctor popped in to tell us that he would prefer to do the tests before we talked, so I wouldn’t have to sit with a full bladder for so long. I already liked him.
They then did a sonohysterogram. This is a procedure where saline is put into your uterus and an ultrasound is performed, just to check and make sure that your uterus looks normal. Mine did, luckily.
You’ll be happy to know that then, finally, I got to pee.
Next up was meeting with the doctor. We went over our chances of having a baby with IVF (the short answer is pretty good, but it depends a little on egg and embryo quality). I did find out something that I thought was absolutely horrifying, though. Do you know how they GET those eggs? To make the embryos? They put a giant ass needle through your vagina into your ovaries, that’s how. I mean, I’m not dumb, I understood that vaginas and needles were involved, but I guess I thought it was more like a weird catheter thing up your uterus and through your tubes. Or something? Anyway, the thought is terrifying but I’m obviously still doing it. Thankfully, I will be under light sedation at the time for my comfort (which means I don’t need to flip the eff out over the vagina needle situation).
We also had to do injection training. Let me make something clear; we did IUI before this, and I work in a hospital. I see shots given on the daily, and my husband and I have both given me shots. It’s no big deal. I figured this would be the easiest and least terrifying part of the day.
The nurse showed us how regular injections go (little needle, subcutaneous, sometimes you mix the stuff, got it). Then she showed us the progesterone injection needle. It is approximately a million inches long, is super thick, and, just to ADD to the fun, the progesterone itself is really thick so you can’t inject it super fast. Oh, and if you put it in the wrong spot, you could turn your ass black and blue or hit the sciatic nerve. That’s not at all alarming.
I’m seriously taking so many medications that do so many different things at so many different times that I have a three-page calendar to help me remember which days to do what.
Injections, pills — oh, and, fun fact, I shouldn’t use hand sanitizer while taking one of the pills. I’m not sure why — maybe I turn into a Gremlin? But it says so in my instructions, so there you go. I sanitize my hands about 700 times a day at work, so here’s hoping I don’t mess up out of routine.
We have a series of ultrasounds and blood work up next, and then retrieval tentatively scheduled for the 13th. Here’s hoping everything goes well!
If you want more regular updates on day to day IVF stuff, follow me on Instagram and Twitter (but I Instagram a lot more, tbh). And thanks to everyone that is following along, with a special shoutout to the ladies on the Reddit infertility boards. Good luck to you all!