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I decided to keep a diary of my first experience with IVF. Partly so I can remember everything in this chapter of our fertility journey, partly for therapy (writing is what keeps me sane) and partly to educate. I know that even I went into this without knowing all of the ins and outs and timelines. If you’ve been through it, I wonder if you can relate. If you haven’t, I urge you to read this anyway. Chances are, someone in your life will struggle with infertility and you may be a much better support if you have an insight into what a person might be going through.
I kept this diary to myself as the real time events all rolled out. This was to protect my little family during the process and to hopefully avoid people knowing too much information at any given time. While I gave some people a heads up that we would be doing IVF, I wanted to avoid people being able to guess exact dates etc in case we should be successful or in case we fail (so either way!) because we wanted to avoid big mouths from doing that whole “ARE YOU PREGNANT YET” thing constantly. Because it happens and it’s kind of rude and insensitive and not what we wanted to deal with.
Day 1: It’s the first day of my cycle. So relieved my period is here and we can get this show on the road. I haven’t felt happy to have my period in the longest time. I feel like a lot of people don’t understand that your IVF start date can sometimes depend on when you get your period. So when someone would ask me ‘when do you start’, they had to accept that for a while I genuinely did not know and vagueness is all they’d get (not that it was truly anyone’s business haha). Knowing that everything can move forward from today has been good for calming my anxiety – I hate not knowing how to plan my life and now that I can finally do the maths and plan my month around my treatments, procedures and appointments makes me feel a bit more at ease. There’s a lot to coordinate! Time sensitive blood tests and scans, injections of various drugs at specific times etc etc (as you’ll see further along in this diary). Not to mention making sure the Little Mister’s routine is disrupted as little as possible and coordinating support networks because I can’t be in 3 places at once! It’s a lot to deal with in a hypothetical sense before your start date actually arrives! Nothing is set in stone until shark week begins! Even then, you don’t know how long exactly it will be before they collect eggs etc.
Today I had to spontaneously drive to the clinic (over an hour’s drive from home) for a scan (vaginal – fun times) and a blood test at the last minute due to my period arriving right before a long weekend. I was relieved to be told that there are no cysts or other obstacles in our way as yet. It had been in the back of my mind that I could face bitter disappointment from the start, as I have experienced similar situations in the past two and a half years already.
My period got really really heavy by the evening and I told Mr Unprepared that I really really hope this is the last time. I feel like my period has stolen my life for over two years (it was well controlled on the pill).
Day 2: I received a text telling me to start injections (Gonal-F) tomorrow and the dosage required. Gonal-F is a drug that stimulates your ovaries so you hopefully grow lots of good eggs. Also should be noted that I had a big meltdown with my mum and husband this morning. We were feeling the stress of juggling IVF with a trip interstate planned for later in the month. We decided to play everything by ear. What’s meant to happen will happen and we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. I admit I kind of panicked when reality set in.
Day 3: Awake early. Wonder if it’s nerves about my first injection. I’m feeling calm about the actual sticking-the-needle-into-my-stomach part because I was able to do a practice run at the clinic and it wasn’t anywhere as bad as I had thought it might be. I think I’m just excited to get started (famous last words).
More emotional moments. Had to tie up a few issues. Man this is hitting me hard. Resolve to move forward much more positively.
1st injection is done with me looking nervously at the needle and Mr Unprepared reading me the instructions for proper administration. Even though I felt confident the clinic nurse had taught me well, I was worried about screwing it up. Everything went well.
Day 4: Second injection day. I can still feel the injection site from yesterday. I shouldn’t be surprised by that, but I am. I’m starting to wonder how I’ll feel by the end of all this! Pin cushion-y, I’m betting! I don’t know if I’m imagining it (because the power of the mind is ridiculously strong with this stuff) but I swear I’m already feeling twinges in my left ovary area.
Day 5: Injection number 3 of Gonal-F today. I’m getting a bit more confident with the needle. I’ve always had a fear of seeing the needle go into my skin (I always look away as hard as I can during blood tests) but I am well and truly confronting that now! I feel like I have a cold. Again. I could be wrong but I swear all the fertility stuff I’ve been through has affected my immune system. Will rest between school drop off and pick up today.
I got a call from the nurse today about my Day 7 scan. I was told that I should bring my syringe of Orgalutran with me just in case I need it that day. The Orgalutran is the drug which stops you from ovulating too quickly before they can collect your eggs. I really hope I’ll need it that day (for the right reasons).
Day 6: Injection number 4 today. I am feeling some slight bloat/ovulation type pain. I think something is happening. Not sure what but I’ll find out tomorrow.
Day 7: Injection number 5 of Gonal-F today. I had to get up early and drive myself to the city for a blood test and internal ultrasound. Mr Unprepared had to start work late, because he covered the school run for the morning. I was really nervous because this scan would be the first indication of whether things are on track or not. I’ve been disappointed by my ovaries before so I tried to calm myself all the way up in the car.
The scan revealed that my right ovary is quite active with lots of follicles growing. The right was a little less active, but the nurse seemed to be happy with that because we also don’t want to risk hyper-stimulation (which can be dangerous for me). I asked if everything was on the right path and she said yes. I am so relieved and glad something is going right so far (touch wood).
Day 8: Injection number 6 of Gonal-F. I spent the day feeling exhausted. Slept half the afternoon (which is usually not something I can do easily). I can’t believe I am sharing this but I felt like a crazy hormonal woman – think Nina from Offspring when she was getting ready to have her eggs collected to freeze and she ends up with Harry…if you don’t get that reference, then I am definitely not spelling it out haha.
I had no appetite (maybe because of bloating?) and craved fresh juice all day. Felt a bit woozy at bed time but slept all night even after my big nap!
Day 9: Today I have to inject the Gonal-F and also a drug called Orgalutran (it is supposed to stop you from ovulating too early and losing the eggs before they can be collected). Two needles in one day – lucky me!
I did the injections and for some reason they hurt today. I freaked out a bit. The Orgalutran (pronounced by Mr Unprepared as Orangutan to make me laugh) has a bigger needle than the Gonal-F and no joke afterwards, I almost fainted! I never thought I could still freak out and faint around needles after all I’ve been through! Life is not predictable, I can tell you that.
Weirdly, I feel much like I did when I was pregnant with the Little Mister. The drugs have given me tender boobs (let’s not talk about my nips OK?), my abdomen is tender too, and embarrassingly I have taken to sleeping with a pillow – it just helps, OK?
Day 10: Two injections again today. Man, the Orgalutran is not as easy as the Gonal-F I can tell you that much! You feel that needle! I drove up to the clinic (over an hour in traffic) at 6am and had blood tests and a scan – Mr Unprepared has taken time off work and has been covering the school run. I’m so glad to have that help.
The scan showed progress. My follicles are growing! They make you lie on your back with a little notepad/chart thingy and a pen. They call out measurements of each follicle and it’s my job to mark it down. You almost forget there’s a stupid wand up your clacker.
I asked how long until collection and they think Friday by the latest (it’s Monday now). This may screw up my travel plans to Sydney but because everything’s so positive, this is just a little potential hiccup. Everything will work out somehow in the end.
Received my afternoon phone call from the clinic. I am to continue on the two injections until my next scan in two days. The nurse advised me to just be mentally prepared that I may need to have a ‘freeze all’ upon collection of my eggs, due to my ovaries being quite productive. They would decide this on the scan prior to collection. I now have so many questions running through my mind!
This kind of thing makes me glad that I’ve only told a handful of people about us commencing IVF this month. If everything gets frozen – literally and metaphorically – then I am glad I won’t have to tell many people.
Day 11: I had to give myself the two injections without anyone there for moral support. I found this quite difficult. That Orgalutran needle is a bitch! It hurts! I hesitated a couple of times before I got it into my skin. I’m starting to get a little tired of it all. Strange how you can start injections with so much confidence, but then get shakier and more needle shy as you go on.
I can’t remember what happened exactly in the few days following day 11 because I think I kind of went into shock (mentally)! I was basically told that we would have to freeze everything – I was at too much risk of ovarian hyper stimulation. I was given a script for a drug to trigger my ovulation 36 hours before retrieval – it wasn’t the original drug they’d planned on using. It was something else better suited to someone in my situation. Next would be the egg retrieval under general anaesthetic…
To be continued…