Tumbling Through the Rabbit Hole...
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Entering the choppy waters of IVF

Posted by Haisla Thursday, 16 April 2015

So we're in the midst of our very first IVF cycle. It is finally really happening.

This is going to be quite a boring post about jabs and dates and so on, just for posterity's sake really or for anyone interested in finding out what a real life IVF cycle looks like courtesy of NHS.

I've been on the blessed Buserelin injections for more than three weeks now (since CD 21 i.e. 27/03/15) and have experienced all the 'fun' side effects of the stuff, such as hot flashes, mood swings (ranging from anxiety to red-hot-rage to bouts of depression and back), lack of concentration, disturbed sleep and difficulties in remembering things.

My period was much lighter than usual, but has just gone on for ever and ever. I bled heavily for two days and have had light bleeding for the past 11. That has been incredibly annoying. I hate wearing pantyliners, but what can you do. I asked the nurse whether this is something to be concerned about but she didn't seem worried. Apparently it can be a side effect of Buserelin.

I will mention it again at our next scan on Tuesday if it hasn't eased off my then, as surely I'm supposed to start growing some plump womb-lining and bleeding is sort of counterproductive to that end.

Anyway, I digress. We had our first scan on Monday 13/04/15 to check that my ovaries and womb were all subdued and cyst-free, which was the case. We therefore got the go-ahead to start the Gonal-F injections too (300 IU / daily) and to reduce Buserelin from 0.5ml to 0.2ml / daily.

So I have Buserelin shots in the morning and Gonal-F in the evening. Always something to look forward to. ; )

Despite the Gonal-F needle being tiny, I still am not able to bring myself to self-inject. I guess I should pat myself on the back for actually managing these shots at all and not fret about overcoming my needle phobia. I never really thought it ran that deep, but it turns out to be a proper, real thing.

So we now have a little injection routine every morning and evening, where I sit on the bed, with M beside me, I grab the headboard with both hands, close my eyes, take three (or more) slow, deep breaths and then give M the go-ahead to do the shot. I swear I cannot manage the shots without this little regime. We've tried belly shots (doesn't that sound fun, like something you'd do in a bar!?), but I just go into hysterics, so we've dropped that act. All I can say is that if you hate needles and have to go through IVF, just find something that works for you. NHS recommends breathing relaxation exercises or the applied tension method. I find that the smaller doses of the meds (0.2 ml vs 0.5ml) has also made the injections easier, because what I've discovered I hate even more than a needle piercing my skin is the sensation of something seeping into my body. Yuck, and it's even worse if the stuff stings which is the case with Buserelin. And somehow ass shots are easier than thigh shots (IMO) although with Buserelin and Gonal F, butt is not an option.

However, before you freak out about all these injections, please know that I have a very low tolerance level for such things, which is why I go on and on about them. This is my way of purging it all and getting it all out of my system. I'm sure most other women going through IVF find the needles far less traumatic.


Our next scan is on Tues 21/04/15 and we should then find out whether we're ready to pull the trigger on them eggs. So the earliest possible date for retrieval is Thurs 24/04/15 and the latest Mon 27/04/15. I've taken Tues and Weds off next week mainly because I don't fancy doing a long 11.5h shift when I am likely to be as bloated as a whale if our last IUI cycle is anything to go by..

Which handily takes me to my next subject of moan - the bloat. Am I the only one who ends up looking approx. 5 months pregnant on these meds? I am meant to be performing with our Community Choir on Sunday (this is a work thing) and my worry is that I'll get funny looks and inopportune questions from people as I'll be huge and on display on stage. Great. I tried to buy some bloat covering clothing today after work, but since I'm not normally seen in floaty dresses, I fear that my attempt to cover up might end up back-firing on me. My greatest fear is that people will just ask outright whether or not I'm pregnant. What am I to say to that? "Umm.. no, I'm just really full of eggs, thanks for asking.." M. told me to tell people that the bloat is constipation related should they be silly enough to ask. Apparently that should shut them up. Thank you, M, for your words of wisdom..


In other news, I've also managed to secure myself a second stage interview for a boring but low-stress job. The bad news is that the interview will be taking place on Wednesday next week, which is also the day after our second scan and at a time when I am going to be just about fit to burst with eggs. I am basically going to be attending an interview looking like I am pregnant, whilst I'm actually not. I've eyed through my whole wardrobe and tried to decide whether attending an interview in yoga pants might be appropriate under any circumstances .. sadly I haven't yet found a shirt and yoga pants combo that wouldn't make me look like I'd snuck out of a mental hospital, but I'm just not sure that I'll be able to fit into any of my smarter trousers. Hmmmh..

I just don't understand how I always manage to get myself into these situations where I am job hunting or attending interviews in the middle of cycles (I think last time it was during or just before/after our second IUI..?) I am starting to see a pattern here. Do I somehow subconsciously crave additional and unnecessary stress? What is wrong with me!!??

The kick in the teeth is that if I do get offered this job I'll have to make a decision about whether to take up the offer before I actually know whether or not the cycle has been successful. However, with my 3 month notice period and lack of driving licence (which was stated as a desirable, not a must have for this job) I don't think I'll be their top candidate. So I'm sort of thinking, if I do get an offer it'll be borderline miraculous and at that point I'll have to seriously consider whether it might be a sign from the universe that it's time to move on.

Anyway, I'm not going to worry about that just yet. My priority right now is this IVF cycle. Everything else is secondary, the job interview included.

So far things are going good, though. I feel like I'm as ready as I'll ever be. Let's get this show on the road!!xx


Jessica Howard said...

I was hoping you would be okay with the Gonal-f injections since the needle is so tiny. I hated needles too but, couldn't give up control to my husband even a single time for anything that was required to go into my tummy.

Now that I have to do daily Lovenox injections (5 months down, 4 to go!) I don't even blink an eye anymore. And Lovenox needles are long - freaked me out at first!

Combine that with 4x daily finger pricks to check my blood sugar, my needle phobia is completely gone.

I'm sending so many good vibes and positive thoughts your way for a successful IVF! I'm riveted with your blog and can't wait to read more!

JustHeather said...

Having to do injections isn't fun! I don't have any issues with needles, but still had to psyche myself out each time I gave myself a shot. Making funny faces in the mirror helped me. :D
May this IVF round be the only one you need!

labmonkey said...

Haisla! Oh good luck - I'm sorry the needles are traumatic for you. That makes the whole thing that much harder, but I'm glad M. is there for you and that you found a routine that works.
I was also crazy bloated, though for me the worst of it was the few days post-trigger and post-retrieval - I couldn't really wear my normal pants comfortably. However, you definitely feel more bloated than you actually are - I bet you can hide it for the concert and the interview. A-line skirt and crop tailored jacket?
I will have all my fingers and toes crossed for you - I hope this is the ticket for you!

Patient Subfertility said...

My fear of needles is definitely less after all of this. The trigger shot freaked me out though.

I didn't wear pants with buttons for a couple weeks. It's too bloaty and misshapen to be pregnancy though.

Haisla said...

Yeay, I have to admit that the Gonal-F needle is tiny and I am now able to allow M. to jab me in the belly, too, and hardly feel the needle. The greater pain is in the anticipation.

9 months of Lovenox injections (+ 4x daily finger pricks) sound insanely tough!!! Well done, you, for managing them. I guess the moral of the story is that we can get used to almost anything and overcome all sorts of phobias, if needs must!xx

Haisla said...

I think I'm overcoming some of the needle phobia, too, even though I may never be able to self-jab or jab others.. Surviving all these injections is big enough victory for me ; )

I invested in a few pairs of non-buttony leggings last week, but am still able to fit into my normal trousers with only minimal discomfort.xx

Haisla said...

Thanks luv. I actually turned out to be far less bloated last weekend than I was expecting, but that's almost worthy of its own post.

I hope this is the ticket for me, too!xx

Haisla said...

Heh, heh, I like the funny faces approach. I may try that tonight! : ) xx

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