This past week we took the plunge into IVF. The first part is the follicle stimulation phase (aka stims). I have been taking hormone injections for exactly one week in order to stimulate as many follicles as possible in my ovaries to produce mature eggs. Before starting the medications, there is baseline exam that included an ultrasound and blood work. After starting the medications, there are several consecutive appointments to monitor the progress. After each appointment, a nurse calls with updated medication instructions and to set up the next appointment.
My baseline appointment was a little overwhelming. It was a pretty quick visit. The nurse performing the ultrasound said everything looked normal and I was good to go. I was expecting a little more information at this visit. I didn’t really feel prepared for all of this. It had been over a month since our last appointment which had included all of our education. I was also a bad patient and never read my education booklet. As a result, I was really scared that I would make a mistake and mess up the whole IVF cycle. I felt violated after having another invasive ultrasound. I really had hoped more than ever that we didn’t have to go through all of this. Nothing about the process felt normal or natural to me in any way. I was thinking, we should have just decided to adopt.
Later in the morning, I shared with one of my co-workers how I was feeling. Something she said has really stuck with me over this past week. I explained to her how unnatural this whole process is. She acknowledged my fears and frustrations. She reminded me that this child we are trying to create will still be created out of love. This comment gave me a whole new perspective going forward.
Later that evening, it was time for the first injection. Even though I have given hundreds of injections to other people, it was still kind of scary to give myself the first one. It was not bad at all. Over the past week of daily injections, I have only had one small bruise so far.
I started experiencing some GI side effects on my 3rd day of stims. I have also felt nauseous, bloated and noticed some generalized soreness, especially in my lower back. My right lower abdomen experiences some sharp twangs here and there. Warm showers and a heating pad have been helpful for managing the discomfort. It has been more comfortable to wear stretchy pants and dresses over this past week. I have been pretty tired, but I think this may be related to having to get up early for my appointments before work, waiting for updates from my nurse and the added stress of the new medication routine.
On my last appointment, the ultrasound nurse measured my ovaries and counted all the follicles. She seemed excited to report that my right ovary has 13 follicles. However, she didn’t seem as excited that my left side only has 5 slightly smaller follicles. Overall, this seems like a pretty good response. I am still on my stims medication and they added a second medication to prevent ovulation. The next appointment will be tomorrow. At this appointment, a doctor will be performing the ultrasound. I will also have more labs to measure my progress.
This has been quite a week. I am thankful for the support of my sweet husband. He has even helped with a few of the injections. We are both thankful for the positive response to the stims so far and are looking forward to some more good news next week.