The second set of my injections. Used to stop me ovulating.
The first set of my injections, used to stimulate my ovaries to produce multiple eggs.
Day 1. My period was, for the first time ever, 2 days late…go figure. Off we go to collect our drugs from the clinic and on day 2 we start. I was nervous but excited about starting injections and was willing the day away so that I could begin. By the time injection o’clock came round I was too tired to be nervous, and managed to jab myself without any issues. Too easy, and not at all sore! I don’t know what I was worried about. For those not familiar with the IVF process I thought I’d cover off what happens (or at least what happens for me – everyone is different). It’ll serve as documentation for us also because, although this cycle is nowhere near over, I’m already beginning to forget what we’ve been through so far this month. So….
Day 1 – start of period
Day 2 – Antibiotics for both myself and my husband as a precautionary measure against Ureaplasma. Start ‘stims’ (stimulation drugs – in my case Gonal F). This for me is one 150 IU injection each evening for 6+ days and is the drug that will stimulate my ovaries to produce multiple follicles/eggs.
Day 6 – As well as Gonal F (in the evenings), today is the day I start Cetrotide injections. These ones occur every morning and are the ones that stop me from ovulating – the last thing we want is for my body to expel all the lovely eggs that are (hopefully) growing. Dose 0.25mg per day.
Day 8 – Blood test and a scan to monitor progess. This determines whether we keep going with stims or whether we’re ready for the trigger shot. Results ended up showing I needed stims for a couple more days, on we go.
Day 12 – It’s trigger time! I still do my Cetrotide in the morning then anxiously await the call from the clinic to let me know what time to do the trigger injection. This has to be carefully timed as 36 hours later it’s time to collect my wee eggies and that ‘36 hours later’ needs to fit in with the clinics schedule. They finally call and it’s a 10:30pm trigger shot, eek!
Day 14 – Egg collection day. Into the clinic at 10:30am for the procedure. Today is also the day that my husband has to do his bit. The doctor collects the eggs and hands them off to the lab technician who fertilises them with hubby’s swimmers.
Day 17 or 19 – Egg transfer, where (hopefully) they put one back in. The decision on what day this occurs comes down to the number and quality of the embryo/s (providing some fertilised that is – it sometimes happen that no eggs successfully fertilise). If you have lots of good looking embryos (embryos that are dividing and developing as they should) you’ll more than likely have a later transfer so they can choose the best ones. If you don’t have such good ones, or not many, then you’ll probably have an earlier transfer. Although this procedure will occur on day 17 or 19 for me, it’s actually a ‘day 3’ or ‘day 5’ transfer as it’s counted from the day of egg collection – so will be either 3 days after egg collection or 5 days after.
Then we wait….a blood test on day 28 of my cycle will determine whether the treatment has been successful or not. In other words, I’m either pregnant or I’m not.
I thought it would also be good to film the injections throughout this process. Each of the 3 types I have to do is slightly different. If needles make you squeamish I recommend you give the videos a miss. Also, just a reminder, that this is the protocol for me, and the injections shown in this footage is how I was instructed to perform them. If you are also going through this heart-wrenching process and what you do is different then please stick to what you have been told. These videos are a documentation of our journey only and are not intended as an instruction or any such thing to other people.
This infertility journey really is a rollercoaster. For the first time I’m actually looking forward to AF coming. In fact, I’ve never been so excited about spotting in all my life. It truly is a strange concept being excited about your period. I dreaded it as a teenager, did all I could to prevent it in my 20’s, was heart-broken by it in my early 30’s, and now I’m eagerly awaiting it. Go figure. I guess this hope of a miracle-cure IVF really does trump all that went before. Fingers crossed it works or the crash after so much excitement could be a deal-breaker. Ok, it won’t be a deal-breaker, I’m not giving up that easily, but I would really like to be able to function like a human being in 6 weeks’ time instead of a blubbering wreck. As far as IVF goes I’m feeling pretty good. I’m not too nervous about sticking needles in myself – I’ve been getting acupuncture for well over a year now and I’ve had countless blood tests so needles don’t bother me a bit….might be a little different sticking them in yourself though but I guess only time will tell.
It feels quite weird to be this far along when only a month ago we were trying Clomiphene. It still seems like quite a jump, although I’ve definitely got my head around it. What’s even more insane is that I’m now the person that others ask questions of! When we began our journey nearly 25 months ago I had no clue. I was asking all my friends what I should be taking, about charting temperatures, ovulation tests etc. and now I’ve travelled further down the path of infertility than anyone I know (other than my online IF buddies of course). I’m not only the one newbies come to to ask for advice, but I’m also educating my fertile friends about various fertility treatments. Things that once felt so foreign to me are now second nature, forever etched into my being. It actually seems odd that, whether through good fortune or bad, one day my life won’t revolve around this. One day I’ll either have a baby in my arms or will be past the point of viable motherhood. I’ll never stop talking about infertility, it’s still too much of a taboo subject for that, but the fact that one day I may not be living it day in and day out really messes with my head. It just seems so bizarre something that has completely taken over my life will one day cease to exist, and that the path it takes to extinction is completely beyond my control.
It’s been a good weekend. I don’t know if it’s the promise of renewed hope, the sunshine, or what but I actually felt like myself for the first time in over a year. It was great! I mentioned to my husband how good it was to be me again but that I knew it was somewhat bittersweet as at the moment the good times don’t last and it’s only a matter of time before I lose myself to this infertility beast again. That was last night and here I am back in the doldrums today, ho hum.
A shit morning at work and a comment that my moods are all over the place and it’s all over. To be honest, I could have gotten over the crap at work easily enough but that comment as really thrown me. I’m sure I’m working my way through SARAH (shock, anger, resentment, acceptance, help) at the moment although I’m thinking it might be a slightly different model (I’m going to run with AIA – anger, inconsolable, acceptance). Right now I’m fluctuating between anger and inconsolable. I just want to tell anyone who has a problem with my mood to walk a week in my shoes and then see how happy and stable their moods are. To be honest if you get a smile and a conversation out of me you’re fuckin lucky, you’ve obviously caught me on a good day where I have some small amount of extra energy to slap a fake smile on my face and pretend like nothing’s wrong. And trust me it is all fake. Underneath I’m flat as a pancake. One thing (of many) that this process has taken from me is my sociability.
Two and a half years ago I was a chirpy little party bunny. While never the social butterfly who can talk to anyone, I enjoyed hanging out with all sorts of different people and having a good time. I partied with my work colleagues and happily chatted about their lives and their families. Now that’s all just too hard and I struggle even to hang out with my friends let alone people I hardly know. It’s near to impossible to have a social conversation without some form of kids or family popping up and right now I’m pretty frickin fragile when it comes to those topics. In actual fact it’s hard to hold any kind of conversation because you’re constantly on edge, constantly prepping for those topics to arise, and working out how you can avoid that occurring. Let’s face it infertility is the bitch no one wants to hang out with and if you happen to find yourself in her circle of friends you can’t help but pick up some of that bad energy.
Now I know the person who made the comment didn’t intend for it to be taken this way and I’m not at all angry or upset at them. What I AM upset about is that people think of me that way when I’ve never been that person. I feel like that’s not who I am or who I want to be but I just don’t have the energy at the moment to invest in changing that perception. It takes every last ounce of energy I have to get myself to work, slap on that fake smile and make it through the day. I don’t think I’m depressed, though I know I was a couple of months ago, it’s just that this whole process takes such a physical and emotional investment that there’s just no room for anything else.
So before you judge someone on face value it might pay to have a think about what else could be going on in their lives, and how hard it might be for them to give you the niceties that seem so vitally important to human co-existence.
Just over a week ago we had our fertility appointment to review our four Clomiphene cycles. I was so stoked to be going as it was feeling like our progress had stalled and become stagnant, all the hope I’d felt in January had melted away. I walked in there excited, ready for the announcement that it was time to move onto IUI (intra uterine insemination, the turkey baster). We had some friends who had been very successful with IUI after endometriosis so I was sure this would work for us too. Our doctor sat us down and walked us through the clomiphene cycles and how my body had reacted, he explained IUI and the probability of conceiving with that, then he drops the bomb, “so I think the next step for you guys is to move on to IVF”. I’m sure my jaw hit the floor at that stage. This is not at all what I was expecting, I was sure we were a good 6-12 months from thinking about that, seems my doc and my body thought otherwise. I spent the next 15 minutes (felt like 15 years) trying my hardest not to cry while still focusing on what was being said. I’m glad my hubby recorded the appointment on his phone because my mind was a million miles away.
Since then I’ve been through a whole raft of emotions. At first I was really shocked (we’d gone from Clomiphene to IVF, surely we’ve missed a few steps), then I accepted the fact that this was next for us, I got excited (something might actually eventuate from this), then scared and worried (this is the last step before adoption – what if nothing happens), now I’ve reached the stage where I’m just bitter. Bitter that ‘normal’ people don’t have to go through this. Bitter at the insane amount of money this is costing us that ‘normal’ people don’t even have to think about. I look around at our house and can’t help but think of what else this money could be buying. I see our lounge suite and dining chairs that are falling to pieces, the cheap leather at the end of its 7 year life-span, bubbling and peeling away to the lining beneath. I see the wardrobes and cupboards that the money could have paid for, our lack of storage made so glaringly obvious by the crap piled everywhere, and my desperate attempts to clean up which involve moving stuff from one pile to another. I see our pantry door that needs fixing, our kitchen that needs plastering and painting, the fraying towels in the linen cupboard and the holes in the sheets; the struggle to find suitable work clothes that aren’t too faded, stained or holey; and the car that will need replacing soon.
Don’t get me wrong, I know we’re in a much better position than so many other people. We do have good jobs and a decent place to live, and I consider us so SO lucky that we are able to pay for this treatment privately (with a little help from my mum) rather than wait another two years for funding. But on the other hand this is completely wiping us out, not only financially but physically and emotionally as well. So far everyone I’ve told of our impending IVF has been really excited for us. It’s so nice to have such supportive people surrounding us but at the same time it feels so surreal to me as I don’t feel that way about it myself. I have moments of excitement but those moments are equalled if not eclipsed by the stress and worry of it not working and the strain of funding this ourselves. I guess when it’s not happening to you it’s easy to see the positive, you don’t have the years of infertility hanging over your head, the unexpected bills causing more strain than they normally would, or the feeling that you need to warn people in case the hormones turn you into a crazy person. Perhaps part of my problem is that it just doesn’t feel real yet. Maybe if I’d just receive our consent forms in the mail or if we could just have our ‘details’ meeting I might be more excited that this could actually work for us. The two and a half weeks between my last appointment and my IVF one seem like years.
I’ve been trying to keep busy to pass the time between appointments but it seems everywhere I turn there are reminders of my stupid infertility – at work, the supermarket, football. I went to a comedy show with my mum and what seemed like the entire pregnant population of this city. The show spent the majority of its time talking about changes in society…..how lucky women of today were because, thanks to birth control, they could choose when to have children. I just wanted to yell at her, “it’s not that fucking easy. Might have been easy for you but there are some of us out here who don’t get to choose anything!”….”Any new mums in the audience?” FUCK OFF!
I took myself to a counsellor appointment at my fertility clinic thinking that it may help me cope with all this shit but no, turned out to be a complete waste of time and money. She told me to keep busy, yep tried that, doesn’t help. To seek out supportive people, yep, already doing that – thanks family, friends, and twitter. To write things down, yep, I blog. The counsellor just couldn’t get her head around blogging or twitter:
“No, just write things down for yourself – there’s a difference between writing for yourself and writing for other people”,
“Yes there is, but I write the blog for me, not for anyone else. If other people read it that’s fine but I write it for me”
“But if you write things down in a journal you can write whatever you want – you can swear or anything”
Hmmmm, see above, does it LOOK like I have a problem swearing on my blog? I’ve written about my sex life on here, does it seem like I am restricted in what I write? Needless to say that $145 was not money well spent (cue more bitterness). In fact it added to the stress this month rather than reduce it. Surely there’s got to be a decent counsellor out there to talk to? Maybe not, I’ll just blog. With a week to go before our ‘details’ appointment, there may be a few more posts written. It does depend on my emotions though. Hopefully by the time our appointment rolls around I’ll have worked through this bitter stage and be excited again.
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