My Pre-IVF Journey started in 2018 and consisted of tracking ovulation with kits and apps, trying estrogen receptor modulators (Clomid), and Intrauterine insemination (IUI). We tried IUI once. This cost us around $400 and the chances of pregnancy (I believe) are up to 10%. Is it worth it? I don’t know because I know it’s worked for others. Our doctor also gave us an option of doing back to back IUIs but after I did some research, it just didn’t seem like the right decision for us. Then came, IVF!
I documented my journey as a journal so I hope this can help some people who are either going through IVF or want to get some insight on what IVF (In vitro fertilization) really is.
Retrieval IVF – My personal journal
Feb 6//Day 1: Start of stimulation – Gonal F and Menopur start (subcutaneous injections) – injections hurt but the pain is manageable. I was fortunate to have not experienced any of the side effects they mention, except for a little stomach pain. It was mostly just injection site pain which I anticipated.
Feb 11/Day 4: Sonogram and labs. Some eggs are big and others are small so he increased the dose of one of my meds so I had to do 2 of the Menopur shots. The Menopur shot that was increased hurt a lot but only for like a minute or two.
Feb 12/Day 5: Cereotide starts, which is the worst subcutaneous injection so far. The needle is longer, it hurts going in, and the pain lingers for a while. It itches a little too. I had a galentine’s event right after I injected the shot and I’m pretty sure people thought I was a weirdo who was menstruating or pregnant because I could not stop touching my stomach because of the pain. You are supposed to leave the Cetrotide out of the refrigerator for 30 mins prior to injecting – so make sure you do that. I didn’t at first and it definitely feels better when you leave it out.
Feb 13/Day 6: I read about icing and one of my friends told me it helped her so I finally tried it and I can contest that it made a HUGE difference with the pain while injecting. The nurse told me to ice it after too but that did not help me as much but it is worth a try!
Feb 14/Day 7: We were traveling to Houston and we thought we brought the wrong medication pen with us for a hot second and freaked out. It’s a pain traveling with IVF supplies – mentally more than anything else. Thank God we had everything with us to keep the injecting going!
Feb 18/Day 11: Trigger shot. So this had to be exactly at 7:00 PM and of course I was working the evening shift at my hospital. So what did I do? I asked my ER pharmacist friend to give me the shot. Awkward? Yes. We called in a nurse to make sure she was giving it the right way. It was pretty awkward but you have to do whatever it takes. To be honest, the intramuscular shot hurt the least. The needle is way scarier than how the shot actually feels. It was completely ok and just some soreness afterwards as you would expect from an Intramuscular shot.
Feb 20/Day 13: Day of egg retrieval – I was a little nervous because I have never had general anesthesia before. Everyone kept saying it’s the best nap you will ever have!! We headed to the hospital at 5:30AM. It was a 25-45 min procedure and then recovery was about an hour. The worst part was getting an IV in. I had never been admitted to the hospital prior to this procedure so it was my first time getting an IV put in (weird I know). I was taken into the procedure room and then I literally didn’t remember anything until I was out in recovery (yep the Fentanyl and Proppfol had me out). My doctor said there were 12 eggs and that they would call me tomorrow with how many embryos were viable.
Feb 21/Day 14 – They call and say that we have 11 mature eggs and 7 that fertilized.
Feb 22/Day 15- I was so bloated and so full that it’s hard to explain. My doctor had said my ovaries were bigger than my uterus so it was normal to feel this way. I wanted to eat but I felt so full that I could not. I’ve never been so uncomfortable. Not fun. Also my doctor said he expected about 8 to be good from the 11… but 7 was not a bad number.
Feb 27/Day 20 – I waited until 3pm to call the doctor’s office because they didn’t call me with an update. At this time, we should know how many embryos made it. Of course I’m freaking out; maybe there’s none? Did something go wrong? Why haven’t they contacted me?! Finally, the nurse called me back and left a voicemail. I was so relieved to hear we had 5 viable embryos! (My doctor advised that we should expect 4 embryos and that 3 is a little less than normal and 5 is a little above average). Now we have to wait 7-10 more days to get the preimplantation genetic screening (PGS) results which is where you do the genetic testing on the embryos. This is NOT covered by your insurance and is an expense I suggest you budget for if you can.
March 6/Day 27: We found out that we have 3 good embryos and 2 that were missing a chromosome or had a disease that would not make it if implanted.
The hardest part was that most people did not know we were going through this, so one day we were hosting and had to excuse ourselves to go do the injections in the bathroom. We went through a lot of things like this but honestly it is totally doable in my opinion. The side effects are going to be different for everyone so I can’t speak for everyone but I had some good days and some bad days. My doctor recommended doing a frozen transfer since it is standard practice now and it worked out because I wanted to wait until my sister’s wedding was over to do the transfer. He advised against implanting 2 at a time because of my body type and PGS testing being done. Chances are so much higher when you implant healthy embryos so he said that was not an option for me.
Implantation Prep – My Personal Journal
This was 6 months post retrieval for me. I was put on birth control to start the implantation prep!
Day 1: I started Lupron – it felt itchy and irritating to my skin.
Day 2: continue Lupron. I saw that I bruised pretty easily with the first shot. It was painful at the site all day. I started to feel a tingling sensation in my hands.
Day 3: continue Lupron – Tingling was a very rare side effect but it was tolerable and went away eventually.
Then my doctor added Estrace tablets and Minivelle patches with Lupron.
Day 1 of the intramuscular (IM) progesterone in oil – WOW, this hurts so so so bad! The next day, I asked for lidocaine to put on beforehand. I could barely walk. Don’t use ice packs which is what we did because that makes it more sore. Use heat packs.
I had to also start taking doxycycline (antibiotic) and Medrol (steroids).
Day 5 of IM progesterone and day before procedure (Implantation). With the IM progesterone shots, it’s honestly just hard to walk. I’ve tried the Synera patches which don’t work for me. I tried lidocaine topical gel which semi works because at least I can’t feel the shot going in and coming out. Apparently if you don’t have enough cushion it really hurts because of the oil going into the muscle. I was asked at work today why I was limping. It literally hurts to get up and sit back down. As soon as the pain kind of subsided, it was time for the next one!
Embryo transfer day – my husband was with me when they transferred the embryo. The staff was so nice and I felt at ease. It did not feel like anything really – easy peasy. I was supposed to be on bed rest for 2 days post embryo transfer.
After the transfer, I also started taking Endometrin vaginal suppositories and Aspirin.
Day I’m not sure: I continued the IM Injections that still hurt so bad. One day it took me fifteen minutes to get from my work to my car outside which usually only takes a few minutes for me.
Then, I finally found something that works…. Emla cream did the trick. Since I’m a pharmacist, I happen to know that oncology patients use this cream at their port sites, etc. so I asked my doctor to write me a prescription for it. Everyday 25-35 mins before the injection, I applied the cream and it worked for me!
Two days before we had to take the pregnancy test, I felt cramps almost like menstrual pains and I thought for sure that I was not pregnant.
The day that you take your pregnancy labs is probably the longest day of your life. I mean you’re literally just looking at your phone all day long for a dreadful but exciting call. I was elated with the news of a positive pregnancy but this is when I found out the medications I was taking had to continue through the first trimester! The worst for me was the IM progesterone but at least now I had a reason for the pain which made it all worth it. I did start having some bleeding during my first trimester and had to stop the vaginal suppositories at one point. The happiest day was when I injected that last IM shot – it was officially over and I had graduated to go see a regular OBGYN!
I hope that helps you understand a little more about the IVF process!