This is the what every girl should know post on IVF. It’s what your best friend would tell you if she only knew what IVF was all about. It’s not pretty and this will definitely cross the boundary of TMI, so read on at your own risk!
So we have survived our first IVF. I was so hoping we would never use the words ‘First’ in relation to IVF until we were working on our second child… but if wishes were horses… Anyway there were a few surprises I had along the way, despite the most awesome support network ever of ladies who have been through the wringer – who held my hand and gave advice and even warned me about some things to expect from IVF (Les, Nicci, Nix, Kim, Chopper, Kinnie, Sophie, Melissa – you are all super stars!)
- Support Structure. Having the right support is essential. I have been fortunate enough to have the most amazing support structure all around.
- My Rock (DefTTC) held my hand through it all and made me laugh when times got tough and forced me to cry when I needed to let it all go. And worrying about him helped me to avoid becoming totally self-absorbed.
- And then my ladies – the one’s who know what IVF is like to endure. They knew exactly when to call, when to sms, when to understand that I wouldn’t return the call. This is essential, you do not want to be looking after your support structure and feeling responsible for keeping them updated, you need to lay the ground rules (if necessary, I didn’t need to, they knew).
- Our families. I have read so many horror stories about how people have found themselves consoling their familes, or enduring the most insensitive or ridiculous comments, both our families (those that knew what we were going through) really knew how to be the best. They never phoned us once to ask anything, they simply waited for us to be ready to share news at each step. They have been incredible and I count my lucky stars.
- Your life line. While the increase in your phone bill will not seem good when you get the bill, it is one of the costs of IVF that is worth EVERY cent. When planning your IVF, please ensure to put in extra budget for your phone bill. This will help cover replies to the messages of support, the sms’s to the people who love you and are in your corner every step of the way. They needed to be kept updated of how the follies were doing, how many eggs were retrieved, how many embies were transferred and of course the results. And for every update I sent out I received a reply of love and encouragement or invites to lunch or offers of distraction by means of movies, tea, lunch, breakfast etc etc. Add to that trying to explain to family members who live in another town the details of how IVF works, these were long conversations. My phone bill will be HUGE this month, but every cent will have been worth it. This was a part of my lifeline.
- Distractions. I had anticipated this one actually. You need to ensure that you can do lots of different things to get you through not only the 2ww but also the waiting for AF to show, the waiting for the follies to develop, the waiting for a fert report, the waiting to hear how your embies are growing. Date night frequency increased, we went to movies, we ate out, we bought DVDs and CDs and books. And then there were the breakfasts and lunches out as well.
- Relaxation. Oh and then of course there was the massage. This is the one thing I would do differently next time. I will go for a massage earlier in the process and probably go more than once. My massage therapist is a professional, not one of those skin polishers at the beauty salons, he is medically qualified and has the best hands I have ever experienced (for a massage – let me just clarify ;-)).
- Comfort Food. Now I know this is probably one I shouldn’t have indulged in, but I figured the whole experience was going to be stressful enough without worrying about what I was eating and how much weight I was putting on. I didn’t have an ‘off’ button for four weeks. So our food budget had to cover the best, most delicious biscuits that we discovered from Spar, with yogurt covering, yummy, and chocolate, the one with almonds and coconut oh and extra biltong and chips and hmmm, enough said you get the idea. And now I will worry about losing the weight again – that’s fine.
- The Right Food. Don’t forget the pineapple and brazil nuts. Not that expensive, but don’t forget them – you never know they just might make the difference.
- The injections. Are not as bad as you imagine. Not even close.
- All symptoms are rubbish. I’m sorry to say that the really sore boobs really are just the hormones, NO not the pregnancy hormones, probably the progesterone. There really is no such thing and as pregnancy symptom. This symptom is sent to simply mess with your head – ignore it.
- The weird feeling is almost certainly the need to visit the toilet, it is NOT your uterus expanding with growing babies. Not yet, not during the two week (or ten day) wait. I eventually figured out that the weird feelings I probably always have, but I’m not normally examining every twitch and twinge in my body quite so closely.
- PUPO. (Pregnant Until Proven Otherwise) I really thought I would convince myself that I was pregnant after transfer and all I can say is THANK HEAVENS I managed to avoid this crazy thought. You are not pregnant until you have had implantation and unless you actually do have implantation bleeding (and can be 100% certain it is implantation bleeding) you cannot know whether implantation has taken place and therefore you are not pregnant. To convince yourself otherwise is heartbreaking. Adds stress and for me I don’t think would be healthy. That’s not to say I wasn’t extremely optimistic and really had so much hope – especially as every day went by with no AF. But I wouldn’t let myself BELIEVE I was pregnant.
- The Itch – cetrotide is a B!TCH! I mean that jab gave me the worst itch I have ever experienced in my life. If I were one of those bendy people (you know the little oriental girls in the circus that can kiss their own buts?) I would have chewed on my stomach to get rid of the itchy spot. Not sure if there is anything you can do for this, I just endured it and it did eventually go away about three or four hours later. Keeping it cool did seem to help a little.
- Bloating. Not one I was really prepared for. I mean I had heard about bloating, but I had no idea my stomach could look seven months pregnant when I hadn’t even ovulated yet. My first cetrotide shot (the four day version) bloated my body unrecognisable. Try to wear elasticated trousers or skirts and if you can’t there is a very nifty trick I learnt. You can take a hair band (or any elastic band) and loop it through the button hole on your trousers and then loop the other end over the button. This helps to keep the trousers up when you can’t do up the zip or button any more. Very sexy let me assure you!
- Pu$$y Pills. Sorry to be vulgar, but this is what DefTTC named my progesterone suppositories. Yes I have heard that you can also put these up your bum rather than in your ‘love chute’ but honestly just how much dignity does a girl have to give up? BTW I was using two utrogestan tabs three times a day. Try to do these after you have had your poo (I warned you this may be TMI) as I found I ‘sh@t’ them back out if I put them in shortly before my ablutions. Put them as far up as your applicator will allow. Some leakage is normal and not to be worried about.
- Pads. This one came out of left field completely, even if I had thought about it for a month of Sunday’s I wouldn’t have realised this one… You see I only wear g-strings, and when it came to the part where I started using the progesterone I realised I was going to need some panty liners to handle the leakage. But I haven’t used a panty liner or pad since I was about 14. So off I went and picked some up. It is overwhelming the array of varieties, but I eventually settled on some g-string shaped ones and some normal ones. Until I started using the g-string ones and realised that the g-string liners get themselves all wrapped around the thin part of the g-string and you can end up with the sticky stuff stuck to your pubes! They were not successful at all.
- Panties. Due to the point above, I eventually had to head out and buy some ‘normal’ shaped panties. Add this into the budget too.
- EWCM. The day of my melt down – CD11. It hadn’t been a great day anyway, I was sooo disappointed in my follies and I got to work and not an hour later when I went to the loo there was the most obscene amount of EWCM (Egg White Cervical Mucus). Nothing in the whole process terrified me as much as that did. I was convinced I was ovulating and we were going to miss the opportunity to harvest my piss poor follies because my body was ejecting any eggs. This is not the case – the EWCM is from high levels of oestrogen and is normal – do not panic!
That’s all I’ve got for now. Please add any feedback of your own by leaving comments. I am considering turning this into a page of it’s own. A bit of a reference manual. And as I only have one IVF under my belt I am certain there is plenty I don’t know anything about.