I started writing this blog post months ago but I never quite got round to finishing it. Hopefully it’ll help me for our next round – and maybe it will help someone else out there in the blogging world who is getting ready to start their treatment!!
1. The injections themselves were no big deal. If ‘me five months ago’ was to read this, I would have thought that I had lost the plot. But the injections were absolutely fine. Not a problem. A little stingy at times and the bruises were a little bit of an eyesore – but who dons a bikini anyway mid- IVF?? The trick for me was to think of each bruise as one step closer to that ultimate goal.
2. It is all consuming. If possible take time off work/decrease hours/work from home. The appointments take up A LOT of time and there is just no point getting stressed out about this. If you’re not happy about telling work that you’re doing IVF, think about how you are going to handle the appointments (holidays/sick time/flexi-time etc?). The clinic probably won’t see you on time either so take a book/tablet/knitting – whatever floats your boat. I did a lot of reading, writing stuff down in my notebook and it passed the time without stressing me out. Also, take some food and a bottle of water with you as you just don’t know some days how long you’ll be there.
3. Start healthy eating and exercising well beforehand. Get yourself as healthy as possible. The hormones will probably ruin any attempt at being ultra-healthy whilst you’re mid IVF (they did for me anyway…) so I was glad to have done the hardwork beforehand… I was also so glad I gave up caffeine 3 months before as I would not have wanted to deal with the hormone headaches AND the caffeine withdrawal headaches at the same time… My aim for the next round is to try and stay healthy whilst in the middle of the round too (I just found that too hard last time). Also, don’t forget to start prenatal vitamins/folic acid – my clinic reminded me everytime I went which I’m sure every clinic does.
4. People will say really CRAP stuff. They don’t mean it. They probably know very little about the process and don’t really know what to say. I know that I knew nothing about IVF a year ago…Don’t lose patience with these people (I know that’s hard when you’re feeling hormonal /anxious /stressed out) – chances are that these people are your friends! I found being really open about appointments, procedures etc. really helped as people then asked me questions about what was going on and allowed me to talk about stuff. Endlessly. Which also meant that Husband didn’t get it all. In my opinion, the IVF bubble is just way too much for two people in a relationship to bear alone. But this is a personal choice- tell as many or as few people as you feel comfortable with.
5. I would say don’t google but I am one of the guiltiest people for this – possibly ever. I googled every little twinge and symptom going, researched which foods I should and shouldn’t eat/read books/asked the nurses silly questions/went to information evenings/asked my IVF friends…But what I’m saying is – take everything you read on Google with a pinch of salt. One person might have got pregnant by eating the core of a pineapple (?) everyday and 6 brazil nuts – but that may not have worked for somebody else…But in the same vein – do be informed. I think what helped me was to know as much as I possible could fit inside my little brain before I started – then I had some idea of what was to come and that does feel less scary.
6. Have faith – it works. Yes, the statistics aren’t marvellous but it does work. I’m 37 years old and had never had a single sniff of a pregnancy – and even though I sadly lost my child, without IVF I would never have been pregnant. Stay positive and talk to those little embryos. I also followed this 31 days of prayer for Infertility – and it really helped me.
7. Be prepared for the worst bit – post transfer. I was not prepared for this AT ALL. Whilst mid IVF, you are monitored so very closely. Bloods every two days, scans every two days. You know exactly what is going on with your body. Then they transfer those little embryo(s) and you are left TOTALLY ALONE. Firstly, you are in the 2ww (two week wait ) before you can test (I’ll come back to ‘Testing’ in a minute) then if you do have the glorious news of a positive pregnancy test, you have to wait until you are about 7.5 weeks pregnant to be scanned. I was going CRAZY in that time as I had no idea what was going on in my body and whether everything was alright. I have no advice here whatsoever of how to handle this – but I just wanted to make you aware that when the Fertility Clinic leave you alone after transfer, you may find this tricky.
8. Try not to test early (says the lady who tested 6 days after her embryo transfer). This only makes it harder as you then have longer to wait after the positive pregnancy test until the viability scan. I knew I was pregnant when I was 3 weeks and 4 days pregnant. Long before anyone trying to get pregnant naturally would even think to test. But I’m not going to bang on about this too much as if I could do it all again, I would probably do exactly the same again. But just try and wait if you possibly can hold out. Distract yourself however you can. I took one day off post transfer (although I did take things a little easier, I carried on mostly as normal). Some people take the 2ww off work and rest totally whereas others just carry on as normal. Take the advice your clinic gives you – they know what they’re talking about…
9. Try not to get too hung up on numbers. I know I did when I came out of that first scan and I only had 3 follicles that had grown – and they were still tiny. I was DISTRAUGHT. But Firstly, it takes time and Secondly it is YOUR BODY. I do remember overhearing someone else going on about their 26 follicles and wondering why my body was so crap. In the end I got 8 eggs from 8 follicles, 3 were mature, 3 fertilised and made it to 5 days blastocysts resulting in 1 baby who was with me until she was 12 weeks and 2 days. It take one egg to make a baby. Next cycle, the clinic will know more about how I respond to treatment so will be able to improve their treatment plan so I get more mature eggs hopefully. But if not, I’m going to try not to fixate on numbers and hope the quality of the eggs I produce are just amazing!!
10. Lastly, be kind to yourself. IVF can be rubbish. The hormones can be hard on your body and your emotions. Don’t be hard on yourself and plan in lots of nice things. I enjoyed walking my dogs, reading, movies, crafty stuff – but whatever floats your boat really. It’s a journey, full of ups and downs, twists and turns and you will come out of it probably a little bit differently to when you started.