Things I wish I’d known before IVF

Things I wish I’d known before IVF

possibility

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.

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15 thoughts on “Things I wish I’d known before IVF

  1. This is fantastic advice and really mirrors my experience, even down to the age and the one experience of pregnancy (and loss… I am sorry we both experienced that). The one thing different in the UK (NHS funded) is that we have fewer tests – we don’t have betas and so on that I can see happens in the US and Canada. But other than that I agree with pretty much all your points and wish I’d known those too! (I realised about the kindle fairly early on, haha, so true!)

    Thanks for a really useful post!

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    1. Some UK clinics do the beta tests. My first clinic didn’t. But second one did two betas (one at OTD and one two days after), and I’ve seen some UK ladies having 4 or more at theirs, especially if they are having some bleeding then it is a way to check things are still going in the right direction.

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      1. Maybe it’s just my NHS district then! I asked and they said they didn’t do that level of testing. I was expecting to have to keep giving blood all the time! I would expect that they do more tests at the private clinics?

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      2. Our NHS District doesn’t test blood for pregnancy either – you take a pregnancy test at home then just ring in the results. I don’t know if it’s better or worse to get BETA results as I would just be analysing the numbers!! But I know some NHS clinics do it x x

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      3. Yeah, we did a home pregnancy test too. At least it stopped me from over testing – I didn’t even do it before the end of the 2 week wait! I did it on the day they said! My NHS hospital didn’t do many tests beforehand and we’ve since been told that I have a fibroid in the middle of my womb that would likely affect implantation *and* continuing pregnancy. No idea how long it’s been that size. I feel like it would have given a greater chance of success to have tested for these things earlier, but I guess they’ve analysed the stats and it is more cost effective to treat everyone the same way rather than run a lot of diagnostics. I’m just grateful we can get treatment on the NHS and as you said in your point above, it’s good now as they know how we respond to treatment. Eg I was a slow responder and they kept upping the doses. Hopefully next time they’ll have a better idea of what dosage I need!

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      4. Ha, i tested after 6 days and did 19 pregnancy tests from then until I was about 6 weeks pregnant. I was such a crazy, neurotic pregnant person! I wish I had your willpower 🙂 What will they do about this fibroid now then? It sucks that they found it afterwards 😦 – but as you say – treatment on the NHS is very generic – we get what we’re *not* paying for! Fingers so tightly crossed for successful 2nd cycles 🙂 x x x

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      5. Well I did get a bit addicted to testing *after* the positive test. I did 9 in total I think, from the test date until about 7 weeks (similar to you again! But stingier on buying tests!) – once we had the bad/ambiguous news, the idea that it didn’t look good and we had to come back for further scans, I didn’t test so much because I’d looked up miscarriages and realised it could still test positive even if I was going to miscarry. So I stopped testing.

        I should be getting a referral for the fibroid back to the EGU (joy of joys!). So should be operated on within a couple of months. I just kinda find it mad that they go straight to IVF without investigating why we might be infertile… I did have an op for endometriosis last year but they didn’t really seem to do any other detailed testing. Because we’ve never been pregnant we don’t know if the problem is egg quality, ovulation, fertilisation, implantation, sustaining a pregnancy… I mean it’s just not clear where the problem lies. It’s confusing! I think if you go private then you have more ability to ask for those things (and pay for them). I just hope that they know more for our second cycles… Or that we get pregnant naturally whilst we’re waiting! 🙂 x

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      6. Both cycles I’ve had to go private as I’m “too old” in my county to qualify for any funded cycles (totally sucks when I could move to next county and get at least 1 cycle funded). Only with cycle at second clinic did I have bloods taken. I think it is down to the clinic and what level of individualised care they give. I guess the more it is treatment individually tailored to you, rather than a standard formula, the more you pay, but then you get things like the blood tests.

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    2. Really sorry for your loss too 😦 It sucks but we know that we CAN (and we will!) get pregnant and our healthy, happy babies will be with us before we know it 🙂 Hurrah for the kindle fairy indeed. I think that was the best thing I learnt – the waiting was so not worth getting stressed about…:-) They see you when they see you and it takes as long as it takes… x x x

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      1. Yes! Before this I had never ever been pregnant, like you – it’s such a big deal to know that it can actually happen. And strange to think it did happen! Though sad that we have no baby to show for it. I hope this means that there is an outside chance it might happen naturally!
        Hopefully both our cycles will roll round again in a short time! Our expected waiting time is 6 months xx

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  2. Yeah!! If I could I would have you on speed dial or create a group to join “Am I nutty or is this normal” 🙂 oh and the poor Husband…maybe I should let him read this. I fear normal pms makes me brutal….these IVF hormones could make mantis my mascot. Wonderful advise. Shocking about the caffeine part (sniff sniff)
    *

    ps….whoop whoop for trying this again! Good luck*!*!

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    1. Yeah, make sure the Husband knows that the hormones WILL affect you so he is prepared!!! Yeah it’s a shame they advise no caffeine but once the first week of caffeine headaches was over, I really didn’t miss it and haven’t gone back to it now – even though we’re between cycles 🙂 Yeah, we’ll be trying again. We’ve just had a (big) bump in the road but it’s not enough to put us off. I will be a Mummy – somehow- one day and my wonderful Husband will be a Daddy x x

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