Prior to IVF, I was a needle-phobe. I couldn’t even look when I got a shot or had blood drawn at the doctor’s office, and generally had to lay down for a few minutes afterward to compose myself before trying to drive. When we got my first big shipment of IVF medications, syringes and needles in the mail, I was a little bit overwhelmed. “T” is a bigger needle phobe than I am, so I knew I would be on my own as far as the needle sticking went. We developed a system where he would mix up my medicine and get everything ready for me, so all I had to do was give myself the shot. The first few times I tried, my reflexes got the best of me and I ended up stabbing myself several times per shot when I tried to stick it in then instinctively pulled back after the needle already pierced my skin. Gradually I got more used to it, and by the end I must say I was a pro. And it felt kind of badass to overcome a fear like that.
I wanted to be sure we were doing everything exactly right to the T, and set an alarm on my phone to go off at medicine time every evening to make sure we did the shots at precisely the same time daily. Instead of a beep or ring I had it play “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley, to be motivating and soothing. That song has since become our “anthem” for our infertility journey.
When doing IVF, they want to see your estrogen level gradually going up as you take your medication as well as your follicle size grow with each appointment you go to (usually every other day). As I went in for my progress appointments, at one point I had a meltdown because my estrogen wasn’t going up the way it should, and at a different time because my estrogen was going up but my follicles weren’t growing. The fear of IVF not working for us compounded with the emotional magnification from all the hormones was a rough combo, and “T” was a saint for holding me together during that time when my estrogen-fueled crazy was spiraling out of control. At one point I had a breakdown in church because the adorable pregnant singer in the band was singing “Eye of the tiger”.
I was sure at least a few times that they would cancel my cycle, but in the end everything got to where it should be, and after 11 days of stimulation medication they told me it was time to take my trigger shot. Since that shot is one that goes in your hip muscle with a big ol needle, I couldn’t physically reach back there to give it to myself, so my lovely mother-in-law came from out of town to help me.
36 hours later exactly, I was in the operating room getting ready to do my egg retrieval procedure. They started to administer the anesthesia and I began to feel sleepy as they finished harnessing my legs into the stirrups for the retrieval. The nurse told me this was just the beginning of what I would do for my babies eventually…she didn’t know the half of it.
Post-retrieval my recovery wasn’t bad at all. I was tired and a little achy but not in a lot of pain. Based on my final ultrasound before retrieval, they thought they would only get 8-10 eggs, but I ended up with 13! 11 of those were mature and all 11 fertilized. Being an IVF newbie, I was concerned with what I was going to do with 11 babies…I had no idea that they really wouldn’t all make the cut at the end, since not every fertilized egg is chromosomally normal and will become a baby. Most die off on their own, even in regular “fertile” people who get pregnant the old fashioned way. But up to day 5 when we did the transfer, most of the embryos were still developing.
When we went in for transfer, I was nervous about whether to transfer one or two back into my uterus. The idea of twins scared me since there were more complications. “T” was enamored with the idea of twins and kept telling me it was “buy one get one free” as far as delivery and pregnancy and all that. The RE doctor doing my transfer said that we had two good looking blastocysts, and that she felt ok transferring them both if I wanted to. I agreed, since it was doctor-approved, so we put those two little babies back inside me and got their photo to take home with us. I was told I could go back to work since I have a desk job, so I did and just took it easy the next few days. We put the babies photo on the fridge and told the kids their brothers or sisters were in my belly and it was only a matter of time before we knew if it worked…the dreaded two week wait.