There is no secret formula for getting through an IVF cycle. It is a different experience on both a physical and emotional level for every woman and every couple. I am going to share some of the ways I have gotten through two past IVF cycles (one which produced my daughter) and how I am getting through my current cycle (We are on Day 11 of injections).
One appointment at a time
I take it one day, one ultrasound, and sometimes one shot at a time. I try not to get ahead of myself. Although it’s hard not to dread all the things that could go wrong while simultaneously getting excited about all the things that could go right – I try not to go there. If I’ve learned anything from doing this three times now, it’s that things can change from day to day. A lot of follicles don’t necessarily translate to eggs. A lot of eggs don’t necessarily translate to embryos. I celebrate the little victories and hope for the best when it comes to all the things I can’t control.
Decide whether you or your partner are going to administer the shots and build a routine around giving them. Since cycle 1, my husband has given me all my injections. This is what works for us and it helps take some pressure off of me during an already stressful time.
The injections we have done over the course of three cycles include Follistim, Gonal, Menopur, human growth hormone, Lupron, progesterone in oil, Depot Lupron, and Ganirelix. Ice your belly prior to each injection. It helps to numb the area and really takes the edge off. Each medication comes with its own set of instructions, but overall we have found that inserting the needle as quickly as possible has been the best in terms of actual shot pain. Depending on the medication, you will either want to inject it quickly or slowly. It depends on how much the solution burns or irritates as it is injected. Always ask a nurse if you have questions! I tried as hard as I possible could to stay away from Dr. Google because I didn’t want to read a bunch of horror stories about awful side effects and bad reactions to injections.
I always start a cycle filled with a lot of hope and gratitude for the opportunity to even pursue IVF. As any person facing fertility treatments knows, half the battle of IF (short for infertility) is the financial strain. IVF ain’t cheap! When we started cycling back in 2012, our clinic in LA was about $12-15k per cycle out of pocket. Our current clinic is up at $20k+ for one cycle. We are lucky enough to have some help from insurance this time around to help defray some of the costs. However, we are still paying almost $10k out of pocket. With that said, I am BEYOND grateful for any chance we have to give this a shot.
I’ve found that coming from this place of gratitude helps me with the more grueling points of IVF. The waiting, the stress of the shots, the emotional low points when you feel like you want to just give up. If I tell myself that not everyone gets this chance, it helps me gain some much needed perspective.
Let perfectionism go
During my first cycle of IVF, I did everything “right”. I ate all the right foods, exercised, got acupuncture several times a week and drank those nasty teas. I meditated to those IVF cycle DVDs. I tried as hard as I possibly could to reach a higher level of spiritual enlightenment, took supplements, and ate pineapple core. The result was a big fat negative (BFN).
When my second cycle came around, I found myself disconnecting from some of the routines and (neurotic) behaviors that I had done during my first cycle. We still have no idea why the second cycle was successful. Was it because I did Depot Lupron before the cycle? Was it due to the human growth hormone we used? We honestly have no clue, but I, in part, credit it to the fact that I let go of a lot of control. I’m not saying that acupuncture and all of those little details do or don’t add up to a baby. For some, I’m sure they do! But, for me, I was driving myself crazy trying to be the perfect specimen to carry a child. I had to LET IT GO.
This third cycle I have still made an effort to eat better and take care of my health. I am keeping my stress levels relatively low. I am not obsessing over things. For example, this week has been crazy busy and I haven’t wanted to cook healthy organic meals at all. So, we’ve improvised. We’ve had a few nights of take out and I’m okay with that. One night of Chick-fil-a is not going to ruin my egg quality for life. I hope.
Try and Enjoy the Process
This is a special time in our lives. We are trying to make a baby. Ok, it didn’t happen the traditional way or anywhere even close to how we thought it would. But, these are the cards we’ve been dealt, and there are some definite positives to this process. I was never much of a science gal growing up, but after all of this time spent looking at ultrasounds, talking to doctors, measuring medications, and looking at photos of blastocysts has reminded me that WE ARE USING SCIENCE TO MAKE A BABY! And that’s pretty freaking cool.
During every IVF cycle, my husband and I seem to grow closer. Injection time is sort of our special time to catch up and reconnect every evening. Who would’ve thought giving me a shot in my belly would be good for our marriage? But, it has brought us closer together in the past and it’s the same for this cycle, too.