So a few months ago I had my gallbladder taken out, and though recovery was more difficult than I imagined, I still managed not to fail nursing school or the NCLEX (with the help & support of my amazing husband, family, and friends). I’m now officially a registered nurse & school already seems like a distant memory.
My first round of IVF is also starting to feel like a distant memory — it feels like it was all so long ago even though it’s really only been a few weeks. And let me tell you, those weeks were rough and, again, I really couldn’t have done it without my husband. He’s been my rock.
Anyway, since IVF is a process — that’s an understatement — I thought I’d break it down into a few different phases & this post will cover phase 1: ovarian stimulation (“stimming”).
Before I started stimming I had to be on birth control for 19 days for the purpose of “calming” my reproductive system. The day after my last birth control pill I went to the clinic for a “baseline” appointment that involved an ultrasound to check out my uterine lining and ovaries, and blood work to check hormone levels and make sure I wasn’t miraculously already pregnant. Everything looked good at my baseline so 4 days after my last pill I started hormone injections to stimulate my ovaries into producing a lot of eggs. My protocol was “low and slow,” meaning I took lower levels of hormones for a longer period of time in order to avoid hyperstimulating my ovaries, which comes with it’s own set of problems.
I gave myself two injections a day for seven days (Monday – Sunday) and during that time went in for 2 monitoring appointments to check out follicle (egg) development and estrogen levels. After those 7 days I added a third injection to the protocol and continued stimming for 6 more days (Monday – Saturday), with daily monitoring appointments. On the final day of stimming I gave myself an injection, called a trigger, that causes ovulation to happen in 36 hours and I made an appointment for my egg retrieval at that time (that’ll be covered in phase 2).
So it all sounds simple enough, except that the injections stung and left bruises all over my stomach. And the hormones made me feel tired and hot and cranky and starving and weepy and a whole bunch of other not fun things. And I had a headache the entire 2 weeks I was stimming. And by the end of it my ovaries were so enlarged that they were touching — hint: ovaries are not supposed to touch — and it hurt to walk, go to the bathroom, laugh, breath, or pretty much do anything. AND I had a cold the entire time.
It was totally glamorous and, though I can (and do) complain about it a lot, it was actually a really cool experience. Every time I had an ultrasound and saw how my body was responding and changing, it gave me hope that one day I’d have a family. Every time I saw that my ovaries were producing big, beautiful follicles, I couldn’t help but marvel at the fact that I was looking at what will one day be part of the baby I’ll be holding in my arms. It really helped remind me what a miracle life is and it helped rekindle hope for a future with the family I’ve always wanted.