We’re ten months down the line from when we made the final decision to go for IVF and whilst I’m no expert on it, I know a heck of a lot more about the whole process, than back when we started. It’s been a real learning curve for me and my husband. There’s so much you’re not aware of before you take the plunge, despite probably the majority of us knowing friends or family who have had to have IVF. Pre treatment, I somewhat naively just though you went in to your clinic and they magically did something with your sperm and egg and VOILA!! OK maybe not quite but I didn’t know about the daily injections, or having to have a general anaesthetic so they can collect your eggs and I definitely didn’t know about the emotional roller-coaster that it all turns out to be. It’s IVF but so much more to boot. Here are ten things for you that I discovered along the way.
The whole process is like a game show
A rather cruel game show at that. And by this I mean that throughout it all, you’re constantly waiting to find out if you’ve gotten through to the next round. There’s so much at stake and once you get over one hurdle you realise there’s another five to go. Have you reacted to the drugs, have you got enough follicles, how many eggs will they get, how will the eggs form, will the eggs fertilize, will the embryo implant. It’s never ending. For most, the stress starts when they find out they’re pregnant and have to sit out the thirteen week wait, whereas with IVF the process starts from day one of your cycle. It’s something you need to be aware of, appreciate and prepare yourself for.
Research where you get your drugs from
I looked into this extensively and Asda did come out a few hundred pounds cheaper, but what I hadn’t taken into consideration was that on the day I got my prescription from my clinic, I had to start administering injections that same day. On speaking to Asda, they were super helpful but advised that I had to go in with my prescription and then it may take 24-48 hours to get the drugs as they didn’t hold everything on site (this was at my nearest big store) So despite making a few hundred quid savings, it simply wouldn’t have worked getting the drugs elsewhere other than my clinic.
Clear your diary
The nurses we saw made a big play on the fact the whole situation is draining and I always nodded at this but assumed that I’d be OK. However when we had our abandoned round back in June, a week into taking the drugs and sh1t well and truly hit the proverbial fan. We hadn’t appreciated the stress that I’d be under nor the side effects of the drugs and we went to stay with family for the weekend and it was all a bit too much for me (meltdown extraordinaire). Second time round we were ready. We said no to a family get-together, my husband booked a day off work, he booked me a massage and we had a day out together with the kid. After egg collection we booked the kid in for an extra day of nursery and I chilled at home for two days. You need to concentrate on yourself, now is the time to be selfish.
Know your timetable
When you get your timetable from your clinic, write it up again and stick it on your fridge. Make sure you flag important dates and set reminders on phones etc for when you need to take medication at certain times. You’ll need to sort out time off work or childcare around set appointments, have friends and family on standby in case of emergency childcare requirements.
Injections are easy
I HATE needles and the whole ‘having to do injections yourself’ totally freaked me out. But you’re shown how to do them and the needle that you use, is actually tiny. You have to put it into the fleshy bit below your belly button which is nice and soft (for me anyway!) Ice the area beforehand and afterwards too if it stings. Aloe Vera and Arnica help too if you’re really suffering.
DON’T read online forums
Please, please don’t read online forums. I read loads when we did our IUI round and it did me no good whatsoever. I got caught up with what everyone else was doing and how successful they’d been, it was more detrimental than helpful. And definitely don’t start googling your symptoms post treatment because 1) Everyone is different and 2) No one in those forums is a Doctor and 3) Ultimately you’ll find out once you do a test. Just because Bumble1981 had spotting, cramps and is pregnant that doesn’t sadly mean that you are too. You will drive yourself insane so just stop right now. If you have questions, call your clinic and speak to a nurse. I put a self-imposed ban on myself the second time round and it definitely helped to control those insane thoughts (a little).
100% listening to a meditation script daily throughout the actual IVF process really helped me. I found an amazing App called Mindful IVF which hand holds you through every step of the way. There are several scripts to listen to at various times throughout your process. The man’s voice is so soothing and having something to listen to daily really helped focus me and keep me positive. I thoroughly recommend this.
You may have to make some on the spot decisions
Whatever is thrown at you, if you suddenly have to make a decision about your treatment and where it’s going, you and your partner/husband must be on the same page. Ask your clinic for guidance, in some situations they can tell you what is best but in some scenarios you will need to make a call and you need to be happy with the choice that you make.
My Consultant recommended, amongst other things, Acupuncture. He believed that this was something that would help me during treatment and given that I had treatment when we tried for the kid, I started seeing the same lady again. It made me feel like I was doing something extra to help towards my treatment. Most clinics nowadays often have their own person in-house to recommend.
Read about drug side effects
I experienced a whole bag of symptoms with the drugs I was on. Menopur, the main one I took gave me really bad headaches and mild nausea the first time round (weirdly not the second time). And another I took, pregnyl gave me pregnancy symptoms. Unfair. I questioned a nurse about this and she said the drugs play havoc with your body and monthly cycle, and certainly my first period post IUI was INSANE. It was really heavy, nothing stopped it and luckily I was home when it happened! Read up and ask questions, so you’re aware and prepared.
Really think about whether you tell friends and family
A wise friend of mine said to me, before we started IVF, to really think about how many people we wanted to tell about our treatment. Being an IVF guru herself, she leaned towards the side of not telling too many, for various reasons, and looking back on our IVF and subsequent miscarriage, I see what she was saying now. At the time for us it was a no-brainer. We wanted people to know so we wouldn’t have to explain to those close to us, and we also needed help from my family with Olivia, when I went in for scans and had the egg-collection operation etc. However from telling close friends and family it sort of spread like wildfire and soon pretty much everyone knew that we were having treatment. This is both good and bad looking back now. It was great because everyone just knew and I didn’t have to explain the random crying or why I felt crap that day. However it was bad because everyone knew that we would be getting a result of some sort and a lot of my conversations with friends, however well-meaning started with a, ‘how have things gone’ question and I ended up telling people about our pregnancy. And this was in those first few weeks (because with IVF you find out two weeks after implantation whether it’s worked or not) when you wouldn’t normally dream of telling anyone. Then obviously I had to tell people about the miscarriage. I found this incredibly hard in the end. Too many people knew, far too early on and it all became a bit too much. If we proceed again I’ll heed this advice this time and perhaps keep it quiet where possible.
Good luck x