On Pins and Needles - IVF

On Pins and Needles - IVF
Due to the fact that I am in the very small minority of uterine abnormalities (.00025% of women) we get to go to straight to very small minority of advanced reproductive treatments (.00375% of couples).  Since we are attempting to retrieve my eggs, fertilize them in Mark's sperm, and then implant our embryos into someone else's womb (Gestational Surrogacy), In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) was the way to go.

IVF has only been around since 1978 and in the US since 1981.  It has helped millions of couples to have the baby that they always wanted.  It is a highly sophisticated, meticulously timed procedure, that often takes more than one attempt to achieve success, and is not always covered by insurance (making it very expensive - plan on around $15K+ per cycle including the fertility drugs).  (http://www.resolve.org/family-building-options/ivf-art/what-is-in-vitro-fertilization-why-to-select-it.html#.U9VQHbG1Gex)  (http://www.resolve.org/family-building-options/myths-about-iui-art-ivf.html#.U9VSf7G1Gew)

When preparing for IVF, prepare yourself to a lot of bloodwork, a lot of ultrasounds, and a LOT of needles.  (Depending on the protocol it will be 40-60 shots).  By this point, many couples have already gone through some amount of fertility treatments and may have already used injectibles.  Believe it or not, you get over how creepy it is to give yourself shots pretty quickly and most don't hurt or only sting a little.  (I even gave myself my injections one night while on the phone with my Mom).  Probably the biggest shocks for me was the size of the bag that I brought home from the pharmacy (right it was actually two large bags)......and the bill.  As I mentioned before, most infertility treatments are not covered by insurance and fertility drugs are VERY expensive.

The next thing that you need to do is prepare yourself for a very regimented schedule for around a month that will include a lot of doctor appointments.  The IVF drugs need to be administered on a very regimented schedule - at about the same time every day and for several days.  You may be doing shots are work, in a public bathroom, or eventually just planning your schedule around them.  Also, you will be at the doctor at least every other day (can be as often as daily) during the stimulation phase.  This mean mean a lot of time off work or really juggling your schedule.

You also need to be prepared for some amount of discomfort.  Normally your body only produces one mature egg per month.  The goal of IVF is to produce 10-16 of them.  This means your ovaries are going to swell to around twice their normal size making them very sensitive.  You will be bloated and pretty uncomfortable near the end.  The retrieval is a short and relatively simple procedure - your will be uncomfortable for a day or two but not too bad.  Hopefully you do not get OHSS (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ovarian_hyperstimulation_syndrome) which is a risk with IVF.   It is no picnic.
 Also be prepared for a lot of emotions.  This was one aspect that I personally just wasn't prepared for or expecting.  First, your estrogen level is going to go from that of a normal woman to that of a very pregnant woman in only 10 days or so.  Also, IVF doesn't always go as planned - it varies from woman to woman and even cycle to cycle in the same woman.  Tests are done to try to predict how you will react but nothing is a sure thing.  My tests were great and I still got cancelled by first cycle.  Each morning you will be anxiously scanning the monitor (are there follices?  how many? are they big enough?) and each afternoon you will be waiting by the phone for your blood results (Is my E2 high enough? too high? are we changing my meds?)  For some women the whole thing goes as planned, but for most of us something can and will come up.

My advice, be flexible, follow your doctor's orders to the letter, be prepared for the shots, discomfort and lots of appointments (they aren't that bad in the grand scheme of things), prepare to have inexplicable emotional outburst for seemingly no reason, know that your are perfectly normal and that others have been and may currently also be in your shoes, and have a lot of tissues handy.


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