I started the injections Sunday night. By now I'm a pro and can do it without cringing. Every night at 9pm I religiously give myself two to three injections in my stomach. I'm on a hormone cocktail of Gonal F and low dose HCG...both help to stimulate follicle growth (where the egg grows). In a typical cycle without hormones, females have many follicles that develop each month but only one wins out to beat the others and grows an egg. The rest are immature eggs incapable of being fertilized or never grow an egg and are discarded naturally by the body. The hormones I'm taking will help all those normally discarded follicles to grow a nice mature egg inside. In an IVF cycle by the time all is said and done, each ovary will swell to the size of a grapefruit. I can tell you from experience that this is quite uncomfortable and sadly the closest thing I've ever felt towards pregnancy. I can somewhat vouch why pregnant women complain about their bodies but I would gladly trade places with them. Most women who get pregnant easily and naturally will never appreciate how lucky they really are.
I started out with a glitch in this cycle. I received expired medications from the pharmacy! It's a good thing I happened to check the expiration date. This is likely very atypical so those going through IVF shouldn't freak out....just remember to check your boxes and vials. On my first day of injections I noticed it expired that day. If the medication is expired or not kept refrigerated, it could severely compromise the results. It was a mix up at the pharmacy and likely the medicine was still actually good. They still sent me a new vial, free of charge but I did have to take the expired medication for one day until the new one arrived. Since it wasn't the most important medication to stimulate egg growth and it was only one day, it was likely no big deal. So many things can go wrong in a cycle and so many things can cause anxiety that I'm trying not to let this freak me out or cause my stress to elevate more than it initially did.
Tonight will be my 4th night of injections....typically most women "stim" for 9 days, so I'm about half way there. In a few days I will start a third injectable medication to make sure my body doesn't accidentally release the eggs (ovulate), causing the procedure to fail. This morning was my first appointment with the clinic after starting medications. Again, I had a few glitches. I normally have gianormous veins. But today for some reason....not so much. She stuck me a few times and dug around for a bit until she finally got some blood. Now both my forearms look like I have track marks on them and are bruised...and I have roughly 3 to 4 more times I have to give blood within the next week. Ugh. With it being summer, it's hard to hide and I don't like people (patients) asking questions at work. Work is my ONLY time NOT to think about our problems with not being able to have children. My ultrasound wasn't that great either. I only have 7 developing follicles...that's HALF of what I had last time. I know NO IVF cycle is the same and to never compare, but it's hard not to be disappointed in my numbers. The less eggs = less potential babies. Only about 2/3 of retrieved eggs are actually mature. If I do the math, that's about 4 to 5 eggs we have to work with. From those, typically only a third will become fertilized which leaves me with only 1 to 2 potential embryos. Considering our problem with the embryos not developing, that doesn't leave us alot to work with....last time we had EIGHT and look what happened? I understand this can change for the better or worse, but it's still difficult to not think about the outcome. With this being our last chance to have a family, I am SO incredibly nervous. One key thing I've learned is that it's the quality of the eggs, not quantity. For now, that is all that's keeping my chin up.
So for now I'm busy with appointments and trying to juggle work. I had acupuncture yesterday, I had an appointment today with the clinic, tomorrow I have acupuncture again, Friday I have another appointment at the clinic and that's only this week.... Even though I'm nervous as heck, I'm doing rather well overall. I'm thankful for the support I receive from my friends and family and only hope that support will continue and multiply should this fail. I can't imagine what a wreck I'll be....it's hard when no one understands completely or has been in my shoes. It's easy to imagine how one should deal with this....until it's you.