Once I started the IVF process, I knew I wanted to collect ‘tips’ along the way to help someone else in the future. This list has taken longer to compile than I planned, but there is so much that goes into IVF & I wanted to make sure that I included everything. Once I started this process back in August, my mind was in a bazillion different places, so I tried to write down everything that I could think to share.
If you are not going through IVF, this might be a boring post to read….and long. Save yourself now! 😉 You have been warned.
If you are going through IVF or planning on going through IVF, welcome to this post. I hope these tips help and my thoughts & prayers are with you through this journey!
Get ready, this is going to be a bumpy, but very rewarding ride! 🙂
Tip #1. First and foremost, your doctor is most likely going to put you on birth control. I was on it for around 20 days. Don’t freak out. Don’t panic. At that point, the LAST thing you will want to do is prevent pregnancy any further or prolong the process any longer. But, it is so important!! The birth control will help regulate your body & put your cycle on your doctors timing & schedule. Timing during IVF is EVERYTHING! These few weeks will drag, but I promise it will all be worth it.
Tip #2. Expect to become well acquainted with your nurses and your RE (reproductive endocrinologist). You will be seeing these people often during this process. Lots of vaginal ultrasounds & lots of blood work. Be prepared for information overload the first few times you go. We sat in my doctor’s office the first time & she explained the entire procedure in depth. Our nurses were wonderful about explaining our schedule, medication, side effects, etc. I asked numerous questions. My husband & I had done a little research before, but we had tons of questions. If your doctor doesn’t explain something to your understanding, ask questions. And then… ask more questions! Don’t feel dumb or think you can figure it out later. This is one of the most in-depth processes I had ever been through in my life (and I have had multiple surgeries). You are the one going through the process & you are the one paying the money. Make sure you fully understand it all.
Tip #3. This kinda goes along with tip #2, but once you get your schedule make sure you understand it. When we got our schedule, I took a page or so of notes. This is very important. The nurse went over all the medication (Med-teach) and once again…I asked all the questions I had until I knew frontwards & backwards what to do & what the medication was for. My husband was the one that was going to be giving me my shots, so he took his own set of notes as well. If your Significant Other can’t come to the appointment with you for any reason, BRING ANOTHER SET OF EARS! You will be given so much information in a short amount of time, so grab your mom or a close friend to tag along. This helped out tremendously. ALSO, be prepared for your schedule to change. I wrote out my entire schedule on a planner & it ended up changing, so I had to use a whole thing of whiteout! My OCD side was screaming the entire time! I slightly panicked when it all changed & we got postponed for 7 days, but that is just the way it worked out. Trust your doctors & their timing!
Tip #4. Med-Teach and Medication: After my first or second appt, before we even got our schedule, they already ordered my medication. I actually started my Lupron shots before I got my schedule & before my med teach. The nurse that did our med teach was amazing. She helped Mitchell understand everything there was to know about the medicine, how to inject it, & went over some of the possible side effects. Once they order the meds, make sure you get the pharmacies information. I ended up having to order more medication & it was handy having that number available. When your medication comes in, Don’t Freak Out. It is going to be the most overwhelming day & you might feel a little intimidated. My husband was an angel during this time & unpacked & separated it. This was important, especially for him, since he was going to be the one to give me the shots. Make sure you organize it with what medication/syringes you will need first. It is okay to feel overwhelmed at this time, just take a deep breathe, say a little prayer, & eat some chocolate. 🙂
Tip #5. Medication: During my IVF journey, I took a combination of Lupron (26 days), GonalF (9 days), Menopur (9 days), a ZPACK, & Progesterone shots (10 weeks). Lupron helped stabilize my hormones. The shot wasn’t too painful, but did give me massive headaches. Lupron is refrigerated so make sure to take it out 30 min before you take it. You definitely do NOT want a cold shot. Be prepared that you might have to take more or less dosage of the medication, depending on how your ovaries start to react. I ended up having a cyst at one of my earlier ultrasounds. It actually postponed our process by about a week & I had to take 7 extra days of Lupron.
I also used Menopur and GonalF as my stimulating hormone injections. These weren’t that bad either. The GonalF came in a pen & it was the sharpest needle EVER & was super easy to prepare. This made it much easier & less painful! Because I was responding so well to the medication, I got to take a lower dosage of GonalF towards the end of stims. If you are confused or not sure how much medicine you’re supposed to take, call your nurses to verify, but NEVER EVER stop taking your medication unless your doctor tells you to.
The Menopur did BURN, but the prep wasn’t that hard. Make sure & read the instructions with every shot & every syringe. I even YouTubed a few videos for injection tips!
Some of the needles will be bigger for the drawing of the medicine. Make sure you pay attention to what size needle is needed for the shot. You do not want to use a bigger needle than you are supposed to. OUCH! These bad boys are going into your tummy & you want the smallest gage needle possible. 🙂
The Progesterone shots I took towards the end hurt. The needle is pretty big because this shot was oil based. I took it for 10 weeks straight, so I got pretty used to them. I had my husband massage my rear afterwards & found that this helped. Butt massage anyone?
Once you start, it will get easier and easier as you go. I promise. Looking back, you will not remember the shots as being that much of a pain…they are just a step in the process. I won’t lie, any shot sucks, anytime you have to poke your precious skin, it is going to suck. Expect cramps, expect bloat, and expect a hormonal rollercoaster. Being prepared for this will help you power through. I promise it is worth it. You will be so surprised how strong you can be!
Tip #6. At some point in the beginning of this, I had to do what is called a uterine scratch. (it’s just as bad as it sounds) They do this in order to get a biopsy of your uterine wall. It also helps “build” a new wall that will come back & hopefully be where your baby implants. This is a painful procedure that lasts about 10 seconds. Unfortunately, the pain will definitely last longer than 10 seconds. It will suck. It will be the worst cramps you have ever experienced. There is no preparing for it, just know that the pain does go away & you will be able to milk anything out of your Significant Other afterwards!!!! 😉 My doctor wanted to do the mock transfer the same day as this, so on top of pain, I had a full bladder. *face palm* But, I got through it & then I got some ice cream afterwards. Expect to cramp a little afterwards & maybe even bleed. If you plan on having sex anytime the week after this, you are so brave. My poor husband had to wait a little while! 😉 The heating pad will be your best friend!
Tip #7. Stims: By day 4 of stims, I could feel my ovaries growing at a rapid pace. By day 9, I was walking around like I was 9 months pregnant. My ovaries were huge & I felt extremely full & uncomfortable. Yay for growing eggs! At this time, you will either be going in to the doctor everyday, or like me, every other day. They will want to monitor you to make sure you aren’t overstimulating. Take it easy the week or so of stims. I am usually a more active person & this is the week I was a lazy couch potato! On top of being bloated af, I was exhausted. I went on a little walk around the block a few times & was whipped completely out. Don’t be hard on yourself for being a little lazy. This is also the week that you will be doing your trigger shot. Write down all the information you get from your doctor regarding the trigger shot. This is the most important shot during the process. Timing is everything!
If you are at risk of hyper-stimulation, your doctor will go over some ways to monitor your body to help prevent this. Pay attention to your body & possible swelling. This is so important!
Tip #8. Weight Gain: This is the most depressing tip of all. Expect weight gain during IVF. I have always been a medium build/hour glass girl/ ghetto booty with a smaller waste. I was hardcore into Jazzercise & worked out at least 3-4 times a week before IVF. This girl also likes to eat! I have always been aware of weight gain & always strived to maintain a healthy weight. I love to go on walks & love being active. I knew from the beginning that weight gain was a factor & I just pushed it out of my mind. Unfortunately, it is no lie. With all of the traveling we did, eating out, hormonal ice cream cravings, BLOATING, & stress eating, I gained around 6 lbs. It really bothered me at first & even still makes me aggravated that I let myself get that way. But, you almost can’t control it. Be prepared for it & don’t be hard on yourself. This is a trying time in your life & sometimes ice cream makes you feel better! Now that I am pregnant with TWINS, I have to continue to balance working out, eating healthy, and still allowing a few cravings. Life is all about balance!
Tip #9. Egg Retrieval: Egg retrieval day was so exciting! We went to Lubbock the day before & went out on a date. We had to be up at the butt crack of dawn the next day & be at the hospital so we got a hotel room & stayed the night in Lubbock. I have had multiple surgeries throughout my life, so this wasn’t a big deal for me. You might be a little nervous, but the entire thing lasted only like 20-30 minutes. Wear comfy clothes that day, no makeup, no lotion, & hair up. This is not the day to be trying to look cute. 😉 You will be getting “stabbed” in the vagina wall however many times & I promise you will want sweats. Each IVF process is different depending on the doctor. But I was put under for my procedure, thank God! You will be crampy afterwards for sure. I was crampy for about a week afterwards. Once again, sex might have to be off the table for the next few days after this procedure. Trust me…
Tip #10. The day of my egg retrieval I was able to meet with my embryologist. This will be the most important person the days after your ER. They are the ones that fertilize your precious eggs & “babysit” them as they grow into blactocysts. Some doctors will want you to do a 3 day transfer or a 5 day transfer. I was able to do a 5 day transfer. This allowed our little eggs to turn into blastocysts & hopefully have the best possible chance at implantation. The Embryologist will contact you every day after your ER to update you on your fertilized eggs! This was so cool! You will want to keep your phone on you AT ALL TIMES during these few days. Please be prepared that some don’t make it to day 5 (or day 3 if that is the time frame your doctor wants). I had 15 eggs retrieved, 12 fertilized, & 10 made it to day 5. They transferred 2 & froze 8. This was a good “batch” if you will. Try not to go into this with the expectation that all of the eggs will fertilize & make it to day 5. You don’t need that extra stress or pressure! 🙂
Tip #11. Egg Transfer Time!!! Once day 5 (or day 3) gets here you will be so ready! They will want you to have a full bladder & stay perfectly still while on the table. They did mine in the same room they did my retrieval. On this day, remember to wear easy-to-take-on/off pants & shoes. Take it from the girl who wore shoes that had to be tied, while having a full bladder for over an hour, before she could run down the hall to the bathroom! *facepalm* After they transfer the embryo’s, you will have to lay there for around 15 minutes. This procedure is relatively painless apart from having to pee the whole time! 😉 You get to watch the entire thing on the screen. So neat!
Tip #12. Two week wait: The two-week-wait is the hardest part of the entire thing. Find a good book, find a good friend, & relax. It will go by slowly & it will suck. No way around it. Find activities that will occupy your time until that beta test. The most important thing you can do at this point is to NOT TAKE A TEST! After all of the medication, you can get a false positive if you take a test too early. I was way to chicken to take one. Or maybe just a giant pessimist!!!
Say prayers & read some inspirational quotes during this time.
Tip #13. Beta Test: This might be the most important tip of all. On the night of your beta test, plan an event. Plan on going out with friends or family for dinner, plan a game night, & commit to these plans. It could be a night of celebrations or a night of drowning your sorrows, but having friends & family near will help tremendously!
Infertility struggles are extremely difficult & during the IVF process, you will not feel like yourself in any way, shape, or form. You will be more stressed, more exhausted, & more emotional than you probably ever have been. If you find yourself with no one to confide in, hit me up! I would love to help & reassure you that you are not alone & that the things you are feeling are normal.
I hope these tips help & know that I am always just an email away. I don’t pretend to be an expert on IVF or any other infertility treatments, but I have been there & I will fully help in any way possible.