Tuesday, 27 April 2010
Only a small percentage of people actually know what’s involved in an IVF cycle. The rest at blissfully unaware of the physical, mental and emotional drain it can cause a couple. So I wanted to give you a run down on what’s involved with an IVF/ICSI antagonist cycle.
Day one begins with AF (Aunt Flo) arriving. Normally women all around the world hate this day, but I love this day. It’s a step forward in our quest to parenthood. I call the nurse and let her know the good news.
Day two involves a visit to the clinic for a blood test to check my hormone levels. I leave the clinic with an esky bag full of needles and medication and race to the office to put the esky bag in the fridge. I just pray none of my colleagues open the bag! Just after 2pm, my nurse calls me with my hormone results and tells me to begin injecting 300 units of Puregon tomorrow morning.
Day three and four sees me waking bright and early for my injection. I don’t mind injecting Puregon as the needle is very small and doesn’t hurt too much. I lift my top up and insert the needle between my belly button and pubic bone. It’s over and done in 30 seconds. This medication is known as FSH or Follicle Stimulating Hormone.
Day five sees me back at the clinic for another blood test. My hormone levels are increasing nicely so the FS wants me to remain on the same dosage and come back in four days for a blood test and internal ultrasound.
Day seven and it’s time to add another lot of injections to the daily mix. The chemist charges me $395 for 5 injections; an insane amount of money to prevent ovulation occurring prematurely. (Unfortunately, this medication isn’t on the PBS so there is no rebate). The needle is quite thick so I put an ice cube on my skin to numb the skin.
Day nine is an exciting day. I get to see my follicles on the plasma screen for the first time. How many women get to say that out loud? Ha! Whilst the procedure is totally invasive and your dignity must be left at the door, it’s time to spread my legs and smile politely as the technician rolls the condom over the probe, squirts some gel on it and probes away. In IVF world, this is called the dildo-cam. The results show 9 follies on the left ovary (the largest measuring 15mm, 14mm and 10mm) and the right ovary is showing 10 follies (measuring 16mm, 15mm, 13mm and 11mm). This is a pretty good result for me as I don’t stimulate very well, hence the high dosage of FSH.
Day eleven and it’s back to the clinic again. My left ovary is now showing those follies have grown to 17mm, 16mm, 15mm and 9mm. My right ovary is showing 22mm, 18mm, 16mm, 16mm, 13mm, 11mm, 9mm. I start tearing up and thank the technician. I’m elated my follie numbers have increased!
Day twelve is trigger time. The nurse instructs me to use Ovidrel at midnight. This is the mother of all needles. I hate this one the most. I ice the area and count down the seconds to midnight. My stomach is swollen and tender and I can honestly play dot to dot on it! This injection will trigger my follicles to release their egg in 36 hours. Whilst my follicle count is currently 19, this doesn’t mean I’ll get 19 eggs. Some of the follicles can be empty or the egg will be immature. So I trot off to bed and say a little prayer for a healthy and happy outcome.
Day fourteen is surgery day for us. It’s my EPU (egg pick up) and DH’s TESE. DH and I prepare ourselves for the draining day ahead. DH is first up and prepped for surgery. The FS talks us through the surgery one more time and tells us he’ll make a small incision in the testicle and begin his search for hiding sperm. Sounds a bit like hide and seek. An hour later, the nurse walks me through to DH’s recovering bay. He’s in pain, white as a ghost and crying. No sperm was found. DH offers an apology to me and I start crying. I know he’s feeling like a failure so I cry with him and provide the love, support and care he needs in this low moment we share. The FS offers us his own condolences and states it’s not over yet. We have frozen sperm we can use today – this was always going to be out plan B. Two hours later and it’s my turn. I put on my sexy gown and slippers and walk down to surgery where I’m put under a light sedation. In an instant, I feel like I’ve consumed five glasses of champagne. I’m tipsy and very chatty. A local anaesthetic is inserted repeatedly into the walls of my vagina but I don’t feel a thing. A nurse is holding my hand and tells me to look at the plasma screen. Through my champagne haze, I look up at the screen in front of me and see my follicles being vacuumed out of me. It’s quiet a surreal experience. The test tubes are then handed to a scientist who counts the eggs. My FS has retrieved 12 eggs from 19 follicles. Yippee! This is a huge improvement on my last surgery which recovered only 1 egg.
Then to my horror and my FS’s horror, I begin to have an allergic reaction to the sedation. I pass out for over 5 minutes whilst the FS and nurses race around looking for a shot of adrenalin. Slowly I begin to hear the soft calm voice of my FS and come back to reality. It’s an extremely scary experience but I don’t batter an eyelid over it because I have 12 eggs.
I’m wheeled back to the same recovery bay as DH and I tell him the good news. It’s a bittersweet moment for us. I feel like my body has produced the goods this time round and DH’s body has let him down. But we have a plan B and it’s time to put those wheels into action.
Day fifteen is results day. The nurse calls me just after 10am to tell me the fertilization news. One of the eggs has fertilised overnight. The tone in her voice tells me this is pretty bad result but I can’t stop smiling. We’ve never got to this point before! We’ve never had anything fertilise!
Day sixteen and I give myself an injection of HCG Pregnyl, an injection of human chorionic gonadotropin that is produced by the female placenta during pregnancy. The shot will assist our embryo in attaching to the endometrium wall.
Day seventeen and it’s back to the clinic during my lunch break to have our one and only embryo transferred back inside. The embryo isn’t the best quality but the FS transfers it anyway.
The next ten days are a rollercoaster. I begin the ride with a sense of achievement, a positive outlook and a ‘this is it’ attitude. A few days later and Doubt arrives in the form of cramps and sore boobs. About a week later and my old enemy Fear arrives with all my usual PMS symptoms.
Exactly ten days after my transfer and I’ve had enough of the torture I’m being subjected to inside my head. I wake up early and pee on a stick. I have to know if this embryo wants to stay onboard for nine months or not. Three minutes later and there is no 2nd line. Yes, it may be too early to tell but this is MY sign the cycle has failed. I trot off to work in a somber mood and do my best to start the working day. A few hours later and my most feared enemy AF arrives.
After 20 injections, three dildo cam visits and our pink bits shown to countless people, our cycle has failed and is officially over.