Okay, fine. I am not talking about the fun kind of shots, although it can be argued that “fun shots” are the catalyst for many a successful baby makin’ session. In the world of IVF, however, the shots are way less fun and way more expensive. Prior to beginning the IVF process I had no idea what to expect in terms of types of medication, length of stimulation, and what the actual heck the shots would feel like. Thanks to what can only be described as a compulsive appetite for IVF forums, and fertility website resources I realized that when it comes to stimulation (the shots leading up to your egg retrieval), there is a vast disparity in treatment. Clearly this disparity stems from the variances in each woman’s particular infertility case. Here is my Stimulation Story (that book cover could get weird).
The Drugs – My doctor prescribed the following drugs and doses for my stimulation process:
- Gonal-F Pen Injector – 150 IU a night, eventually increased to 225 IU on Day 7
- Menopur – 2 vials totalling 150 IU a night (mixed with 1cc of Sodium Chloride)
- Cetrotide – 0.25 mg (did not start until Day 7)
Organized meds made it easier for me to access and setup our nightly shots session (credits: Pinterest for Idea, OCD for execution).
Day 1 – First Day of Stims!
The first day of stim shots is mostly a learning process. I reviewed my notes on mixing the Menopur with the Sodium Chloride and how to set the dose on the Gonal-F pen. After explaining to hubby how to inject the meds (he missed the tutorial at the doctors office), we were ready to go!
Day 2 – Let the Headaches Begin!
By mid-afternoon my headache began and carried on through the night. Since I had decided to cut out all medication outside of stim meds and vitamins, my tried and true Excedrin therapy was not an option. This reaction may also be connected to my sugar withdrawals, as earlier in the month I eliminated processed sugar, bad carbs, and my generally happy disposition.
Day 3 – Peppermint Essential Oils = Life
Let the bloating begin! Definitely feeling the start of discomfort in my lower abdomen, but with the help of peppermint essential oils (just a little on the temples) at least I don’t have to worry about headaches anymore (phew!). Also, today is the beginning of what I like to call the ‘Poke and a Prod’ sessions, which is my everyday appointment for blood draw (estrogen levels check) and Ultrasound (the hard way). Doc says everything looks good!
Day 4 – Water, Water, Water!
Focused on drinking as much water as possible, which really helped the bloating. Dietary changes also have me feeling way better. Warning: If you are using the Gonal-F pens, make sure the dose window reads 0 before pulling out. My husband prematurely pulled out (which I assure you, never happens) and ended up having to stick me an extra time to finish the dose. He was appropriately disciplined.
Day 5- Poke and a Prod
Hubby was able to accompany me to my Poke and a Prod sesh. Everything on track! Also, breasts are starting to have a mind of their own.
Day 6- Rough Day
The only picture I could bare to take today, was of the meds. Today was a rough day (whomp whomp). Perhaps it’s the hormones finally catching up with me. Perhaps its that I can’t go to the bathroom. Perhaps its because my stomach is so tender that the shots are feeling worse than they really are. Whatever it is, I cried like a sissy after this evenings shots, took a melatonin and went to sleep at 8pm. Hopefully tomorrow is a better day.
Day 7 – Suppository Success!
I know that sounds gross, but who knew that a simple Dulcolax suppository could turn that frown upside down. Doc also added a new shot (Cetrotide) to prevent ovulation. Since this has to be administered during the day, the obvious answer was to ask my CFO to do them in her office before lunch (right?).
Day 8 – Paging Dr. Val
Sometimes your husband isn’t home to administer your 9pm shots. Thank goodness for girlfriends and their weird willingness to be a part of the process.
Day 9- Erin’s Turn!
Dr. Erin assured me that her experience administering shots to animals at her Vet office made her the ideal candidate for the job. Feeling like a pin cushion, but at least we got some laughs out of it! Val and Erin are currently debating who’s name should come first when naming our future child (Valeri Erin or Erin Valeri?).
Day 10 – Follicles Shmollicles
Today is trigger day! Ultrasound shows that my largest follicle was a 25! Tonight we trigger, which includes 1 Lupron shot and 1 HCG co-trigger shot. Egg retrieval is Sunday and I’m so excited this phase is almost over!
What I learned from my own process and posting polls in my IVF Support group on Facebook is that, every woman has a different experience. Some women felt no difference during the Stim process while others cried everyday. I felt somewhere in the middle and I sincerely hope your road is on the happier side of the spectrum.