I’ll never forget waking up on the first morning of our IVF (in vitro fertilization) cycle. It was like Christmas morning and the worst day of my life all rolled in to one.
If it’s possible to be overwhelmed, giddy, terrified, excited and nervous all at once, that’s what I was. I laid on the bed and sobbed as my husband prepped my first Lupron injection; there was so much hope and so much money on the line. But I took that injection and each one that would follow for 65 days. Nine months later, we delivered a healthy baby girl.
I’m no expert, but from our IVF experience I know heaps. I shared my candid IVF story at BabyOrBust.com, opening up the reality of this often isolating journey and in the process hopefully helping other women and couples on theirs.
In the days and weeks leading up to the cycle start date, do yourself a favor and be as prepared as possible! As you head into a cycle for the first time it’s hard to know what’s ahead, but I can safely look back without my Lupron goggles on and offer a few ideas that helped us and will help you, too!
1. A supportive partner. I’m not going to go all mush on you, but seriously, this process can make or break you. I absolutely could not have done this without my husband. He let me cry, be angry, be moody, be sad, be stressed, be anything I needed to be so that on some days I could simply function. He went to every appointment, managed every injection, and told me several times “thank you,” “we’ll stop if you want,” and how proud of me he was. I don’t think they sell these at SuperTarget – but if he’s willing to shop there with you, even more of a keeper! If you don’t have a partner in this process, find a friend or family member who can give you the love and kind words you will need.
2. A fan. For the love of all things holy, get a fan! And make sure the A/C in your house and car are working properly. I don’t care if it’s August in Oklahoma or January in Maine. You’ll want cool air and lots of it. When those hot flashes set it (for me it was Lupron Day seven) you’ll want to be as naked as possible and a fan to set as close to the bed, without being on top of it, as you can get. I actually sat on top of the A/C vents in the floor!
3. Naps. Hopefully you work in a supportive/flexible environment. Try to work from home some days or adjust your schedule to come in earlier or stay later (being careful not to interrupt your injection schedule). On the days you need a nap — and you’ll know! — you’ll be glad to take them. Don’t fight the urge. Your body is working so hard and it really is screaming at you to take a break. I also slept in about 30 minutes each morning and that made a world of difference. Get the rest your body is demanding, any way you can!!
4. Pedicures. I took myself out for a date night on day 15 and it was the best thing I did for myself. I savored every minute of a pedicure, just sat back and let the anxiety get rubbed away. Replace pedicure with massage, facial, new book, yoga class or whatever it is that feels like spoiling yourself.
5. Dedicated space. I didn’t want IVF to be this lingering thing throughout our house any more than it already was. I work at home, and I keep work in my office. I don’t take it to the bedroom, the living room or any other place where I want to be “at home.” I applied the same school of thought to our IVF. I kept a clear tub with all of our supplies — drugs, needles, alcohol swabs, bandaids, sharps container, etc. — on a shelf in our bathroom. Injections were ONLY prepped in the master bathroom and injections were only given with me lying on or across the bed. It just felt more controlled this way.
6. Injection supplies. Weeks before the IVF shots began I started picking up supplies. I shopped four stores before I found the bandaids I wanted — little half-inch squares, perfect for injections. I bought a fresh bag of cotton balls, for post-injection clean-up and pressure. I bought a box of alcohol swabs. I put all of this in the tub. When our IVF drug shipment arrived, I added to the tub and kept the printed schedule from our clinic next to it.
7. Snacks. I wasn’t sure what my appetite or munchy-level would be, so I grabbed my favorite organic lollipops and a couple bars of organic dark chocolate. I just wanted to be able to have a little something that I loved on hand in case I felt I needed it, but didn’t want to sacrifice my health for junk food. The lollipops totally worked!!
8. Tylenol. And lots of it. I was so achy, headachy and sore for so many days and this seemed to at least take the edge off. I won’t pretend like it fixed it, but it helped me to not claw out anyone’s eyes! Make sure this fits with your doctor’s protocol.
9. Sharpies. When the progesterone injections started — really long, really thick needles — my husband missed the mark a few times and got closer to my hips than the center of my glutes. Our nurse drew a circle on each cheek to serve as targets. He never missed the mark again; hopefully this trick saves you some time and pain.
10. Dinner. Whether you do some freezer-meal prep ahead of time, have friends organize meal deliveries, or just plan to hit your favorite taco shop on a regular basis, be sure to think ahead about how and what you’re going to eat. I promise there will be nights you’ll feel you can down an entire Thanksgiving meal by yourself, others where food is repulsive, and others when you want anyone else to make something…anything.
TapGenes Take Away: Before you start an IVF cycle, be prepared with a few things that put you and your body first!
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