After having done all the necessary health checks, we were advised that IVF (specifically ICSI) was the way for us to go. I’d always known this was an option, but it came as quite a surprise because I’d mistakenly assumed there would be a number of other options/alternatives tried first. But there wasn’t. Our Doctor had no other solutions. This was his recommendation. He said it wasn’t impossible (for us to conceive), but that we would need some help. We had plenty of time to process and prepare for it though due to needing (or so I thought) to upgrade our health fund cover, so it would be at least a year ‘off’ (a note for any Australians: I mustn’t have researched this at all and assumed you needed private health cover… but, if I recall correctly, it’s now all covered by Medicare with the exception of the day stay surgery for egg collection… so in hindsight if I’d known this we’d most likely have gone down this track sooner!).
Coming to terms with the concept of IVF wasn’t too much of a struggle for us. We were at the point where we would do whatever we needed to in order to start a family. I chose to look at it from the perspective of: is it any different to taking panadol for a headache, chemotherapy for cancer or having a caesarean to give birth? All are man-made, man-driven, man-performed. How blessed are we to have access to such incredible technology! I am forever thankful and indebted to those who have dedicated their lives to this area.
I was willing and would have also looked into natural assistance and support (such as naturopathy, acupuncture etc) but hubby wasn’t so open-minded, so direct to the scientific route we went!
The IVF/ICSI journey started with a consultation appointment in a beautiful clinic, obviously specifically designed so. Very calming and soothing and the staff were just lovely with delightful temperaments and they put me totally at ease.
ICSI stands for Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection. The technique involves injecting a single sperm into an egg using very fine micro-manipulation equipment as part of an IVF treatment cycle. We were advised this technique would give us the greatest chance of success. As opposed to letting the sperm find the egg and then burrow it’s way in… science takes it one step further. Incredible! And after all, anyone who has gotten this far wants the very best chances of success as soon as possible!
All I needed to do at first was take a nasal spray twice a day for 10 days. Simple. Common side effects: headaches, mood changes (feeling ‘blah’), hot flushes, breast pain… did I have any of that? Nope. All I experienced were aching shoulders on occasion which may or may not have been related. Certainly nothing I couldn’t handle. (So I may have had one little emotional outburst at hubby, but all women have them, right?! 😉
Next I started a nightly injection in addition to my nasal spray. This sort of thing doesn’t really phase me and it was no issue. They make it so easy and it was painless. It was a busy week so it meant carrying it around with me in a cooler bag, but no one ever knew! A few sly trips to the car if necessary to ‘inject’ and no worries! I did however feel like a bit of a drug user operating in secret, carrying around my sharps disposal container!
Common side effects: pain, swelling, redness at injection site, headaches, dizziness, nausea/vomiting, abdominal cramps etc… did I have any of that? Nope again!
After being on the injections for 6 days I had another follow up appointment. Another blood test (seems I get one every time I go in, if I ever did have an issue with them I certainly don’t now!) and the nurse was pleased to hear I hadn’t suffered any side effects so far. “Seriously, I’m feeling GREAT!” I said. She warned me though: “Be prepared, from hereon you’re going to get very tired and bloated. It will just hit you. Probably over the weekend, it will just come out of nowhere.” She said they had to wait for the blood test results to come back that afternoon to know what the plan was from here, but seeings as I was feeling so good everything was probably going to schedule.
Later that day I was advised my oestrogen levels were through the roof. “You’re one of the rare cases where this happens and you have no side effects.” Worse case scenario: ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome which makes you incredibly sick (but I felt great!!!) and they would cancel this treatment cycle. So I needed to go in the following morning for an internal ultrasound, 3 days ahead of schedule.
Well, it turned out that I had heaps of follicles. “Do you have polycystic ovaries?” the nurse asked me. “Not that I know of” I replied. I’d had two internal ultrasounds before in the lead up to all this and no one ever indicated as such. “Well they’re behaving like they are” she said, because they were now overstimulated due to the medications. My body had responded too well to the drugs (if I were to do another cycle, they’d lessen the dosage). Whilst I had more than enough follicles, quantity doesn’t mean quality.
She started measuring them as that would be the real indicator as to where we were at as they needed to be a certain size in two days to continue as planned… well, they were already that size weren’t they! “I think they’ll want to admit you to theatre on Monday” I was told, which came as a complete surprise as we’d been working towards Thursday. It also meant a 1.5 hour drive to a different hospital than our local 20 minutes away as originally planned, but that was fine. She needed to consult with the doctors though and get their thoughts. But if I got any symptoms, if I was sick in any way, I was to make sure I let them know immediately!
I got the call late Friday afternoon confirming I was booked in for the Monday. I rang hubby – he needed the day off! I was meant to work on the Monday but that shift had recently been changed to the Wednesday – it was evident that the path was being cleared for us and all was falling into place!
I had my last injection and nasal spray on the Friday night, then on the Saturday night I had to give myself one final injection at 9.30pm, specifically 36 hours before being admitted. It’s amazing what all the drugs are for. Initially I believe they were lowering my hormones (hence why I could have felt flat & irritable) and this injection reversed it, or something like that.
The ‘extreme tiredness’ and ‘bloating’ never, ever hit me. It truly was amazing! If I wasn’t the one who gave myself the drugs etc I never would have known I was on this journey. My body just behaved like everything was normal.
And I’m excited, really excited, as to how this is all going to unfold!
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