My IVF Cycle – every detail I could remember!

I wish I would have found a blog like this before I started my IVF cycle.

You know, one of those blog posts with just a liiiiiiittle too much information. It would have helped me feel a little more prepared.

Let me preface this with – I’m a licensed nurse. Timing of medication & needles – they are kind of the norm… it doesn’t freak me out. But even for a medical veteran – this is a lot of stuff all at once.

IVF is all about timing. All of it. Your life is run by a strict calendar, a timer & an alarm.

I would tell you it’s also about trusting the process – even though you are WELL AWARE of what could go wrong.

You’re suppose to stay on top of every appointment, pill, injection, and procedure – and somehow stay very well rested, hydrated and not AT ALL stressed out.

Side Note {rant}: if you’re reading this & you are NOT the IVF patient. Word of advice…. the very last thing you should EVER share with an IVF patient is how your sister-in-law’s boss’ cousin also had trouble starting their family – but FINALLY – when they just “let go of control and stopped worrying about it”… it just happened.

 

Straight smile emoji face.

For the love of tacos. Please. Do not say that to your IVF patient friend. She isย already second guessing every decision they make. Even when theyย have spent TONS of time praying through this and seeking wisdom… even when they know this is the right step for their family – theyย question if somehow they are acting too fast (even after YEARS of “letting go of control”) or maybe this isn’t the right thing to do.

 

Don’t tell her to “stop thinking about it so much” or worse “stop trying so hard.”

 

Please don’t say that to her. Tell her about your experience PERSONALLY. And share whatever words you have that are going to show her that you support her, are praying for her, and know that in God’s perfect timing & in God’s perfect way – she is going to be so blessed with a child… and hey, while you’re at it – how about commending her for her bravery. Trust me, no one would CHOOSE IVF if there were another equally best option for her family.
IVF can be scary. On a lot of different levels. Be a support. Be positive. Know she did her due diligence before coming to this decision. And after all, this is her family. She needs your support – or she needs your silence.

End rant ๐Ÿ™‚ All of those comments, I choose to believe they come from a GOOD place – a place that isn’t MEANING to stir up more doubt in her mind. But they do.

 

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My goal in this blog is to share my journey – from one important event to another – and to pass on a few things that really helped me along the way.

Quick recap in case you don’t know our story: my husband & I have been trying to start a family for about 3 years. We tried Femara & timed intercourse for a long time. Didn’t work. After he got back from deployment – we started testing. All was pretty much normal. We moved on to IUI (intrauterine insemination) – they put the sperm IN the uterus so that it is as close to the egg as possible when it drops. We did this 4 times – 5 procedures in all – these procedures include pills, injections, timed procedures and DAILY suppositories for weeks (yea… not fun). All 5 of those failed for us.

We moved on to IVF.

We paid – out of pocket – in full. And let me tell you how intense that is. So, when I say you wouldn’t CHOOSE IVF unless it was the BEST way for you to start your family, I mean it!!! {I know women who find JOBSย at places like STARBUCKS etc JUST BECAUSE their insurance covers fertility treatments like IVF… supposedly}. I feel grateful every single day that God gave me my business & allowed me & Loren to PLAN for this kind of “unplanned expense” in our life. Everyday I’m thankful I didn’t have to choose between a baby & a loan.

HOW IT STARTS {my version anyway}:

When you start your period – you begin birth control.

Opposite Day! RIGHT!!?

I’ve been OFF of birth control for YEARS because I’m trying to HAVE a baby not prevent one! LOL!!! The irony.

You are taking birth control because you have to SHUT THOSE OVARIES DOWN. They can’t be doing ANYTHING on their own. You are about to pump your body full of incredible medications that WILL help your body produce these eggs – and the timing must be PERFECT.

So those ovaries need to be silent.

Once you finish your active birth control pills – its go time.

I had a massive migraine after a couple days of birth control – full on throwing up, no one make a sound, I can’t open my eyes kind of migraine. It lasted a full day. And it never came back.

The Fertility and IVF world call this “STIMS”

STIMULATION PHASE:ย 
You are now stimulating your ovaries. Think of it this way: you are taking your normal ALMOND size ovaries – and you’re about to grow them to the size of ORANGES. Yup. You feel it. In any NORMAL month in a NORMAL woman’s body – she produces ONE egg.

You’re about to produce WAY more than that. It varies depending on a LOT of things… (age, PCOS, hormone levels, dosage of meds, etc) but my body produced about 16 follicles (they hold the egg) and I had about 8 eggs.

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I started Follistim & Menopur injections first. These are 2 stimulating medications. Sub-Q, meaning you pinch an inch around your mid-section and stick the short little needle in. Menopur burns. Icing the area before Menopur helped me a ton. I also ordered a big pack of HAND WARMERS from Amazon & stuck those right on my waistline after my injections. It helped a little. Numb with ice. Follow up with heat.

During the STIMULATION phase you are going to your doctor frequently. For me, this was every other day for an ultrasound & bloodwork. They need to be sure your ovaries are responding to the medication (almonds to oranges, remember) and they have time to adjust medications or lower dosages if needed & not have to interrupt the entire IVF cycle.

By the 4th day of stimulation – I had 6 follicles in the left ovary & 7 in the right. So, as you can see, they don’t mess around.

On the 6th day, I added Ganirelix to my injection protocol. So, now, we have 3 pokes each morning.

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Your ovaries are doing their thing. You are producing lots of follicles (follies) which hopefully contain eggs. But… they need more time to grow and mature. The Ganirelix makes sure you don’t ovulate too soon – before the egg retrieval, that would be a huge bummer. This new drug makes sure your ovaries hold on to those eggs and let them cook a little longer ๐Ÿ™‚

You continue your frequent ultrasounds – where they measure your follies each time. When they have grown to a certain size – your doctor will then schedule your egg retrieval. You will be told WHEN to inject a new drug – your trigger shot, mine was Ovidrel. This is usually 36 hours before egg retrieval. It helps your follies to release your egg(s).

My follicles were the size they wanted at about 9 days of stimulation & my egg retrieval was schedule for 10 days after I started stimulation.

 

WRAPPING UP STIMULATION PHASE:
I used this tracker to keep me sane with all my appointments, notes, and the timing of medication. Feel free to use it.

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I used an icepack before Menopur & a hand warmer heat pack afterwards. I gave my Menopur, Follistim & Ganirelix injections all around the same spot – and rotated sections everyday, that way only one are was sore each day instead of three.

Your ovaries go from almonds to oranges in stimulation. You see the difference. Here I am on Day 1 of Stimulation and then on the right was 11 days later after egg retrieval. You be bloated & poofed out big time; well I was.

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I grabbed a little box at Target for all my medications & supplies. I hated having all my stuff all over the house – and it got awkward when someone dropped by & I hadn’t told many people about all of it.

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It was a bummer when the Follistim pen ran out of medication in the cartridge – but you didn’t get your full dose of medicine in the first injection. You get an extra poke on those days. Not as scary as it sounds. My video above shows how easy this is.

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EGG RETRIEVAL:

I was sedated for my egg retrieval. Loren was able to go WITH me – which was a giant miracle in itself. No food or drink from midnight the night before – usual surgery prep stuff. We got to the clinic before anyone in the normal office was there. We waiting in the dark waiting room for about ten minutes. And an IVF nurse came down to get us.

From there it was all pretty basic and smooth.

Change into hospital gown + hair net + booties

Take vital signs

Start IV + fluids

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Then they took Loren to do his part ๐Ÿ™‚ and give a fresh sample. Because as soon as they retrieve my eggs – they fertilize the healthy ones.
They took me back, my fav doctor was doing my retrieval, so I never felt nervous. Just excited. The last thing I remember is them asking me to “SCOOT OVER” from my pre procedure gurney to the procedure bed… and then apparently I was out. The procedure itself is quick – probably 15 minutes.
The next thing I remember is being back in that waiting curtain room & waking up feeling loopy in all my hair net glory. Loren was there – but I felt like I came out of the anesthesia WAY quicker than my wisdom teeth (probably because the procedure took a quarter of the time). I had a tiny tiny bit of cramping. No pain.

I was given all these instructions and was told I had to lay very low for the next couple days. They kept saying… you know… watch movies… don’t cook… don’t drive… They gave me Tylenol #3 for the “pain” – but I never had any & never took any. They retrieved 8 eggs and fertilized them all that day. The embryologist would call me with a report the next day. I started my antibiotic, Doxycycline, the day of the retrieval when I got home too – its just a prevention measure.

All in all -for me, the egg retrieval wasn’t a big deal. I felt uncomfortable – but that was happening because of stimulation and my ovaries being so ginormous. No pain.

The embryologist called me the next day & told me 6 out of the 8 embyros fertilized normally! YAY embabies!!

 

AFTER EGG RETRIVAL:

This is where my body felt the most uncomfortable. After egg retrieval, I laid low for a few days, and then I was back to normal. I wasn’t doing any workouts that involved twisting or anything too intense at all. I have a vivid memory of Loren & I walking out of a movie – and just the walking motion was pulling on my pelvis so much it was very uncomfortable. It felt like a mix of having a really full bladder kind of discomfort and a strained muscle. It was odd. And it lasted about a week or so. My doctor did an ultrasound to be sure I didn’t have OHSS – overstimulation & fluid in my pelvis – I did not. My ovaries were just taking a while to go back down, apparently.

The day after egg retrieval I started Progesterone injections & Estradiol patches.

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The stimulation injections are NOTHING. Progesterone is an intramuscular injection. Thats the daddy of all injections. And it’s an OIL… so its thick. Lucky me, I did these injections myself. Loren had to leave town again. If you need help or tips with this – just let me know.

It does take a level of crazy to stab yourself with such a long and giant needle – at an odd angle into your booty – every morning – and push OIL into your muscle…. I like to think its part of what will make me a good momma ๐Ÿ˜‰ Dedication. ha.. It’s not so bad after a little while, trust me. If you can have someone else do it – go that route. If you’re a crazy nurse – you can get it done yourself.

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I didn’t ice my booty before Progesterone because its an oil – and I felt like that may make it even tougher for the oil to get into the muscle. I warmed the syringe of Progesterone by holding it for a little while in my hand – stabbed myself – and then grabbed a hand warmer and kept it on my booty for more of the day.

Injections into your muscle every single day – the soreness & some bruising is going to come, eventually. I think this routine helped me to hold off on the soreness for a while, though.

I ate some specific foods during this time & to prepare for egg retrieval. I don’t think its that important though. I believe when God is going to create a life – He’s going to do it. BUT… I am a science geek and if anything i do is going to possibly help – well then, I’m going to do it. So I did acupuncture twice weekly & I visualized + I meditated every day. I’ll share more on that soon.

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EMBRYO TRANSFER:

Was about 5 days after my egg retrieval. Felt like an IUI. Not a big deal. Set up like a pap smear. I had to have a super full bladder – helps with proper placement of the embryos. They brought me into the same little waiting curtain room. Then eventually into the procedure room. I met the embryologist. My fav doctor, again, was going to be doing the embryo transfer. We transferred 2 of the BEST embryos – and froze the other 3. {I felt so good about this number because I was VERY conflicted in the decision making process of all of this – I worried I would have 30 embryos to freeze or something – lol, I had no idea. 3 is good}.

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So they had me on the table. I felt fine. They confirmed my name about a bajillion times ๐Ÿ™‚ This is the RIGHT MOMMY and the RIGHT EMBRYOS at the RIGHT TIME haha… they put my 2 embabies on a big TV screen and the embryologist showed me each of them & my name next to them & he told me what grade they were. 4AA & 1CC I think.

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The embryologist brought the embryos into the room and gave them to the doctor. {All I could think of is PLEASE DON’T DROP THEM!!! haha} The doctor put in a little catheter up into my uterus and with an ultrasound over my tummy – I watched the little white flash on the screen as the embryos went into the correct spot. The embryologist took the catheter back into his little secret room – and runs a little test to be sure they embryos didn’t get stuck on the side of the catheter or anything & actually made it into my body. The white flash we see on the ultrasound is actually the fluid – the embryo is much too small to see.

 

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All was good and they wheeled me out. My bladder was super full now – but I had to lay flat for 30 minutes. That was probably the most uncomfortable part of the whole procedure ๐Ÿ™‚ ha! They gave me a picture of our embryos & the petri dish that they grew in. (Awwwwwww!!!!)

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IVF

People in the fertility world may call you PUPO now (pregnant until proven otherwise). I wasn’t really down with that. BUT… you do have to make every decision based on the fact that you ARE pregnant – for the safety of your embryo.

Loren was gone now – so I drove myself home & was suppose to be on pretty strict bedrest for a day or so. Well, my puppy decided to start her first heat cycle that same day – of course! ๐Ÿ˜› So… I stuck to bedrest – but there were a few more ups than I would have liked – gotta do what you gotta do!

2 days after my embryo transfer I had another giant migraine & non-stop vomiting. This was bad. Loren was gone. I don’t really get migraines – before these couple, I had maybe 2 in my whole life. But HORMONES and HEADACHES just kind of go together. It was bad. For about 12 hours… bad. And then… It turned to a dull headache for 3 days – and then it was back to my normal dull headache every so often throughout the day. No more migraines since then.

IVF is crazy.

The WAITING PERIOD:ย 

Depends on your clinic & your doc – but after your transfer you are just kind of on your own until your first blood draw. This is new because you are used to going to your clinic every other day. You do your Progesterone injections & change your Estradiol (estrogen) patches every other day… and take good care of yourself.

You probably FEEL pregnant because you have been pumping your body full of pregnancy hormones for WEEKS now – but you just don’t know. You have cramping – but you’ve just been through many procedures & your ovaries may still be giants.

I visualized.
I meditated.

I didn’t acupuncture anymore – but it was because I felt more PEACE in not having ANOTHER appointment to try and get to.

My chest was ULTIMATELY sore right after transfer – and never stopped.
I felt insane fatigue that week of transfer – and never stopped.

There is so much that any IVF patient could choose to complain about – but for me personally, I choose to only tell my husband about the negative stuff. I know what a privilege it is for us to be doing this. Yea, some people NEVER have to worry about any of this – but some people do. Either way, the purpose is for a child – and that is worth it. So protect your mindset & positivity – because that is EVERYTHING.

We will know a little more about our official outcome from this first IVF cycle shortly. I’m sure I will be sharing here and on Facebook.

 

Thanks for your support & encouragement.
Most of all, I hope this helps someone. I hope this relieves a little bit of the uncertainty stress.

And I hope for many squishy faced babies in all of our future.

I will DEFINITELY share my visualization, meditation & playlist of songs that I listened to on the way to every single IVF/fertility appointment. Promise. Thats coming.

XOXO!!

31 Responses to My IVF Cycle – every detail I could remember!

  1. I enjoyed reading your experience and can’t wait to know the outcome โ˜บ๏ธ
    I will be going through this process in the near future (I wanted to take a break after all those IUI appointments) and I feel more prepared after reading your story so thank you for sharing!

  2. Thank you, Brittany, for sharing your story! My husband and I also have unexplained infertility, we’ve been trying for four years with two miscarriages and seven unsuccessful IUIs. We are scheduled for IVF in September and to be honest, the whole process seems so daunting and I’ve been a nervous wreck! Your step-by-step explanation is more helpful than you’ll ever know. Thank you so much for sharing this, I appreciate your words so very much.

  3. Thank you so much for sharing your story! We just did our transfer yesterday with our two babies!!! Praying for good news all around!

  4. Im praying and sending postive vibes your way i hope all your baby dreams come true this time….please let us know I’m so sorry for your hardships but will bless your delegance…and perseverance….don’t personally know you but wishing the best in prayer

  5. Thank you Brittany! I love the amount of detail you have included here…it really gives me peace of mind. Thanks for sharing your story…can’t wait to hear that you are pregnant! Sending love, luck, prayers, and baby dust! โค๏ธ๐Ÿ€๐Ÿ™๐Ÿปโœจ

  6. Thank you for sharing all the details. We are doing iui in July and have plans to prepare ourselves incase we need Ivf. Everyone around me is pregnant and some days are so hard. Keeping you I my prayers I love following your journey

  7. Thanks for sharing! Your blog brought back many memories and feelings about my own IVF experience. Good luck and I hope IVF works for you! We are expecting our little boy in 2 weeks! Dreams do come true!

    • oh thats awesome!!!!! CONGRATS Allison!!!!! ๐Ÿ™‚ We are officially expecting ๐Ÿ˜‰ THANKS GIRL!!

  8. Wow. Thank you for sharing. I was just talking to my coach about my current fertility issues and she shared your name with me to check out your story. I’m glad I did. I’m still terrified (we just had our first appointment for IVF, none of the other procedures was an option for us). I used to be jealous of other people telling me they were pregnant, but now I’m at peace and know that I’m doing what’s best to grow our family. I will be thinking of you and praying that you have all the babies your heart desires.

  9. Thank you so much for sharing! I had a miscarriage 13 months ago and have been trying for another pregnancy ever since. I just received the results of my HSG and found we have 3 female factors against us — we’re meeting with specialists soon to determine next steps. Do you have any advice on how to prepare your body {+mind} to go through IVF?

    • hey Steph – I’m so sorry to hear about your miscarriage. Modern medicine is amazing though – and I hope you have a great team of doctors to help you navigate through this. My advice is to invest in your personal growth. If you are a person of faith – cling to the Word & prayer. I’m big on personal growth and I believe my time invested there equipped me to deal with the stresses of infertility & that entire process. I visualized & meditated. I exercised & fueled my body with healthy foods. I rested. It all matters. If you’re new to personal growth – I highly recommend the book 15 INVALUABLE LAWS OF GROWTH by John C Maxwell. Wishing you the best, girl!!

  10. Brittany –

    Thank you so much for posting and sharing the details of your journey! I had tears of joy in my eyes while reading it ( I saw your Baby post on instagram yesterday ) My husband and I start our journey in August and I am all kinds of emotions that usually only someone going through this or has gone through this process understands. Thank you for your tips with the injections and how you felt during the procedures. It makes me feel a bit more at ease. So happy that Gob Bless you all with a wonderful bundle of joy from your embabies!!!

    • oh this is awesome. I’m happy to hear it’s helped you. August is going to be here before you know it!! Wishing you the best Jenny!!!!!

  11. Your blog is so detailed and honest. My husband and I are just about to start the first part on birth control and i felt ill prepared for whats ahead beforw reading this. How long did the whole process take from burth control to retrieval?

    Thanks

  12. Hi Brittany–I’m a fellow beachbody coach and follow you…I love how open you are about IVF (as I was too)…hope you are pregnant!!!

  13. Brittany! Oh my goodness…. Everything that I feel you wrote so eloquently. I begin my injections on Saturday. Reading your blog has put me at ease… reading so many negative stories about IVF can be discouraging but you are so positive and I love that. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing your incredible journey. Congratulations on the baby cub ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. Hello Brittany — My daughter sent me the link to your blog. I have been privy to all 5 of her IUI procedures. My husband, her daddy is a physician and gave her all of her injections (lucky for her cause I’m a needle wimp.) Now my daughter and her hubby are beginning the IVF. Your blog has helped me to better understand what the doctor explained. God bless you and Loren for sharing your journey. I especially appreciate the advice you gave to those of us supporting the woman going through the IVF. My daughter knows that she has our full support.
    Again, THANK YOU. All Gods blessings to you, Loren, and your baby(ies) :-).
    Sharon

  15. Thanks so much for sharing your story Brittany! I see you did end up pregnant too which was awesome to read about. I’m going through ivf in a month and I’m in that excited/nervous phase which will probably last until I find out I’m preggers…then start again. Lol

    I’ve been going through infertility for almost 5 years and we’ve been through 2 surgeries for it since I have endometriosis and those are covered. It’s definitely time for the next step. I found your blog to be very inspiring and the positive outlook really helped me. I have to pay out of pocket for my ivf too but family is helping and my husbands side business will as well. It seems that God is helping us to financially make it doable. I’m a little concerned about the pain but your blog helped so much with that and understanding what comes next. Thank you so much!

  16. Your story is so inspiring I’ve been following it for a little while. We have tried for two years on our own and two IUI’s and unfortunately did not have success. So we have decided to persue IVF. Reading your story somehow makes it a little less scary. I do have one question….. how did you deal with comments like….”just relax it’ll happen and oh when you stop trying it’ll happen” I try so hard to be easy going but sometimes these really get to me.

  17. Thank you a million times over for writing this! It popped up today on my feed and I’m so glad it did!!! We were told the only thing that would work for us is IVF so we said OKAY! I knew the price of it but I didn’t realize how fast it adds up! We are doing the trigger shot on Sunday and Tuesday is our retrievel day! I am sooo nervous but so many people go through it. The doctor kept saying that when you get pregnant we are going to party and then 2 days later he said that my “nest” looks the best out of everyone else this round but that actually makes me WAYYY more nervous! I was cool, calm, and collected and if it didn’t work the first time like we would do it again! But now he has my hopes SO high. I wish he had never said anything!
    I hope IVF worked for you!

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