To say I didn’t know a single thing about IVF going into the process is a complete understatement. I turned up at the clinic with a lot of questions and a huge amount of optimism. I’m a naturally optimistic person and you hear of successful ivf stories all the time. I left with a huge bag of needles and medication and felt completely overwhelmed by what the process entailed.
When you need to produce eggs for collection they call this The Long Protocol. The process begins by having an evening injection every night to clear the lining in your uterus and effectively put your body through an artificial menopause. Everybody experiences different side effects but during this phase (called down regging) which lasts for 2 weeks I experienced high emotions and the equivalent of pre menstrual irritation and sensitivity times a billion. There was nothing my husband, family or work colleagues could do right and I genuinely wondered whether I would ever feel my normal self again. You have a period during the two weeks too which I think creates the perfect storm for your hormones.
You have an internal scan and once the clinic are happy that your lining is non existent they begin you on part two of the process called STIMS. STIMS is the exact opposite of down regging. You now have two injections to take every evening but this time the effect on your body is that of your ovaries exploding with follicles left,right and centre! Again side effects are different for everybody but I had headaches and the sensation that my lower abdomen was being weighed down by something extremely heavy.
Once the clinic are happy that your ovaries are ENORMOUS they then present you with the trigger shot that needs to be kept in the fridge and applied at a certain time the next day. You then get the appointment for your egg collection. This really wasn’t that bad, you are sedated but kept awake and the procedure isn’t too long (approx 20 minutes). The doctor takes all the eggs that are developing in your huge follicles. Your partner has to provide his contribution and then you are sent home to wait. You get a call the next day with how many eggs have successfully fertilised and how many embryos you have. You then get a call every day for the next 4 days telling you how many embryos are progressing and you feel so protective of them and just wiling them to do well. You then get the appointment for the fresh transfer. We had 1 fresh and 3 embryos that were good enough to freeze. The transfer is uncomfortable because you have a full bladder but again isn’t too bad. You then go home and rest for the day. I had to go to the toilet straight after and got into a panic that I had pee’ed the embryo out (I hadn’t :)) You then have two weeks to wait. The hardest part in my opinion as everybody advises not to think about it, obsess or stress but it’s counterintuitive to how you feel and the natural emotions you are feeling. My advice would be to look on forums and blogs as it will give you comfort that you aren’t the only one going through this process and try and focus on other things(again easier said than done) x
I had a positive on my first but that ended in a chemical pregnancy, negative on my second, a positive on my third but ended in a miscarriage at 7 weeks and then a negative with my fourth. So that was my first cycle. Not the outcome I wanted but I learnt a lot along the way about the process and also about myself. I had a break for 4 months and have now just started my second cycle.