Tag Archives: injections

Two week wait, one week in

*Disclaimer – this post was not written this morning, I am deliberately posting these entries on different dates so that I can be fully open about this IVF stuff without people knowing exactly what is happening when. It’s a self preservation thing, with all of the injected hormones I become a bit of an emotional wreck, and am saving myself the pressure of people curious to know outcomes before I’m ready to tell.

You might think that the two week wait is a bit of a misnomer, surely there are better things to do than wait, even metaphorically, for a whole fortnight. Except it has gained it’s name because that’s exactly what it is. There is very little I can do to help things happen. I can keep up with my pills and injections, not drink alcohol or caffeine, not lift anything heavy, and a million other bits, but the main thing I have to do is wait. And try not to obsess.

The likelihood of any symptom of pregnancy hitting in before the day of the test is low, and even lower is the chance of me correctly recognising it. The amount of extra hormones I’ve been taking means that my body is all over the place in those terms anyway. I had morning sickness well before the embryos were transferred, and have felt bloated all the way through, and as for food cravings, anything salty especially Marmite and anchovies has been for the win for a few weeks now.

But all we can do is wait. I was never good at waiting. It’s so so frustrating, trying not to get our hopes up too high, but not being so cynical about our chances that negative thinking gets in the way. And it’s like all those many many times before, hoping that my period won’t come, knowing that it probably will, and trying not to think about it, but with something this big, that takes over this much of your life, what else is there to think about?

It always strikes me at this point that even with all the advances to modern science, most of this process is left to God. Yes I took injections to control my hormones and release the eggs at the right time, but God made the eggs, and the hormones that reacted at the right time. Yes the embryos were made in a petri-dish (no, it was never a test tube, test tube babies are a misnomer), but God alone knows how to fuse the eggs and sperm and make those potential bundles of life.  Yes, the embryos were treated with lasers, but hatched by God, and finally transferred back into my womb where God, if he so chooses can help them to implant (about a couple of days ago if it happened), and grow. The medications I am taking might help to support it, but God alone can make life.

This was made even clearer last night when the injection went a bit wrong and we reckon between a quarter and half of the fluid leaked straight back out of the injection site. We called the out of hours hotline to the consultant in a complete panic, his response was that we should do whatever we were comfortable with, another injection of a whole or half an ampoule, or leave it and do tomorrow’s injection as normal, basically we could do the injection every other day and it would still have the same effect. A lot of this ‘hard science’ is just guesswork, and we just have to trust that the clinic are working towards a common good, after all they have their statistics to think of as well as our happiness. Needless to say we took the option of leaving it until tonight for the next injection, one buttock stabbing per night is quite enough for me thanks. :)

Lie back and think of… Simon Mayo?!

*Disclaimer – this post was not written this morning, I am deliberately posting these entries on different dates so that I can be fully open about this IVF stuff without people knowing exactly what is happening when. It’s a self preservation thing, with all of the injected hormones I become a bit of an emotional wreck, and am saving myself the pressure of people curious to know outcomes before I’m ready to tell.

Yesterday morning was the embryo transfer. I can feel a ‘TMI?’ coming up quite soon, can’t you?

Before that though let’s set up where we were at breakfast time before this second major procedure. Six out of ten fertilised eggs after the egg collection three days before. Plenty of rest and relaxation in between. Showering with non-perfumed soap again. Call to confirm that the transfer is best taking place today (rather than wait another couple of days and do a blastocyst transfer), and after some messing around and calling back because of short staffing (yay), we are told yes, come in now. Drink a pint of water, because a ‘comfortably full bladder’ is needed, then get down to the clinic as soon as we can.

We get a cubicle with a telly again like we had for the egg collection. This is nice in some ways, we have been sat in the corridor before at this stage, but there are only a couple of us having anything done this morning, so plenty of space. Unfortunately what it actually means is that we are going to have to wait. Drink more water, and wait.

We are shown through, after more than an hour, to the procedure room where we find out the latest developments with our embryos. Of the six that fertilised, only three are at the ‘six cell or above’ level required. Two are six cells, one is seven cells, but it and one of the six cells have a lot of fragmentation (generally the case with us it seems), which makes it less likely to develop. So we go with the one good one, and the embryologist chooses the better of the other two to accompany it. We see them on a screen, and watch as she assists the hatching with a laser (it’s the first time we’ve been offered this, but at this stage, we’ll go for anything – that’ll be another £500) on your way out then, ker-ching). The nurses are trying to relax me, as you might imagine I quite need the loo by this point, and start up inane chatter about How Chris Evans is replacing Terry Wogan in the new year on Radio 2, and how he’s better than Simon Mayo in the drivetime slot. To be honest, this wound me up far more than if she’d just stayed silent, I think Simon Mayo is brilliant, but would rather not be thinking of him at the closest thing we get to the possible conception of our child(ren?)!

TMI?

OK, so obviously there’s more to it than lying back and trying not to think of Simon Mayo… At the point we were called through I was pretty desperate for the loo, but was keeping a handle on things, just about. Obviously it’s a case of getting undressed from the waist down and getting onto the bed, legs in the stirrups etc. Then that horrible swab again, eeew. Next, oh, joy is the speculum, which is basically a torture instrument, even when you haven’t got a full bladder. No painkillers this time, at least it’s taking my mind off the pain of my first few intra-muscular buttock injections.

Then came the words that no-one in this situation should ever hear “Um, we’re having some problems finding your cervix.” It took a good ten minutes to locate, during which time they used the external scanning wand to press down from the outside, yeah, just what I needed. My only thought through the entire thing was “Dear God, please let me not pee now”. The actual embryos, once we have seen them hatching on the screen (“yeah-yeah, just get them in me, and get me out of here!”) are inserted via a catheter. Once this is done the speculum finally comes out, but I’m not allowed to move until they have checked the catheter is clear (apparently our potential babies could still be stuck in the tube, Augustus Gloop style). It is, and we finally breathe a sigh of relief, it’s all over, we don’t have to start again. I don’t bother buttoning up my jeans as I scoot over the corridor to the mercifully vacant loo.
TMI?

So that’s it in terms of what the hospital can do. I still have nightly injections, and three tablets every morning, but really that’s our watch. Now it’s what is commonly called ‘the two week wait’. This time exists however you are trying to conceive, there needs to be a fortnight between conception and a reliable pregnancy test result. And that’s what I’ll be doing in a fortnight, for all the flashiness of their latest advances, fertility clinics still rely on good old pregnancy tests. I’ll probably post later about the experience of the two week wait, because this post has gone on for long enough, and it’s another topic really. But just to say it’s a pretty horrible time of being in limbo, and I’ll be doing all I can to take my mind off it, without doing too much and jeopardising this whole thing.

Catch up later

xx

Interesting times

*Disclaimer – this post was not written this morning, I am deliberately posting these entries on different dates so that I can be fully open about this IVF stuff without people knowing exactly what is happening when. It’s a self preservation thing, with all of the injected hormones I become a bit of an emotional wreck, and am saving myself the pressure of people curious to know outcomes before I’m ready to tell.

Big day yesterday. I needed to be in hospital at 8:30 am (at least the best parking spaces are free…) having not eaten since the night before, showered with non-perfumed soap, no deodorant, perfume or make-up (including the nail varnish that used to be on my toes), wearing loose clothing, and bringing my dressing gown and slippers.

This was egg collection day. It is a bigger deal than even embryo implantation day (if we get that far). I’m allowed actual pain relief for this one, and need to be looked after for several hours afterwards.

TMI?

The pain relief comes in many forms, starting with a couple of suppositories which are left in a tray along with a rubber glove and some lubricant for taking whilst getting undressed and into the open-backed gown, then there’s the IV line, which took two medical professionals three attempts to get right, leading to me walking out at the end with taped on dressings everywhere. There’s also the lovely mask that’s put over my face during the actual procedure, and I’m not saying lovely in sarcastic tones, there’s a lot to be said for the using measures that don’t hurt and aren’t suppositories.

TMI?

There’s a lot of waiting to be done, I’m never first in, so I’m glad I’ve taken a book, I wish I’d taken a better book though, Twilight was not the most inspired choice by any stretch, and turned out to be more than a bit rubbish. There is a Freeview TV (good job, as they’ve turned off analogue here) in each cubicle, but I’m really not a fan of morning telly, and even bad teenage vampire fiction beats anything broadcast between 9 and 10 am.

They tell me to go to the loo before going through. This is (a) totally pointless as I’ve had nothing to drink for 3 hours and (b) quite a challenge for decency in a backless robe. When I’m done they get the IV line in and I lie back and think of…

…anything other than what is happening.

TMI?

Now that I’m out of the situation I can report that it involves (yet again) stirrups to hold the legs apart, a swab to make sure everything’s clean (strangely the swab is the bit I’m most squeamish about, not sure why), and then in with the speculum (even on painkillers, owwwwww!) and the device that sucks the eggs out (yes, really). The first time I did this I remembered nothing of it, either they used stronger sedation techniques or I just plain passed out, either way that was a better plan than trying to think of sunbeams and kittens when my recent reading was making me think of vampire attacks and bad writing

TMI? (yes, probably, but I did warn you :D)

They collected 10 eggs, not as many as previous cycles, I think we normally manage a baker’s dozen, but let’s hope for quality above quantity. They will phone this morning to let us know how many have fertilized, in fact we are waiting for the call right now, I’m writing this blog as a distraction (not a very good one, as distractions go, but there we are).

By the time I got home I was pretty exhausted, hubby had to go out to work, but left me with flowers and chocolate. Shame I couldn’t stomach anything sweet. He made up for it in the evening though by letting me order my choice of create your own pizza with extra sides, anchovies and spinach hit the spot wonderfully!

It wasn’t quite all over for yesterday though, as we needed to restart the intramuscular injections that now take place every night until… whenever they tell us to stop.

These injections are not intended for the tummy, but for the buttock, therefore need to be administered not by me, but by my darling husband. My involvement mostly involves burying my head in a pillow and gritting my teeth until it’s over, but I am vaguely aware of what happens…

TMI?

There is yet again an ampoule that needs to be broken and have its contents drawn into a large needle, the needle is again swapped, but this time for one exactly the same size, as it needs to penetrate through to the muscle. The injection site is quite specific, to find it one needs to divide the cheek (as it were) into four quadrants and then inject into the middle of the upper outside quadrant. This apparently means little risk of damage to the sciatic nerve, or something, but when the needle is in, the syringe needs to be retracted a little to check that there’s no blood (if there is we need to start again, woo). It always feels too high up, like it’s actually in my back. Given the size of the needle it doesn’t hurt as much as one would expect, but it does put one huge strain on bedtimes for the foreseeable future.

TMI?

…and still we wait for the phone call. At this stage we have actually phoned them, but they are in a meeting apparently. they should still have called back by now, hoping no news is good news…

…breaking news, 6 are fertilised. We are going off to process this news now.

As the clock struck 10…

*Disclaimer – this post was not written this morning, I am deliberately posting these entries on different dates so that I can be fully open about this IVF stuff without people knowing exactly what is happening when. It’s a self preservation thing, with all of the injected hormones I become a bit of an emotional wreck, and am saving myself the pressure of people curious to know outcomes before I’m ready to tell.

Last night’s injection was not one I looked forward to. As far as the physical injection went it was the easiest of the cycle so far, it comes in a pre-filled syringe, so it was just a case of removing it from the package, which had been kept in the fridge since it arrived by courier with the rest of the drugs oh, so long ago, pulling off the cap and stabbing it in as usual. the difficult part was the anticipation.

This particular injection is designed to make me ovulate, to release all of those eggs whose growth I have been stimulating so that they are ready to be “collected” tomorrow morning. As such it needs to be timed pretty precisely. Certainly no earlier than 10pm, preferably no later than 10:15, that quarter of an hour window doesn’t give any room for forgetting about it for a minute, or putting it off for five. Clearly a slight distraction was needed, so on went “The Talons of Weng-Chiang” (a classic Doctor Who episode with Tom Baker as The Doctor, and one we’d not seen before). The 25 minute episodes meant that we didn’t get too sucked in and forget about needles totally, but it was absorbing enough that the thought of not wanting to forget the injection didn’t take over the evening entirely.

So that part went fine, but the weekend has not been a total success. It’s amazing how eight little microscopic eggs can make me feel so bloated, but I’m feeling constantly like I just ate a Christmas dinner with second helpings of everything. My appetite for pretty much everything other than Marmite on Toast has been significantly reduced, so the strapline on this blog is more true than ever. So, until tomorrow morning I am wearing the loosest clothes I can get away with and catching up with trashy fiction, brainless telly and silly games on my Nintendo DS. I’m on an order of nil by mouth after midnight tonight, not a problem at all.

Scan 3, permission granted to proceed…

*Disclaimer – this post was not written this morning, I am deliberately posting these entries on different dates so that I can be fully open about this IVF stuff without people knowing exactly what is happening when. It’s a self preservation thing, with all of the injected hormones I become a bit of an emotional wreck, and am saving myself the pressure of people curious to know outcomes before I’m ready to tell.

The clinic is an emptier place than our last couple of cycles, it took me a while to notice, but my observations were supported on my most recent visit by the amount of time the nurses and even the (hardly ever present) consultant have to stop and chat. I’m assuming that this is another casualty of the current financial situation, IVF is a luxury, the amount of free cycles depends on where you live. In Wales we get one cycle on the NHS, other places get none. The recommendation is three. There are other options – trying other fertility measures on the NHS, trying for just one more month to conceive naturally, choosing adoption…

…Yesterday’s scan went well, and the expectations set out on the last visit were confirmed. At least eight good eggs seem to be developing well, and the lining of my womb is thick enough, we go ahead in a couple of days. Before that I took my injections as normal this morning, and then throw in another one for luck before bedtime. Tomorrow I get a whole injection free day, and then the first procedure takes place the following morning. This is the last chance to relax a little before the stress comes by the bucket load. You have been warned.

Before breakfast

*Disclaimer – this post was not written this morning, I am deliberately posting these entries on different dates so that I can be fully open about this IVF stuff without people knowing exactly what is happening when. It’s a self preservation thing, with all of the injected hormones I become a bit of an emotional wreck, and am saving myself the pressure of people curious to know outcomes before I’m ready to tell.

I’m never normally one for bouncing out of bed in the morning ready to face the day, but I’m even less inclined to poke my head out from the covers at the moment. Before breakfast each morning I need to have given myself two injections and take three pills. The second injection and third pill started last week, and will probably continue until around this time next week. The pill is a tiny steroid dose, they did explain its purpose, but I was a bit overloaded with information at that point to remember anything other than “take one of these along with the rest of your daily medication, it’ll help.” The fact that it is tiny in size belies the fact that no matter how quickly it’s swallowed it tastes foul, I make sure I take it first so that the taste is mostly gone by the time I eat my breakfast, but it still spoils my cup of tea.

The second injection is a fussy one. It needs to be kept in the fridge (not that they told me that until I’d been storing it under the bed for three weeks, oh well), and is made up of many constituent parts. Firstly there is the ampoule of sterilised water, handed over to my dear husband to break open (I’m clumsy at the best of times, never mind just after getting up), while he’s doing that I fix a large needle to a plastic syringe. I also take out and break open three identical rubber-sealed glass vials. I use the large needle to draw up the water, and then inject it into the first vial, the tablet inside dissolves immediately, and I draw up the solution, inject it into the second vial, draw it out and then in and out of the third vial. This started out as an enormously tricky procedure, but it’s becoming a practised art by now. At this point I need to remove the larger needle, and swap it with a small subcutaneous injection needle, removing any excess air in the syringe along the way, then comes the easy bit of actually injecting myself.

Then I get to eat my cereal and not think about needles for another day. :)

Scan Day, the first of many…

*Disclaimer – this post was not written this morning, I am deliberately posting these entries on different dates so that I can be fully open about this IVF stuff without people knowing exactly what is happening when. It’s a self preservation thing, with all of the injected hormones I become a bit of an emotional wreck, and am saving myself the pressure of people curious to know outcomes before I’m ready to tell.

As the drugs begin to take hold, I start to have regular scans, to check firstly that everything is as it should be, and then later on to check in addition to that how many eggs the hormones have made me produce, and how progressed they are.

TMI?

So, when I said scan, you probably pictured the kind of scan given to pregnant ladies with the gel on their tummies and a device magically picking up pictures from inside of them by merely touching the outside of their skin?

Maybe you’ve had one of these scans? I have, in the days I was still using the NHS instead of having to cough up thousands of pounds per cycle, they made me sit with all of the pregnant women and wait my turn, to see my empty womb on the grainy black and white screen (no, I didn’t get a photo).

The preparation for those scans involves drinking as much water as your bladder can possibly hold and then trying not to go pee before your turn comes in the queue. These scans are different. These scans are internal scans.  The preparation this time means trying not to drink very much beforehand, and making sure you go to the loo before going in to the scan room (no queues this time, not NHS, see). Then going behind the curtain, undressing from the waist down, grabbing a sheet to maintain some decency, sitting right on the edge of the bed, and then placing your feet in the stirrups and finally lying back.

The instrument used to scan doesn’t look entirely unlike the chest-burster from Alien. It is covered in a Durex and plenty of lube, and then inserted, well, you can guess where… it’s then manoeuvred around to find everything they need to see, which for some reason always involves pushing it up against the left wall of my womb, whist simultaneously pressing down on it from the outside. Yes, that bit hurts.

TMI?

Today’s scan was fine, at least I assume it was, I’m carrying on with the treatment anyway. I take it they’d tell me if it was all wrong..?

In addition to the scan I learned how to use my next lot of medicine, which involves a certain level of alchemy (breaking the top off glass ampoules, dissolving magic powdered hormones, and attaching a tiny needle to an already full syringe), I start this tomorrow morning.

Oh, and in case what will be two injections and two pills every morning was a bit too amateur, I’ve been given a third (steroid) pill as a last minute thought by the fertility nurse in case it might help. No consultation to the consultant (shouldn’t his title mean that he should be approached for some opinion?), in this part of the universe, the nurses rule.

The first stab

*Disclaimer – this post was not written this morning, I am deliberately posting these entries on different dates so that I can be fully open about this IVF stuff without people knowing exactly what is happening when. It’s a self preservation thing, with all of the injected hormones I become a bit of an emotional wreck, and am saving myself the pressure of people curious to know outcomes before I’m ready to tell.

This morning I woke up, drank half a cup of tea in bed, then with the other half I took some half-strength asprin and a folic acid tablet. These are the easy meds. cheap and taken with tea (decaffeinated of course, caffeine’s not good for fertility). This meant I was able to psych myself up to open up the first bottle of the hard stuff, the hormone inhibitor. Cap off, wipe with an antiseptic wipe, invert and then take a needle attached to a syringe and draw out the required amount. Easier said than done, bubbles get in so easily, easier to draw more than needed and squirt the excess back up into the bottle. Then stab it in, somewhere near the tummy button, but not the same place every day. Count to five, push the plunger down slowly, but not too slowly. Count to ten, needle out, into sharps box, all done ’till tomorrow.

As self injecting goes, these ones aren’t bad. Not too many side effects (they play down my own hormones in preparation for the next round of meds that add new ones in), the needles are not very big, and the medication is already mixed for me. This is definitely the easy stretch.

The package

*Disclaimer – this post was not written this morning, I am deliberately posting these entries on different dates so that I can be fully open about this IVF stuff without people knowing exactly what is happening when. It’s a self preservation thing, with all of the injected hormones I become a bit of an emotional wreck, and am saving myself the pressure of people curious to know outcomes before I’m ready to tell.

The package arrived today. On time, just as they said it would. I would have liked to have left it until I needed it, but contents had to be checked, and some needed refrigeration. The package contained four different types of drug, three I have taken before, one new (let’s see if this one does a better job than the others). All are to be taken by injection, so the rest of the (very large) box is filled with needles, syringes, cotton wool, and two massive sharps containers. No antiseptic wipes, they always forget those, must remember to get some from the clinic when I get my bloods done.

It’s not a sight that fills me with any joy, but there is that slight aspect of hope there. That somewhere in all of this pile of scary paraphernalia that I’ve become far too used to, is our chance. There is a small ‘maybe’  that this pile in front of me…

… any real concept of hope is a bit too far away to grasp at at this point, but a small maybe, that I can cope with.