Everyone’s journey leading up to IVF is difference. Everyone’s IVF cycle is different, from the clinics, the medication, the protocol, the side effects and ultimately, the outcome. I am currently amid my second round of ICSI and despite being under the same clinic, this round is different to the last. IVF/ICSI (whichever you are doing!) is a scary journey. I found that the lead up to round 1 was totally different to the lead up to this round. The first time, I felt hopeful, positive, certain it would work and excited to begin this adventure. I was terrified of the prospect of injecting myself; I couldn’t even go for a blood test without looking in the other direction, sweating profusely as I sat down waiting for the metal prick of death in my arm… how on earth was I going to manage injecting myself? I had a lot of people tell me to just get my husband to do it for me, but that was easier said than done. My job revolves around shift work, so there was no way I was going to be home every night for him to do it for me. I had to learn, so I did, and guess what? I managed just fine, and the one time I let my husband do it, he made me bleed!
The lead up to this round has been totally different. After the miserable failing of the first round (our embryos didn’t make it to transfer), I have felt nothing but sheer apprehension and nervousness leading up to the second. I haven’t felt anything close to what I felt the first time and day 1 of injecting was nothing more than just something we had to do. Last time I was injecting Bemfola and Cetrotide, whereas this time I am injecting Menopur and Cetrotide. Bemfola was a pre-filled pen, nice and simple, whereas Menopur is (like Cetrotide) one I must mix. 45 minutes before the injection, the anxiety begins… What if I do it wrong? What if I cut myself? What if it hurts? What if I accidentally push the syringe and I lose all the liquid? What if I inject the wrong part of my tummy? What if, what if, what if….? The truth is, it was fine, and once you’ve done it once, the rest are easy. I know everyone says it, but that’s only because it’s true.
I feel I am slowly becoming an expert with this injecting malarkey… I should have named this blog Amber with a needle. So, without further ado – these are my top tips for IVF stims!
- DON’T WATCH TOO MANY VIDEOS
When you had your treatment consultation, it is likely your clinic told you to watch video tutorials of how to do the injections. You will have been shown how to do it in this appointment, but if you’re anything like me you’ll forget as soon as you’ve left the clinic. I made the mistake the first-time round of watching way too many videos from way too many uploaders. I ended up getting myself into such a tizzy and almost making a total hash of the first Cetrotide injection. My advice instead? Pick one video and watch it no more than 5 times. You’ll only increase that anxiety.
- DON’T USE THE ALCOHOL WIPES
This is probably a bit of a controversial one, but one I know I am not alone in. A lot of the injections will come with an alcohol wipe for you to clean the area you’re about to inject. I sacked these off after about 2 days. I hated them. Yes, it felt very nice wiping this sanitary, cold wipe across my stomach, but I found that when I used them the injection stung. I spoke to my consultant and asked if I had to use them and she agreed that it was not a necessity. At the end of the day, you are injecting into your own skin. I trust you are all hygienic, clean people that don’t have four-day old mud on your belly, and so I really don’t advise using them unless you really want to! (I am not a medical practitioner and am aware some would advice against this, so my advice is do what makes you comfortable!)
- TRY TO DO IT YOURSELF
I completely understand that some people have a total fear of needles. I also understand that unlike me, some people can be at home for every injection and therefore have their other halves to do it for them. I feel if you can, you should at least *try* to do one yourself. I actually found it quite liberating. When it comes to IVF, the injections are the only bit of the entire process that you have control over. I let my husband to one of mine, but generally, I felt like I was really in control of my body at this point. Injecting myself made me feel like an absolute boss. By the end of it, I was injecting in train toilets, work toilets, in the car… I was an injecting Queen and I loved it.
- DRINK ALL OF THE WATER
I seem to have a hidden allergy of water and a love for being dehydrated. I find it so hard to drink the recommended 2L of water a day, let alone drink 3L water a day (minimum!) as recommended by my clinic. I have bought myself a HydrateM8 water bottle – whilst rather pricey, I love it. It’s BPA free and it tells me how much water I should have drank by what time. I fill this up 3-4 times a day and get through it all. The downside? Constantly needing the toilet, which really isn’t ideal at work, but if the IVF works then I’d better get used to it! You can get cheaper versions of this bottle, it isn’t an AD, I just love my bottle and highly recommend it. Water is really important during IVF. It helps with the bloat, it helps with your energy levels, it stops you being dehydrated but most of all, it really helps with the headaches. I didn’t really get headaches the first time round, but I promise you, Menopur headaches are a real thing. Within an hour of injection number 1, my head was pounding, I struggled to sleep and during day 2, a huge headache also stuck with me. Beautiful.
- INJECT IN DIFFERENT POINTS
I can not stress this point enough… do not inject in the same place twice! I really recommend alternating sides and injecting anywhere within the acceptable region to avoid injecting in the same place and minimising your risk of bruising. You don’t always bruise, but it’s best to try and minimise the risk as much as you can.
- BREATHE, RELAX, LISTEN TO YOUR BODY
You need a nap? Honey, you take that nap. Once you’ve done the first injection, you’re good to go. You’ll feel much more at ease and honestly, the anticipation of doing the injection is much worse than the actual thing. You have to do it, so you may as well try and make it as relaxing and as easy as possible. Listen to your body, if you’re hungry, nourish it, thirsty? Drink something. If you’re tired? Sleep. Read a book, cancel your plans, stay in your pyjamas… do whatever it is you need to do to look after yourself and feel good.
Remember the reason you are doing this. With any luck, it will all be worthwhile. IVF is a funny old ride – but only the strongest people get to ride it. I am crossing everything for you – good luck!
Love, Amber xx