The Middle: An IVF Journey
Last updated: August 2022
In this series, I am detailing my experience with IVF and genetic testing. You can visit the first installment here!
This was the most critical piece of IVF for us, as it was the primary reason we elected to undergo this procedure. To begin the process of gathering data for genetic testing, Rhett and I both had our blood tested, which seems like a simple step. However, there was an error in the results which said Rhett was not a carrier of the CF gene. Obviously we knew that was false and it became a frustrating process, requiring him to take another test and adding another month in the process.
Once those (correct!) results came in and were sent to the lab, the next step was getting mouth swabs from both sets of our parents and Margo. The parents were easy- it was a simple mouth swab and then they mailed them to the lab. Margo was the tricky part. Trying to get an adequate saliva sample from a toddler both hilarious and extremely frustrating/patient trying. At one point, she even pretended to brush her teeth with the testing swab. It resulted in two failed attempts and—once again!—more time was added to the timeline.
Once that process was complete and our DNA sent to the lab, I started to prepare for the egg retrieval scheduled for mid-March. This particular drug required an injection in the stomach, and let me tell you, if you have never injected yourself with a needle before, it took a LOT of pep talks. I think I almost did it about 12 times before chickening out. Once I did the first one, I realized the mental part was more intense than the physical- it really didn’t hurt much at all.
The start of an IVF cycle begins by using synthetic hormones to stimulate the ovaries to produce multiple eggs — rather than the single egg that typically develops each month.1
Because the purpose of these drugs is to increase the size of your ovaries, it took a huge physical toll on my body. As we got closer to the egg retrieval, the more bloated and uncomfortable I got. I was up to multiple injections a day in the stomach and I could only wear pants with an elastic band. This was pre-pandemic at this point, so elastic pants were not the norm.
For this procedure, they put you under a light anesthesia, so my husband accompanied me to the procedure. They are trying to get as many eggs as possible. We were both pleased with the amount of eggs they retrieved.
Mature eggs are placed in a nutritive liquid (culture medium) and incubated. Eggs that appear healthy and mature will be mixed with sperm to attempt to create embryos. However, not all eggs may be successfully fertilized.1
Before I left, the nurse said she had prescribed me a painkiller and it would be ready at my pharmacy. I was instructed to go home, rest, and have a ton of fluids and salt in order to help lessen the bloating. Thinking I could handle any pain that might come, I forgo the pain killers and opted for Ibuprofen. When I woke up from a nap, I realized that for me, this was a HUGE mistake. I felt intense cramping in my abdomen. Having this amount of pain while also helping take care of an active toddler was incredibly difficult.
The next step was to begin another set of injected drugs and set a date for my embryo transfer. Find out more in the next installment of my IVF journey.
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