It’s been a frustrating month. The phone lines and computer system at the clinic were completely out of action for three weeks which delayed my (and countless other single women and couples’) treatment. However, things are finally back up and running – we’ve made progress!
After more blood and immunity tests, we booked in scan dates, days to begin (and continue) various injections and potential dates for egg collection. A good problem to have, I’m off on holiday for a week in September so that cuts out treatment for the whole of that month (IVF obviously works with your cycle). We considered starting treatment in October, but after a long time on medication (with unamusing side effects), we’ve decided to go ahead this month. (I took that my period started 20 minutes after my call with the clinic as a sign that August is the Right Time.)
Except, of course, there’s never a Right Time.
August is full of reasons to have a casual glass of wine or a lunchtime cocktail alongside tonnes of social engagements (one best friend turns 30 and has her hen do within the space of a week, another returns to the UK after six months away for a “welcome home” bash). And with the government being notorious for “u-turning” on Covid policies, I won’t risk delaying treatment in case of new quarantine rules or (God forbid) another lockdown. So, whilst cancelling on people doesn’t sit well with me, August feels like a Better Time.
The baseline scan was straightforward: transvaginal scan on day 2 to check the size and number of follicles in my ovaries. At the start of your period, you want lots of small follicles (lots of follicles hopefully means lots of eggs). I was then sent off with solutions and powders to mix up at home as well as packets of needles and a ‘sharps’ box.
The first injections to stimulate the ovaries contain natural female hormones and are self-injected between 7pm and 9pm each evening. My housemate sat with me for the first one (not because I was particularly nervous but because I didn’t want to mess up the preparation of the meds). Injecting yourself is easier than I expected – I’ve had plentiful operations and procedures in the past but I wondered whether I’d be able to jab a needle in my thigh – turns out, I can, happily.
The side effects make for less of a cheery tale. I’ve had no appetite, the thought of putting anything in my mouth makes me nauseous, actually eating anything other than toast or fruit leaves me feeling sick. I’m trying to continue the tablets and folic acid although they’re no longer a walk in the park. I’m getting by on lots of tea (sure, I should be reducing my caffeine but as I don’t drink coffee anyway and only have a few cups of tea a day, I figure it’s better than not eating or drinking anything!). I’ve also slept a lot (unlike me) and my already high sex drive has been wild.
Tomorrow I add another injection to my daily menu – this time between 7am and 9am. Let’s see how that goes…
Whilst I’ve cancelled many social events, I’ll be depressed if I cancel everything so I have a few dinners planned this week (“Can I see your mocktails list, please?”) yet how I’m going to transport a vial of medication with no lid on the train and in the car is yet to be worked out. Cling film? A tiny bottle? TBD.
This week is full of monitoring scans to check my ovaries are responding well (under-responsive and we have to cancel treatment for this cycle, over-responsive and I risk OHSS – ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome – fairly common in women with PCOS, and to be avoided). Assuming all scans go well, there’s a trigger hormone to be taken at a precise time before heading back to the clinic the following day for egg collection. (Here’s hoping I don’t have to cancel my friend’s hen do…)
Stage 6 to come.
As always, I’m aware all women’s experiences of IVF and egg collection are unique, this is a way of adding to the body of experiences.