A Christmas Hangover
Seven days of IVF stimulation medications down…only a couple more to go! Today I share an update on how the IVF stimulation phase has been going for us, including details about my IVF medications, symptoms, and plan for egg retrieval!
‘Twas the night before injections and all through the house, the couple was cleaning and with bleach the floor was doused.
Cory and I deep-cleaned our kitchen and dining room on Injection Eve: August 27, 2018. I needed the house to feel clinical – for all surfaces to shine bright and sterile –before I could happily mix medications and load syringes the next morning. While I’m generally fine with injections, I’m less fine with injection infections. Gotta keep everything clean! After prepping the space and organizing the meds, we went to bed with that anxious anticipation only felt the night before Christmas.
I woke up early the next day around 5:45 AM. I went downstairs, had my coffee and ate my breakfast. When I came back upstairs, I gave Cory a kiss on the cheek before popping into the shower. Half asleep he turned to me and asked, “Did you see a baby under the tree?” Starting this IVF process really has felt like Christmas!
And now, one week after staring our injections, the excitement has evolved. Instead of feeling just like pure Christmas excitement, it now feels like Christmas…with a hangover. We are still as energized and giddy, but now I have a dull, aching headache, a bloated belly, and a foggy brain. It’s funny – a few days ago, Cory and I went to the CU vs. CSU football game. I, of course, didn’t drink (tryin’ to stay pure for these huevos!). In the middle of the night, I woke up with a pounding headache. In my half-alert, mostly-asleep state, I remembered we had gone to the game that night and thought, “Ah man, I drank too much and now I’m hung over!” Nope. Just the meds. So that’s where I’m at now – a solid Christmas hangover.
In this post, I want to spend some time detailing what the last week has been like for us – for me to look back on in the future, for those of you who are experiencing infertility too, and for those of you who are just along for the ride!
8/27/18: Day 2
I went into the clinic before work for an initial ultrasound and blood work. They needed to check for any ovarian cysts at baseline. If cysts were present, then they would postpone the cycle – otherwise they’d be inflating already full balloons and they’d be more likely to POP! This is what happened to me this past May. No bueno. I got a call from my IVF nurse that afternoon letting me know everything looked great and we could start our injections the next morning. The next time they’d need me back in the clinic would be on Day 6 for daily lab work until egg retrieval.
8/28/18: Day 3
Cory and I rocked our first day of injections (see time lapse video below). It took us 30 minutes from start to finish to mix and administer two injections in the morning. The only minor issue was with our very first attempt at an injection. I looked away as Cory injected the needle into my stomach. Just seconds later, I felt the syringe come out of my skin. I thought Cory had finished but then he said, “Uh, Kristen, I have to do it again…the needle popped out.” Apparently, after Cory inserted the needle, he tried to move his finger to the top of the syringe to depress the medicine. As he moved his finger up, he lost grip on the syringe and the needle popped out of my skin. Luckily, the needles don’t hurt much going in. The only pain I’ve felt so far has been with Menopur – it burns just a little as it’s injected.
For those fertility nerds out there interested in what meds I’m taking, here’s a run down: Menopur, Omnitrope, Clomid, and Gonal-F. Menopur contains follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) to help stimulate egg production. Omnitrope is a man made growth hormone used off label for fertility. Apparently growth hormone has been found to be helpful for women with diminished ovarian reserve. (Me, me!) Clomid is an oral med used to stimulate ovulation. And I take Gonal-F at night, which also contains FSH to help stimulate egg production. Geez…no wonder I feel hung over!
8/29/18: Day 4
A repeat of the previous day except this time my brother-in-law, Aleks, joined our early morning med session to film a short video for his YouTube channel. He’ll be posting the video on Thursday (9/6/18). Check him out at on YouTube…search for Aleks Haugom!
8/30/18: Day 5
Another round of morning and evening meds. My fatigue, brain fog, headache, and bloatedness were ramping up nicely by this point. Overall, I was feeling surprisingly good. I think I even said, “This part of IVF hasn’t been as bad as I expected,” and then immediately knocked on wood.
8/31/18: Day 6
I went into Conceptions for my Day 6 blood work and ultrasound. This was the day that the IVF nurse sounded less than hopeful (see "Frickin' Follicles" from Saturday for more about this) and I felt disappointed. The nurse told me to increase my nightly Gonal-F from 225 to 300. This made me worried that they weren’t seeing the follicle growth that they wanted. (Side note: what’s with these IVF meds’ names? Menopur? Gonal-F?! I feel like there are better names out there.) That evening we went to the CU vs. CSU football game with Cory’s lovely parents – a nice distraction from IVF world.
9/1/18: Day 7
Early morning blood work and ultrasound to monitor hormone levels and follicular growth. Everything looked stable, and the nurse didn’t give me any information about my follicles (and I didn’t ask!). The nurse told me to continue on my elevated Gonal-F dose that evening. She also instructed me to start taking Cetrotide daily, an injection that blocks the hormone that causes eggs to be released from the ovaries. This med prohibits any of the little eggs from running away. Stay put, eggs! I spent the day watching Sharp Objects and napping while Cory was at musical rehearsal…it was glorious! (PS: You should come see Cory as “Rooster” in Annie at Lakewood Cultural Center – opening this Friday, September 7! He’s going to be amazing. PPS: I don’t know how he does it all – grad school, work, Annie rehearsals, and IVF.)
9/2/18: Day 8
Early morning blood work and ultrasound again. Today, the ultrasound tech said, “You’re doing great. I’m excited for you!” at the end of the appointment. I took that comment and ran with its positivity all day! On the drive home I called my mom, thrilled, and we basked in the rays of good news together!
9/3/18: Day 9
Early morning blood work and ultrasound. I received a call from the IVF clinic with my lab and ultrasound results while I was grocery shopping. The IVF nurse told me that everything is “moving in the right direction” and I might have my TRIGGER SHOT tomorrow! The trigger shot is what stimulates the release of the eggs! It’s an intramuscular injection that goes into my rear – I’ve been told it hurts like a mother. My egg retrieval will be exactly 36 hours after my trigger shot. This means if my trigger shot is tomorrow night, my egg retrieval will be Thursday morning! Holy cow! Two days earlier than I expected it! I was super excited to hear this. I finish out today feeling hopeful, tired, and distracted by my headache.
Empty medication vials fill our trashcan. Our sharps container is filled with used syringes. One injection at a time we’ve made our way through this past week. Overall, this process has flown by, and it’s been really do-able. The injections don’t hurt that bad and the side effects really aren’t terrible. I just hope I can continue to take one day at a time…I guess that’s my only option, huh?
Wish me luck with this Christmas hangover, and keep us in your thoughts this week as we pull the trigger on these follicles!
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