I'm about halfway through IVF attempt number I've lost count and most new readers are probably looking for tips from the pros.
So here are my random thoughts and tips on how to survive IVF, what you can expect, etc etc, in no particular order.
1) The person you're doing this with is VERY important. If you have a partner who acts childish when things don't go their way, or they get grumpy when you aren't feeling frisky, or what have you, this is going to be far more difficult than it needs to be.
This is going to be a strain. And if your relationship tends to be a bit rocky, this process is going to exaggerate every flaw in that relationship. You both need to be in the mindset that your role in life is to provide whatever you are capable of providing for your partner. You have each others backs.
Look at when you disagree about something, how do you come to a conclusion? Do you argue until someone wins? Or do you discuss it until you both naturally come to the same conclusion? If your relationship is the former, you might be in for some problems. But if you generally tend towards the latter, things are pretty strong between you.
Why is this so important? Because logistically this process is a pain in the butt. Physically, you become the grouchy tired version of yourself. Emotionally, you go a lot of different directions. For once in her life, the woman needs to tend to her own needs first. This is not the norm for many of us and your partner may feel like you're being selfish, or a princess, or whatever. If your partner is unable to sacrifice their needs in favor of your needs for this time period without making you feel like crap for doing so, you are going to get yourself completely stressed out, stress leads to failure, so there you go.
2) Spread the pain.
Put your partner in charge of all medications. This is the person you will be trusting to raise your child, so trust them to take care of the medications. The men can only be a part of the baby making process so much, so put as much as physically possible in their hands.
Dealing with medication takes some mental energy, and logistical energy (being in the right place at the right time to administer the meds). You are already dealing with the physical energy this takes from you, and the logistical energy of being at doctors appointments every 48 hours, so he can deal with the mental energy.
If you sit at home and give yourself an injection while he's out having a beer with this buddies, there's going to be some resentment building up. So avoid that resentment and make him an active part of the process. And if he bitches about it, tell him this - if you were able to conceive the natural way, you would have his full undivided attention for the conception of your child. Yes, you have to put more time and effort in, but it's only fair that you still have his full undivided attention while you conceive your child this way.
Ask him to be at as many doctors appointments as possible. Unless he'll get fired or something, it's only fair that he have to work his schedule around these damned appointments the same as you do. And this way, you have two sets of ears to hear the information that the doctors toss at you. Don't worry, a lot of men sit in as their wives are getting wanded, yours won't be the first.
Another reason for this - IVF doesn't always work. And if it doesn't, you are going to second guess everything and wonder if you did something wrong. If he has some responsibility in it, he will have some of those thoughts and guilts too and you'll better be there for each other for the difficult process of mourning the failed cycle.
**PS** One thing I forgot to mention here. Men tend to feel that their job is to protect us, to make things better for us. Keep in mind that while he's inflicting the pain of a needle on you, or he's watching you wince while a doctor is poking and prodding you, he is feeling a major discomfort as well. And really, I'd say that the discomfort is about equal. Yours may be physical, but he's standing by, completely helpless to help you. That's what our men have nightmares about, so do be sensitive to the fact that he's going through that. You'll have enough discomfort to hold over his head during the pregnancy, don't hold the discomfort of IVF over his head too or he's going to start feeling like no one gives a shit about how hard this is for him.
3) Ice for some injections, not worth it for others.
For lupron, I don't bother with ice. The ice is more annoying than the needle.
For menapur, I do ice up first. For some reason, that shit stings and bruises. We've got a flat, flexible ice pack with a nice fabric cover. When hubby starts prepping the meds, I put that on my stomach and zip my pants over it to hold it there.
4) Sometimes you bleed a little from the injections. Not much. Just letting you know so you don't panic.
5) Buy gonal-f only as needed. That shit's expensive and a lot of fertility pharmacies automatically overnight their medications. So if you can, buy half of what you need up front, then buy the other half later in the process. You might find that you can get away with buying a little bit less than you were originally prescribed, but you can't return it once you have it.
Actually, do what you can to buy stuff as needed. I've had 3 cycles now that have been cancelled before I got into the major medication stage. Some of those meds aren't even used for my protocols anymore so I'm never going to need them. Some of those leftovers are usable and I'm using them, but seriously, put off buying meds until you have to if you have a pharmacy that overnights stuff. If getting the meds is a 3 week process due to insurance or whatever, disregard that advice.
6) Run everything through insurance, even if they say they aren't paying a penny of it. Sometimes, they randomly cover one or two medications, like the antibiotics. You never know what those are going to be, and odds are it won't help a whole lot, but hey, 20 bucks is still 20 bucks.
7) Cranky, tired, and stressed. You're not imagining it. You're not being a selfish princess. You are being chemically programmed to feel that way. So it's likely that you will feel stressed out, even though you can't figure out what is going on in life that should be stressing you out. Don't feel guilty about this, just give in and be cranky.
8) Sex might go out the window. You're going to have enough people up in your bits every day that you might feel like sex is just another invasion of your body. Hubby will better understand why you don't feel like it if he goes to the ultrasound appointments with you.
9) Do IVF during Halloween season. You can buy massive amounts of candy and no one will blink an eye.
I'll write more of this when I'm further along in the process. Sound off in the comments! What should every woman know as they start IVF?