Getting Pregnant: IVF Drugs, Injections & Egg Retrieval

Stephanie Dennis
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IVF Calendar
Illustration by Stephanie Dennis

When I got my period last week, it meant more than another failed month of TTC (trying to conceive). It marked the start of my IVF cycle!

Instead of feeling the usual post-period blues, I could now turn my attention and emotional energy to the start of my IVF journey. I feel hope and excitement, but holy cow, this is a daunting and intimidating (not to mention expensive) process. The drugs, the egg retrieval, and the transfer ... how exactly will it all work?

This is where the doctor and nurses come in. On "cycle day one" I immediately received my individual IVF schedule, which maps out each step of the process on a calendar. I also started taking (yes) birth control pills. Next my husband and I were sent to IVF school: a two-hour class, which covered the maze of IVF drugs, injections, and procedures that lie ahead. 

Along with three other couples, we huddled over our own cubby of sample drugs and syringes while a nurse demonstrated how we would inject my tummy and bum with a cocktail of hormones. I felt a little like a tenth-grader in biology lab pondering the frog I was going to have to dissect with my partner. Would we be good students? Would we ace the test? The drug names alone made me want to start making flash cards: Follistim, Monopur, Ganirelix, Levaquin.

After two hours, my head was swimming with how to draw just the right IUs of liquid into the syringe and how to tap out air-bubbles. Yikes! Each couple had a little mound of flesh-like pink rubber to practice injections. We both took turns sinking the inch-long needle into my pseudo stomach. Luckily, my lab partner/sweet hubby showed a real flair for the whole thing.

Next up is a mock embryo transfer. A trial run, if you will, so that they aren't checking out my hardware for the first time when they do the transfer for real. That won't happen for a few more weeks. In the meantime, we need to order our meds and get psyched for nightly injections.

This whole thing feels pretty surreal so far. I'm guessing it will feel a lot less abstract when that first needle is locked and loaded. The best I can do is take it one day at a time and stay focused on the positive.

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