21 May 2013

Infertility Drugs: Take a Breath :)

(Here I am at my local pharmacy...my new hang-out.)

I was able to finally start the next batch of drugs leading up to the finish of this IVF.  (We have had a very, very long process compared to most.  We did the egg retrieval a few months ago. That was followed by a surgery for endometriosis.  And now we're starting up the process of preparing my body for the transfer of the frozen embryos.  This phase also includes lots of extra drugs for some autoimmune issues I have.)

Well, so far so good.  I'm now 5 days in to this last phase.  I'll be following a strict schedule over the next few weeks.  We administer all the drugs at home.  Going in, I wasn't feeling so chipper about it, so I definitely had to keep telling myself my IVF mantra again and again, "Enjoy the process, enjoy the process."  I swear, it really did help a bunch to keep me focused on good things instead of letting fear, anxiety or irritation consume me.

So far, things have been a breeze.  The needles are so tiny that I haven't felt a THING.  I'm not making this up.  I literally cannot feel them.  And so far, I've been lucky that I haven't had any side effects.

Danny has been the best partner I could imagine.  I love how he helps manage the whole process.  He's the one reading all the instructions, pulling out the correct drug and dosage, and he's also the one giving me the shots.  He really does act like he's in charge of the whole thing. I LOVE THAT.  I'm so, so grateful for the way he handles it.  It's way better than being in the doctor's office.  He's also so very calm, gentle and comfortable with doing all of it, which helps me to feel calm, too.  I don't know how I got so lucky.

OK - for the shots - I've learned that I love having a little routine.  haha.  We do it the same way each time and somehow, it's helped me a ton to feel at ease.  Danny's so sweet to go along with it.

Here's our little process:

1.  Danny gets things ready.
2.  He gives me a nice, slow kiss and the best hug.
3.  He kneels down by my belly and then says, "OK. Take a breath."
4.  I take a breath and by the time I'm done, it's usually all over.

That's it.  It has been such a loving little thing that we do.  And it's kind of silly to think how many times we've done this now - in this exact way.  But it does make me feel calm and full of love in that moment.

The "take a breath" part came from an exceptional nurse who once gave me a tip years ago.  He said the key is for the body to be relaxed.  Since most people are anything but relaxed in that moment, he gives them a command.  He said when a person is given a command, the mind will focus on following the command instead of dwelling in the fear and anxiety.  So right in the moment before giving a shot, he would always say, "Take a breath."  It works perfectly every time.  Even if your nurse does not know this tip, I have found that you can even give yourself a command in that moment - and it works just the same.

For anyone who has done IVF or home medical treatments, how was the process for you?  

Did your spouse or a friend help?  Or did you do it yourself?

One dear friend of mine was doing these shots during the black-out, post Hurricane Sandy.  She had to sneak into a shared bathroom in hiding, with a cooler, and take care of business.  Oh my.  Danny and I once had to do it in a very, very stinky/dirty "family" airport bathroom.  Ugh. It was so unpleasant that I marched myself over to the First Class Lounge, with my cooler and all, and begged to use their bathroom.  They said I could use the "business center" so we did our thing right there next to some phones and faxes and computers.  haha.  I would have done it just about anywhere but that dirty bathroom.

I'm sure there are all kinds of stories out there...I'd love to hear!!    

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  1. I just wrote a comment but it was on my phone so i'm not sure it worked :/

    I'm glad it's going well so far for you! We start our very first cycle in July and i'm so nervous. We have a holiday first which wasn't planned to be before a cycle but i'm glad I have it now to try and get in the right head space. I honestly cried reading your post because I'm so scared about dealing with administering the drugs and the side effects. I'm working on only allowing myself to be nervous until our nursing appointment next week. Then I want to try my best to focus on being excited and positive. Going from 5% chance of conceiving to 50-60% is something to be pretty excited about. Hopefully our nice long break to the US will help with that :)

    Praying for you!

    1. Hello, dear!! You can do this!! There is a fertility meditation CD that I totally recommend called, "Help for Infertility" by Belleruth Naperstak. Get it and have it on your phone! I have listened to this a bunch and it has helped SO much. xo

    2. I'm not sure if you have started stims or not yet, but I finished mine a month ago (no FET yet). I, like you, would cry with anxiety at the thought of the needles and the drug side effects. It honestly wasn't nearly as bad as I thought. I had 2-3 injections every night. Most of them were almost painless. It does take some technique that your partner will learn. I also found that alternating sides didn't work, as I must have a patch of nerves on the left side that hurt like hell! So we just stuck with the right side. I was a little emotional, but not bad. Twice I had a crazy freak-out directed at something my husband did, but he was very understanding that I couldn't control it. The one injection that hurt, my nurse told me to ice my skin before to numb it up and it worked so well! I haven't done the progesterone oil for the FET, and I've heard that's not fun. So far though, I would do it all again if I have to.

  2. When we did IVF two years ago I was very nervous and anxious leading up to starting the drugs. Once it was under way, it actually was helpful to have something to focus on, one little step to take each day to get closer to the big egg retrieval day.
    My husband administered the shots and I have to say I didn't feel any of them except for one and it's true, the one that hurt was because I was very tensed up at that exact moment.
    Needles are never fun but when once you get your head around the idea that it's a necessary step towards your one big goal, you look forward to it.
    best wishes to you both! :)

    1. Thanks for writing in! And I agree...somehow being able to do something each day feels productive, which is a good feeling.

  3. I always did my shots myself, progesterone in oil biggies included. That's just how I do things, I suppose. (I always take my own splinters out, too--for some reason it feels like it hurts more when someone else does it.) However, my lovely wife was always at the ready with the best hot water bottle after my PIOs. I don't know what I would have done without that comforting reward.

    1. Wow! I'm so impressed you did the progesterone yourself, too. Great tip to use a hot water bottle afterwards. I'll have to remember that when the time comes. thanks so much for writing in.

    2. Oh they're the best! I recommend this cozy bottle cover from Vermont Country Store (where you can also get the bottle): http://www.vermontcountrystore.com/store/jump/productDetail/Health_&_Beauty/Bath_&_Body/Personal_Care_&_Grooming/Wool_Fleece_Hot_Water_Bottle_Cozy/63564

      I'd even take it on the go in the car if we had to be somewhere right after my shot.

      Good luck with it all; you're doing great already! Fingers crossed for you two!

  4. I get really pumped up before the shots. I sing Lil Jon's "Shots" song and clap my hands and it just makes me feel like a super woman! I do the shots myself because I think it will hurt less, like I can control the pain because I can feel it. Hard to explain.

    1. So cute. And yes, you are a super woman for sure. :)

  5. "Sometimes your only available transportation is a leap of faith." -Margaret Shephard.
    That quote was my mantra during my first IVF cycle. I still find it so helpful.
    I administered my own shots because my husband - supportive as ever - has a needle phobia. I didn't need his nerves to add to my own! The shots are not at all painful and actually made me feel really empowered. For once, in this very long infertility slog, I was doing something proactive! As scary as it is, remember that this is the first time that you will absolutely no without a doubt that sperm and egg have met. Pretty cool.

    1. LOVE that quote. And aren't mantras the best?? I have never really used one quite consistently until now, but they really, really do help to quickly get you back on track, if needed.

  6. Oh this is bringing back some great memories! I just did a frozen transfer in February (which I liked a LOT more than the fresh transfer I had done last year) and was so grateful for my husband. It sounds like he stepped in the same way as Danny (which was so appreciated) and took care of anything drug-related, included administering the actual shot. I had to do them in my butt, so really it was pretty impossible for me to give them to myself, but it was so nice to not have to worry about that part. Anyway, my thoughts are with you guys! I also watched your segment and loved it -- you have been an inspiration to me as I have gone through my own infertility struggle and 2 IVF cycles -- we are now expecting twins and couldn't be more thrilled! So thanks for your optimism and insight. Good luck to you!

    1. Wow, congrats!!! And thanks so much for your kind words. You have know idea how much it means to hear that anything here has been helpful. Thank you!

  7. my husband lovingly took care of all of my IVF shots -- which I really appreciated! Especially the painful progesterone in oil shots...those masked over any 1st trimester pregnancy symptoms I may have had. We conceived via our 3rd IVF attempt -- I'm due this weekend!!

    1. WOW!!!!! GOOD LUCK at the birth! Way to go!

  8. Mara,

    I just wanted to let you know that I started reading your blog about a year ago when I was experiencing infertility issues. Your posts really inspired me to take a whole new outlook on my condition and instead of seeing it as a negative thing in my life, I tried to look at it as part of our story, one that would have a positive outcome regardless of what happened. I can tell you that your suggestion of 'enjoying the process' every step of the way really does help, especially when going through something as intense as IVF.

    My husband and I did IVF in February resulting in one healthy little baby (now 4 months a long). While I know that the little baby inside of my is truly a blessing from God, I strongly believe that part of our success was due to enjoying the ride we were on in each particular moment. It is hard to completely avoid stress; however, I do think that the more relaxed approach you take through the whole thing, the better you are - mind/body, everthing. Fortunately, I loved the doctor who performed my transfer as well as all of the IVF nurses who were assigned to me. My husband and I actually came out of the transfer laughing- not even sure why, but I was completely relaxed and calm. It's ironic, because a few weeks later, I came across this study http://www.dnaindia.com/scitech/1494019/report-humour-from-clowns-linked-to-ivf-success-study that found that the odds of success were greater among women who were entertained by a professional "medical clown" just after the embryos were transferred to their wombs.

    I think it is wonderful that you and your husband have a ritual when it comes to administering your meds. I, on the other hand, am not suceptible to pain and do not have a problem with needles so I preferred to do it myself. I also think that by doing it myself, as if it were just part of my normal routine, it made the whole thing seem a little less overwhelming.

    Please know that you will be in my prayers over the next month as you prepare for your transfer! Just remember that in addition to enjoying the process, laugh a little (or a lot) along the way=:)

    1. Carrie, this note just about did me in. THANK YOU. I'm so touched that you'd take the time to write. And what a beautiful journey you've been on. Thanks for adding support to the idea that you CAN enjoy the process and have a good experience. It's such a powerful idea to pass on.

      (and who knew about "medical clowns"! That is awesome!!!)

  9. My husband always had to give me the shots too! He was always so nice about it. If he was gone, I ran to a neighbors house for her to give me the shots, I just couldn't do it myself. Good luck with everything. It's not easy. I noticed you mentioned endometriosis. I am not sure if you are aware of any of the studies out there about endometriosis but here is a link to one of them being done by the University of Utah. It's super easy, all they need is a saliva sample. Endometriosis is such an awful disease. I just thought I would share it with you! Best of luck to you and your husband!


  10. I just had my first fresh transfer on Saturday. It still doesn't feel real, but it's very exciting. I found the unknown the hardest part of it all - not knowing what to expect at each stage. And I hated getting blood taken for blood tests almost every day for a few weeks. But everything was completely manageable. I agree with most of what's been said, that the injections are quick and painless. I ended up doing my own even though it was terrifying at first - in the end it felt better to be in control. Plus there was sometimes no one else to do it for me. I live in Canada and the progesterone isn't a shot here, at least at my clinic, which is nice. I also didn't find the medicine did anything to me emotionally. I channeled your wisdom to try to enjoy the process, and I also tried to think some level of stress and discomfort was inevitable, but temporary. I have learned to be so grateful for the medical technology that makes these miracles possible! And it's sooooo neat to see your embryo. They gave us a photo of ours: "Baby's first picture." THAT will be in the wedding slideshow someday. Haha!

  11. that wall of condoms behind you is so ironic and funny!

    1. I know!! haha. I noticed that, too, just as I was posting this and thought about saying something funny about it. So glad you noticed. I guess it's been a really, really long time since I've used those...so...that's one perk :)

  12. Good luck with your IVF! You have a great attitude and I am sending you happy wishes for the outcome!

  13. thanks for updating and sharing about this very personal matter...I've been wondering how it has been going for you :)

  14. Mara, we're starting IVF in the fall and are cautiously optimistic and excited to finally begin. Thank you so much for sharing your journey with all of us. I know you are helping me as many of us are going through IVF either now or in the near future. I know everything will work out just the way Heavenly Father intends for all of our lives--and with the right timing too. One of my mantra's is "Everything is working out perfectly and is just as it should be." Hmm...maybe it makes sense to only me, but it helps me remember that the Lord is in charge and how He is the ultimate director in our lives. Sometimes we understand so little of the why's until we look back years later and get a better perspective.

    Looking forward to hearing more!

  15. Thsnk you for sharing your experience and your positive outlook! The advice to take a breath is so good and relevant for many difficult situations, I think. I suffer from travel sickness and although I deal with flying much better now, plane travel has been a nightmare for me in the past. Just the smell of airports makes me feel nervous and tight. As well as some great natural remedies and lots of practice, the best thing I can do for myself is relax and breath. When turbulence hits, you better believe I want to freak out so bad - its scary! I might vomit everywhere! - but instead I take a deep breath and relax my body and pretend I'm a rag doll on a waterslide. It works! Now if only I could make it happen in boats ;)

  16. The power which comes from a supportive spouse is indescribable.

  17. Mara, this was such a heart warming post. I love that you & Danny did this together. I'm the friend who administered the needles via candle light during Hurricane Sandy ;-) I'll stay anon for now but wanted to mention the needles didn't hurt me at all. Not one bit. Sometimes the medication would sting a little bit as it was going in. I found this to be more true with Menopur & other meds that we have to mix ourselves like Bravelle. I didn't feel that way when I would administer Follistim BUT you have to keep it refrigerated & that wasn't fun during the blackout/hurricane :) Thought to share. I'm thinking about you and praying for a positive outcome for you & Danny. However, I'm not worried about you. Not at all :) Sending you love! xoxo!

  18. I just wanted to back up what the previous Anonymous said by saying my shots didn't hurt me either, not even the progesterone shots, which I did myself, let's see, 54 times or so. If you know how to take a nice relaxing breath then you're good to go. The more relaxed I was, the smoother it went. (Yea, I know, easy to say "relax" when there's a 1 1/2" needle involved, right?!) Also, I highly recommend a quick jab and straight (and quick) needle removal. The slower/more tentative I was, the more likely I was to feel anything. But really, it's not so bad at all. (I know it's different for everybody and everyone has a different experience. I really respect women who found the process painful and carried on anyway. Still, for me, letting go of fear made all the difference.)

  19. I purchase clomid online because my doctor was prescribed me, it's really very effective medicine. I got pregnant with fraternal twins during the first month of taking it. I had a great pregnancy, a vaginal birth and I now have two very healthy six month old boys.

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  21. When we did IVF two years ago I was very nervous and anxious leading up to starting the drugs. Once it was under way, it actually was helpful to have something to focus on, one little step to take each day to get closer to the big egg retrieval day.


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