IVF treatment

About a week after having the lumpectomy I started the IVF treatment. My hubby had a meeting in the city on the day of the appointment and as I wasn’t yet able to drive, he dropped me off at the clinic and would come and pick me up later.

I met with the nurse who showed me all the kit, the needles and how to mix the drugs together and told me how and when to do the injections. I’d tried my hardest to concentrate on every little detail she was saying so I didn’t get anything wrong. I went on my way with my kit bag containing all the equipment I’d need – needles, plastic tops to open the glass water vials, a sharps box to dispose of the needles and I went down to the pharmacy area to pick up the prescription for the medication. The nurse had prescribed me enough drugs to last for seven days. I would need to go back for a scan the following week and collect the next lot of medication.

As I sat downstairs in the main reception area waiting for Pats, I somehow managed to get myself in a bit of a state and started worrying that I wouldn’t remember what the nurse had told me when we got home. Since my diagnosis I don’t seem to be able to take in or remember information as well as I have previously – slightly frustrating!

Pats arrived at the hospital and saw I was in a bit of a pickle so we went back up to the fertility clinic and the nurse kindly went through the whole procedure again. I felt so silly, but better to be safe in the knowledge of what we were doing – it wasn’t like I was just going to be popping a couple of paracetamols twice a day!

The Menopur injection needed to be taken at the same time each evening, with a 30-minute grace period either side of when you first injected it. There are two vials of drugs that need to have water injected into them, mixed together, and then finally sucked back up into the needle ready for injecting.

We started at 7.30pm that evening and Pats asked me if I wanted him to inject the needle or if I preferred to do it myself. Having already inserted an empty needle into my tummy on a previous visit to the clinic, I felt confident I could do this again. It was the strangest feeling the first time I did this. Not in that it really hurt, more that after our months and months of trying to conceive naturally, here we were mixing up drugs together and injecting me with a needle to be able to create our child. This certainly wasn’t going to be the romantic conception we had hoped for, but bingo the first one was complete.

We did the same the following night and then I had to inject a second drug (Cetrotide) first thing the following morning (there was only 10 minutes grace for this one). I decided 7.30am would be a reasonable hour to do this one and as there was no fiddly mixing between two vials I did this one by myself. Within a matter of days we had both got used to this routine, and whilst I won’t say it was “normal”, it certainly didn’t seem quite so strange.

I continued with the injections, and I must say that having heard other people’s experiences, I expected to be much more hormonal than I was. I’d warned Pats about potential outbursts that might come out. To be honest at that time of the month I’m not usually throwing abuse and saucepans anyway so the prospect of doing so was a little disturbing!

We returned to the clinic the following Monday and the scan showed I was responding well to the treatment and that 17 follicles in total were growing. The nurse said that to put it into perspective, the average number of follicles that ladies have is 8-10. Wow great news! The biggest was 19mm in size and the smallest 9mm. The nurse explained that those that were 14mm or above in size were large enough to contain a mature egg (5 were already at that stage).

Because I have “multi-follicular” ovaries (ovaries which contain many enlarged follicles at the same time) they decided at this point to lower the dose of my medication so that they would continue to grow, but avoid overstimulation, or ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS).

We returned to the clinic again on the Wednesday and again the scan showed I was continuing to do well with 23 follicles in total growing nicely. They confirmed that I would go in for the operation on the Friday morning for the egg collection.  I was also prescribed Pregnyl (an injection to be stored in the fridge) and said I would receive a call from the nurse later on that day with a specific time at which I needed to do the injection. The Pregnyl injection basically stimulates the follicles to mature, mimicking the action of luteinising hormone (LH), causing the release of the eggs from the ovary.

As I had responded so well in terms of a large number of follicles, they also prescribed me Cabergoline to reduce my risk of OHSS.

NHS Funding!

Pats and I went to the Nuffield for a two-hour appointment where they would go into detail regarding our treatment. Caroline had been one of the first people I spoke to when contacting the Nuffield and prior to this appointment we had been emailing each other back and forth with various questions I’d had – all of which she answered almost immediately to my amazement.

Caroline called both our names and we followed her up the corridor into one of the offices. She was a lovely warm and friendly lady, was very sympathetic to our circumstances and had a motherly, maternal nature about her. We felt instant relief and very secure that we were in the right place. She mentioned again what good results their clinic had achieved from the recent HFEA audit and told us how her own daughter had received IVF treatment there and had successfully gone on to have twins.  What more could you ask for? A recommendation from a mother who had entrusted the care of her daughter to the same doctors and nurses.

She then surprisingly told us that we’d been accepted for NHS funding!! Oh my god – someone was looking down on us – a little ray of sunshine amongst all of this. I cried tears of joy and Pats and I held hands smiling at each other. This was the first time I’d been to hospital and someone had given us good news. Brilliant.

Caroline then went on to say that the results of my pelvic scan showed that I have multi-follicular ovaries meaning I have more follicles than the average woman. She said this was good news in that I’d be likely to produce a good amount of eggs from the treatment, however they’d have to be careful not to stimulate me too much as this can cause ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS).

We then completed a whole host of paperwork in relation to our treatment and the storage of our embryos. She also asked if I’d like to be shown how to do the injection. I certainly don’t have a phobia against needles and injections – I do regularly give blood – but I never look at the needle going into the skin, I always have to look in the opposite direction to distract myself. She said I could do the injection in my tummy in the area below the belly button or in the top of my thigh. I felt more comfortable doing it in my tummy, so she handed me a needle (with no drugs in!) and showed me how to do it. I was surprised at the fact that I couldn’t really feel it go into my skin. Phew that was a relief, I felt confident I could now handle doing those!

We left there that day feeling slightly tired from all the information we’d taken in, but pleased as punch that we’d been offered the NHS funding to cover our treatment – that certainly took a big pressure off of us financially and we were so appreciative that they’d pursued my case for us.