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The IVF Process – what they don’t tell you…

Mollie resting after Progesterone Shot Recovery

I decided to stay off of the internet when it came to learning about the IVF process as there is a ton of information out there.  It’s also hard to filter out the stories when you’re in the midst of it and not get emotional.  Instead, I relied on my nurses, my husband’s research and really trying my best to go with the flow…

I think the biggest misconception at least for me was the span of time from start to finish.  I thought the process leading up to the egg retrieval and embryo transfer would all be completed within the same month.  I was SO off as it’s a much longer process (especially if you do a frozen embryo transfer).  You know what’s NOT annoying?  When people comment about how quickly it seems to go…my response in my head is “you go through it and tell me how quick it feels.” HA!

The process started the middle of June when I began a two-week cycle of birth control for 14 days.  I also had no idea that I would be on birth control twice during this process which sounds counter intuitive but it’s for regulating the hormones.  From there you have the dreaded two weeks of shots, blood work and ultrasounds followed by the egg retrieval which is almost a month after beginning birth control.

I was super nervous about the egg retrieval especially because you have to go under general anesthesia.  I hate the feeling of not being in control and feeling out of it but I didn’t have any of that.  I really do think trusting my doctor and nurses gave me the comfort and eased my anxiety.  My husband said I woke up crying but I have zero recollection of that.  I have a feeling it was more of a relief to have it over than anything else.  I was told there would be some cramping and discomfort but I was so bloated and uncomfortable before having the follicles and eggs out, that I actually felt better.  I was given a prescription for pain medicine but I didn’t need it.  I took Tylenol once or twice but other than that, I was fine.  The bloating lasted for an additional week but it got better every day.

The doctor was able to retrieve 8 eggs but the process does not stop there and the numbers kept dwindling down.  For example, the next day we found out that 6 embryos made it and we would need to wait 6 more days to see how many were viable.  The number was 4 and statistically my husband figured we would have 1-2 so we were elated with the news!  We decided to do genetic testing which is a personal decision but for us was worth the additional cost and time.  This would mean a frozen transfer instead of a fresh transfer.  Read here to learn more about the two types of transfers.  After about 2 weeks we found out that we had 2 viable embryos.  As you see, you go from 8 to 2 pretty quickly.  The drop to 2 was pretty tough for me but at the same time I know we have a lot to be grateful for having 2 healthy embryos.

Also, I didn’t realize it was possible to have a cycle be canceled.  Different issues can come up like hyper-stimulation, not responding to certain medications, and the uterine lining not thickening to name a few.

Let’s talk about helpful tips for the never ending amount of shots (and no not the alcoholic ones):

  • Ice Roller – not only do I use this on my face to help with puffiness and headaches but it’s perfect for icing the injection site BEFORE and AFTER.  It is so much easier and less messy than dealing with ice.
  • Adorable Bandages – seriously though having something cute and fun to hide all bruises and sores is a huge help.
  • Arnica gel – this gel helps with bruises, muscle tightness and stiffness. I’ve been using it a few times a day to help with the sensitivity.
  • Heating pad and heat therapy patches – heat is a huge help with breaking up the thick Progesterone oil and combating the discomfort.  I use the patches during the day while I’m at work.  P.S. After the transfer, it is recommended not to use heating pads, so I stopped using them after the transfer.
  • Epsom salts – this was one of the BEST tips I received after I posted about my sore toosh on Instagram.  The progesterone shots have been rough for me and soaking in my bathtub with Epsom salts REALLY helped relieve the muscle tension and tightness!  P.S. same as the heating pads, hot baths and showers are not recommended after the transfer.  I only took a bath beforehand.
  • Massage – the progesterone serum is VERY thick so it’s recommended to have it massaged for a minute or two to help break the oil up.  Otherwise, you could have lumps and more annoyingly discomfort!
  • Donut pillow – when all else fails and you can’t sit in your chair (like me the other day) try this donut pillow for some comfort while you’re going through the Progesterone shots. ;P
  • Warm up Progesterone oil – I found putting the bottle in my bra the best way to safely warm up the oil.  It has made a huge difference.

PSA: I know people who had no issues with the Progesterone shot, this is my experience!  I don’t want to freak anyone out BUT if you have an extra sore toosh, try out these tricks!

I would love to hear from you what worked and didn’t work.  The best part of sharing my story is connecting with SO many others! Thank YOU! xoxo



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