#infertility is too common & there are too many people struggling silently. RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association has given#NIAW2019 the theme of #infertilityuncovered and i'm excited to share as much as i can in effort to uncover infertility for you.
Before we get too far, I want to share the IVF Journey Journal with you! This journal will help you keep track of medications, doctor appointments, dosages and your feelings throughout your cycle. I highly recommend the IVF Journey Journal to help you document your IVF cycle!
Since sharing our IVF journey I've received a few questions wanting tips and tricks for IVF. But because we haven't done a transfer yet this post will be added to later once I can share my tips for that too!
Even though we've only done IVF once, (you can read about our IVF Process here!) I feel like our stim cycle and retrieval went really well and I have a few things that I want to share to help you have a successful cycle!
Tip #1: Do what you can to remove stress from your life.
I know, easier said than done, but stress is such a huge factor in a fertility journey so try to do things that remove stress and stay away from situations that will potentially cause stress. I quit my day job at the marketing company I was working at and went full-time with photography and that made a HUGE difference in my stress levels. I also took baths, watched movies, had Parker tickle my back or play with my hair and filled my schedule with photo shoots (I feel the least amount of stress & feel so easy going & laid back at my photo shoots)
Tip #2: Prepare your wardrobe for your cycle.
Something I DIDN'T realize was that while we were doing stims NONE of my jeans would fit. Luckily, I wear leggings almost more than jeans so I had a good stockpile but I didn't think that my body would stretch out like it did. So make sure you have stretchy pants or loose fitting dresses to help hide the swelling and stretching. (We didn't want to tell people WHEN we we're doing stims so hiding the belly stretch was really important!!) This will also come in handy after your Egg Retrieval because your ovaries swell up from the retrieval.
Tip #3: Eat better food.
I tried to avoid unnecessary sugars, soda, and fast food while we were preparing for stims + doing stims because I wanted my body to respond well to the medication. Also, sugar tends to emphasize my PCOS symptoms.
Tip #4: If you can, pay cash for your IVF cycle and set aside extra money for just in case.
We were able to save and fundraise enough money to pay cash for our IVF cycle (we're in enough debt, thank you very much). But we also set aside $1000 extra dollars just in case, which was actually really great because we had to pay $500 out of pocket for the anesthesia for our Egg Retrieval. Paying cash and having the extra money set aside and ready made all of the costs so much easier to handle because we had it there ready and waiting. Read How To Pay For IVF for more ideas on saving up and paying cash.
Tip #5: Keep your medicine close together and in the same spot.
Some medications need to be refrigerated and some don't. Regardless of whether they need to be refrigerated, keep them all close together. We have a small counter space right next to our fridge, so we just put all of my meds and my sharps container on that counter and only touched it when I needed to take the medication.
Tip #6: Write down your dosages and the time you take each medication.
Because we were part of a Clinical Study we had to track any medications, supplements, vitamins, etc. that I was taking. (I opted to ONLY take the prescribed medication and nothing else) But I also had to write down my dosages and the time that I took each medication. This ended up being so helpful because if they changed my dosage I would just write it down in my notebook and then when the time came to do the injection, I could just look to see what I needed to take and take it instead of second guessing myself or being stressed about doing the wrong dose and not being able to reach the clinic because I took my meds after they closed.
Tip #7: Set alarms to remind you to take your meds
I only had to do injections once per day. Sometimes there were two medications, but for the most part I only had one medication. But I always did my injections between 6:00pm and 6:30pm. Some days it was easy to remember but other days, when we were busier I really needed the alarm reminder. So I recommend just having an alarm so you don't miss a day!
Tip #8: Be gentle when you give yourself injections. Go straight in (not at an angle), switch up your injection site and do a U around/under your belly button.
Okay. If you haven't seen pictures of bruised IVF bellies count yourself lucky but I literally had ZERO bruising from stims and I 100% give credit to the nurse who taught me how to do injections. Don't angle the needle or push too hard when you're administering the actual medicine. That's where the bruising comes from. The needle will poke through your skin, you don't have to jam it in there. This isn't an epi pen situation. Once the needle is in, GENTLY push down to administer your medicine. With one hand I held the injection pen in my belly and with the other, I would push in the medicine. This is a game changer. There may be some light pain at your injection site. If there is, massage the area for 2-3 minutes and you should be good to go. For my Ganerilix injection the needle was a bit larger so I massaged the injection site for 3-5 minutes and used an ice pack after to soothe the itchy-ness.
Tip #9: Take at least 3 days off to rest after your Egg Retrieval.
I didn't think it would be too bad, and honestly, it wasn't. I wasn't in any pain, I was just uncomfortable. My body was swollen from the retrieval so that made walking and getting difficult. I think I overdid things on the second day because I was so uncomfortable by the end of the day but I hadn't taken time off of work for that day and I had other commitments. So I'd recommend taking at least 3 days off, just to be safe. Note: if you work in an office at a desk where you don’t have to walk around a ton, you may be able to take off less days. Just be sure to have a ton of Gatorade and Ramen Noodles at your desk with you!
Tip #10: Stock up on items you’ll need for Egg Retrieval recovery
I don't know if I just didn't read enough but Y'ALL there are things you NEED for after your retrieval to make recovery smoother and less painful and less uncomfy! I shared a whole shopping list of things to stock up on here. Something to note, when I say stock up on Gatorade there are two things you should know. 1) make sure it is sugar-free gatorade 2) really stock up. I tried to drink at least 64 oz of Gatorade every day for 5 days after our retrieval. I seriously give all of the credit to the Gatorade for not having OHSS after our retrieval so STOCK UP.
I hope this was helpful! If you’ve been through IVF, what tips would you have for this list? Tell me in the comments!!