I’ve been meaning to write about my IVF experience for quite some time now, both for myself and for others who may want to know because they are or will be going through it. Please remember I am not a doctor, and I may be remembering things wrong or may have misunderstood some things that were explained to me. I will do my best to keep the medical “facts” correct, but I may just be wrong in some cases. OK, disclaimer done.
When my husband and I decided we may have a fertility problem I started asking around about fertility doctors and doing my research. We were so blessed! One of the best in the country, maybe even the world, was just 20 minutes away from us. People were flying in from other counties and we just had a short drive over. Even better – she took our insurance!
We went in for and interview with her. She let us know she would test us both for everything to see what problem or problems we may have. She also said she would not do anything she thought dangerous to mother or baby. This meant always trying for single baby pregnancy, not multiples. Also, it meant she would not help us get pregnant if something made her believe a pregnancy would not be safe for me or a baby. She also told me I needed to start loosing weight immediately, I was right on the border of that being a safety issue.
So we had our battery of tests and only found one problem which was entirely a conception issue. This made us perfect IVF candidates. We got the paperwork and started right away. I called in the next time I started my period. Unfortunately, doing the math, the estimated date of when my IVF would be was during one of the two weeks three times a year the IVF center in the hospital was closed for research and development and upgrades. Bummer, but I was glad they were so serious about being on top of things. So I called in again the next month and we started.
In a “normal” month here is what a fertile woman’s body does – summed up. Every woman has a finite storage of eggs. At the beginning of each cycle some of them are released from the storage to start maturing, on average around 12, this is not ovulation. The eggs mature for a while and around 11-14 days into the cycle the “best” egg breaks trough the ovarian wall and starts it journey to the uterus. This is ovulation. The other eggs that didn’t make the cut get flushed out of the body. Sometimes both ovaries release an egg, and this is how natural fraternal twins happen. From the time the egg breaks through the ovarian wall there is just a few days in which it needs to be fertilized in order to result in a pregnancy.
Back to my IVF. We started with a little shot twice a day and occasional blood test. My husband gave me the shots, many woman give them to themselves, but I am afraid of needles due to a childhood trauma I won’t get into now. As the weeks went on the number of shots increased, as did the blood test and eventually internal sonograms. The point of all these drugs was to prepare my body for the IVF. My body decided itself how many eggs to release from storage at the beginning of my cycle, it turned out to be 23, a very good number! The drugs then did two main things: they caused all the eggs to mature, and kept me from ovulating so they had more time to mature. The blood tests and sonograms helped determine if my drugs needed to be increased or decreased, and also let the doctor know when it was time for the IVF. About a month and a half after my first shot I was ready. We set the time for the IVF and exactly 32 or 34 hours before (I can’t remember which) my poor hubby had to give me a big shot in the butt, which would cause the ovaries to let go of the eggs, the picture in my mind was like little arms lining the ovary wall holding each egg to keep it from escaping. The timing is very important, because if the ovaries are still holding onto the eggs they will not be able to be removed, but if they are let go too soon the eggs will make a run for it.
For the actual IVF we went into the hospital and I was put under. At the same time my husband was given a cup and a room to do his part. All of my 23 eggs were removed. To do this an internal sonogram is used. There is a tube along the side of the sonogram wand and a needle is threaded through that. It is inserted into each ovary and the eggs are sucked out through the needle. That’s it.
Now we wait three days. At this point I had a pretty bad reaction. Please do not let this scare you, it is not common. My ovaries ended up being overstimulated from all the drugs. Most woman may be a little sore like mild to moderate menstrual cramps. I was in extreme pain, I couldn’t stand up straight and could barely walk. I did go to see my doctor and she said unfortunately I would have to deal with it, but it would fade away over the next few days. It was not dangerous, and she didn’t want to give me any drugs that may interfere with the potential pregnancy.
After the IVF the doctors fertilized my eggs with my husband’s sperm. They then monitored the resulting embryos. Our numbers were: 23 eggs removed, 21 were fertilized by the doctors, 19 successfully fertilized, 3 resulted in very good embryos after three days. My doctor had already told me she would not agree to implant more then two embryos in my case. She said there was a very good chance that any embryos implanted would take, and she always aimed for single baby pregnancies, so she was happy with only implanting one, but would do two if that was what we wanted. We went with two because I was paranoid that if we only did one and it didn’t take I would have gone through all that and not even ended up with a baby. The implantation was easy, I was awake, no drugs needed. Just an external sonogram while the eggs were placed in my uterus. It was easy (on my part). I did have to have progesterone shots every day for a month or so, and after that my pregnancy was treated as any that happened the old fashioned way.
Eight months later we were blessed with twin girls. One of them has dragged a chair over and is trying to help me type right now. The other is playing in the toy box a few feet away. They are almost 20 months old already.
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