A Bruised Belly

02/20/2013

Well, it is the eve of our egg retrieval which has caused me to reflect on the last month. I know we haven’t been doing a lot of posts in real time. Many were flashbacks or informational, but I thought it’s time to review what’s been going on for the last month, which leads me to a “bruised belly.”

You might remember I was horribly afraid of needles at the start of this IVF journey. Yea, you read it right WAS afraid. I have really made progress on my fear. I won’t go so far and say I’m looking forward to shots or I want to become a nurse, but I haven’t passed out and I don’t want to scream inside when a needle nears me.

Dan has been an excellent nurse. He has administered every shot in the last month. He even came over to a girl’s night so I didn’t have to leave (with a Starbucks Frap which made the shot totally worth it).  I never got the guts to give myself one, so I still have some progress to make in the future regarding my fear. I was definitely nervous in the beginning, but like all things when you do something daily it does become routine and less worrisome.

Dan gave me my shots every night about 9 pm. The first few nights I would be thinking about it after work all night until it was time. But after 3 or 4 days I was only noticing the time around an hour before the designated “shot” time.

Before my first shot (evening of Jan. 22) I was contemplating on how to give myself little rewards. I’m a teacher so I often think about rewards, motivation, consequences, etc. I first thought I could have ice cream after every shot, but that probably wouldn’t be the healthiest choice. I was discussing this topic with a co-worker and she suggested after a certain number of shots, Dan should get me something special. I was seriously considering this idea and even incorporating a punch card, but I didn’t really have the time to make little business cards. So I decided on the classic teacher reward…STICKERS!

I went to the store the day before my first shot and bought a chart and stickers. I didn’t think too much about the chart when I bought it. I decided on monkeys because I thought they were cute. But when I got home I realized they were very appropriate for a nursery. The colors were even gender neutral. So I came up with an idea…If our IVF works I’m going to frame and put the sticker chart in the baby’s room to remind myself and Dan what we went through. A way to celebrate, but not forget our journey.

Every time I received a shot I took great pride in putting my sticker on my chart. I have different rows for the different medicines. From Jan. 22 until Feb. 7 I was being injected with one medicine nightly called Lupron (it inhibits ovulation). Then I went in for a blood test and internal sonogram on Thursday, Feb. 7. These were baseline tests to see my hormone levels and ovaries before stimulation. Starting on Friday, Feb. 8th I decreased the Lupron and started an injection of Follistim (medicine that stimulates egg maturation). So now my nightly shot became 2. I went in for several blood tests and scans (4 to be exact) from Feb. 8 – Feb. 19. Finally, on Feb. 19th the nurse called and said I was ready, unfortunately I didn’t get a night off from my shots. I stopped my Lupron and Follistem and instead received 2 injections of Ovidrel (medicine that triggers ovulation). i went in for another blood test today (Wednesday) to make sure my body was responding to the Ovidrel. In conclusion, I received 42 shots and gave blood 6 times.

I have to admit, I somewhat appreciate this process. It truly has helped me conquer my fears. I was always nervous about all the blood tests pregnant women have done throughout their nine months, but I  definitely will not be as nervous now. I endure those sticks with more ease than before. Let’s just say when I first got blood drawn in our fertility office a year ago a nurse walked by and could tell I wasn’t taking the 6 vials well and held my hand (shoot Dan had to do that last month at our appt), but now I don’t need anyone’s hand. I just look away, wince a little with the very minimal pain, and before you know it’s over. (PS…I have been fortunate to have the nurses always get my vein the first time, no digging, or misses)

Well I should wrap this post up. Every shot Dan administered was sub-cutaneous which meant I had three options of where to inject…stomach, thigh, or arm. I chose the stomach for every shot every night, hence I received a slight bruised belly. Dan and I joked that we could make patterns or our initials with my little dots left from the injections. But in reality it’s good to switch sides and spread the injections out. My belly looks like a pin cushion, but it’s all worth it for the possibility of receiving a wonderful miracle. Unfortunately, I am far from finished with my nightly shots. Starting tomorrow night (Thursday) Dan will need to administer progesterone (a pregnancy hormone) to trick my body into thinking I am pregnant. This is an intramuscular shot and there’s only one place it can go…my gluteus maximus, so don’t be surprised if a future post is titled, “Bruised Bums.”

Even if this IVF doesn’t work, I am truly grateful for the opportunity to conquer my fears, for a journey that has brought Dan and I closer, and a challenge that has caused me to rely on God more than ever before. I’m blessed in a unique way.

(Our retrieval is tomorrow and we will do a post on that sometime in the near future when it is in the rear view mirror and we have an experience to share.)