IVF: Stims and Retrieval
I’d like to formally apologize to all the BB’s out there, as I haven’t posted much over the past few weeks. Stims and retrieval recovery took all of the energy I could muster (I also spent a lot of mental energy not stabbing the innocent and saintly Hot Nuts or annoying strangers with the ample needles I had lying around the house for the 12 days that I stimmed). I wanted to share some of the surprises, tips and tricks that I picked up during the cycle.
1. Get your mind right- I had spent the past year getting my body in peak shape for IVF, but looking back, I should have spent equal energy on being mentally strong for the inevitable mind fuck that IVF almost certainly is. I was extremely naïve to the fact that not all women stim for the regular 8-10 days before triggering. In true fashion, Barren Betty was a tortoise-like responder to the meds and had to buy a thousand extra dollars of meds and stim for an excruciating three extra days than expected. When I cried to Hot Nuts about having to stim longer he provided solace by stating, “it’s only a few extra little pricks” and boy did I share with him how I felt about little pricks (yikes).
2. The shots aren’t even close to the hardest part . . .- I was terrified and nervous about the shots. I studied countless videos and spoke with the nurse and pharmacy multiple times leading up to stim day 1. The shots were surprisingly easy and painless, though I did find that I had to ice the area on my stomach for 10 minutes prior to injecting. The shots were likely the easiest part of IVF. It’s the waiting and worrying about your follicles and eventual embryos that is the tough part.
3. Get yourself a pregnancy pillow- OMG, Hot Nuts bought me this and at first I was a little embarrassed to have a pregnancy pillow when I’m a barren mess, but it’s seriously the most amazing and heavenly product I’ve ever owned! I used it during stims when I was having some discomfort and would elevate my legs, and it was a literal godsend following retrieval as our RE requires us to stay upright for 24 hours. I am five days post-retrieval and Hot Nuts had to drag me upstairs to bed last night and I was heartbroken to be apart from my new pillow. Hot Nuts was jealous because I got up at 5am so I would have time to lay in it before work (double yikes).
4. Get a heated rice bag- like this one on amazon that I have- I know some clinics do not allow heat leading up to retrieval, but I found it to be mandatory after retrieval and I love that you can spray water on this heating pad for "moist heat therapy" that many recommend.
5. Stay upright!- Following retrieval, stay as upright as possible for at least 24 hours. You will thank me later - I gained about 5 lbs of fluid the day after retrieval and I wouldn’t have been able to lay on my back if I wanted to! It all went away pretty quickly.
6. CHUG electrolytes- I became obsessed with Nuun tablets leading up to retrieval and during recovery and believe that they made all the difference in my hydration. They have all of the electrolytes you need without the added sugar and calories in Gatorade. I HIGHLY recommend the strawberry lemonade, orange, grape and tri-berry. Also, start taking Miralax or Colace leading up to retrieval . . .
7. Stay HEALTHY- During stims, I tried to maintain the same healthy diet that I had going into the cycle. I found that on the days I was extra healthy and stayed hydrated, I felt better than on the days that I let the medicine and tiredness get to me and make poor eating decisions. Try to stay on track as best you can with high protein and veggie filled options!
8. Be mindful and patient- You will have ultrasounds pretty regularly throughout the cycle, I found that on the days that I didn’t have ultrasounds or bloodwork I would be anxious wondering if I was progressing appropriately. There is a lot we can’t control during IVF, much like everything else we endure, and it is important to try and stay mindful and patient throughout the process.
9. Find a support system- I found a TREMENDOUS amount of support via Twitter and Facebook, I honestly don’t know what I would do without my social medial buddies that are going through the same or similar process. I also found that Hot Nuts was amazing and supportive as always, he really helped to keep me on track the entire process. It gets stressful and hopeless at times, it really helps to have people you can count on to help you pull through.
10. Don’t be upset with your “numbers”- I am a giant hypocrite when I say this, because I cried in the recovery room when I was told we “only” had 11 eggs retrieved and I cried even more when we were told only 6 were healthy and 4 fertilized. I have thought this through extensively, and I am not sure I would be happy with ANY number and anything can happen regardless of the number retrieved. It is out of my hands and I can only hope that our precious embryos continue to grow. To make myself feel better, we go over to the parking lot outside the lab and yell up encouragement to our four embryos and hope they can continue to day 5 and biopsy/freeze.
BB’s: do you all have any ivf tips and tricks for stims and retrieval? Good luck to everyone in their process!