IVF is a brutal process, both physically and emotionally.
It begins with the baseline bloodwork and the visits for bloodwork ramp up in frequency from there. Getting your blood drawn every day is not nice. I had my blood drawn 6 times in a span of 7 days. Ouch. Overall, throughout the cycle I had blood drawn 8 times in 3 weeks, not counting my IV and IVIG infusion.
Shots are never fun. I administer them to myself since my husband, like many men, is squeamish around needles. Squeamish is putting it mildly. He passes out at the site of a needle, gets light headed talking about shots and literally shutters when seeing my shot sites on my arms and stomach.
Internal ultrasounds. Yup, I am going there. In an IVF cycle you are getting more action from the ultrasound probe than your husband. Seriously. My husband knew to stay the hell away from me during IVF. I've been poked and prodded enough thank you very much (and the worst is to come... egg retrieval)
I am covered with bruises, both visible and perceived. Both of my arms are covered in bruises. My stomach is bruised from injections. My lady bits feel bruised from all of the internal ultrasounds. No lies.
Enlarged, throbbing ovaries. I never thought I would feel like my ovaries would attack my other organs until I went through IVF. There were times when I could feel my ovaries responding to the stims and envisioned them gobbling up my appendix or something. They felt like they were moving throughout my abdominal cavity and were threatening to bust out of my abdomen altogether. (I am exagerrating here. My ovaries are quite well behaved compared to other women undergoing IVF be geesh I could still feel them plumping up)
Egg retrieval is surgery and do not forget it. I was sore and I was uncomfortable. It is surgery people. (Confession: I have a HIGH pain tolerance and wasn't too impacted by this surgery when compared to other people. I had to force myself to take it easy. Still, though, it is not pleasant)
Time. By this point a tremendous amount of time has been devoted to IVF. Early mornings at the Doctors office followed by a full day of work and awaiting nightly shots is physically exhausting. Shaving your legs daily, in preparation for your ultrasounds, is utterly draining, honestly. I don't want to shave my legs for two weeks after everything is said and done. Then there is all the time off you need for surgery and transfer.
IVF is a rollercoaster of emotions. One day you are extremely optimistic, the next day you are in the depths of despair.
You question everything and every decision. Should I...? Would it be better if...? I should have...
Every appointment has the potential to end in disaster. Ever phone call could spell out misfortune.
Hormones can play havoc, plain and simple.
Follicle concern. How many follicles do I have? Are they similarly sized? Are they growing as expected?
Uterine Lining. Is it thick enough? Is it too think? Will this be an issue?
Surgery can be scary, especially for your first egg retrieval procedure. How will my recovery be? Will I be able to handle the pain? Will I be able to go back to work? At the top of you mind however is the ever present question of: how many eggs? How many are there? I wonder how many eggs we are working with. I wonder how many will be mature. I wonder how many will fertilize. I wonder if this will work. Will this work? Why am I doing this to myself? This had better work.
How are my embryos doing? Will I have a 3 day transfer or a 5 day transfer? Will there be anything left to freeze? What are our odds?
Egg transfer. You arrive. They prep you. You drink plenty of water. All the while you are constantly wondering: what are we working with? Are the embryos on-track based on their day of development? How many cells do they have? What sort of fragmentation do they have? Are they symmetrical? What are the odds given how they look? Where is the Doctor for pete's sake. Just tell me already. Sheesh.
The two-week wait is brutal... brutal. FOR ME, THIS IS THE WORST PART OF ANY TREATMENT CYCLE. I hate this part. You have hope, doubt and fear all at the same time and all in the same day. Some days are better than others and some days are tolerable. Just get through it. You will get through it. That's what I tell myself.
To sum it up: IVF is a complete mind fuck. It takes otherwise rational human beings and turns them into a neurotic mess.
IVF is a brutal process, both physically and emotionally. AND I WOULD DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN IF GIVEN THE CHANCE TO HAVE A BABY. Without a doubt. No hesitation. I am five days out from my egg retrieval and I am certain that I would do this again. In a heartbeat. Mind fuck or not. Yes.