5 Things I Wish I had Known Before Starting IVF
In case you missed it, I started IVF a few weeks ago. We've been in the process for several months, but there are a LOT of hoops you have to jump through before you get to the stimulation, egg retrieval, fertilization, incubation, optional genetic testing & then implantation, and hopefully pregnant stage.
Right now were waiting to see how many of our fertilized eggs mature before genetic testing and eventually implantation. I'm by no means an expert on fertility or a physician, this is my experience and what helped me. Please chat with your team about any questions you may have.
Here are 5 things I wish I had known before I started IVF:
How much time it all takes. The entire process from initial referral to starting stimulation can take months. Stimulation to implantation if doing a frozen transfer can take 4 +weeks, it feels like eternity.
The bloating and roller coaster of emotions. I had zero idea how bloated and uncomfortable the meds would make me. I didn't have a ton of bruising (some women do) but my goodness the bloat was out of control. I also felt like I was equal parts angry and 2 seconds away from crying for days.
You can't have sex. From the time they put you on birth control until confirmed pregnancy *or not* you're not allowed to have sex.
You're not allowed to exercise. After 6 days of stimulation you're not allowed to lift anything over 15lbs, do a lot of bending or twisting a the waist and do any type of exercise other than light walking. As a fitness instructor and personal traininer this sucked. But honestly after day 2 of stimulation I was so physically uncomfortable I didn't even want to. I did keep up with 10-20 minute walk most days and noticed I felt better on days I walked vs days I didnt.
Hot flashes & headaches. Yup, the hot flashes were crazy and would come out of no where, and the headaches were debilitating. I also had a bit of an issue with dizziness.
I would 100% go through this process again if our initial transfer doesn't take, but was not as prepared as I would have liked to be for this process at all. It's entirely my fault that I didn't do enough research, read enough blogs, or join enough Facebook groups where women talked about this type of stuff. Was it fun, no, will it be worth it, ABSOLUTELY. Everyone's journey is different, these are just things I experienced.
Here are a few things that helped me get through the stimulation days & recovery from egg retrieval.
Low heat and ice rolling after injections. Check with your doctor before doing either of these things, but a few minutes of heat, followed by ice rolling helped with the injection site irritation. The ice roller will come in handy for the headaches & hot flashes. I grabbed this one off amazon.
Knix period panties. Far more comfortable than wearing a traditional pad and environmentally friendly. They make workout wear and sleep wear as well. There are a few different brands but this is the only one I've tried.
Easy meals and takeout. Most nights I did not feel like cooking, like at all. Either plan ahead and make some easy freezer meals, or pick up quick options (we had a lot of trader joes freezer meals) and ordered take out quite a bit. Now is not the time to try and diet or be in a calorie deficit. Your body is going through a lot and you need to eat!
Limiting the number of things I tried to get done in a day. I'm lucky that I work from home and am in control of my schedule. I reduced client appointments, spent less time on social media and did the bare minimum most days. Reduce as much stress as you can, because trying to do a million things on top of what your body is going through will only make it harder on you.
Take a full day off after egg retrieval. I was lucky that I didn't have too much cramping after egg retrieval and felt pretty good the next day. I'm glad I took the day off however as I still felt like I needed the extra rest.
If you've experienced infertility, are currently going through the ivf process or have suffered loss, I'm keeping you in my thoughts. I'll share more of my journey as it progresses.