I hope you enjoy her post today!
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Hey! I'm J. After battling infertility (in the form of ornery PCOS ovaries) for three years, Dr Boy (my husband) and I decided to make the move to IVF.
Two full cycles and two frozen cycles later, we have learned quite a bit that even the best of the IVF bloggers fail to mention. Maybe it's because I have little shame (alright, who am I kidding... NO shame), but I feel it's my DUTY to tell it like it is! Because, you know, some things are just more easily dealt with when you know to expect them. Like poop.
Some of the not-so-glamorous side effects are obvious:
- Weight gain: A fairly "duh" observation. I gained between 3-5 pounds during stims each time. What is less "duh" is that the entirety of the weight will fall in between your crotch and your belly button, rendering unforgiving waistlines useless. Also account for another 2 or 3 pounds that you'll gain while stuffing your face with comfort foods and lazing around the couch during the recovery period, bedrest post-transfer, and two week wait. (I consider cupcakes embryo bribery and are highly encouraged.)
- Gorgeous abdominal bruising: Some folks try and create a connect-the-dots kind of pattern with their stim shots, though we preferred a more 80's paint splatter technique. Each medication will have a different bonus: Menopur burns, Lupron itches, Follistim aches, and Ganirelix lLeaves a big welt for an hour or two. Funsies!
- Lumpy butt: Coming to a rump near you compliments of PIO (progesterone in oil)! The dreaded PIO is one of my favorites. While it serves an incredibly important purpose (supporting your embryo before the placenta takes over), it is incredibly inconvenient. This intramuscular shot goes strait in the booty, and, if you're lucky enough, goes through week 10 of your pregnancy. That's 8 weeks of awsomeness with a 1.5" butt needle. It creates deep bruising in the muscle tissue, it forms giant bruisy knots, and best of all? Chances are you'll knock out a nerve or two in the process and have topical numb spots (this does not get you out of the pain from the bruise- that's nice and deep). Some folks will even develop lovely rashes, allergic reactions to the oil the progesterone is suspended in. I did the first time around, and we've since switched to a synthetic oil.
- Leaky Ladybits: Some docs work with progesterone suppositories instead of the shots. Just when you think you're getting off easily, stop and think! Twice a day, you get to shove a melty piece of gunk into ladyland- and lay down long enough for most of it to absorb. Which it doesn't, so you add liners/pads to your already fashionable fat clothing wardrobe. That gunkiness can increase your chances of developing a yeast infection, which is exacerbated by taking a round of antibiotics prior to retrieval. Funsies!
- Drier than the Sahara: The extra estrogen floating around in your bloodstream (both from stims and the estrogen support post-retrieval) made me constantly parched. I was drinking nearly 100oz of water per day to quench my thirst. My arms, hands, legs, and feet also had that ashy glow to them, and lotion was a constant requirement (hidden bonus? requesting foot massages with lotion from Dr Boy. win!)
- Heartburn: If you're lucky enough to have the estrace pills for estrogen support, expect your esophagus to experience the fiery gates of hell much sooner than a pregnancy could be blamed. Tum, tu-tum-tum...
- Poop! So imagine this. You just had your lady bits poked and forcefully prodded with a large needle. You're swollen, you're recovering from anesthesia, and you're eating a ton of protein to avoid OHSS (ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome). That first post-op poop? Not so much fun. I *highly* suggest taking a dose of colace immediately after your retrieval to get things moving in a way that requires the least effort on your part possible. You'll thank me. (I thanked me with round two.)
- Pee Cramping: So. Your oves are the size of softballs, and you're drinking a ton to stay hydrated and stave off OHSS so your bladder is of similar proportions. When you finally get sweet restroomal relief, your abdomen betrays you and cramps like you're passing a gallstone as the bladder shrinks back down. Don't worry, it's normal- it's just your innards repositioning themselves now that there's room again. Seriously though? OWWWW.
Don't get me wrong- IVF is an amazing technology, and I am so incredibly thankful that it is available to so many in our situation. I have our second egg retrieval to thank for the pregnancy I am lucky enough to be experiencing right now (I'm nearly 7 weeks along). This process has given us a precious gift.
I just feel it's fair warning that you'll prefer to don mumu's, avoid mirrors, and take up bathroom arts like an 80-year old :)