Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Our IVF Journey, Part III – PGD IVF (needles and drugs)

This is Part III of a four-part post. For the first few posts on our journey, read:

Our IVF Journey, Part I – The Two Zees, Infertility and IUIs
Our IVF Journey, Part II – Infertility, Disease and PGD IVF

Now, I’ll attempt to describe how my body was prepared for the IVF retrieval and transfer (needles and all). First, understand that an IVF cycle with PGD is very similar to a regular IVF cycle, with one major exception. The embryos are biopsied prior to embryo transfer. Even though women’s cycles and protocols may vary, here’s an account of our cycle to give you an idea of what can be expected.

Our RE started the entire process by putting me on the birth control pill. This is the first step to the doctor controlling my cycle. It is also protection because the drugs being injected will harm a fetus so they want no chance of pregnancy during an IVF cycle. About two weeks into the birth control pill, it was time to begin the injections. I was nervous at first because I had never done anything like this before. I don’t even like giving blood because needles scare me. My husband and I traded off doing the injections. The injections were subcutaneous, which meant tiny needles just under the skin. After a few days, my fears subsided. It was just another hurdle toward our beautiful goal. Anything for baby, I just kept telling myself.

The first injectable drug was Lupron. Lupron was used to fully suppress my cycle where everything and anything natural is stopped. About two weeks into the Lupron, I started the stimulation drug, Follistim. It does exactly what the name suggests, stimulate follicle growth. Normally, your pituitary gland naturally secretes the follicle stimulating hormone which tells your follicles to grow. However, since the Lupron had suppressed my entire natural cycle, I needed to inject the Follistim in order to grow my follicles “manually.” I also continued the Lupron injections so I wouldn’t accidentally ovulate before the egg retrieval.

At this time in the process I was going to the doctor every other day so he could see via ultrasound how the follicles were growing. I didn’t feel any side effects from the Lupron or Follistim. No hot flashes, nothing. At one point in the process, I even wondered if we were doing it right and if the drugs were getting into my system. Well, the ultrasound revealed something was happening because we saw all of the follicles on the ultrasound screen. It was then I knew the drugs were working.

On day 10 of the stimulation drugs I had an ultrasound and most of my follicles were between 18mm and 26mm, a good size for retrieval. I was warned that some eggs would be too mature and others would be immature to inject with sperm. The doctor told me to administer the trigger shot (HCG) at 9:00pm that night. It’s a timed shot, so it has to be exactly 35 hours prior to the retrieval. This is one shot that leaves no wiggle room for mistakes.

He prepared the syringe and I prepared the injection site by icing it for a few minutes. This shot was an intramuscular shot which had to go in my hip/bootie area. Not fun. My husband inserted the needle, and began injecting the HCG. I asked if he did the shot yet because I didn’t even feel it going in.

He was so excited that it went so well, he pulled it out rather quickly and a different angle. Ouch! I started bleeding and we both panicked. Did I get enough HCG? Why was I bleeding? What happened? I called a friend who recently went through PGD IVF and she and her husband walked us through our emotions and fears. She reminded me that my labwork the next day would reveal the HCG in my blood and that I had nothing to worry about. She was right.

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