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Feb 7 / Caro

Attempting to Inject Some Interest

I’m aware that my accounts of our IVF experience thus far are not particularly exciting. Perhaps that reflects the fact that the process itself a bit devoid of excitement. None of the happy-go-lucky “I could be pregnant soon” attitude of the newly trying-to-conceive. Stress, anxiety and worry are more the order of the day.

What if we get no eggs? What if the sperm doesn’t survive the thaw? What if none of the eggs fertilise? What if they fail to make blastocyst and we have none to transfer? What if we transfer a beautiful blast and still get a negative result? What if we get a positive… But then miscarry? What if we can never retrieve any more sperm? What if..? What if…? The questions and the fears are as endless as the waiting is interminable. Days feel hours longer than normal at the moment. Not that I can get any more done in them, my mind continually wandering back to IVF, to arrangements for work and for childcare. 

Ah, yes. Because the fundamental problem with life is that the timing is ever any good, Ian has an incredibly stressful work project on right now that has necessitated late nights at work and difficulty scheduling the required time off for IVF. And Thomas has been ill. Ill enough to be sent home from nursery – cue a massive panic on my part since I just have no way to reschedule any more patients from my jam packed work diaries. (Grandparents to the rescue, fortunately.)

One bit of the process that I haven’t really written about is the bit that seems to obsess other people, particularly those waiting to start IVF themselves. I’m talking self injecting.

For fairly obvious reasons – namely over thirty years of type 1 diabetes – self injecting is not really a big deal to me. In fact the various problems and set backs in getting this cycle going means I actually missed out on the “injection teach” appointment as I was able to assure everyone that I was very proficient in that particular area.

That’s not to say it’s not been a bit odd sticking small syringes in to myself every evening. Since I switched to an insulin pump twelve years ago, I now only inject in the traditional sense when there is a problem with the pump. I stick infusion sets in my skin every two to three days, but the process is a little different. It has felt weirdly nostalgic to be drawing stuff up in to little orange capped syringes and sticking them in my belly. I have more fat there now that when I was last doing this regularly, that’s for sure!

I have bad habits to suppress, too. I can’t remember the last time I cleaned the top of a vial of insulin before sticking a needle in to it. I’m used to reusing syringes until they become blunt or the markings rub off, whichever happens sooner. And thanks to the NHS for providing my life sustaining insulin free of charge, I don’t worry too much about spilling the odd unit here and there. Not so with the Menopur I’ve been on for this cycle, which comes in at an eye popping £80 per dose. Yes, eighty pounds. Per dose. No wonder this IVF lark is so pricey!

To be honest, the cost if I happened to make any silly mistakes, plus the unknown about what side effects, including the effect on my blood sugars, might occurr, were the only things which really made me apprehensive about the first lot of injections. I’d planned to do them at 8pm, because I’m reliably at home at 8pm these days and Thomas is pretty reliably in bed by then. But when it came to it, I was too impatient to get going and so ended up doing them half an hour earlier.

Perhaps I should let a couple of pictures do some talking. Menopur Multidose is as simple as injecting some water in to a vial of powder, letting it mix and then drawing out the right dose. Suprecur is even simpler. No mixing required, just inject the same quantity of air in to the vial as you will be drawing out, then draw the medication out. Removing air bubbles is a couple of quick flicks to get them to scoot to the top where you can push them back in to the vial.

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And injecting is a matter of pinching an inch (no problem in this case!) and the sticking it in at ninety degrees in a single swift motion. Trust me, it hurts a lot less than doing it slowly.

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To me, it almost felt like a bit of an anti-climax. I’d spent weeks wondering if we were going to be able to proceed, and to proceed on time. Suddenly I was starting to inject. Really kicking the process off and actually doing something to help get me pregnant. It was all over in three minutes flat. Until the next day, of course. Although the best thing about injecting for IVF compared to injecting for diabetes? The former has a finite span. Diabetes will be sticking with me for the foreseeable future, but one day this IVF journey will definitely be over. 

I’m looking forward to that day. Positive result or negative, at least I might be able to think about something else – more interesting – for more than five minutes!

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