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Sunday, January 1, 2012

IVF survival guide

I may never have gone thru IVF myself, but having been an egg donor 3 years ago, I faintly remember (isn't it funny how your brain forgets discomfort/pain?) the process, the discomfort, the emotions etc. of everything up to and including the egg retrieval.

Here is my IVF survival guide... both to help others, and to remind myself!!

1. SUPPORT! I cannot stress this enough. Although I'm sure there are many that chose to keep this taboo, somewhat embarrassing (to some) process under wraps and are therefore super strong and independent, for the vast majority of the rest of us, you are going to need some help. For starters, you're going to be BLOATED (more so than you can imagine) and uncomfortable, which makes it difficult to do household tasks. Don't be afraid to ask for help - from your spouse, from your mom, from a neighbor, or hopefully from a friend. You're also going to be fatigued - your body is working MUCH harder than it is used to. Again, there's no shame in asking for help. And lastly, you are going to be emotional. While husbands are going to be around the most, (and as much as they try) they aren't always to most helpful when it comes to emotional support. Men (especially mine!) have a way of being very optimistic, very glass-half-full.. which is not always what you need! Sometimes you just need to vent, or cry.. a girlfriend or your mom may be better for this. Let your girlfriends know ahead of time that/when you're going through this, so that they can schedule some blocks of time to come over and just be there for you.

2. COMFORT! Remember that bloat I mentioned? It's not just your average "big meal" bloat. It's not even your average "that time of the month" bloat. It's like, 5 month pregnant bloat. Unless you already wear baggy loose-fitting jeans, you're going to need to make some adjustments. If you're lucky enough to either a). not be working, or b). working somewhere where sweatpants are allowed, you're all set. BUT, if you're like the majority of us and need to squeeze your bloated, crabby butt into some workplace-acceptable pants, here is the perfect solution - Bella Bands. They're available (and cheap!) at Target, and you'll want them for the first few months of your pregnancy anyways. They go over your (unbuttoned) pants and smooth out any lines so that no one knows you're sloppy and unbuttoned. Get some before starting your stim meds. You will thank me on this one. But, before going back to work you'll most likely be bed-resting it up at home for a few days. During this time you should be doing as little as possible. This is the time for sweatpants, hoodies, pajamas, robes and cozy blankets. Make sure to have many on hand for this time! When else can you get away with looking like a bum for 4 whole days?? And lastly, but certainly not least in the comfort category - FOOD. I recently read a blog from a woman who went through IVF and she suggested chicken soup with stars for the day of retrieval. You will be going under anesthesia, so if you're like me you will be starving and crappy feeling when you wake up. Now, I'm gluten free, so I will most likely be putting some plain chicken stock in a thermos, but basically just plan ahead and have something simple and light to put in your tummy after retrieval. As for pre and post retrieval - don't be afraid to ask for help! You are NOT going to be feeling like yourself - uncomfortable, crabby and tired (aw heck, that's how I feel all the time, who am I kidding?!) - and therefore, again, if you're like me - you're not going to want to cook. If you're too proud (or truly don't have anyone to help) to ask someone to cook for you, cook some meals in advance and freeze them. Or, bust out the crock pot! So easy, even a husband can do it! And of course, have some baked goods handy, and whatever you usually crave during the 2ww. You're going to have LOTS of hormones flowing through you and most certainly will want chocolate and/or salt. Plan ahead!

3. DISTRACTIONS! This section is mostly for the few days after retrieval/transfer when you're bored, sore and can't do much, but is also important during the entire 2ww. You're probably like me and have gone through over 18 TWW's, BUT - this one is probably going to feel the longest and the most stressful. You didn't just "have sex and hope it works". You injected dozens of shots, spent thousands of dollars, and cried hundreds of tears. And it all comes down to one thing - your beta. But that's still days away. So, we need to get ourselves there. Borrow books from friends. Rent movies from Family Video, Blockbuster or even the library. Make playlists of empowering, uplifting songs. Meditate. Nap. Blog. Take pictures. Work on crafts you've been putting aside. Whatever you can do to keep yourself busy, occupied and content.

Basically, plan as if you're having surgery (well, you are!) and/or the stomach flu. You may feel GREAT afterwards and have tons of energy and be cleaning and cooking, and you may not even think about testing. But, this is doubtful ;) So plan ahead and don't be afraid to ask for help!

Have a friend/wife that is going through IVF? Read below for the PERFECT "IVF care package"!

1. Bella Bands. (She will be bloated.)
2. Pajama pants. (See above.)
3. A hoodie. (She'll want to be comfy!)
4. A blanket. (See above.)
5. Baked goods! (This goes without saying.)
6. Movies. (Preferably uplifting or funny.)
7. Books. (See above.)
8. Kleenex. (For the tears and emotions!)


Toni Rapp said...

This was an informative post, thanks. Its nice to have some idea what will be going on.

I wish you the best on your upcoming ivf.

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