PGD Part 2

The phone call at the end of March 2017 was so exciting. Fertility Associates asked if we would like to start our IVF cycle a month early – in April! Instantly it was a yes from me. I was at work at the time so after talking to the nurse about the details – calling them on my Day 1 of my next cycle so that they could then work out the dates of treatment, it was a quick call to Brendan to tell him the good news.

We have said so many times there’s never a “right” time to have children. There is ALWAYS something on – a holiday booked, a wedding, Christmas, calving, mating, so-and-so’s leaving party etc etc. You just have to fit the child around this, or even the pregnancy – just deal with whatever it is when it happens because there will ALWAYS be something that will make it more challenging.

Getting the call to say we could begin sooner meant what we had planned around this cycle starting in May would be changed. It meant there could very well be a possibility that egg collection could happen the week we were planning to move to our new share-milking job (so around the 1st June) which would really be quite an ordeal. While we had initially thought it would be more like late June/early July for the collection to happen, it wasn’t like we could turn around to FA and say oh, actually, sorry, it doesn’t suit us to start in April – can we just go back on the waiting list? No, no, no – we were not going back to the waiting game we had already got to know so well.

So once we had the start month set out (April) it was more waiting – for my period to arrive as that is “Day 1”. Then our treatment plan was as follows. Please note this was completely individualized to me, my husband and the fact that we were doing PGD not just straight forward IVF.

  • Take the contraceptive pill for 4 weeks and 3 days

  • 2 days after ending the pill begin Purgeon injections each evening

  • 6 days after ending the pill begin another hormone injection in the morning (without stopping evening injections) (Sorry I can’t remember the name of this – I wrote these posts a year ago and I didn’t put the name in!)

  • 9 days after ending the pill is the first blood test and scan to check out the little follicles and how they are responding to the hormones.

Now I thought I was fairly clued up on a woman’s anatomy and my own personal cycle.

Boy I had A LOT to learn!!! I’ve read books, blogs, magazine articles, talked to people and asked endless questions, and I am STILL blown away by what science is capable of and most importantly, what a woman’s body is capable of. We, as women, are designed to do our best to get pregnant every month! Our bodies begin preparing for a pregnancy as soon as we start our period (Day 1) and don’t stop until our period starts again – as that means the released egg wasn’t fertilized.

What our bodies do in that time to try to reproduce is fascinating, and the fact that couples can get naturally pregnant is actually a miracle. I read that there’s only about a 30% chance you can naturally get pregnant each cycle, even though our bodies are preparing for it. Sexy time basically has to happen at the right place at the right time for a fertilized egg to naturally embed into the womb and begin growing.

Gosh we are amazing creatures.

Back to our IVF cycle.

Taking the pill for about 4 weeks was a bit of a shock to my system. I had been off the pill since I tested positive for the BRCA1 gene mutation as it can increase your risk of developing breast cancer (but also decrease your ovarian cancer risk…… go figure! A risk I didn’t want to take). My husband and I were also engaged by then and we were planning our wedding for the following year. We talked about it and decided that we would probably start trying to have children not long after getting married and had heard that it can take a while for a woman’s body to get back into her natural cycle after taking the pill for an extended amount of time. Turns out it did take my body a while to get back into having regular periods naturally! I think about 6 months of my body freaking out a bit, so it really made me wonder what the pill does to our bodies. My skin was all over the place for AGES – adult acne was making a regular appearance in my life.

So that was about 3 years ago I stopped the pill, and my body didn’t take the little hormone tablets that well. The first couple of days was ok as you start it on Day 2 of your period. But then it was like my period just didn’t end. I think I bled for about 10 days, with a consistently dull ache/cramp in my abdomen. A couple of panadol would fix this right up but the bleeding was still there. I did some googling and read that “breakthrough bleeding” was fairly common for the first few days of taking the pill. So I put it down to this, and put up with the inconvenience. However, this cramping and bleeding stopped, only to start up again a week later! This time it made me feel pretty gross – nauseas, tired, grumpy and all round unpleasant. This went on for another week before stopping again and I felt like normal. Low and behold – a week later it started AGAIN! I then asked a support group I was a part of on Facebook if anyone else had experienced this and a couple said yes to cramping but not both at the same time. This prompted me to call the FA nurse and check this was all ok. They said they weren’t worried about it and that only if once I finish the pill and get a “period” but am still bleeding after about 5 days to let them know. I figure they’re the experts so I’ll leave it in their hands. I was ok to accept that for an answer and if I had felt strongly any other way I would have most definitely put my foot down.

I was pretty happy to see the end of the pill taking part of the cycle. However, I knew once the pill finished then it was on to the serious stuff – hormone injections.

Why oh why do we let ourselves get worked up about little things like needles?! I have had multiple blood tests and, sure, I get a little sweaty in the pits and have to try really hard not to look at the nurse holding the needles. I end up talking about anything that comes to mind and babble about whatever it is I’ve done that day. I even told one lady about the BRCA gene during one blood test!

But here I was - having to give myself an injection every day until they told me to stop! And then twice a day! Oh my lord!

Going in to pick up the drugs was totally fine, I just wanted to see how big this needle was going to be that was going to be stuck in to me for the next 10 days at least. The nurse was lovely and explained everything in details. She answered every question I had even before I had asked it! I could practice with the needles on a fake lump of skin like cushion, and it seemed easy peasy. We decided that Brendan would be doing the jabs. I think secretly he wanted to feel like this was his little contribution to the whole process as I was the one having to do all the hard yards. He has injected cows with supplements before so he said it was just like that only easier as my skin was softer…..

So the first night I needed the injection was our last night in a little treehosue we had hired in Raglan on New Zealand’s rugged west coast. This treehouse was awesome – it was built in a little forestry block with no powder, internet, drinking water or phone reception. There was gas for heating and hot water, there was running water for the toilet/dishes, and battery powered lights stuck to the ceiling. We had the best view of the water and it felt like we were in the middle of nowhere with just the tress and our own company.

We had all the stuff set up – injection pen, hormones and dosage ready to go. The lighting was really dim so we had to use a torch for a better view of my skin (my tummy to be more precise) and I lay on the couch with Brendan leaning over me. He had to use one hand to squeeze my tummy fat and the other held the pen to inject me, so he put the torch in his mouth. I was pretty nervous and trying not to show it, but when I saw the torch in his mouth I instantly saw him putting the needle in then the torch falling on me and knocking the needle and it really hurting.

Yeah I was pretty nervous.

So I was like “don’t hold it there” and pulled it out of his mouth. I thought he had seen me going to pull it out so he would let it go but he hadn’t and the metal being pulled out of his mouth hurt him. He was like “ow why did you do that?! It hurt my teeth!” Ooops I was nervous!

Anyway, the injection happened and I barely felt it and it was no where near as bad as I thought. Afterwards it stung for like 10 minutes and I had a red dot there for all the next day and night.

I think I’m going to look like a pin cushion after this!!!

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