It’s Just a Needle

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When you think about IVF, you think about needles. Those dreaded injections. So many questions come to mind, right? Does it hurt? What exactly are the injections for? Do they make you gain weight? Do you turn into an emotional wreck? I have answers! But first, let’s talk about what IVF is. In Vitro Fertilization is a procedure where a physician will remove one or more eggs from a woman’s ovaries, that are then fertilized by a man’s sperm in a laboratory. There, the embryos will develop until an embryologist can determine the best one(s) to transfer back into the woman’s uterus - to hopefully grow into a healthy baby. The reason why a woman takes oral and injectable medication during IVF is in order to stimulate both of her ovaries to grow and produce multiple eggs. During a normal monthly reproductive cycle, a single egg grows inside one of the ovaries. With a stimulated IVF cycle, the goal is to retrieve multiple eggs - because of the demanding aspects of IVF - for example, the monetary cost, frequent monitoring appointments and the surgical egg retrieval. Also, having multiple eggs (that will develop into embryos) is crucial for couples who choose to have genetic testing of their embryos in order to look for chromosomal abnormalities or specific genetic defects that can likely cause a miscarriage. And ideally, if a couple has multiple embryos from one cycle, they’ll have the option of freezing the remaining embryos to transfer in the future, giving them the possibility of having additional children years later. So, with all that said, back to the injections. What are they? Fertility drugs used for IVF contain the same hormones your body naturally uses to stimulate eggs to develop in your ovaries. However, the drugs are administered at much higher levels than a woman would normally produce. For 17 days, I have given myself 3-5 shots a day, taking a small thin needle and injecting it into my lower belly. Does it hurt? Yes. A little. But less than getting blood drawn. So, for me, that’s bearable. Every time I’ve had to inject myself, I’ve repeated, “It’s just a needle. One shot closer to the baby.” I really believe in the power of positive affirmations and these simple words helped to keep me calm every time I had to give myself a shot. I did not gain any weight but I was definitely bloated and uncomfortable. And the daily monitoring appointments, which consist of bloodwork and a vaginal ultrasound sometimes felt invasive. I didn’t feel uncharacteristically crazy. But I have felt irritable and highly sensitive, unlike my usual self. But with every shot or unpredictable mood, I just continued to remind myself of why it’s all worth it. I will take a few weeks of temporary pain and stress in exchange for a lifetime of love with a second child! Looking ahead, we are praying for a successful egg retrieval and that God will bless us with healthy embryos. In the meantime, if you’re struggling with infertility and in need of a prayer while you try to conceive, I hope these beautiful words fill you with hope!