Fun with Needles

Yesterday my husband and I attended our "IVF Teaching Appointment." This appointment's purpose was to cover my drug protocol for the next month, to hear about the different stages of an IVF cycle, to learn how to perform intra-muscular injections, and for my husband to practice giving me an my posterior. I was a bit unprepared for that last part.

As we arrived for the appointment, we soon realized it wouldn't be a private session. Two other infertile myrtles and their husbands joined us in the room. I had a bunch of questions I wanted to ask, but I didn't feel comfortable sharing them with four strangers.

We were handed a personalized, color-coded calendar filled with the dates of my cycle, which days to inject which drug, what time to perform the injection, and how much of each drug to inject. It's a completely confusing process, but luckily the chart is pretty self-explanatory.

The nurse running the session explained that they recently switched to performing the egg retrieval procedure (where they remove the mature eggs from the ovary) under general anesthesia. I knew this already, but apparently this was news to the woman sitting across the table from me, because she immediately started to cry, and asked if it was mandatory. It is. Personally, I'd rather be knocked out. While I've endured medical procedures and surgeries throughout my whole life, I'm still a big baby with regard to pain, and with general anesthesia, you don't feel a thing. So bring on the heavy drugs, the IV, and the intubation, baby!

Three or four days following egg retrieval, they'll transfer two or three fertilized embryos to my uterus. The goal is for me to produce and for my doctor to retrieve as many eggs as possible (eight is good, but some women produce close to 30!) but as the nurse explained, it's not the quantity of the eggs, but the quality. So eight really good eggs that fertilize well and grow in their little tubes before some are transfered back to me and the rest are frozen for future use is better than, say, 20 eggs, where only two or three are of good quality.

I learned than once I start taking the fertility medication, I won't be able to run anymore. High-impact exercise, such as running, has the potential to cause an ovary to twist and cut off the blood supply to itself, which would, in essense, "ruin my eggs." And once I start with the fertility med injections, my ovaries are going to grow and I could experience abdominal pain as a result of producing so many eggs. A "normal" woman produces one mature egg a month. I have the potential to produce 30. Yikes!

At the conclusion of the group session, two more nurses came in and each couple went off to a private room with their nurse. The husbands needed to practice giving their wives the intra-muscular shots... in their arses. Essentially, for the purposes of understanding what intra-muscular means, all you need to know is that "intra-muscular" is synonomous with "enormously long needle." My husband will give me these nightly injections every night for two weeks following the embryo transfer. The drug he'll inject (progesterone) will support the lining of my uterus, and help the embryos to grow and develop.

You should know that I am the type of person who likes to be in control at all times. I would rather be the one to have to inject myself, as I was in previous fertility injection cycles and as I'll do with all injections up to the point of embryo transfer, and cause myself the pain, rather than have my husband do it, screw it up, injure me, and then get mad at him for it. But in this case, I have no choice. I can't exactly inject myself in the arse, now can I?

So I pulled down my skirt slightly, and the nurse told him where to insert the needle (in one, quick fluid motion, in case you're interested). Apparently, there are several "danger zones" in one's arse-spots where if you stick the needle, you have the potential to hit a blood vessel, vein, or artery, the syringe will immediately fill with blood, and the injectee will experience serious pain. So it's essential that one's husband "hits the mark" so-to-speak.

He counted to three, and then in went the needle, which was filled with saline. It hurt, of course, but not as much as I expected it to. I'm actually pretty proud of my husband for doing it. If our situations were reversed, I would be nervous about hurting him, unless of course he had done something to piss me off just previous to the injection.

Then, we learned that following my first ultrasound in two weeks, a nurse would draw a bullseye on my arse, so my husband would know where to aim the needle each night! Ahh... more humiliation in an already embarrassing process. Is this how Hester Pryne felt? Instead of a scarlet "A" around my neck, I'll have an inked-on bullseye on my arse. Awesome.

Following the practice injection, we were done. We gathered our stuff and walked out. I'm excited. I'm worried I won't produce enough good quality eggs, even though I've always done so in previous fertility med cycles. I'm trying to figure out what, if anything, to tell my family about what we're embarking on. But most of all, I'm ready.

9 Responses to “Fun with Needles”

  1. # Blogger Amy

    I have that very same control problem and can imagine the vulnerability i would feel...on the other hand, you and your husband must have forged/be forging such a strong emotional bond through all this. It will be a lucky child that comes to a couple with so much love to give.  

  2. # Blogger Alisha

    I have a confession: I LOVE giving injections! It is my favorite part of my job. Well, not my favorite, but close! How sick is that...LOL!

    When I was reading, I was just thinking they should mark your behind in the "right spot", but I'm thinking a bullseye's a little extreme!

    I've also been thinking about the not-telling-the-family thing, and what Amy wrote made me really think about it. I would probably want to go through that with Mitch and Mitch, alone, ya know? Anyway, as always, many positive thoughts are coming your way!  

  3. # Blogger Guppyman

    I would so pass out if i had to do that.... i am a wuss when it comes to needles- i can't even see them getting near skin....  

  4. # Blogger Kristi

    Amy-Aww... thanks for saying that. My husband and I have definitely become closer during this whole experience. I am fiercely independant, but my mental state would vastly deteriorate if I didn't have his support though this process.

    Alisha-LOL. That's really funny. I wish I did! And yeah, going through this with my husband, and with the support of my "real-life" friends and my blog friends has been fine up to this point, which makes me think there isn't a reason to tell my family.

    Guppyman-hee-hee. Yeah, I'm not a fan of needles either, but in this case, you gotta do what you gotta do, right?  

  5. # Blogger Marie

    You know, maybe you could look into getting a bulls-eye tattoo in just the right spot? With a little pair of puckered lips in the middle.



    Interesting that this was group instruction... any chance that this group will remain in contact / form a support group of sorts?

    Praying for lots of high quality eggs for you, Kristi! ;-)

    Big Hug!  

  6. # Blogger Geekwif

    Wow! What a process. I wish you the best of luck, good needle aim, and little to no pain in the tushy. :)  

  7. # Blogger Kross-Eyed Kitty

    You certainly are well-prepared for this next chapter in the infertility adventure series! I admire you for your perserverence, and your optimism. And, your hubby's too. You guys sound like a great team.
    As a nurse, giving needles is one of LEAST favourite things to do...sometimes I have to force myself to keep my eyes from shutting tight! Nevermind having to give myself a would never happen! I'm such a baby.
    Good luck Kristi, with many, many postive thoughts heading your way from me.  

  8. # Blogger Kristi

    Marie-LOL. That's a great idea. A permanent reminder of all this fun. :) We're going to be on relatively the same schedule as the two other couples, I think, so I'm sure I'll see them around the office for my appointments and such. It would be nice to have a support group of fellow infertile myrtles to talk to. I should look into that. But I also have all of you to lean on too!

    Geekwif-Thanks! I can only imagine what my tush is going to feel like after weeks of nightly shots. Then again, if IVF works, it will be worth every little stick.

    Ramona-Interesting! Alisha loves giving shots and you hate it. If I had your job, I would be so afraid I would unintentionally hurt someone by sticking them in the wrong spot!  

  9. # Blogger Christine

    Good luck Kristi!

    (my confession, I have an ungodly dislike of needles. it's not the pain thing, but their appearance makes me nauseous. AND I have veins that run from them. Doctors must take blood from my hands. so I would make the worst heroine addict ever) but I digress...

    Happy Baby Making! Maybe you should play the Al Green during injections just for good measure ;)  

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