August 3, 2016
Rick and I took our IVF class together last week to learn about the good, bad and the ugly related to IVF. We were going to learn how to administer the injections full of medication, as well as review the process at a high level. We arrived to the Littleton office at 8:15 that morning, 45 minutes early…the anticipation was like we were going to be starting our first day at a new job. Little did we know, this was going to be the most difficult job either of us had ever accepted. Nerves, jitters, excitement, fear, were just a few of the emotions we were experiencing that morning. We approached the front desk and gave them our $1,000 client care check. This was a fee that was not part of the IVF base cost, and one of many fees that we did not expect.
The nurses told us it was assigned seating as they escorted us to the training room in the back of the clinic. I silently wished that we would be seated up front, so I wouldn’t be distracted by the other class attendees. My wish was answered, as Rick and I found our name tags at the very front of the classroom on a wood desk to the left. People began to funnel into the classroom, and before I knew it there were about 20 people seated and waiting for the staff to come fill us in on what life is about to look like over the next few months. Curiosity took over while we were sitting in our chairs, and I began scanning the room. I found other women doing the same of their peers. One woman at the table next to us came equipped with a three-ring binder that was three inches thick. She was extremely organized, with tabs and dividers, handouts, a research section, as well as forms and loose paper. A gentleman next to us came by himself, he had a very old purple notebook that was full except for a couple of blank pages in the back. The couple behind us were giggling and talking the entire time, it was as if they were completely disconnected from the emotional aspect of the situation at hand…perhaps a survival tactic. It was one of those situations where you wonder what each persons story is, and how infertility has affected them. I began to think of questions like, “what have you had to go through? How has infertility affected you? How severe has your pain been?” I felt a sense of sorrow come over me, that a room filled with this many people, relatively the same age as Rick and I, and we were all struggling to start a family. How was this possible, and why was it happening?
Our teachers arrived moments later. They introduced themselves and explained that they would each be covering a portion of the IVF class. The first presenter was an adorable southern woman with short blonde hair. She was an embryologist at the Littleton office, and she wore blue scrubs and blue shoe covers, which had to be worn in the lab every day. She presented a series of PowerPoint slides to assist the group in visually understanding the intricate and microscopic process of egg retrieval, as well as genetic testing, what cryopreservation is, and how it is done, as well as an overview of the embryo transfer process.
We moved on to the second portion of the IVF class. One of the IVF nurses began explaining the contact info as well as hours of operation of all locations that were available to us. She also covered risks that are associated with IVF, and told us that we would find some more detailed handouts on the risks in the packet we would receive. Two risks stuck out for me,
- The possibility of OHSS (ovarian hyperstimulation syndrom) occurring in my body. This was a side affect from the fertility medications, which resulted in bloating, pain in the ovaries and abdomen, sudden weight gain, nausea and vomiting. Our IVF nurse explained that people who have PCOS are more prone to this condition. I felt the color drop from my face in an instant. I began to worry that I may be up against more than I bargained for.
- “You could be cancelled”…these words sprang from the IVF nurses mouth while I was trying to process the OHSS risks. It was as though bombs kept dropping in the room. The nurse explained, that if your body does not respond to the medication, “you could be cancelled.” BOOM (a bomb dropped). “You will not know if you have healthy eggs until the retrieval day, and if you don’t, you could be cancelled”. BOOM (another bomb dropped). “If you have healthy eggs, we will then introduce the egg with the sperm, but there is no guarantee that your embryo’s will mature, and you could be cancelled.” (BOOM, BOOM, BOOM) I felt like I was under attack. I felt nauseous…
Rick must have known that I was overwhelmed and feeling sick to my stomach. He reached for my hand and squeezed. He held my hand for the remainder of our time in the class.
We had made it to the question and answer portion of the class. One woman raised her hand and began asking questions about the genetic testing available. She explained that she and her husband had some genetic disorders in their families and wanted to avoid conceiving a baby naturally at all costs. They would only consider having a child if they could perform genetic testing on the embryo to ensure they did not pass down the genetic disorders. Another woman raised her hand and had a question about assistance with OHSS. This woman began to open up and tell the class that she had been through IVF once already, without success, and unfortunately experienced OHSS. She chuckled softly and said that she was prepared this time if she had to endure OHSS again. She had to sleep sitting up, eat foods high in sodium, and drink Gatorade like it was her job…I made many mental notes about these tips. Another woman asked if she could have her blood draws done at a location closer to her house. She had apparently had to come from Colorado Springs.
In the last portion of the class, the IVF nurses trained us on how to administer the medication. We each received a kit with a needle and vile of medicine, that was filled with water for training purposes, and a round squishy pad. The nurses demonstrated how to pull the medication into the injection needle, then they explained that we would have to exchange the needle with a much smaller one. The first size was necessary to pull the medicine into the injection tube that was connected to the needle, however, the smaller size needle made it more bearable and less painful, once injected into the skin. I allowed Rick to take the lead on this, since we had a deal, “I take the drugs, you administer the drugs”. We then were allowed to practice injecting the needle into the squishy pad that resembled skin. The gentleman sitting at our table with us was practicing his injection moves, and I just remember feeling concern for his wife. He was sure to get slapped if he didn’t learn to incorporate a little tenderness into his move!
We left the class feeling overwhelmed, terrified and ready to begin this journey. We had hand fulls of packets to take home and read through. Many pages that needed to be signed by each of us, as well as a notary public. There were many challenges and decisions to be made.