Our Cycle is Needling Away at Me

I realize I kind of fell off the radar this week. It’s been a weird week, for a variety of reasons. It’s been ungodly hot and we only just put in the AC two nights ago. I’ve been battling migraines. And I’ve been coming to the realization that perhaps it’s time to rethink this whole “going into business for myself” thing, which is not an easy truth to admit to yourself.

I think what really set the whole thing off though was the needles.

IVF Nightmares

I had my follow up appointment with Dr. Warmenfriendly last Thursday. He removed the entire uterine septum and my uterus looks good. So good, he even showed me full color pictures of it from before and after the hysteroscopy. (Gross.)

I asked about whether or not scar tissue would pose an issue. I learned that since the septum doesn’t really have a blood supply (and thus why miscarriages occur when an embryo implants on a uterine septum), there’s no way for it to receive the scar forming healing things that a blood supply delivers. The more you know.

After we met with the good doctor, we headed to the smaller consultation room where I met with one of the donor coordinators. We discussed scheduling and timing, and it looks like we’ll be pushing it back to late September. My doc’s going on vacation during late August, we have a bunch of crazy travel which I wouldn’t be able to do if we cycled then, so it’s just better for everyone if we just move it all back.

I”m okay with this. What’s another month when you’ve been waiting three years?

And then, she brought out the fake butt cheek.

. . .

Have you ever seen a Real Doll? I’ve never seen one in person, but let’s just say – I live in the age of the internet and I’m bound to come across the imagery at some point. Well, that’s what this little fake patch of flesh looked like. A segment of butt cheek bordered in blue with the name of a local fertility pharmacy printed on it.

A big, Caucasian butt cheek.

The nurse put out small needle, wrapped in sterile plastic. She placed two bottles on the table. One was tiny and clear, full of clear liquid. The other was dark brown and I could see the label was saturated with oil stains.

She indicated that the clear bottle was Lupron. “You’ll be on this for about two weeks, to get you in sync with your donor.” She pulled the plunger back to 10mg, pushed out the air, inserted it into the bottle and drew back 10mg.

And jabbed it into the fake butt cheek like it ain’t no thang.

I could feel the color draining from my face.

I then watched, slightly horrified, as Larry did the same thing. Carefully drawing the liquid into the needle and stabbing it into the butt cheek with alarming force.

“This is progesterone in oil,” the nurse said, holding up the brown bottle. “These needles are much bigger, because they’re intramuscular, not subcutaneous like the Lupron. I don’t have any here to show you.”

I paused, the question I didn’t want to ask hanging in the air.

Finally: “…how much bigger?”

“About an inch and a half.” My palms got cold and sweaty.

“How long will I have to be on the progesterone?” I squeaked.

“Probably close to 14 weeks.”

My mouth went dry and tasted of copper.


There was more discussion about how to properly administer my medications. I remember the nurse saying at one point, “Don’t worry, you have time and we can do this demonstration again. You’re not going to remember all of this three months from now anyway.”

I swallowed hard. “Oh, you’d be surprised,” I said flatly. “I’m pretty sure I’ve just been scarred for life.”

. . .

After some excruciating blood work (it took three painful tries to draw blood, despite my best efforts at hydrating before hand), we walked out of our clinic and into the warm, hot sunshine.

I burst into tears.

. . .

“You have to remember why you’re going through all of this,” Larry told me, as I sobbed onto his shirt.

“I know, I know,” I mumbled. I pulled my face back, tear stained and puffy. “But I’m terrified of all these needles.”

The appetite I had before the appointment was gone, but it was time to eat lunch. We went to the diner next to our clinic and I fought the urge to vomit.

. . .

I’m not entirely sure it was just the needles. A huge contributing factor? Absolutely. But not the sole reason for the meltdown.

I think it’s the realization that this is finally happening, that we’re moving forward. For the last three years, I’ve been stuck in the mire of inactivity. Now the end is in sight. Knowing that yes, it’s time to man up and actually go through with treatment.

And I’m terrified.

. . .

Don’t get me wrong… I’m excited too. But I’m just not sure which emotion outweighs the other right now. It’s left me in this strange, silent holding pattern, which is while I fell off the radar this week.

I keep waffling between excitement and genuine fright, like this runner in limbo. On one hand, I’m ready to sprint to the finish line. On the other, when I see piles of needles like hurdles on the track, I just want to run out of the stadium, screaming.

This on the heels of trying to finally figure out, at 30, just what the hell I’m doing with my life, has left me quiet and contemplative. Like that thick, muggy air that’s been trudging slowly through New England this past week.

Just not sure if this is the beginning of the summer doldrums (entirely too early) or the calm before the storm.

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    • Kelley says

      I second the icing your bum recommendation. After so many days of being stuck, you will get very sore at the injection sites (alternate sides each time). Don’t worry about the needles. You’ll be an old pro by the end of the first couple of weeks. They aren’t as scary as they seem at first. It doesn’t hurt nearly as much as you imagine it will.

  1. Drew says

    If Larry gives you the PIO in your butt, you don’t necessarily ever have to see those needles…have him load up the syringes in the other room, you can get yourself situated (I was always lying on my belly in bed, ass cheeks fully exposed), then he comes in with the hormone-filled sesame or olive oil (yum!), you point to where you want to be stuck, he can wipe it down with alcohol and give you the injection. You’ll get lots of butt massages with PIO :)

  2. says

    I know exactly how you feel. I feel that way in our adoption proccess- scared to move, but excited something is finally happening. It’s an awful feeling. I hope it passes quickly for both of us, and that by the end of this year we’ll both be on the road to being resolved.

    Have hope. Just remember, this is the part you won’t remember in five years. This is the part that will be just a blip on the memory radar, because hopefully you’ll have so many more amazing memories to fill it’s place that it won’t even matter.

    At least thats the way we’re looking at our journey/waiting period!

  3. Jen says

    I agree, when you have so much (monetarily and emotionally) invested in this it can be super scary – I felt like I was on a tight rope the entire process just waiting to fall off at any moment. If you are a perfectionist be careful, when our first cycle didn’t work that was what I had the most difficulty with – I just kept thinking – “we did EVERYTHING right, to the letter, almost to the point of OCD, and it still didn’t work” and I had a really hard time getting past that (not trying to say this to upset or scare anyone, it was just my experience). In my reality I guess I was hoping I could control this process into being successful and that’s just not how it works.
    On another note, I found with the PIO that ice before the shot and a heating pad afterward helped my body to absorb the oil better, otherwise I had a lot leaking out. The heat will also help if the shot makes you sore.

  4. says

    I can so completely sympathize with you, Keiko. The needles –both the regular shots and the blood draws — freaked me out so much that I had only one go-round in me. My next step would have involved PIO and that’s when I knew I wasn’t up to the task.

    So you are braver than I am for even getting this far.

    You made me laugh about the “big, Caucasian butt cheek.”

    So! September it is!

  5. says

    Keiko, I am currently getting thr progesterone in oil shots right now (well not this minute but each night) and it really isn’t bad at all. My husband stretches the skin, tells me to take a deep breath, thenhe tells me to let it out (which helps you relax even more) and while I am letting it out he sticks me. It feels like a little poke. I was super scared when I first saw the needles – at first they gave us two needles one to suck up the oil from the vial and one to use to inject the oil. The injection needle is just as long but very very skinny and like I said it really doesn’t hurt. I take them standing up leaning against the counter with the knee bent of which ever side we are poking (this keeps the muscle relaxed). Some times a little oil or blood leaks out but its on my back so I can’t see it. My husband just presses a papertowel and rubs it a little. The muscle is sore the next day but not any worse than soreness from a workout. Again I want to assure you it just is a little poke it doesn’t hurt and I too was scared before hand. We also had the nurse draw circles around the area to give injections so that we didn’t have to stress about givingit in the wrong place. Every few days my husband has to redraw the circles that we call “butt circles”. If I can help in any other way or give you more assurance please don’t hesitate to contact me.

  6. says

    I watched a friend endure this process. It is not an easy road, a road only the strong can endure. I think you fall within that category. You can do this!!! Not to sound like a cheesy cliche, but keep your eye on the prize.

  7. says

    Oh Keiko, I’m so sorry. It’s all so freaking much, the waiting for so long, the preparation, the injections, the doctors appointments, the statistics, the hope, the uncertainty. It’s enough to make anyone’s head spin. I’m so sorry you have to walk this path and I truly hope that you find what you’re looking for at the end of this journey.

    I’ll be following along always.

  8. says

    It’s overwhelming and scary at first, but once you get started with injections you realize it’s not that bad. I remember getting the huge box of meds and needles for my first IVF cycle and I couldn’t believe how much there was. For the PIO I always iced first and afterwards rubbed a warm washcloth in a circular pattern over where you did the shot and it helped a lot.

  9. says

    I just wanted to stop by and say that what you’re doing is very brave. You are allowed your moments of doubt and worry. If your strength and courage up until this point shows anything, it’s that you will totally rock this!

    As for the PIO, the others have great recommendations! I will say that oil doesn’t love ice, so my RE always told me no icing with PIO otherwise you’ll end up a little lumpier than you need to be from it. If Larry does it for you you don’t even need to watch. Have him rub the injection site for a few minutes afterwards and then walk around a bit (don’t just hop right into bed). I’ll be honest, I threw a “no more PIO!” party when I was done with it, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be. You can do it!

  10. l says

    yes it is scary.
    Being self employed is scary.
    Going to college is scary.
    Raising children is scary.
    Heipng them leave the nest is scary.
    Life is scary.
    You will decide what you want to do ~ and do it ~ scary or not.
    And you have lots and lots of fans and supporters who will be holding their breath and good wishes for you all which ever path you follow. Thank you for sharing … because we are all scared.

  11. says

    I am a nurse. I give injections to people all the time. But when it was time to give them to myself, I was shaking like a leaf, scared, nervous, excited, for all that was involved. You have every right to be freaked out! Just know, there are lots and lots of women doing it every day, and after the first shot, it’s really not that bad.

    On a side note, see if Dr Warmenfriendly will let you do progesterone suppositories instead of injections. My RE said newer research shows absorption is the same, possibly better, with suppositories. Being a pincushion for 2-4 weeks instead of 10-14 is a big deal!

  12. suzanne says

    I lived your fear. I have spent the last 2 years on IVF cycles. For my entire life I have been afraid, deathly afraid of needles. Getting over that fear has been the hardest thing. It’s always better to have someone give them to you–much easier to handle. I was on 4 different shots at one point and had to give 2 of them to myself (had to take them during work hours). If I could do it you can. You can totally do this. Two years after I began, it became mostly routine. I just had to keep focusing on what it was all for. The end game has come through for me–I’m pregnant…and every shot was worth it. Good luck.

  13. says

    I am currently the poker, not the pokee–so I feel for Larry in this situation–and I will tell you I was terrified the first time I had to give my husband an injection with that long needle. After the first few, though, it got a lot easier. But I’m still nervous about when my turn rolls around. You’ll both get through it like champs, though, I’m sure!

  14. says

    I am switching to POI shots for my next FET for financial reasons (much cheaper than the suppositories). I’m also scared to death of that big ass needle, but I’m certain I can do it. I was also afraid of the little lupron shots, the blood draws, the egg retrieval, the belly tap when I hyper stimulated, etc. I made it through all of these things and have emerged a stronger, more brave woman for it. You will, too. There is a chance we might be transferring around the same time together. It would be nice to have a cycle buddy! I so very much hope these cycles bring us our take home baby. xoxo

  15. says

    Hey Keiko…It’s been a while since I’ve checked in here. Just wanted to say I am rooting for you and Larry. I hate needles as much as any gal but I think if you can handle several sticks for blood draws that you can do the rest easy enough too. The PIO shots are not as big or as bad as you imagine. It becomes very routine. We always did them in the morning so that I was using my legs and not getting lumpy (not sure if your doc cares on the time of day). Also I was not an ice user and I’ve heard positive and negatives on that approach. Try a few different methods and you’ll get in your groove. Hoping that September brings great things for you. Good luck with the “self business” stuff too…that is scary as well (I remember reading all that went into your plans). You are a bright woman and you will figure it all out :)

  16. 2manyfish2fry says

    The needles were by far the worst part of the whole experience for me: I’ve always hated them and and still do, over 500 injections and sticks later after acupuncture, blood tests, IVs, and the many shots. I counted because what else could I do. Was it worth it? Of course. But I feel for you. (((Hugs)))

  17. says

    The Lupron is painless, as long as you stay in a fatty area.  I’m on day 4 of my progesterone.  The first was so non-painful that I asked hubs if he put the needle all the way in.  2 and 3 made me cry.  Heat after helped that.  4 was a nothing again.  I think it’s all a crap shoot.  I cry thinking about continuing this way, but hold onto hope for a healthy baby to get through. 

  18. says

    Hugs. I remember feeling this way, too. After being on “pause” for so long, the idea of moving is pretty f*cking scary. Hang in there. We’re here for you.
    Now, for shots? Lupron really ain’t no thang. I was shocked at how easy it was, especially when you have loads of belly fat like I do. Honestly, if you take your time, you barely feel ANYTHING, even when you put the needle in. It’s really not an issue.
    The PIO. Will your clinic consider another way? I’m at another clinic, also in New England, and they gave me a choice between PIO and Crinone. Crinone is a suppository which is pretty disgusting but not NEARLY as bad as the needles. And research has proven that Crinone does nearly the same thing as PIO – gives you long lasting progesteron since it adheres to the vaginal walls. Some clinics allow you to do a different medication – and it’s okay if you need to advocate for yourself. 14 weeks is a LONG time to do daily IM injections.
    That said? It’ll totally be worth it if at the end you get to hold a gorgeous baby at the end, no matter WHAT the protocol ends up being.