Today I was reading an blogpost from one of the bloggers I like to read. She is blogging about her fertility experiences. Today’s post reminded me of some experiences we have had. Take sometime to read Jen’s article HERE. Now I know you don’t think there is a male twist on experience needles, but I will do my best to tell some of our families experience.
Tiana and I have been so lucky to have gone through a number of unsuccessful IVF cycles, all going to IUI, except for one unsuccessful transfer. Over this time we have created a lovely relationship with the needles. The part I will dread when it is time for our next attempt.
On our first cycle we were called in to pick up drugs and do the orientation on drugs. We got the option of this little orientation each time. We showed up for our early afternoon appointment. Our clinic has moved since we started, now that we are looking at a new clinic of course. But at the time it was in an old musty building. It meant up a set of stairs, or when I was lazy the elevator and let’s be honest I am lazy. The stairs were a reddish brown tile and they were open tread. It lead to a bland coloured hallway with a few doors. Each door an office, the first door on the right was our clinic, the last door on the left was where my plastic couch was housed.
Through the door and into a waiting room. As you stepped in the door, you were faced with the admittance desk, usually a large black woman took our names, she wasn’t really one for inconspicuous. I was glad she hadn’t selected a career in espionage, she didn’t have an inside voice and didn’t seem to realize that some people might be sensitive there. She also didn’t have much of a sense of humour. On this day I was glad to skip our unhappy friend and head off to the right.
Over to the right and a ways back was a small square archway (I am a construction worker this is the term we use, I know it might not make sense to you. A doorway without a door, arch is easier). Through the arch and immediately to the right was a door, cut in half to open separately top and bottom. The bottom half had a small 6″ wide counter, serving as the pharmacist desk. Here inside this room, little bigger than a jail cell, ok maybe not even as a big, stood a couple of women. One came to us to get our name. The doctors pre-ordered our drugs, so everything would be ready. The pharmacist directed us to a room to wait for orientation.
We entered a room with a small round table and three chairs. A set of cabinets and some posters about the female reproductive system (like we need the education?). We sat near the window, nervously waiting our discussion about our drugs. Of course we had done Dr. Google research and were prepared for even worse than what would come.
After a few minutes a lady walked in and placed a lunch bag in the middle of the table. Busy day I guessed, got to eat lunch while you talk. The bag had our name on it, had to admit I was a bit peckish and then I realized it held our drugs. This made me even hungrier. The pharmacist spoke in a heavy eastern european accent, this would add to my confusion, or maybe it was just the anxiety of the whole thing. She pulled out the Clomid, the needles to go with it and the Gonal-F injection pens. We were in aggressive treatment and my wife was so lucky that we got to do extra needles, at higher doses, Yay! The doctor went through explaining how to fill the needle and how to select the dose levels for the injection pens. The extra bonus was Tiana didn’t fit a nice round number so every so many injections would be a double as we would have to end one pen but would need to start the next one to get a full dose. The stuff is expensive so you use it all, regardless of how many times you have to stick yourself. The doctor demoed needle use for us into a hand sized, blue, dense foam, block. I imagined that block was getting a lot of use. To this day I can’t remember doses or times or even in which order my poor wife had to stab herself. I just remember watching this eastern european woman stab the block and thinking my wife’s belly wouldn’t be as simple.
The first time we pulled the needles out we had a moment. My wife broke down and cried, it was going to take some talking up to get this done. My wife sat there crying, scared and emotional. I had to rub her back and hold her shuddering body as she cried up the courage to assault her midsection. Finally we got into it, we filled the first needle as we were directed and my wife pushed it under her skin and pushed it in, crying the whole time. After that we grabbed the Gonal-F pen and twisted the dosage selector to the proper dose. Now this thing looks like a device to fight of zombie hordes, not stick in oneself. My wife bravely plunged the shiny sword of the injection pen into her stomach, completed the dose and proceeded to have one great long cry.
This would become our routine. A little crying, a lot of sticking and then a bit more crying. I was helpless to make my wife feel better. It isn’t a lot of fun. When she had to take her midday dose at work she called me. We used the phone to complete our cry, plunge, cry routine. Every time we did it I felt guilty for getting the easy way out.
One day my guilt got the better of me however. Not realizing the emotional effect of these drugs and the general stress, I made a big mistake. We had just completed a round of doses in the car, leaving a friends house, we had pulled around the corner, parked and cry, plunge, cried. My wife’s beautiful eyes streaming tears, her badly bruised stomach a burnt image in my eyes. I felt awful and I wanted to make her feel better, so I opened my mouth. As an aside men, don’t ever say what I said, bad idea. I looked into her eyes, rubbed her back and said “I am so sorry, if I could do the needles for you I would.” The tears quickly dried from her face, her breathing levelled out and a small sparkle hit her eyes. If people had lightbulbs above their heads, my wife’s would be glowing. She looked at me and said “We will do just one, we have lots of extra needles, we will do it with a safe saline solution.” I looked at my wife horrified. This had been an empty promise just a few seconds ago, a empathetic phrase. How was I supposed to know one of the side effects of these drugs was sociopathic behaviour.
I wish I could say I sacked up and did it for her. She was adamant it would help, but I am afraid of needles and it was an empty promise. No I am the asshole who let his wife suffer without experiencing. In all fairness to me, had I ever let my wife stick me, it would have been very violent. I could see the light in her eyes.
In one of our following cycles we had another different experience. We were a little more used to the process at this point and just assumed we were altogether. At this point we had gone and picked Tiana up a small pencil back that housed all of her needles, it was prettier than carrying them without coverage. Less of a reminder in the purse. We now had cry, plunge, cry down to a science, the cries were the same length but the plunges were pretty quick. On top of that we had become regular Dr. House-esque in our ability to fill the needle. We always had the dosage we would need for anywhere we went, we knew how to parcel it out.
During this summer we took a trip about two hours south of our home. We were off to a family reunion. At our family reunion we met my cousin and her wife, they had just started their IUI for their first child (they were successful and now are on to number 2). We spent a nice night chatting and talking with a small group of my Mom’s extended family. At the end of the night we retired to our tent to get ready for bed. As I got the dogs wrapped up and put in their crates, Tiana started cry, plunge, cry. All of a sudden we realized something awful. It was a late evening and we wouldn’t have enough for the morning dose. We had left what we needed behind at home. So we packed up the dogs, and got in the car. We didn’t have time to pack up our tent, so off we went. We drove all the way home, collected the drugs and headed back to our tent. We arrived as the first rays of light started into the sky, the dark black of the night was giving way to dark blues. We got into bed, laughed and went to sleep for the couple of hours we had. Woke up for cry, plunge cry, which was a shorter cry because we needed more sleep. We spent a tank and a half of gas and many hours on the road for this. It was stressful at the time but also pretty darn funny. Infertility will put a lot of perspective on life, and this moment just wasn’t worth getting upset about.
Next spring we will fly to Washington D.C. It is time for a clinic change, our clinic has kept some info from us that would have been helpful. In D.C. they offer a shared risk program we have been accepted for. Of course we will have to pay our clinic for monitoring, cause they haven’t gotten enough out of us. We will collect the same drugs and go through the same process again. We won’t go camping without the proper doses, but I will return to a life of watching my wife cry. I signed up to make her happy and try and prevent the things that can hurt her. There is nothing I can do about this though, the pain is something I have to watch over and over. The bruising and discomfort from regular injections. I won’t offer to get stabbed again but I do wish I could make it easier. I can’t imagine how awful this experience is for her, cause it is terrible watching from the sidelines. My wife is brave, I can’t even get my blood work completed without pouting. If it was up to me to take needles, I don’t think we would make any progress.