29 July 2010, by Tan Yi Lin
29 July 2010: today marks the first day of the IVF procedure – a process that is expected to take about 5 weeks, and which will very hopefully end with two healthy little embryos firmly planted inside me.
At the onset of my last period, I called the nurses at the KKH IVF Centre and was given instructions to arrive at KKH on this given date, anytime between 9am and 3pm. Upon arrival, we headed for the hospital pharmacy with prescription in hand for a month’s worth of Lucrin doses, disposal syringes, alcohol swabs and folic acid
At the pharmacy, waiting to be served by Madonna!
I collected my stash (I’ll post photos in my next post) and paid $104 for the supplies. Our IVF cycle will be fully paid for through a government grant and our Medisave account – but only after the treatment has started proper, thus the cost of this initial purchase had to be borne by us.
The initial stage of the IVF cycle involves a series of continuous self-administered injections with small amounts of Lucrin for about two weeks. As Lucrin is a hormone suppressant, the purpose of the jabs is to delay the onset of ovulation.
A nice nurse called my name and lead us into a consultation room. She started by giving us a lowdown of the procedure and then out of the blue, she cheerfully highlighted that we could now have sex again. (The 21 days between my last period and today had been designated a “Safe Sex Only” zone. Of course, total abstinence isn’t necessary if condoms are used.) Okaaaay. It could be that she thought Dannie looked sex-starved (although, ahem, he has no reason to be….) and decided to deliver onto him some good news. We were a bit dumbstruck (especially me, because in the face of a pile of syringes and needles, sex was the last thing on my mind then) but we managed to squeak out muted “yaaay”s in reply.
The nurse demonstrated how to fill a small portion of the syringe with Lucrin and swab the necessary areas with the alcohol wipes (more details in my next post.) Then, she turned to us, needle poised in hand and asked who would be the one to administer the jabs to my abdomen on a daily basis.
I readily volunteered myself for the job and promptly piped up, “Me, of course!” It had already been decided that I would (gladly) be the one to jab myself. After all, Dannie failed Art & Craft in school. And a process such as this involves some skill and precision with the hands… doesn’t it?
Plus, he hates the sight of blood. Which explains why we never watch hospital dramas like Grey’s Anatomy or Nip Tuck.
I rolled up the bottom of my tank top for the nurse to demonstrate how the injection is administered. She prodded my tummy and instructed me not to hold it in (in my vain attempt to look slim), but to instead relax and let it all hang out. Ugh.
I leaned forward to generate a band of abdominal fat just under my belly button. She carefully – but deftly – plunged the needle right into my tummy. It smarted slightly, but it was a thin needle, so the sensation was almost negligible.
- The nurse plunges in the first needle
She gently took my right hand, placed it at the top of the syringe and directed me to push it to administer the Lucrin. Even for someone who doesn’t harbour a fear of needles, simply holding on to a needle that is hanging halfway outside of your body can be quite disconcerting.
Counting to five… 1, 2, 3, 4, 5…
I obediently counted to five as instructed, withdrew the needle… and froze in surprise at the sight of a wet crimson bead of blood forming on my tummy.
Silly me. I should have expected that – like any other injection – that I was going to bleed a bit once the needle was removed from my body. But I kinda forgot then. The nurse quickly assured me that it was normal to bleed a little and instructed me to apply pressure with my thumb to halt the bleeding. And yes, it stopped.
The nurse scheduled my next appointment at the IVF Centre for 12 August, which would be when they would conduct a blood test and ultrasound scan before providing me with a second hormone, which would make my ovaries generate multiple follicles and therefore, multiple eggs. The second drug would also have to be self-administered through injections – bringing the toll to two injections per day – while I continued with the Lucrin jabs.
As she sent us to the door, she cheerfully piped up again, “You can now have sex!” She beamed at us. Gee. Is Dannie seriously giving out strong “I need sex NOW!” vibes or what?! “Just reminding you lah,” she added when she saw our stunned but bemused looks.
“Couples do call us up to ask when they can start having unprotected sex again. So I thought I would remind you just the same, so that you don’t abstain,” she continued, “After all, men have needs right?”
And with a peal of laughter, she waved us goodbye.