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Nicole the Fertile Chick: It’s All About the Needles

Nicole The Fertile Chick

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In the past, whenever I thought about IVF, I thought about the needles…and by needles, I mean injections! And not just any type of injections, the self-administered kind. The very thought used to give me goose bumps.
You see, I had always had a morbid fear of injections. From as early as I can remember, getting prescribed an injection was akin to a death sentence for me. I would break into a sweat, squeeze my eyes shut, and clench my buttocks so tight that the Doctor or Nurse administering the shot would almost always have to reprimand me. And because of the build up, they were always painful. Very painful.

As I got older, so also did my phobia for injections. Getting my blood drawn was even worse! It would be a whole song and dance settling down to get it done, and, maybe because of my intense fear, my veins were always sure to play the disappearing game, leaving me with an arm (or arms) riddled with needle holes. No, needles and I have never been best of friends.
And yet there I was, staring at this Nurse handing me a consignment of needles, syringes, and miniature medicine bottles, asking me to go home to inject myself! As in, inject myself sha! And on my stomach, of all places!!! I cast my mind to how, as a child, the worst thing about the possibility of getting rabies were the stomach shots I was told were the cure. Back then, I couldn’t even comprehend getting shots on the stomach, but here I was now…facing the very same fate. My request to have the shots administered for me was refused, as the clinic hours could not accommodate the recommended time for my shots. I just couldn’t believe this was me.

Before I continue, let me educate those who don’t know about the relationship between needles and IVF. With an IVF cycle, there are 2 protocols; the long and the short. The long protocol involves first of all suppressing the ovaries (down regulation), before they are then stimulated to produce follicles. The short protocol skips the ovary suppression, and goes straight on to the stimulation. At the start of the long protocol, the ovaries are suppressed through a down regulation drug, administered either as a daily injection, or as a nasal spray (as far as I know, the nasal spray option isn’t available here in Nigeria). Once the ovaries are suppressed, they are stimulated using a fertility hormone called FSH (follicle stimulating hormone), also known as gonadotrophins. This is via another daily injection, administered for about 10-12 days. So basically, you cannot avoid injections in an IVF cycle.

After the Nurse handed me my stash, she gave me a mini tutorial on how to administer these injections. I was a shaky, terrified, tearful mess as she showed me how to grab the flesh on my stomach, and insert the needle just under the flesh, without necessarily having to stab myself. To my shock and amazement, it was actually painless. I wiped my tears and went home hopeful. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad.

That night, I struggled to remember the Nurse’s technique, and eventually was able to insert the needle in just as painless a way as I was shown. I couldn’t believe I had been fretting and panicking for nothing! On night 2, I was already feeling like a pro, and proceeded to administer my shot with so much confidence. Unfortunately, the technique I was taught flew right out of my head, and I jabbed in the needle so deep, I drew blood (well, little spots of blood, but painful regardless). The next night, it was the same. At this point, I went on YouTube for a proper tutorial. There, I saw exactly how I needed to grab the flesh on my stomach, and how exactly to inject right beneath the surface of the skin. I saw that this was not something I could do in a hurry, but to meticulously take my time to do. I realized that it was less painful to push out the medicine very slowly, as against fast. A number of my online friends recommended icing the injection area like a half hour beforehand, as it was supposed to numb the area, making it possible not to feel the pain. I tried this a few times, but soon ditched it, as I realized my YouTube tutorial had been all I needed to get by. After a while, I was coasting and administering the shots without batting an eye. That was before I had to add the stimulation shots, meaning I was injecting two times a night. It wasn’t that the injections were any more painful in themselves, it was that the frequency had made my stomach extremely tender, so the shots were more difficult. By the time I had my last shot, my stomach looked like a pin cushion, with little black dots spread across it.

Some of my friends were lucky enough to have their husbands help with the shots. I’m sure that would have reduced a lot of the stress and trauma. In my case, that was something that was never going to happen! As macho as my husband likes to present himself, he has an even deeper phobia of needles than I do. This was something I only found out about a few years into our marriage, when he had to get his blood drawn. My mouth was open as I saw my macho husband shaking like a jellyfish, offering and withdrawing his arm, and sweating profusely. Ehn? My husband?! I laughed at him all the way home. So by the time we were on the IVF train, when I brought out my bag of needles and syringes, my husband would blow me a kiss, wish me well, and promptly exit the room. O.Y.O much! I just had to forgive him, because he was great with every other thing.

For my next cycle, in another hospital, when my doctor offered to have their nurses help with the stimulating injections, I immediately jumped at it. Yes, I still had to administer the down regulation shots on my own (my administration time was 10pm); but by the time I started the stimulating shots, I gladly drove to the clinic, every morning, on my way to work, and on the weekends too. To me, this was far less stressful than administering 2 injections every night.

Some women have to go even further, with progesterone injections. Progesterone is needed to make the womb more hospitable, and also to support the (hopefully) resulting pregnancy. It is an oil-based injection, so the pain is real!!! I had it administered early in my TTC days, and it was incredibly painful. I couldn’t imagine having to add this to my cocktail of injections. I was lucky that my progesterone was prescribed in the form of a suppository, which I gladly inserted instead.

However, it is not this difficult for everyone. For the many (weird) people who actually love injections, this is usually a walk in the park, nothing special. For these people, I give 2 thumbs up. The truth is that the injections are really not half as bad as they are made out to be; and hopefully, just as with me and my 2nd cycle, when you get to see the baby/babies that result from the experience, you would gladly do it all over again!
Baby dust to my IVF people! Good luck to you all!

Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Monkey Business Images

Nicole is a woman in her late 30s, with a passion for all things fertility related. She suffered infertility for the first 3 years of her marriage, and found it extremely isolating. After she had her kids, she started The Fertile Chick (www.thefertilechickonline.com) to create a community and happy-place for all women, in various stages of the fertility journey.

28 Comments

  1. ipheoma

    June 15, 2015 at 9:54 am

    i can totally relate to this experience, even though in my case, i was donating; but i think its pretty much the same procedure with the needles. I however got used to it and had a swell ride towards the end. I guess we just have to focus on the result we want to achieve, rather than the process….cheers!!

    • keeks

      June 15, 2015 at 10:27 am

      ipheoma
      may i just say good on you for donating. more power to you. 🙂

    • nicolefertilechick

      June 16, 2015 at 12:45 pm

      GOD BLESS YOU, ipheoma. That was so so selfless!! God bless you for helping so many women!

  2. vien

    June 15, 2015 at 10:29 am

    may the Good Lord hear and answer all our Good heart desires..AMEN

  3. geeeeeee

    June 15, 2015 at 11:40 am

    God please answer each and everyone of you going through this,.. AMEN.

  4. Dami

    June 15, 2015 at 12:06 pm

    Can you please shed more light on IUI?Thank you.

  5. bimpe

    June 15, 2015 at 12:52 pm

    Dear friends, going through a trying time trying to conceive, may the Lord be with you through your moments of trial..
    NAPROTECH Natural Procreative Technology is a much better way which respects the woman’s body,cycles,works with your natural body system and is also less expensive.
    IVF has a lot of terrible side effects in addition to it bringing about the death of many embryos to say the least.
    I have some friends that started out but stopped and a friend’s colleague died in the process. Maybe you should also relax,pray and let God.
    I have a friend that tried having children for so many years and then even though she was praying, she had giving up having children of her own and considered adoption. Guess what? Just when she and her husband were about to start the adoption process, she got pregnant! After 22 years of marriage! She married at 25 and had her 1st child at 47 when some women have even entered their menopausal stage! What is more, she has 2 more children. She tells her story to everyone and she is so grateful to God for surprising her when she least expected.
    It is well!. #WomenAreTheStongerSex #LetgoandletGod #DestressandRelax

    • Olu

      June 15, 2015 at 1:45 pm

      Easy for you to say……….

    • fabulicious

      June 15, 2015 at 2:11 pm

      Bimpe, Please i will advice you to read the entire Nicole the fertile chick articles especially the one about things not to say to someone TTC. This article is not to tell women which method is good or bad but rather a forum for people TTC and supporters of people TTC. All the people involved are grown ups that can make decisions on what they want and i can assure you that most of them are prayerful and believe in God. If someone wants to do IVF and it works, why then should they wait for 22yrs.I am a mother of 3 and know what i am talking about. Your comment made me cringe.

    • Chige

      June 15, 2015 at 3:39 pm

      @fabulicious…….honestly this is the kind of things Nigerians say that drives me crazy. Wait and pray. Even thieves going to rob pray before they embark on their journey talk more of someone TTC even if she’s planning on doing so with IVF. It’s this wait and pray attitude that have robbed some women of the opportunity to be mothers,cos they waited and prayed till they were past the stage where they could get help. I strongly believe God would not have revealed the knowledge of assisted reproduction to us if he didn’t want us to use it.
      Nicole,thanks for the article before I continue ranting and forget to give you thumbs up for your article. I also have a morbid fear of needles and thank God each day I am as healthy as a horse and hardly ever have to go to the doctor.

    • doll

      June 15, 2015 at 3:07 pm

      go and sit down pls

    • nene

      June 16, 2015 at 12:35 am

      Bimpe, abeg try and show some empathy. First and foremost, there are a lot of children out there that are fervently praying to be adopted and raised by a loving family, it is not nice to present adoption as a bullet that your friend dodged. The same God that blessed her is the same God that created children seeking adoption. Secondly, you can present NaProTech as another option (it also involves injections), but no you cant say that it is a better option than IVF. When you want a baby, you do everything you can. Third, you can pray and do fertility treatment at the same time. Waiting on God could involve taking breaks, but it doesnt necessarily mean do nothing. Please lets practice more empathy, the baby seeking journey is heartbreaking enough without comments that while well meaning, cut deep.

    • nicolefertilechick

      June 16, 2015 at 12:48 pm

      Bimpe, I understand where you are coming from. However, a standard IVF procedure, if well carried out, should not have any detrimental effect on anyone’s health. I also don’t think its right for us to continually separate IVF from prayer. Just because a couple opts for it, doesn’t mean you are giving up on God. Just because you are praying doesn’t mean you should twiddle your thumbs for 20+ years. God answers prayers in different ways, and a couple having a baby through IVF is one of these ways.

    • Anita

      July 6, 2015 at 9:45 am

      This is so true @ separating IVF from prayer. People forget that God uses doctors too.

    • Nkechi

      December 29, 2015 at 8:15 am

      Please do. You personally know Any NAPROTECH clinic in Lagos here.

  6. tessy

    June 15, 2015 at 2:08 pm

    Thanks Nicole for the write up,couldn’t explain my fear when the nurse told me I will be injecting myself, thank God am done with and had my eggs extracted yesterday. That was another thing all together. The IVF journey is not an easy one at all.

  7. TOLA

    June 15, 2015 at 2:41 pm

    Bimpe Bimpe Bimpe,how many times did i call you,abeg o am in a foul mood already,wanting to have a baby you can call your own is very addictive,once i jump on the ivf band wagon i don’t think ,i just keep spending,i have had three failed cycles between 2013 and now nd i will still try in a few months time.My hubby said to me last nite ,he just wants us to have our children when we still have the strength to play with them,am 36,he’s 44 and i got married 10years ago,if you have never ever walked in this shoes abeg you can’t understand,sometimes i wonder why some people wait for 22years when options abound including surrogacy,am tempted to also cool down and do something else with my life but by the time some yeye people start saying to your face that the only reason i spend money the way i spend is because i never born pikin,meanwhile the only time i spend money is when i go on vacations o which is once in two [email protected] Tessy i sincerely wish you all the best,only those who have experienced this can talk about it please,while God is still God we should not just sit and watch ,if i have eye problem i will see an optician,if i can’t hear well i may need an hearing aid,if i need to travel to PH from Lagos ,why enter bus when i fit enter plane,if i can’t get pregnant after a few years why just sit down and be waiting for God’s timing,yes he makes all things beautiful in his time but if i need a job will i sit at home and be saying God’s time is the best?Walahi if i get money i will hire 3 surrogates once and see the witch that will not make the ivf work

    • Zsa Zsa

      June 16, 2015 at 6:05 pm

      @Tola Big tight hugs to you momma. It will all work out.

  8. tola

    June 15, 2015 at 2:54 pm

    Bimpe Bimpe Bimpe,how many times did i call you,abeg o am in a foul mood already,wanting to have a baby you can call your own is very addictive,once i jump on the ivf band wagon i don’t think ,i just keep spending,i have had three failed cycles between 2013 and now nd i will still try in a few months time.My hubby said to me last nite ,he just wants us to have our children when we still have the strength to play with them,am 36,he’s 44 and i got married 10years ago,if you have never ever walked in this shoes abeg you can’t understand,sometimes i wonder why some people wait for 22years when options abound including surrogacy,am tempted to also cool down and do something else with my life but by the time some yeye people start saying to your face that the only reason i spend money the way i spend is because i never born pikin,meanwhile the only time i spend money is when i go on vacations o which is once in two [email protected] Tessy i sincerely wish you all the best,only those who have experienced this can talk about it please,while God is still God we should not just sit and watch ,if i have eye problem i will see an optician,if i can’t hear well i may need an hearing aid,if i need to travel to PH from Lagos ,why enter bus when i fit enter plane,if i can’t get pregnant after a few years why just sit down and be waiting for God’s timing,yes he makes all things beautiful in his time but if i need a job will i sit at home and be saying God’s time is the best?Walahi if i get money i will hire 3 surrogates once and see the witch that will not make the ivf work

    • DDO

      June 16, 2015 at 12:58 am

      lmaoo..Tola has vexed!! Baby dust to you love….and all other’s TTC

  9. keeks

    June 15, 2015 at 5:58 pm

    Oh bimpe. Typical example of a Nigerian telling others what to do with their bodies and lives.

  10. tade

    June 15, 2015 at 10:09 pm

    Bimpe!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Wotever name u call yourself.My cuz did IVF 7x and she is not giving up.I pray u will never exprience dis oooo.It is not easy.The person dat wear the shoes knows where it pains.God pls,answer all that are praying for the fruits of the womb.Breath the breathe of life into their wombs IJN

  11. TTCMomma

    June 16, 2015 at 5:32 pm

    BIMPE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! How dare you! have you heard the song. “You say your best when you say nothing at all…” You probably should have just kept mute or rather held your fingers to yourself when you read the article.
    You are very insensitive and inconsiderate. You have no right to tell people how to conduct their lives. I am sure you will be one of those many people telling couple TTC that they are not praying hard enough!!!!!!! God help you!

  12. mummy

    June 18, 2015 at 12:59 pm

    Thanks all for addressing Bimpe. @Nicole..i am finally considering Ivf after 3 failed IUI’s and several clomid cycles. I have heard stories and the injections are the scariest not to talk about self administration. I am really hoping and seriously shakabuzzing( the feddy term for praying seriously) that the first time works. Your letter to an ivf newbie also helped. It’s not an easy road and I pray the lord answers all ttcing soonest.

  13. Dusty

    June 19, 2015 at 1:11 pm

    If you havent gone through that path, you cant understand what waiiting even for 2years mean! God dey o! u then wonder what happens when teenagers just play and baby sits, after all the monthly 7 day routine minimum with hubby.

  14. mamaof4

    June 29, 2015 at 12:58 pm

    @Tola, i just love your response. Go girl, dont give up , you will surely get there. I was ttc for 8yrs. Now i have four kids(including a set of twins) all through ivf. The journey is not an easy one physically and emotionally but it is worth it. At the end of the day, the joy of motherhood is indescribable. To all those TTC, baby dust to you all. It is well.

  15. Sharon

    July 9, 2015 at 7:27 pm

    I had a miscarriage twice in one year! The foetus either died or just decided to come out. @bimpe, how is that different from embroyo’s death during ivf.? If you have no knowlegde of something pls, keep your unsolicited advise to your f..u….k….g self. Mtcheeewww. Your ffriend called it off and you know someone who died in the process. Haba!!! Where is that death recoded in IVF history. Na those examples you see, y not ple that got twins and triplet from a cycle after ttc for years and they just closed shop after their twins, triplets, yu no go see those testimonies. Na only you waka come? My grandmother wished she had like 6 children but she couldnt . She had just 2 but if she were to be alive and in this era, she will do IVF sef. Yu saying the doctors are not from GOd abi. Even bible say if you are sick, see physician. Was i not praying when i was loosing my pregnacies? Are you saying ple ttc are jumping gun, its not their time yet to have babies, when even someone wey just say let me have sex today and clean mouth will fall pregnant without even praying for the pregnacy or even ready for it! And you are here talking what you know nothing about! You are one of the problems of the society. She is not praying well thats y She is not pregnant, oh, she don do abortion finish thats why she cant get pregnant. Na wa ohh. Pls, women are more enlightened more that ever now, babes, the train don move leave you behind tey tey.
    To all of us waiting while trying, God will crown our IVF, IUI , ICSI etc effort with beautiful children IJN.

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