When most people think about conceiving their children, they think of romance with their partner. In a surrogacy situation the process is decidedly more clinical. Enter IVF.
For those who are unfamiliar, IVF stands for in-vitro fertilization: the process of retrieving a woman’s eggs, fertilizing them with sperm, and creating embryos which can be transferred back to her (or a surrogate) at a later date to create a pregnancy. In our case, our embryos will be transferred one-at-a-time to our surrogate Sarah when the time is right.
IVF is a common fertility procedure, with people seeking medical help conceiving for a variety of reasons. Chances are you know someone who’s been through it – I certainly do! Even so, knowing what to expect didn’t make me less nervous to begin.
After matching with our surrogate, I called the my doctor, Dr. Karen Glass at CReATe Fertility Centre in Toronto, to find out next steps. Based on my cycle day, they were able to bring me in immediately to begin a round of IVF.
My trips to the clinic have followed a similar routine each time:
- Arriving and complete a COVID-19 screening at the front
- Adding my name to the various waiting lists for bloodwork, ultrasound, and a visit with the doctor
- Completing bloodwork
- Completing my ultrasound
- Checking in with the doctor, who interprets the results
- Meeting with the nurse to receive medication to last until my next visit
There is a lot of waiting involved – I had been told by friends who have been through IVF to prepare for 1-2 hours at the clinic each morning. Instead, I found I was typically there for at least 3 hours, if not more. CReATe is a busy clinic, so the waiting room and I have become good friends. Occasionally I will run into people who recognize me from our Instagram, so I’ve struck up some fun conversations about surrogacy to pass the time.
Is the ultrasound awkward?
If you’re a naturally shy person, you might find your visits with ‘Wanda’ a little unnerving. (Wanda is the nickname used for a transvaginal ultrasound. Think magic wand-a). You’re stripping from the waist down in front of a stranger, and that can be weird. Don’t worry – they provide a sheet to protect your modesty. Pro tip: you can keep your socks on in case it’s chilly in the room! For the first few days I found that ultrasounds were relatively quick and easy, but as my treatment has progressed and my ovaries have grown I’ve noticed a bit more discomfort.
IVF needles sound painful! Are they?
I wouldn’t say painful, no, but depending on which medication you are given it can sting. I’ve heard many people will ice the area around the injection to numb the skin before doing it, but I didn’t and was fine. I did end up with some bruising after one of the shots, but overall I would say injections weren’t as bad as I anticipated. I have a thing about needles, so Zane and nurses at the clinic have done all of my shots for me. I can’t really offer advice on how to self-administer, but there are plenty of YouTube videos out there if you’re curious!
Was there anything you weren’t expecting?
I was NOT prepared for the discomfort and physical change to my body from IVF bloat. Ariel Taylor (@carried.with.love) shared her experience with IVF bloating on her Instagram a few weeks ago, but save for that I had never really heard or read about it before. While every body reacts differently to IVF, I found that this was the side effect that challenged me the most. I look about five months pregnant, and simple walking causes me discomfort.
As I finish up my round of IVF I will share another ‘part 2’ blog of my experience, which will include details of preparing for the egg retrieval. Stay tuned and wish me luck!