Down Regulating and the weirdest experience of my life with an acupuncturist!

Friday, 10th June 2011

That is the date that our fertility drugs arrived!


I was in work when they arrived, so my husband took this picture (left) and sent it to me. They didn’t cost nearly as much as I had imagined they would. 


When I got home that night, I had a mild panic attack! Staring me in the face was a massive and I mean massive needle! My husband reassured me that this needle was just to draw up the solution, not the one that I would be injecting myself with. Phew! 


So, the drugs arrived which meant that it was only 5 days until we started ‘down regulating’. As mentioned in my previous post, I ordered ‘Solgar Whey to go’ protein shakes, which also arrived the same day. It was vanilla flavour and it smelled yummy! 

We weren’t sure if we should refrigerate any or all of the drugs, so we called the fertility clinic and were advised to keep them all in the fridge. When we did put them in the fridge, my husband accidentally nudged the temperature control dial and we couldn’t remember what setting it was on. We were so worried that we would freeze the drugs, making them useless. We must have spent at least 90 minutes going and back forth checking the temperature of the fridge! We managed to get it right in the end and I can confirm, we didn’t freeze the drugs! 


As well as posting lots of questions on the fertility forum, I also read a lot of other people’s questions. I tried my best to help them in any way I could. I knew what it felt like to be starting out on the IVF roller coaster. All the unanswered questions running through your mind. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not an expert by any stretch of the imagination, I just drew answers from my experiences, but I was mainly just offering words of reassurance. Having someone to talk to really helps. One of the main things I typed regularly in response to some of these women was to try to take everything one step at a time and to think positive thoughts. I know that certainly helped us. Trying not to look too far into the future also helped. By taking everything one step at a time, it really did help to keep us relaxed, even if we did have the odd panic about massive needles and fridge temperatures! I would also like to say on another note, that I was advised to drink lots of water. I bought a big bottle of water from the supermarket and took it to work with me so I could refill it during the day to make sure I was getting enough fluids. 


One of the things we never thought we would be doing was searching online for videos of how to administer injections and tips for injecting! We found a few videos which really helped. It’s amazing how many people in the world are going through IVF at the exact same time as you. It’s also amazing how so many people are willing to share their IVF journeys online, in blogs or video diaries. They really helped us during our treatment, hence why we are writing this blog. We hope that it will help someone. Even if it just helps one person, it’s all been worthwhile.


The morning after the drugs arrived I discovered that the protein shakes definitely smelt better than they tasted! They weren’t too bad though and we knew it would be worth it. I did wonder to myself at one point if it was possible to have too much protein. After all, I was eating lots of protein and drinking two shakes a day. One with breakfast and one with lunch. I knew that protein was good and that it could help improve the quality of my eggs but I also read somewhere that it could hinder implantation. I was unsure if I should be having two protein shakes a day or just one. I posted the question on the fertility forum and the overall view was that it didn’t sound like I was having too much protein and that it shouldn’t affect implantation. It is amazing how much I have learnt since starting IVF. One of the things I have learnt is that the internet, as brilliant as it is, also has lots of false information out there. You really do have to be so careful what you read and what you choose to believe. I made a list of all the things I had learnt and posted it on the forum, hoping it might help someone. I’ll dig it up and post it on here also.


Amongst the hundreds of things I had looked up online was fertility acupuncture. I looked online for local places offering this and lucky enough I found a health centre just up the road from us which offered this service. I promptly booked an appointment for Tuesday 14th June 2011. I was really looking forward to it. I had read a lot of good things about how acupuncture can help during IVF. We didn’t know if it would help, if it would work, but we were willing to try anything. 


I should mention that at our last appointment, my husband and I expressed our wishes to have two embryo’s transferred back. That is, if we were lucky enough to have two good ones. We understood that this meant the risk of having twins was higher than a single embryo transfer (SET), but it was a risk we were willing to take. Now, I can understand why people use the term ‘risk’, but to us twins wasn’t a risk. Twins would have been a wonderful blessing. 


The day before we were due to start our injections, we literally counted down the hours, minutes and seconds! I remember that night watching baby hospital on TV. The babies were so adorable. Some of the stories made my eyes well up and my heart melt. I hoped so badly that all the babies would make a quick recovery and be allowed to join their mummies and daddies at home where they belonged. 


The First Injection


Eventually, the day of our first injection arrived. We decided that we would do the injections at the same time every night and that time would be 9pm. I was too much of a wimp to inject myself, so in the end my husband did it for me. I pinched some skin on my belly and held it tightly for my husband to jab me! I was nervous and shaking but my husband was brilliant, although he now thinks he’s a qualified doctor! I felt a slight sting and afterwards the injection site was a bit itchy and red but other than that, all was well! It really felt like we were well on our way! 


Later on that evening, I noticed the injection site was a little bit red and I had a slight rash. I don’t know why, well I can’t remember why, but my husband and I decided to name the rash! Ruby the rash! I also took a picture as a souvenir!

The next step in our journey toward parenthood was to have a baseline scan to check my womb lining was thin enough and that my ovaries had stopped working. Before we could have the scan, we had to wait for AF (aka my period – Aunt Flow) to arrive. My baseline scan had been booked for July 4th, so we were praying she turned up before then. 


Acupuncture attempt #1


Now, onto the acupuncture. Oh my days! That was an experience and a half! I arrived at the centre on time for my appointment and sat down to wait to be called. The acupuncturist turned up late, which did annoy me a little, but hey ho that’s life! When he eventually called me through he didn’t make me feel comfortable at all. He didn’t try to put me at ease or offer me any reassurance. The first thing he said to me was, “Why do you want acupuncture?”. 


No, ‘Hello, how are you?’, no welcome, nothing, nada! When I rang to make the appointment I had specified that I was after fertility acupuncture as advertised on their website, so why was he asking me why I wanted acupuncture? After I explained this to him, he then said to me in no uncertain terms, “It will hurt”.  Hmmm, ok! Of all the things I had read about acupuncture, I was led to believe that it shouldn’t hurt. 


It gets weirder…..


The third thing he said to me?


Wait for it…..


“If you had a magic wand and could change one thing in your life what would you change?”


Before I even had a chance to answer, he seemed to go into a dreamlike state and said softly, “I like Caviar, so I would use my wand to get a life time supply of Caviar’. 


Is it normal for acupuncturists to ask these weird questions? Anyway, he then moved on and asked me if I had any questions. To be honest, I was quite bewildered and couldn’t think of anything I wanted to ask him. He didn’t explain to me how acupuncture worked, what the benefits were or how it could aid fertility treatment. He then went on to show me a needle and asked to see my hand. 


Ouch!


He did not just do that! Oh my god! He did! He actually stabbed me in the hand with the needle! No warning! No ‘would you like me to put one in your hand so you can see how it feels?’ Nothing! Why did he do that? He then said, “I usually put a third of the needle in. Would you like me to push it in more?”. 


Uh…..no way! After 15 minutes I left. I felt so sad and disappointed. I nearly cried. I was left very upset by the whole experience. I was really looking forward to giving us the best chance possible to succeed but after that I felt like I had let us down. 


After sharing my experience on the fertility forum online, some of the women at the same clinic as me recommended an acupuncturist that they had used. Undeterred, I decided to call her. She sounded lovely on the phone. However, I was even more nervous after that bad experience. I wasn’t looking forward to it all. 


Side Effects


A few days in with the injections and I started to experience a few minor side effects. I had a funny, achy, almost cramp like feeling in my stomach and fuzzy vision. To be honest though I was just glad that I hadn’t had any headaches, as I read that was a common side effect. I was managing to drink at least 2 litres of water a day, as well as the two protein shakes. As the days passed I started to get tireder and tireder. Another side effect of the injections. I fell asleep on the sofa most nights. 


Acupuncture attempt #2



When the day of my acupuncture appointment arrived, I was feeling anxious. However, there really was no need for me to feel that way. The acupuncturist was fab. She made me feel so comfortable and relaxed. I really enjoyed myself and it didn’t hurt at all. She put the needles in my stomach, lower legs, feet, hands, one in each ear and one in the top of my head! I felt so calm and sleepy afterwards! I booked another appointment for the following week and I was really looking forward to it. 


As we continued with the injections, I waited and waited for AF to show up. I needed her to make an appearance before we could have our baseline scan. I thought she was never going to show up, but when she did, 6 days late, I’d never been happier to see her! It meant we wouldn’t have to delay the scan! Woo hoo!


Our baseline scan was the following Monday. We hoped and hoped that all would be ok.

5 thoughts on “Down Regulating and the weirdest experience of my life with an acupuncturist!

  1. I have such admiration for couples who have fertility treatment and survive! It all sounds so arduous and stressful filled with ups and downs. I am so pleased that you have your beautiful babies. This blog will undoubtably be a great source of info and support for couples on the same journey and their friends and family. Congratulations!

    1. Hi choasqueen, thanks for your comment. IVF is indeed a roller coaster of many emotions, and we admire every one who has fertility treatment. I hope, as you say that our blog will help with others on their journeys. Thanks again 🙂

  2. I think twins are referred to as a risk not because it's two newborns to look after, but being pregnant with twins makes it a high risk pregnancy as more is likely to go wrong, as it sadly did with my twins.

    That first acupuncturist sounds very strange! Glad the second time was a more positive experience. x

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