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Gonal-F

IVF Diary Part 6: Day 1 to Day 6, Travel and Injections

This is Part 6 of the IVF Diary series. I’ll be keeping a diary of all important IVF days, starting from when we first chose to undergo infertility treatment in Prague. Click here to read all other IVF diary posts.

 

We’re finally starting the more exciting part of this journey! I’m sure you were just as bored as I was, reading about the pretreatment scans and all of the back and forth I had with the clinic.

No more! We’re talking hardcore IVF stuff today. Gory injections with long sharp needles, blood gushing everywhere…

Or maybe not. In fact, this might be the most boring post so far as I can quite easily summarize all that has happened with just three short words; “not that much”.

Well, we did travel halfway across the world and injected >$400 worth (and counting) of hormones into my body, so I guess it deserves at least a couple of nicely structured paragraphs.

 

Traveling to Europe

We flew to Europe a couple of days after my pretreatment ultrasound. Naturally, we didn’t pay full price. Paying full price is for suckers (or people who haven’t come across this blog yet and don’t know any better). Yes, we’ve been online for nearly 3 weeks and there are still people in this world who haven’t found our blog yet. Anyway, as you, the longtime reader, knows (hi mom! just kidding, my mom doesn’t know about my secret life as a blogger) we really dislike paying full price.

So we used ~40.000 American Airlines miles and paid $100 or so in service fees out of the many, many, miles we’ve accumulated since we started to “game” the credit card sign-up bonus system.

We’ve lived in Europe before, so we knew what to expect weather-wise in November, but coming from Florida, the dreary weather still hit us hard. Who knew the sky could be so gray all the time? We stayed with family the first few days and really enjoyed some of the typical European things that we miss back in the US, like, the walkability of pretty much every major city.

 

Day 1

I contacted my IVF coordinator on the first day of my cycle so that she could schedule me for my first scan on Day 7. I’m happy to report that I got a reply within half an hour, so I guess they really prioritize those who are currently cycling. So with my appointment date set, we were able to book our tickets to Prague.

Fortunately, there are a lot of low-cost airlines within Europe that fly to Prague (remember, we were already in Europe at this point). We booked tickets less than a week out and still only paid $70 each. No need to waste airline miles when flights are that cheap. Yes, the seat pitch is terrible and you pay extra for just about anything. But it’s just a short hop to Prague so it’s not that bad.

We also booked a hotel for the first few nights in Prague. We used our IHG reward night certificate for a free stay at the InterContinental in Prague Old Town, and our Hilton free-night certificate for a complimentary stay at Hilton Old Town, which is just a 3-minute walk from the IVF clinic.

Lobby of the Intercontinental hotel in Prague

After that, we’ll be staying at an apartment we found on Airbnb. We booked for a week (so up until Day 15) and we’ll see where we’re at (IVF-wise) after that. I don’t want to assume there’ll be a transfer and book something for 2+ weeks. If there is a transfer, we’ll find an apartment for another week and if there isn’t, we’ll fly home sooner. Flexibility is key.

Of course (we can’t help ourselves!), we’ll be keeping a log of all travel-related expenses and we’ll write a more detailed post on that later.

 

The Injections

The first injection was scheduled for the evening of Day 2. Mr. Frugalcrib and I read the Gonal-F manual again and watched the instruction video once more to be sure we weren’t messing it up.

Step 1: Find an Injection Spot

Gonal-F, like many other drugs, requires subcutaneous injections. That means that the drug needs to be injected into the tissue right below the skin. The abdomen or thighs are usually the best options as you’re less likely to hit a bone, muscle or blood vessel. I went with the abdomen and alternate between the left and right area around or below the belly button. Because you’re not supposed to be injecting this stuff into your abs, it’s best to sit down so you can grab a bit of skin which would be a lot more difficult to do while standing.

Step 2: Clean the Injection Area

Use sterile alcohol prep pads and clean the area you’ve picked. I ordered a box of Alcohol wipes from Amazon for a couple bucks. Easy enough. Clean the area and let it air dry a bit. Oh and of course, don’t forget to wash your hands before you start.

Step 3: Attach the Needle and Set the Dose

The Gonal-F pen I’ve been using is one of those auto-injector pens. You attach a single-use needle onto the multi-use vial and set the dose by turning the knob. The pen has an actual display so it’s really easy to make sure you’re doing it right. Check and make sure there aren’t any big air bubbles and then…

Step 4: Stab Yourself

Here comes the fun part. The gory stuff I’ve been meaning to write about… Slowly push the needle into the skin and when it’s fully inserted, push the pen thingy all the way down until it no longer clicks and the display is back to zero. This might take a few seconds though. Keep pushing that thingy while you pull the needle out. Screw the needle cap back on, remove it and safely dispose of the needle. If you’ve done it right there won’t be any blood gushing out of your tummy and you probably won’t even see where you’ve injected yourself.

Mr. Frugalcrib has taken the role of preparing the injection. That means he’s screwing the needle on, setting the dose and opening the alcohol pad. Yes, opening the alcohol pad… All I have to do is insert the needle and push the button. Easy peasy. I try to do the injections at the same time every day (around 9 pm) and this has worked well so far.

Gonal-F

 

Side effects

I’m happy to report that I’ve yet to experience a single side effect. No injection site reactions, no hormonal mood swings and no bloating. That being said, it’s still early and I’m fully aware that in all likelihood, this will change in the next couple of days. I’m not even halfway through with the injections so I’m sure I’ll get my fair share of side effects.

So yes, that was my very uneventful update of how things have been going from Day 1 to 6. Which leaves us right here on the timeline:

 

I have my first appointment with the doctor at the clinic later today and I guess we’ll find out how my body is responding!

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