One of the most intimidating aspects of the IVF journey is the day your drugs arrive. Prior to IVF, the only medication that we kept in our home was Advil, so I was very unprepared for the large box that was delivered to my front door, filled to the brim with 22-gauge needles, plastic syringes, and tons of little glass vials of powder. My first thought was: “How is that ALL going to fit into our ‘fridge!” My second thought was: “How is that ALL going into my body!”
Our supplies were special ordered from Freedom Fertility (a mail-order fertility pharmacy that was pre-authorized by my insurance provider) and arrived in a very large freezer bag.
It is truly overwhelming. But I assure you, it’s not so bad once you dive in and sort it out. I started by spreading everything out on our dining room table and organizing the medication and supplies by groups based on brands and usage.
I strongly recommend sorting through all of your meds immediately upon arrival (or at least a week before you begin stimulation). Once you start the stimulation process, timing and scheduling are imperative. If the fertility pharmacy forgets to include a key medication (or in our case, the correct size needles!) it becomes extremely stressful to try and replace what’s missing on THE DAY it’s needed.
Here is the rundown of our medications and medical supplies*:
- Menopur: 225 IUs nightly. This is also known as Bravelle.
- Gonal-F: 225 IUs nightly. This is also known as Follistim. Keep refrigerated.
- Cetrotide: 225 IUs starting 3rd day of Stims. This is also known as Ganirelix. Keep refrigerated.
- Doxycycline: 2x daily with meals for male partner, starting Day 1 of Stims.
- Azithromycin: 1x a day for female starting on Egg Retrieval Day.
- Novarel (HCG): 10,000 units of HCG. Used 36 hours before egg retrieval. This is also known as the “Trigger Shot.”
- Luprolide Acetate 2 Week Kit: This was ordered for my protocol, but not utilized for this IVF cycle.
- 22-gauge 1 1/2″ mixing and intramuscular needles.
- 30-gauge 1/2″ subcutaneous injection needles. <– These were actually the wrong size. We needed 27-gauge 1/2″and had to scramble on stim day to find them by running all over New York City – such a nightmare!
- 3ML Syringes
- Gauze and sterilization wipes.
- Sharps container to dispose of used needles.
It’s an intimidating group of meds and supplies to have in your home all at once. I dealt with the stress of having a small pharmacy in my home in the following ways:
- Organize medications by usage and administration supplies. This seems obvious, but the medication dose and the supplies needed to administer that dose come in separate packaging and are not always clearly marked. For example, I kept all Menopur boxes, needles, and syringes in one small grouping so that when I reached for my nightly Menopur dosage, I didn’t have to rifle through the bag of various sized needles to find the correct one. (Gonal-F and Cetrotide both come in a Redi-Pen, which makes life much easier).
- Keep a Stims Diary. When the nurse called with daily instructions for that evening’s medication dosage, I wanted to be completely prepared to jot it down correctly – and avoid the scenarios in which I’d be scrambling for a pen and paper and writing my (very important) medication dosage on the back of an envelope or napkin! Therefore, I made a Google spreadsheet that I left open in my browser on both my work and personal computer at all times. This was extremely helpful in not only recording the nurse’s nightly instructions, but also recording the time I self-administered each drug, which acted as a checks and balance system. I also made a Notes section, where I jotted down questions that arose in my mind each day (there were many). The nurse’s run a very tight schedule and have little time to waste on their daily phone calls to you. I wanted to be prepared with all of my questions in front of me so that I could quickly ask them, write down the answer, and let the nurse get back to her rounds. It really worked like a charm.
- Watch Training Videos. I happen to love reading instructions or watching instructional videos, but I am aware that this tip may not appeal to everyone! However, when told to mix 225 IUs of vial powder with 2ML of sodium chloride with a mixing needle, then swap out to a subQ needle, clear all air bubbles, and inject into your stomach…you kind of want to SEE this in action before attempting it on your own. Freedom Teach has the best instructional videos of any that I have found and I strongly recommend viewing these before self-administering any meds. My husband and I actually watched them so many times that we started saying the instructions aloud with the woman in the video, who sounds like – and might actually be – a real robot. 🙂
*Every IVF protocol is custom made. The types of medications and the dosage will vastly vary from person to person.