When I was diagnosed with Secondary Infertility, I was overwhelmed. Between being educated on how my reproductive system actually works (or how it doesn’t work) and learning a gazillion acronyms, I was shaken.
When the time came to gear up for my egg retrieval, I sat in my doctor’s office and he reviewed the recommended protocol for my diagnosis. I felt like I was sitting in my own personal episode of Charlie Brown, you know the one where the teacher speaks and all we hear is “Wahhhh wah wah wahhhh wah wahhhh.”
All that kept repeating in my brain over and over again was “What. The. Actual. Fuck. Is. Happening?” I nodded my head. I smiled a lot—as if to signal “Yes sir! I’m getting all of this!”—because I didn’t want my doctor to know I wasn’t processing a single word he was saying.
“So, do you have any questions?” My doctor asked.
“Nope! I think it all makes sense,” I lied through my teeth. (Author’s note - don’t be like me. Ask a million questions. Your doctors want you to ask questions. Don’t be ashamed. You’re not a pharmacist, doctor, or nurse—unless you are, and from what I’ve heard even they are overwhelmed when it comes to their own protocol.)
But what I really wanted to say was, “Can you come home with me and make sure I do this right?”
I got in my car, and as I drove away I was confident I was going to mess everything up. These doctors were out of their minds to think I would be able to shoot myself up with hormones without their constant supervision. What if I didn’t mix my medications correctly? What if I took too much or too little medication? What if I accidentally took the shot I was supposed to take at the same time every single day a few minutes late? What if I didn’t get all of the air out of a shot—would I die if an air bubble entered my body?
WHAT IF? WHAT IF? WHAT IF?
A few weeks later, a giant box of medications arrived at my doorstep. As I pulled out red biohazard boxes (which I now know are called “sharps containers”), examined the needles I would be jamming into my stomach (it wasn’t time for butt shots quite yet), and read the directions on how to mix powders into liquid form, I PANICKED and made a call to my doctor’s office.
Cure Hydration Berry Pomegranate Hydrating Electrolyte Mix
My nurse assured me that at my next monitoring appointment we would spend time reviewing how to correctly administer the shots. She also assured me that I really could do this. And guess what? That reassurance fell on deaf ears.
At my appointment, my nurse reviewed my protocol about 72 times. Bless her for being so patient with me. I then came home and watched about 152 different Youtube videos on how to administer shots. I watched video after video after video. And funnily enough, they only made me more nervous.
I’ll be honest, when it was time to take my first shot I felt just as unprepared as I had when I began learning about my protocol. None of the research, videos, or questions I asked my nurse had given me any sort of confidence that I could do this. My heart pounded so loudly I heard it in my ears. I shook as I read the directions. My mouth was dry. And then…I did it.
I FUCKING DID IT.
I felt like a warrior champion as I injected myself with my first dose of Gonal F. But don’t worry, I was just as nervous that night when I had to do the same injection again. And then about a week later when it was time to introduce a third shot—Cetrotide—my anxiety skyrocketed as I navigated a new drug.
After my retrieval was complete I took a few months off before my transfer. I was so happy to not be doing shots. November and December quickly passed and suddenly it was time to start my transfer protocol. I started Lupron abdomen injections on the morning of December 31st. I was right back where I started with my retrieval protocol. Dry mouth. Shaky hands. Wondering if I was going to fuck it all up. And as the shot slid in my stomach, I once again felt like a warrior champion.
I, like the rest of IVF nation, was the most terrified and overwhelmed by the Progesterone in Oil shots. When it was time for my first one, I candidly almost passed out. And as my husband slid the needle in, I realized that the anxiety of the process is a thousand times worse than the actual shots.
I then remembered my husband was going on a business trip and I needed to do my own Progesterone in Oil shot while he was away. Panic ensued.
The next night, I made my way upstairs to my bathroom, drew the Progesterone into the needle, and tried for about 45 minutes to find the courage to stick myself. I counted to three about a thousand times. And finally, I did it. And that was the shot that gave me the confidence I had been searching for all those months.
Here’s the deal. It’s normal to feel like you’re the only person in the world who won’t get the hang of your shots. There’s panic and pandemonium with everyone’s first ride down shot lane. Whether it’s a trigger shot for IUI, stims for an IVF egg retrieval, or PIO shots for an IVF transfer, with any form of TTC where you’re injecting yourself with medication it’s really fucking scary. And I’m here to assure you that it’s normal to feel that way. You’re not alone in thinking you're more terrified than any other human who has ever been through this before. I certainly thought that. There was NO ONE who was more scared than me. It was not possible!
Here’s what I can promise you, from the woman who was terrified to mix her meds, plunge a needle into her stomach, and the most petrified person on the planet to take an even bigger needle and stick it in her ass: YOU WILL NAIL THIS. It might hurt. It might sting. But the anticipation is genuinely the worst part of it all. It doesn’t necessarily get easier—you just get used to it because you actually know what’s coming. The unknown is the most terrifying part, I assure you.
And here’s the best part. One day you’ll be doling out advice to the next generation of infertility warriors who are scared shitless about diving into the land of shots. You’ll be the pro assuring them that one day, they too will be the shot gurus that will pass down advice.
Back in October, if you had told me that I would make a Progesterone Shot 101 video to teach others and show it’s not that scary, I would have told you to fuck off; that wouldn’t be possible. But here we are!
Take a deep breath. Embrace the fear. And know, YOU’VE GOT THIS!
Monica Caron lives in Atlanta with her husband and daughter. After being diagnosed with secondary infertility, Monica underwent multiple IUIs and a round of IVF. After three years she is expecting a baby and is due in October. She approaches infertility and IVF with humor (though it’s really not that funny—but hey, you may as well try to laugh while you’re miserable) and encourages conversations around what pumping your body filled with hormones does to your sanity, how infertility impacts your relationship, and why this whole IVF and infertility thing needs to be normalized. Follow along at @my_so_called_ivf as she tries to make sense out of a situation that doesn’t seem to make much sense at all. And be sure to drop her a note. She loves connecting with other people in the infertility community.