health

Hormonal pimples are just the beginning of IVF side effects no-one warns you about.

If you’re looking for advice about options surrounding fertility, pregnancy or counselling, always consult your doctor.

When you’re a few cycles into fertility treatment, the anticipation passes and you come to know the ins and outs of what you need to do.

For me, that has been a relief. I feel more in control of what is going on because I know the process. What I didn’t expect was that the side effects would be worse the longer you’re on the medications.

Oh, the side effects. I know each of you who are in the position I am must dread facing the day sometimes, because of how you feel physically, mentally and emotionally. Knowing that someone else feels the same way, or knowing someone else understands what you are going through, can help.

Before I met my new fellow infertility friends I felt really alone — but I now know I am not.

In the hope that someone new to this journey is reading this, I want to tell you what this process has done to my body, my mind and my heart, so you know you are not alone.

Do you ever look at yourself in the mirror and think, ‘Geez, I’ve changed’? Today was the day. Thanks to the baby-making medications I take, my body has become alien to me.

Listen: How do you come to terms with losing a baby? Olympian Libby Trickett shares how she made it through the sadness (post continues after audio…)

Let me set the scene for you. We will go head to toe.

My hair has become lifeless and the greys that have been there for a while have come out in full force at the front of my head, so I look like a skunk. They also stick upwards at a 90-degree angle, which is super pretty.

My skin has become dry to the point of scaly, while my lips are 10 times their usual size because as soon as I am run-down they crack and sting like hell. The skin around my eyes is dry and my usually dark circles are now deep purple, regardless of how much I sleep. Add to this some delightful hormonal pimple outbreaks.

My boobs are sore. The hormones injections make them tender and I now find it difficult to sleep on my stomach. Oh, my stomach — it is now covered in small bruises and more needle marks than I can count and is sore to touch. Injecting into it each night has become a process I need to work myself up to.

I also look like I am pregnant. A great joy for any woman who’s desperate to be pregnant is when people look at you like you are, and you silently will them not to ask you because, actually, you’re not. And if they ask you, you will either scratch their eyes out or cry (thanks, hormones).

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getting through ivf

No more hot drinks. (Image:iStock) 

My legs ache. I don’t know why, but they do. Actually, my whole body aches like I’ve run a marathon, and there’s nothing I can do that seems to ease the pain. I groan when I get up off the couch or have to move after being still for more than 10 minutes. I groan like an 84-year-old woman.

I can’t drink hot drinks any more because if I do... oh shit, here comes a hot flash.

My ovaries hurt. Yes, I can actually feel them — they are very big and swollen and I can feel those lazy little critters inside my body.

Along with looking pregnant, I also feel nauseated all the time. I throw up at least once a day, often more, and the urge comes out of nowhere and doesn’t give much notice to get myself to a more appropriate (or less embarrassing) vicinity.

Since I started fertility treatment I have had a headache all day, every day. Sometimes to the point of needing to lie in a dark room, ply myself with Panadol and Nurofen, and hope it doesn’t get worse instead of better.

Thankyou @quirarteivf for the #20beautifulwomen tag (sorry for not posting sooner) - this photo was actually taken a couple of years ago on my 30th birthday. It was before I started fertility treatment and I was surrounded by my favourite people and I felt beautiful. I've been reluctant to share a photo of myself on here because I have wanted to keep myself private, however I am a big believer in women feeling great about themselves so I wanted to support the #20beautifulwomen challenge. I have many beautiful women in my life so I have tagged some of them and hope they join in ???? #friendship #womensupportingwomen #beautifulwomen #friends #ivf #ivfawareness #ttc #ttccommunity #ttcsisters #love #clomid #fsh #blog #blogger #bloggerlife #fertilityblogger #infertilityblogger #fertilityblog #infertilityblog #gettingabunintheoven

A photo posted by ????Getting A Bun in the Oven???? (@gettingabunintheoven) on

Let me tell you now about my mind, which much like my now-tired and sore body has also changed dramatically.

They say women get ‘baby brain’ — well, I have ‘baby making brain’. I am constantly in a foggy, hazy state. I take more time to do small tasks and in the middle of a conversation, I will completely forget what I am talking about. Getting words out sometimes is so difficult that I get frustrated and annoyed at myself.

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For those who don’t know about the fertility treatment we're doing, I can’t just say, "Sorry, my brain is shit today and I can’t even remember what we were talking about," so they either think I am high on drugs (not the baby-making ones) or just really dumb and can’t hold a conversation.

My thoughts are always on this process; what I need to do each day, when I need to do it, and how I need to do it. My thoughts are always a few steps ahead of me, wondering and hoping. I wonder what my baby will look like. I hope my baby finds me soon.

My heart is a whole different matter. I have it shielded.

They say women get ‘baby brain’ — well, I have ‘baby making brain’.(Image:iStock) 

I may think about my baby, but I don’t let my heart feel it just yet. It’s not ready. My head has moved forward from our miscarriage, but not my heart — and I can’t tell you if it ever will. I don’t really know if I want it to. My heart is real and true and I know it’s not ready to lose again.

My emotions are so crazy that if you tell me a really funny joke I will probably cry, and if you tell me your grandma passed away there’s a huge possibility my reaction will be hysterical laughter. So now not only do people think I’m dumb, they also think I’m a bitch. A dumb bitch.

I know each of you going through IVF are feeling the same, if not worse. So when you are getting your hormonal, pregnant-looking, aching and tired body off the lounge to vomit while you laugh like a hyena, even though you are actually feeling sad and sorry for yourself, know that I am doing the same.

I am thinking of you and sending my love.

Have you had a similar experience?

Mamamia's Infertility Week shines a light on the joy, the pain and everything in between when it comes to creating families. To read more from Infertility Week, click here.

Elizabeth Mac is a 32-year-old (which she think is a great age because she is still young enough to want to have fun, and just old enough to not really care about the drama that your 20s bring), Melbourne-based blogger whose life got turned upside down when she found out she was infertile. She writes about her journey through infertility and trying to be a mother in an open, honest and very real blog, Gettingbun in the oven. Read the original article and check her out on Instagram.

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