Why you would be doing a sub-cue injection
There is a wide range of fertility drugs that use subcutaneous (usually abbreviated to sub-cue) injections. These include Gonal F, Follistim, hcG, Lupron, and Antagon. While some people will do unmedicated cycles, more people doing IUI or IVF will use injectible medications.
What you can expect
I always gave myself my injections. I was very squeamish about needles and I came to this decision because (1) I didn’t want to associate my husband with pain and (2) I thought I’d handle it better if I was in control. Know yourself. If you think you would be the best person to give the shot, do it yourself. If you think you’d rather have it out of your hands, pass on the task to someone else. You can have more than one person learn how to give the injection in case your primary person isn’t available on a day when you need a shot. For the sake of clarity, I wrote these instructions as if you are giving yourself the shot. But know that someone else can do all these steps as well.
Get everything together before you begin—maybe ten minutes beforehand. Unless you’re used to giving yourself injections (or having others do it), you don’t want to start preparing things too early or you’ll build a lot of anxiety. In order to do the Stirrup Queens-Giddyup-and-Inject-Yourself method, you’ll need a few alcohol wipes, a sterile gauze pad, an ice cube in a cup, a hot water bottle filled with…hot water, the needles, and a totally mindless half hour of television on tape.
The sub-cue injections I experienced (Follistim and hcG) were both prepared as a powder in one vial with an accompanying vial of sterile water. Mix them according to your doctor’s instructions after swabbing the top of each vial with an alcohol wipe. Take your time. Hold the needle upright and flick it a few times to get the bubbles to rise to the surface. Push them out. Gently (don’t waste any of that expensive medication!).
Pop the tape in the VCR. Why did I tell you that it had to be on the television? Because you need to distract, distract, distract. I always had the bright idea to tape reruns of E.R. Why did I do this? It didn’t distract. It only made me more anxious. Stick to sitcoms, favourite dramas, mindless cartoons.
When the time comes to give yourself the shot, take the ice cube out of the cup and rub it on the area being injected. Rub it for at least one full minute. You really want to numb the area. But don’t do this step until your ready to give yourself the shot. There’s nothing worse than going through freezer burn only to have to do it again and again because you don’t feel prepared for the shot.
When your belly (I always did the shots in my belly) is numb, wipe it off with a final medicated pad. Then take the needle and line it up so it is lightly touching your belly. Pull back your hand at least an inch, look away (distract, distract, distract), and plunge down. You’ll need to glance down and check that the needle is in. Then look away again and slowly depress the plunger. Pull out and immediately cover the site with the gauze pad (there may be a spot of blood). Press the hot water bottle to the site and hold it there for a half hour or so. The heat will help (specifically, the wet heat will help) minimize pain. Follistim is sometimes nicknamed Follisting because it has a burn afterwards. I’m sure there are other comments below giving you a heads-up on the specifics of other drugs.
Watch your television show and relax. You did it. You got through the first shot. Or maybe it’s your second or third shot. Or maybe you return here every time you need to do an injection. That’s okay too. You’re amazing and you’re already a fantastic mother doing so much to bring a baby into the world. Hang in there. The injections are terrible, but they’re worth it if they bring you closer to your family.
Here are some problems that might arise (and ways to troubleshoot)
Sometimes you’ll get bruising. I was never sure what caused the bruises and why they sometimes occurred and sometimes didn’t. There’s not a lot you can do for buising—the body just needs time to heal. You can alternate sides of your belly button each shot and ask your doctor if there are other locations on the body for your sub-cue injections.
Here are my personal tips
Look above—that’s about all I can say about sub-cue shots. Oh, except be really nice to yourself on injection days and get yourself a special treat. Better yet, make someone else get you a special treat—you’re the one enduring the shot!