IVF · Retrieval · Side Effects

The Great Shanahan Harvest of 2018

It’s been a while since we actually had our egg retrieval.  In fact, as I am looking back it has almost been a full month…wow.  I have to be honest, the retrieval was so much more physically and emotionally draining than I ever could have imagined.

When the black cloud of the Estrogen snafu had been lifted the retrieval day had, once again, become something very exciting for us.  It was another early morning, I was not allowed to eat or drink anything…no makeup (no big deal) and no lotion.

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When we arrived at the Basking Ridge office there were already so many people.  This place is like a well-oiled machine.  You go upstairs to check -in, and the lobby is AMAZING.  So many beautifully upholstered chairs.  If you know me, you know I love a mix of patterns and fabrics on my chairs and this did not disappoint.  Bryan and I were separated after check-in…I was sent downstairs to the surgical center and he was sent into the “specimen collection” area.  I wish he would share his point of view on these situations because it is HILARIOUS.  All I can recap is that he made sure not to touch any of the walls or furniture.

When I arrived in the surgical waiting area there were beautiful flowers everywhere.  I, of course, took pictures…

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When you enter the waiting room there are instructions to pick up a black phone, which I did.  The person on the other end already knew who I was.  It felt for a second like I was in some kind of a spy movie, and although I know I was NOT it definitely made things a little extra exciting that morning.  Bryan soon met me in the waiting room, and then we were brought back by the nurse who was going to be with me both pre and post-op.  The nurse loved my T-shirt, and I love positive reinforcement so this was already going well for me.

When we got back to our “bay” as they called them, I got down to my birthday suit and wrapped the oh-so-comfortable hospital gown around my body.  My nurse put in my IV, and I acted like it didn’t hurt like holy hell (which was a lie).  I couldn’t help but notice that she looked so much like our friend Shala…it could have been her sister!  For this reason, and so many more, I was instantly comfortable.

As we waited for surgery many more people came in until the area was full.  There was so much to take in.  There were people crying because the stimulation shots had made them so incredibly uncomfortable, people groggily coming out of anesthesia, and there was the surgeon bopping from bay to bay giving the EXACT SAME speech to each person that was about to go in for their retrieval “God gave you bandaids, they are called platelets….”  By the time it was my turn Bryan and I were pretty much able to recite his entire speech.

Fast forward to being on the table…

The anesthesiologist started the sleepy meds, and this is what I remember:

  1. It burned and I made sure to tell him.
  2. I met my embryologist and let her know she was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen (sleepy meds clearly kicking in).
  3. I began to belt out whatever song was playing in the OR which knocked out the oxygen….and then I woke up.

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Apparently I was a hit in post-op.  I told my nurse about 100 times that she looked like Shala, and I made her write down the names of two shows I was currently watching on Netflix.  I was also trying to pump up the women in the bays around me by shouting “You’ve got this my IVF sister”.  I remember being very happy, and having no pain.

Shortly after waking up our nurse came in with our egg count and we were blown away.  We had 23 eggs that were retrieved.  IMG_6327Even our nurse thought that was pretty amazing.   We chose to hide our excitement, however, because we could hear the sadness of the woman in the bay to our left who hadn’t had as much success.  I will never forget her words, over and over…”what happened?!”  I can’t imagine how she felt.  After all of those weeks of shots and hoping.  I still think about her.

We left that day feeling on top of the world.  23 eggs….TWENTY THREE EGGS!  This was amazing.  Surely this would mean that we would have a solid amount of eggs after everything was said and done.

False fucking happiness.

Here is how it works:  On the day of your retrieval you find out how many eggs were harvested.  The next day you find out how many eggs were fertilized, and then 5 days later you are given your final count.  What they don’t tell you…the number you get on the day of retrieval gives you false hope.  The VERY NEXT DAY we learned that out of those 23 eggs only 14 were mature…and out of those 14 mature eggs only 8 fertilized. In a matter of one day we lost 15 eggs. Everyone kept telling me that “8 was still a good number” but I knew what it really meant.  8 Would be a great number if that was our final count, but we had a long way to go.  It would take 5 more days to see if those 8 eggs made it to the blasto phase (if they grew they way they should).  Even after that, they still had to survive the genetic testing.

So much about the fertility process revolves around waiting, and hope. Our embryos were in the hands of the experts, and there was quite literally nothing we could do.  Those 5 days were harder than I thought they would be.  We got a call from Dr. Rauch on Saturday the 25th.  Our doctor is the best.  She knew that we would be waiting, and although she hadn’t gotten the official report she dug through the paperwork to find that they had frozen three eggs.  We both shared a huge sense of relief, and she confirmed what I had known all along.  14 mature eggs was a low number for me, and she too was nervous that we would end up with only one egg after the 5 day wait.

For us, at this point, 3 was a solid number.

The waiting was not over.  Our three little embryos had been biopsied before they were frozen.  The biopsy was being sent off for genetic testing, something that was VERY expensive (think $8K) but very necessary given our history of miscarriage.  Dr. Rauch was honest, she let us know that there was a 30% loss attached to genetic testing, which meant we would likely lose one of our three eggs. This was OK, because we would still have two.

Such a whirlwind…and although we had 3 (and that was good considering what we started with) I was sad.  I cried for the loss of every egg during every phase.  We started on such a high, and yet were now in crunch time hoping and praying we at least end up with two healthy embryos.  How did this happen?

Mixed deeply into this emotional rollercoaster was the physical recovery.  Here is how that panned out.

Monday/Surgery: No pain, super sleepy.  Watched a ton of Grace and Frankie and slept. By the evening I felt well enough to get up and do laundry….I thought this would be easy peasy.  I was drinking a ton of pedialyte and water because dehydration is common after egg retrievals, that routine continued for the next two weeks.

Tuesday/1 Day Post-Op: Feeling OK in the morning I went to work.  BIG MISTAKE.  By 9:00 am I was in so much pain I had to go home.  It felt like someone was stabbing my female organs.  I looked 4 months pregnant from swelling, it hurt to stand up straight and it hurt to pee.  I learned that day that constipation is common after this surgery, and boy did that hit me hard.  Bryan got me a heating pad, prune juice, stool softeners, and raisin bran and I watched even more Grace and Frankie in between sleeping with my two caretakers by my side.

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Wednesday/2 Days Post-Op:  The supplies Bryan bought me worked and I was feeling “lighter”, although I was still very VERY swollen.  The janitor at work smiled at me and said “eating for two!”.  I said “Not yet, but soon if science does its job!”  It still hurt to pee and stand up straight…but it was manageable.

Thursday/2 Days Post-Op: Finally cleared out (if you know what I mean) and feeling better.  Still swollen, but looking 1 month preggo instead of 4.  At this point I was used to this level of discomfort because it was a lot like how I felt on stim shots, and we had been through 3 rounds of those.  What was even better was that I no longer had the symptoms of hyper -stimulation which meant I was in the clear.

By Saturday I was feeling more like myself, but it would take a few weeks to feel “normal” again.

#IVF Strong

 

 

 

 

 

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