Let’s start off with a quick update because I know it’s been just over a month since my last post – July was so busy – and people are very curious to know where things stand and how the retrieval went.
In my last post I was talking about how over stimulated I was and that my ovaries were literally the size of oranges. Due to that, we unfortunately were not able to go forward with an embryo transfer this cycle because if I were to become pregnant I would have gone into a severe state of OHSS and would have likely been hospitalized and in even more pain. The good news? We did remove lots of eggs, had a bunch fertilize and after 6 days of growing, we were able to freeze 5 healthy embryos.
As for the egg retrieval process itself, well, it was not quite what I expected it to be. I assumed I would go in very anxious but by time the day came I was quite calm. I was ready for the pressure I was feeling from my giant ovaries to be over but boy, I had no idea what I was in for.
We had to be at the clinic around 10am the morning of the retrieval. After waiting for a very short time in the lobby, we were taken back into the surgical area. I was shown to a small room with a locker and a comfy looking chair where I would both wait for the procedure and then after would come back and recover in.
I dressed in a hospital gown and was given an IV so they could hydrate me and give me my pain meds when the time came. Due to being on ASA 81, my blood was very thin and I think it shocked the nurse how quickly my blood came rushing out as she tried to hook up the IV. Before she knew it there was blood all over my hand and the ground. But she cleaned it up quickly, got everything attached and I was good to go.
Another doctor from the office, Dr. O, was going to be doing my retrieval. Before I went in, he came and had a quick conversation with us about what the procedure would entail and asked if we had any questions. After that, I was ready to head back to the procedure area. I gave DH a kiss and headed on my way. He didn’t get to come with me and while I had my procedure, he would be doing his own ‘procedure’ down in the Diagnostic Semen Laboratory.
The procedure room was not overly big. There was a hospital bed on one side of the room for me to lay down on. Behind me was a row of cabinets and any equipment they would need. In front of me at the end of the bed was a small sliding glass window in the wall which I was told would be the pass through that Dr. O would send the test tubes filled with my eggs through to give to the embryologist. Once laying down, Dr. O pointed out a television to my left where I could watch as the embryologist who was in the other room sorted through and removed all of my eggs from the tubes. At the time I didn’t realize this screen was meant to be a distraction point so you are not focused on what is happening in that moment.
I wasn’t really sure what to expect from the retrieval itself. My only previous experience was the follicle reduction in the Medicine Hat Hospital back in November and Dr. P had put me totally under. This time I would be wide awake but very much sedated. Dr. O walked me through everything again, showed me the tools he would be using and when it was time, I was given the medication, fentanyl, and was told I would feel it shortly and to focus on the screen. Before I knew it, I felt this sort of rush and knew it was the meds kicking in. It was go time.
This procedure is the exact same as the follicle reduction I went through except here they remove the eggs with the intent of fertilizing them. A long needle led by an internal ultrasound would be put through the walls of my vagina, then inserted into my ovaries and the follicles would be drained to remove all the liquid containing the eggs.
The first few pokes were not too bad, I felt everything but the fentanyl was doing its job. I laid there while Dr. O began draining follicles and once tubes were full, I was able to see on the tv what was under the microscope as the embryologist sorted through the liquid and removed all the eggs she could find. It was interesting to watch although I really had no clue what I was looking at. Thankfully the nurse who was with me pointed out what was what.
Things were going well and Dr. O was draining lots of follicles. I expected to feel some pressure while the eggs were removed but as he continued on, the pressure turned to pain which got more and more intense until I was laying there, my body tensed, my eyes filling with tears as I stared at my eggs, trying to breathe and counting down the moments until the procedure was finished. Everything went completely according to plan but because I had so many eggs due to the over-stimulation, he had to poke me a few more times as he tried to get every single last one of them. He apologized as he watched me tense up and explained he wanted to make sure we got all the eggs so this was process was worth everything I had gone through so far. I appreciated his kindness and professionalism, but it didn’t make it hurt any less.
Thankfully the procedure didn’t last any longer than 20 or so minutes. The pain however, did not really subside. I was carefully sat up and slowly moved to a wheel chair. I was taken back to my recovery area where I was to relax for the next hour or so before I would be released. Eventually DH joined me and we waited for the hour to be up. The pain never really seemed to get any better so eventually they offered me a T3 and Dr. O wrote me a prescription for more that I could take at home as need be.
While waiting in the recovery room, the embryologist came out to give us the good news. She had gone through all of the tubes and they were able to retrieve 25 healthy and mature eggs that were going to go forward into the fertilization process. There was no guarantee how many would fertilize but she said that they looked good and that she would call me in the morning with an update of where we were at. Despite being in pain I was so excited that we got a lot of eggs out and this was hopefully going to be all worth it.
As the hour came to a close, the only thing left for me to do was urinate. Since this was a surgical procedure, thats the one thing I had to do before they could fully discharge me. I was still in a lot of pain and moving was hard so I slowly waddled myself over to the washroom and nothing. I couldn’t go no matter how hard I tried. For the next hour I went back a handful more times. I went through 3 IV bags and the nurse let me know if things didn’t start to happen they would have to call Dr. O in to place a catheter. I was in pain, upset and the last thing I wanted was to stay for another few hours and get a catheter. Thankfully, a short while after, I tried one final time and was able to will my body into going. After that I was allowed to change, gather my things and head out.
Being 3 hours away from home, DH and I discussed if we should make the journey back so I could be home and recoup in my own bed. We still had out hotel room booked just in case, so we decided we would start by heading there and then would decide what to do. Well I couldn’t even make it the 5 minute drive back to the hotel before I was in tears. I was in so much discomfort and all I wanted to do was lay down and cry myself to sleep, which is exactly what I did.
DH was great; he let me rest, brought me meds, water and something to eat. I spent the rest of the day asleep or in a drowsy state zoning out while watching whatever was on the tv. The next day I was still in a fair amount of discomfort but no where near as bad as the day before. I took my time, moved slowly and eventually we got in the car and made the trek home. I made sure to take some meds and tried my best to sleep and sit in as comfortable a position as I could. Half way back my phone rang. It was the embryologist. I’m pretty sure my heart stopped. I held my breath until I heard the news; 19 of the 25 eggs fertilized. 19! I couldn’t believe it. She told me she would call again tomorrow to update and then probably not again till the end of the week when we would know how many made it to cryopreservation.
When we finally made it home I headed upstairs for a much needed lay down. Before I fell asleep I though about the last two days. The whole thing was completely overwhelming and exhausting – from the procedure itself and the physical pain I was enduring to the anxiety that now filled my mind as I knew the next week would be nothing but thinking about how many eggs were still growing and if at the end of this week we would have some embryos to freeze to make the whole process worth it.
Fast forward 5 days. The pain went away slowly day by day. It was the Canada Day long weekend so DH and I packed up and joined our family and friends on a camping trip in the mountains. Everyone was really helpful and took good care of me as I moved slowly and took my time.
On the morning of day 5 the call came. I had been terrified all morning that she was going to say we had nothing to freeze. I had been so used to disappointment that I had already been preparing myself for heartbreak. She said that things turned out very well and they were able to freeze 5 embryos. I couldn’t believe it. I cried happy tears and after telling DH, we shared our wonderful news with the rest of our family and friends; everything we had gone through was totally worth it.