IVF: post-egg retrieval, pre-embryo transfer, all kinds of blah

It’s only been 5 days since the last time we chatted… and yet, three of them have been some of the roughest of my life, so it’s felt considerably longer. Can I get a wah wah?

Waaaah waah.

Wednesday morning was our egg retrieval surgery. As anxious as I was about the procedure, by Tuesday night my abdomen was in so much pain that all I wanted was to be knocked out.

egg retrieval surgery

We arrived at Generations at 7:00 am and by 8:30, I was in surgery. It was quick… especially to me as I’m quite susceptible to anesthesia… and we were back on the road headed home before 10:00.

Before the surgery, Seth, the nurse, and I made our guesses about how many eggs they would retrieve. I guessed 8, Seth 9, and Jen, RN, guessed 12 — double digits are ideal. Sadly, however, I was right. By the time I woke up, the eggies had been counted and 8 was the total. I was ok with 8 on Wednesday. We were told to expect fertilization of approximately 50%. I was even ok with 4 little embryos. (This is foreshadowing.)

Wednesday wasn’t so bad. I wasn’t in a ton of pain… a little, of course, as the only way to the ovaries is through the back wall of the vagina (oy) and the extreme ovarian swelling isn’t expected to decrease for at least a couple of weeks, but I was on good drugs and I sent most of the day in and out of sleep.

after surgery

Sometime well after midnight the headache started to creep in. And it grew and grew and grew to blinding pain. As I lay in bed Thursday morning, trying to crawl my way out form under the pillows piled on my head, my phone rang — it was the embryologist from the lab at Generations calling to update me on our embryos. Of the 8 eggs retrieved, only 6 were mature enough for fertilization. Following sperm injection, only three eggs were actually fertilized.

Three.

And my head was pounding and the room was spinning and I thought for sure I was going to vomit. I stumbled through the getting-ready-for-work motions, crying all the while… I was so sick. And I was so disappointed.

Just three.

In the end, I didn’t make it to work. Instead, I spent another day taking Percocet… in and out of sleep… with a box of tissues next to me… trying to talk myself out of disappointment, out of pain, and back to reality. To calm.

I drank a lot of gatorade, ingested a lot of salt (high levels of estrogen can make your vessels leaky, the salt helps them retain fluid– another stupid thing), laid around, and by Thursday evening, the headache had mostly subsided and I had talked myself into a state of satisfaction with my three maybe babies. Three is better than two… better than one… definitely better than zero. We still have a chance. Three chances, even. And with the lessening of the pain in my head, I became more and more able to handle the emotional toll as well.

After a good night’s sleep on Thursday, I woke up early on Friday and made it into work where I intended to spend a full day being as productive as possible. Except by 11:00 am, the headache was back with a vengeance. I wasn’t honestly certain that I could drive, but I couldn’t get a hold of Seth and I needed to get home so I stumbled to my car, the bile rising in my throat, not helped by a wicked case of hiccups, and somehow made it home to my bed where I laid like a corpse with pillow over my eyes, riding the waves of pain. By noon, it was so bad that Seth forced me to call Generations, who then forced me to go straight to urgent care over concerns about a clot…  another stupid estrogen thing. I spent a few more minutes crying over how much I did not want to go sit in urgent care with this insane headache before I set off. Long story short, I passed the tests, not a clot, took a massive dose of Aleve after talking to the nurse at Generations again (which is ok until embryo transfer), and spent yet another day on the couch in and out of sleep.

Another day wallowing in complete self pity.

I’m not strong anymore. I feel so done. Like my body and my mind have had just about enough.

But not yet.

On Thursday, in the midst of the headache and everything else, we started intramuscular progesterone injections. The progesterone is in oil and gets injected into the gluteus maximus — I can’t do it myself. Fortunately, Seth is a champ, and he’s done a really good job. I took heed of all the warnings and we’ve warmed it up in our hands first, used a sharpie to keep the targets marked, and spent a few minutes sitting on a heating pad afterward. So far so good.

On Monday, we head back to Generations for the embryo transfer. Day 5 embryo transfer, as opposed to the ideal day 3 transfer, can supposedly increase your chances of success if everything else is basically against you. When we get their on Monday, the doctor will discuss with us how the embryos look and how many they recommend transferring and all that. Then I pop a valium to relax my uterus, they pop the maybe baby (or babies) in, and we spend another two weeks waiting.

 

I guess the point of all this woe-is-me is to say that, honestly, I’m not nearly as calm, cool, or collected as I would really like to be. As I wish I were. I feel like I’m barely holding on. I’m feeling super sorry for myself and disappointed in the way things have gone so far. Although outwardly, I tried to keep my expectations low, in my deepest heart of hearts I was hoping for so much more. For eggs in the double digits. A fertilization rate that exceeded the norm. And for a big batch of maybe babies that we could store safely in the freezer and use to grow our family one transfer at a time.

But that’s not life. Certainly not mine. If things worked out that way, I wouldn’t be here at all — taking these desperate measures to have a family in the first place. That’s reality.

 

Honestly, I’m doing a little better today. I woke up early and went for a walk with the pup. I mowed the lawn. I made some cookies and a delicious dinner for Seth and his dad (who slaved all day long working in the garage). I took myself for a pedicure… and splurged on the “deluxe,” complete with hot stone massage and paraffin treatment. Most importantly, I didn’t cry even once. That was especially nice. And tomorrow’s another day.

7 thoughts on “IVF: post-egg retrieval, pre-embryo transfer, all kinds of blah

  1. (((Hugs))) It’s okay for you to feel sad, disappointed, upset, mad, etc. Please don’t beat yourself up for having those emotions. Even if you don’t feel strong, I know that you are.

  2. You are doing such an amazing job, dear Rachel. I’m remembering you in my prayers for friends who are “suffering” from great “discomfort.” But I trust that your pain, both
    emotional and physical, will pass and the result will be a joyful one. Love you!

  3. You may not feel it, but you are brave, strong, and amazing. And since your readers agree, we can’t be wrong ; ). Hope you feel better and best wishes for you and Seth.

  4. Having gone through this, I know how hard it is. I can’t lessen your physical pain, but I can tell you that it will pass. It is all well and good to rush back to work, but not too soon. Be good to yourself……and rest….. I will keep you in my thoughts..

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