Life After Retrieval

I made it to the other side! Here I am, one day post egg retrieval and life is good. I’m still getting used to the new crop of medications. Bye bye suprefact, puregon and menopur, hello prometrium, estrace, baby aspirin and heparin. Oh, and doxycycline and dostinex will also be my friends for the rest of the week.

Yesterday morning was the big day. I’d read as much as I could about what to expect, so was pretty ready for how things went. We arrived at the clinic an hour before the scheduled retrieval time. First, my husband and I got to go into a room where I changed into a nightgown and he changed into scrubs, and soon the Dr. came in with some pills for me to take: 2 tylenols, 1 gravol, and 1 atavan. After that, we sat and waited, and periodically the Dr. or one of the nurses would pop their head in to check on us. The embryologist also came in to introduce herself and tell us about what her role in the process was going to be. In between the visits, we killed time and marveled at the three types of pink floral pattern in the room.

Finally it was time to go across the hall where the retrieval would take place. I got hooked up to an IV and to a machine that tracked my vital signs. We’d been in that room before for monitoring ultrasounds, and also for my endometrial biopsies and sonohysterogram, but somehow on retrieval day it looked different. I don’t know if there were additional machines that day, or if we just noticed the for the first time, but it felt much more like an “operating room” than it normally did.

In no time at all I started feeling woozy and the Dr. started the retrieval. It was uncomfortable, but not as painful as I’d feared. The embryologist had explained to us that she would periodically be yelling out numbers that corresponded to the number of eggs retrieved, so I tried to listen for that, but only remember hearing her say “8” at one point. I also remember turning my head towards the wall to look at the clock. I was amazed that the hands on the clock seemed to be zipping along the clock face at high speed. At one point I asked my husband if the minute hand was whizzing by really quickly, and he had to tell me no. Other times it looked like all three hands were falling down.

And then the retrieval was over. After the retrieval we got to go back to the room we started out in. I was pretty wobbly walking across the hall. Once in the other room, I lay down and the nurse got me hooked up to another IV to administer intralipids. Then my husband got whisked away to do his part.

I drifted in and out of consciousness, and at one point my husband came back. We talked a bit, but I was pretty out of it. Then, once the intralipids were administered, we were done! The nurse came in to report that they retrieved 14 eggs (which was very good apparently as they get 6 to 12 on average), and that we’d get a call the next day between 9:30 and 10:30 to tell us how many fertilized.

We grabbed some lunch, and then went home to rest. I slept most of the afternoon, as my husband worked on his laptop next to me. I felt quite sore (pressure and tenderness on the lower abdomen), but once I took a tylenol it felt much better. Over dinner, we marvelled that our future children (possibly all of them) might be hanging out in a dish at our fertility clinic at that very moment. Afterwards, my husband asked me about the fertilization. “What would be a really good result?” I know that typically all the eggs don’t end up getting fertilized, so I thought for a minute and said “I don’t know, 12?”

He looked at me amazed….”Really? Is that even possible?”. “Sure it is.” I said. “But it will probably be less…maybe 7 is realistic?” We decided that 7 would be great.

This morning, I was on pins and needles waiting for the fertilization call. On the one hand, I felt comfortable that by staring out with 14 eggs, we’d end up with a decent number of fertilized eggs. But then, there was the side of me that worried that very few, or none would fertilize. This fear goes back to our diagnosis of unexplained infertility. On paper, there is nothing wrong with either of us. In fact, I would even go a step further and say that on certain metrics, we even look like we would be spectacularly fertile. And yet, in three years we have never conceived on our own.

So in recent days, I started to wonder if it actually wasn’t me (usually unexplained infertility means an undiagonsed problem with the female), or even him, but something about the two of us together. Maybe his sperm just don’t like my eggs, which would result in a poor fertilization rate.

I kept myself busy this morning while waiting for the phone call, and finally it came. The embryologist started out with some niceties and talking about the process, meanwhile I sat there willing her to just get to the good stuff. Finally she said “Your eggs have done fantastic. Out of 14, 12 fertilized. One of the other eggs was immature, and the other one may have been. We’ll call you tomorrow with an update and let you know what the grades are.”

My husband was at work, so I texted him right away, and he couldn’t believe it. His response back to me consisted of a serious of quick statements punctuated by numerous exclamation marks. And finally, “Amazing! We’re the most fertile infertile couple around!”

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A Sense of Relief

I’m feeling pretty good today! I was able to sneak a peek at my test results from yesterday (I signed up for online access, so I can see the results as soon as they are sent to my Dr.) and everything looks perfect. Where there is a range for “normal” results, I am right in the middle of the range, and where “normal results” are below a certain number, I am well below. It was nice to see the actual numbers too, because my Dr. doesn’t tell me that, and after seeing other people reference their results, I have wondered what mine were. So it’s comforting to see the data with my own two eyes.

I know that many people struggling with infertility don’t want to hear that they have scored yet another set of perfect test results. While I definitely feel some of the frustration that comes with unexplained infertility, for the most part I am at peace with the diagnosis and happy not to have all of the additional obstacles that some couples have to deal with standing in our way. In this particular case, as I’d had most of the testing (LH, FSH, prolactin, thyroid function, etc.) done previously, a poor test result this time would not have provided THE ANSWER for us. Rather it would be a sign that things have gone downhill, and that whatever the odds were for us before (with the unexplained diagnosis), they were so much worse now (as presumably whatever is causing our infertility would still be there, but magnified by the new diagnosis).

So I am feeling upbeat and looking forward to IVF once my next period comes.