Legs up, lights out

Gotta make this as fun as possible, right?!

I’m finally in a headspace to recap this part of our journey. To be honest, I really didn’t want to update until we knew for sure if we were truly past this hurdle. Until the test results are in, I can’t declare this checked off our Intended Parents To-Do List.

I can’t help but share an update before we have our final results/count, though! I mean, it’s been two weeks since my last update, and almost two weeks since my egg retrieval. I can’t make it another 2 weeks until testing is in!

Retrieval Day

With the help of a dear friend, I had a fun shirt for retrieval day. If we have to go down this path, we may as well make it as fun as possible, right? The nurses all got a laugh out of it, and it made the day feel less daunting. I mean, there was a LOT riding on this day and the next six.

Leading up to the retrieval, I felt sluggish, bloated, and just a tired-blah. I didn’t feel my ovaries too terribly. A year ago, I had taken a fertility med to help our chances with becoming pregnant. I felt my ovaries during the time between my trigger shot and then a sweet release of pain when my follicles popped in ovulation. With this cycle, I didn’t feel that intense, heavy pain, just a dull pain if I moved too much. I’m thankful for that.

The day before my retrieval, my husband and I joked about how I acted waking up from anesthesia. He teased that he would record me so I could see how feisty I am when I wake. I told him I’d try to be on my best behavior, but I probably can’t be trusted to keep that promise!

After being prepped on the process and signing some more forms (I agreed to release all the extra ovary juices and such that is collected to their research program), I was walked back to the operating room. There, upbeat 90s music played – specifically Salt-N-Pepa. I fell asleep to J Lo.

I remember asking when I woke up if they played the music the whole time. I think that caught the nurse off guard as she asked if i heard it the whole time. I told her no, I was just curious. It was strangely comforting how routine this procedure was to all of them that they played music throughout.

As one of the nurses was telling me about her experiences waking up from anesthesia always crying and hysterical, my husband walked in. I apparently couldn’t help myself but to look at him with a wry smile and say, “He thinks I get feisty!” Other than that, I think I behaved myself well. Ha!

Before the procedure, I was warned that the antibiotic that they gave me in my IV could produce a bad taste in my mouth, and for some people it causes a “burning sensation in the crotch.” 😳 Lucky for me I didn’t experience that, but thank goodness they warn people. Can you imagine getting an IV and all of a sudden your lady bits start burning?! About 30 minutes after leaving the clinic, I did start to get a nasty taste at the back of my mouth. We stopped and I got sweet tea and got my Dots pretzels out to snack on, and that took care of it.

Recovery

I was incredibly crampy the first day and some the second day. To my surprise, I felt worse than before the procedure, but nothing ibuprofen couldn’t handle.

I felt like I was improving, but I definitely started to feel my ovaries more several days after the procedure, which I wasn’t prepared for. I thought I was through the worst, but then all of a sudden, it almost felt as though I was going to ovulate again. Throughout a few days, I felt pain in my side at random times, but never enough to cause much worry. It was just more sore than anything. One night almost a week after the procedure, I leaned and twisted over to grab the blankets back up over me, and pain shot through my side. I spent about an hour lying flat, hoping with all my might I didn’t twist an ovary or something. Thankfully, the pain subsided and I drifted off. When I woke up, I was fine again.

Counts and Stats

To recap: At my baseline appointment, they counted 23 follicles. At my first monitoring appointment, there were 14 follicles that were “perking up” measurable. My last monitoring appointment, there were 15.

They were able to collect 14 eggs!

From what I’ve learned over the last year in reading IVF stats and following people’s stories, you can expect to lose 25-50%, each step of the way. So if we have 14 eggs, expect only 7 to fertilize, 3-4 to make it to blast, 1-2 to make it through biopsy to freeze, and then (if 2 are biopsied) maybe 1 will be normal.

On Day One, which was the day after the procedure, we were informed that 9 fertilized! We were glad that over half fertilized, but it is definitely sad and nerve wracking to see the number dwindling.

It was a loooong wait, but Day 6 finally came and I received the text that I had a message on the patient portal. I about hyperventilated at my desk trying to get the app pulled up and log in. My heart was pounding and my hands were shaking…

SIX!!!

Six little EMBABIES made it to blastocyst stage, and were biopsied and frozen. SIX!

It’s been a week since this news, and I’m still riding this high. Statistically, we can hope for 2-3 to test normal (looking specifically at genetic testing, it’s normal for only 30% of a cycle’s embryos to test normal). In addition to the genetic testing, the embryologist also grades the embryos, which basically is just a rating of how pretty the embryo is – the stage of development, and how clear of a ring (cells that make the placenta) and definition of the inner clump of cells (the fetal cells). The grading is subjective, but having high grade is definitely more encouraging, and something we would be able to tell potential surrogates. We won’t know the grading until the PGS results are in – no point in telling us we have a high grade embryo, if that one turns out to be genetically abnormal. Anyway, having 2-3 embryos would allow us to start the process of searching for a surrogate, with confidence that if the first transfer fails, we can try again.

Of course, nothing is guaranteed, so we are still crossing our fingers for good news in 1-2 weeks.

Stay tuned for our next big update!

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