To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.
-Steve Prefontaine
Make it simple, but significant.
- Don Draper

Thursday, September 3, 2015

IVF Egg Retrieval and the Aftermath

April 2, 2015  It was a day like none other. Now that its done I am very aware that I am one step closer to motherhood. My insides feel like they have been ripped out. But let's back up!

The night before my retrieval I was home alone at my aunt's house bonding with trashy TV, Netflix and fixing myself some pasta. I ate heartily knowing that once I was done I was officially fasting. I took a relaxing bath, washed my hair and quickly got into bed with Titanic - knowing my ship would help calm my nerves. Before I knew it I was up and getting ready. I use "getting ready" loosely, as I was instructed to basically arrive in a t-shirt and pajama pants. I haven't sported that outfit in public since my first Walt Disney World internship in the 90s! I felt surprisingly calm and eager to get the show on the road. I've been spending so much time getting more and more bloated that I wanted to get these eggs sucked out and start what would be a pretty painful recovery.


My aunt drove me to OHSU and waited with me until I was called back into the official procedure room. I was weighed and given my medical bracelet before getting under my sheet and having the IV hooked up to me for the anesthesia.  Seeing as this was a legit procedure, I didn't have any family with me and therefore no photos of the process itself. At the end I did snap these couple of photos to show what I was in. Yep, my legs were hoisted up in the air, held up behind my knees and my girly bits fully on display. The chair did lean back, so during the actual retrieval I was basically laying flat and out of it. It wasn't a complete anesthesia and oh boy I could feel it! I hate to know what it would have felt like had I not been mostly under. I've never been under anesthesia before, so it was crazy how suddenly I was lulled into a peaceful state. The last thing I remember clearly was Dr. Seifer starting to insert the speculum. And then I was essentially out. I remember the anesthesiologist talking to me, probably reminding me to breathe. I know at times I felt a lot of pressure and mild pain. It really felt like someone took a shovel and was scraping my insides out of me at times. Basically a long needle was going in and sucking out the contents of each follicle, which I am guessing may have been around 14 or 15 follicles. Even though there was pain I just focused on getting through it and relaxing, remembering the ultimate outcome will be worth it!

Once it was over though, I felt fine. I was still looped up on drugs and feeling no pain. I don't know how long the procedure took. I was scheduled to start at 9am and I believe we were back on the road around 10:10am. The nurse, Debra, made sure I could stand on my own and stayed with me while I put my pajama pants back on. I assured them I was fine, because at the time I thought I was - thank you, drugs! She put me in a wheel chair and I was escorted by her and my aunt all the way to the parking structure and my aunt's vehicle. Talk about service with a smile! I remembered at some point someone saying the number 10 to me. I could only assume that meant they were able to retrieve 10 eggs from my follicles. I didn't dwell on this because once I was back at my aunt's house I was immediately back in bed with Titanic. I woke up to find my mom had arrived with new pajama pants and knee socks. Yay! Just what I needed!

We three girls hung out for a while talking. Mostly they talked, I listened. It was nice to sit around and remember Grandma, Grandpa and my aunt and the good old days. I think I kind of drifted in and out of feeling perky and tired, back and forth. But eventually it felt like I could move. Mom had to help me move things around since I still don't feel I can lift anything. We had my stuff in the car and were heading home. A ways down the road we stopped and I ate for the first time in 24 hours. McDonald's has never tasted so good! And this McDonald's had tall tables so I was able to stand and eat, which felt awesome. I basked in the sunlight down I-5 and listened to my mom sing a lot of the way home. Thanks to pain pills I was feeling no pain and barely awake! It was surreal though, whenever I realized that while we were driving home Man Friend's sperm were manually being injected into my eggs. We had my eggs fertilized using intracytoplasmic sperm injection, ICSI for short. By the end of the day I would have future babies in the making!

I can't even remember getting home. Man Friend was at work, and I remember my mom bringing my things to the front door and we did a sort of assembly line type thing to get my life back in place here. Also I started my newest medication, Cabergoline, to help me with my Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome. Ugh, I hate drugs, but I am more than happy to take this if it will help get me back to the old me and let me move on the next delayed step of getting my embryos!

It is now September 3rd and I am posting this. I realize now that I never shared WHAT they do and how they do it. I found a diagram to help show WHY this was so painful.  Basically I got on the chair/bed thing. It was so humiliating to have my KNEES in the stirrups and my legs completely spread wider than I thought possible. And it was just open there for the world to see as the nurse and doctor prepared everything. The blanket covered nothing, but blocked me from making eye contact at least! I could see a table that had tubes and suction machines on it. I think there was a pedal on the floor, perhaps to help with the suction? So while I was knocked out and trying to concentrate on breathing, the doctor would inject that needle and suck out the egg and fluid from each follicle, one at a time. Just imagine needles going in THERE like the image shows. No wonder I forgot to include it, it is kind of horrifying!! 

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