The day has finally arrived. The day of egg pick-up in my first IVF cycle.
I slept extremely badly last night, lying still and thin and on my back (normally I’m a tummy sleeper) partly because I was in quite a lot of discomfort, but also because I was afraid if I rolled onto my tummy or even moved too quickly I was going to “knock an eggie out of an ovary”….
I had stomach cramps at about 7am this morning but was too nervous to go to the toilet, once again in case I dislodged some of my eggs. Doug caught me googling “can I go to the toilet after I’ve had my IVF trigger shot” which was kinda embarrassing.
We got dressed and drove to the hospital for our 10.30am admission. I made Doug drive like a grandpa the whole way. I didn’t care if I was taking things too far – I wasn’t going to risk anything with my little eggies! Doug confessed to me in the car that he was nervous. It was nice to finally feel like I wasn’t alone in the nerves department! My reponse was “I’m so nervous I could vomit!” which was in no way stretching the truth. I told him I hoped to get double figures eggs, voicing my opinion that the doctor’s prediction of twenty was way too optimistic but secretly thinking I might get twenty-two or twenty-three.
We arrived at the hospital and managed to get the third last park in the hospital carpark. We were extremely lucky because it was raining heavily outside and the next option was to park in the railway station carpark about four blocks away.
I kissed Doug goodbye and we went our seperate ways. I was to be taken to the day surgery clinic for my egg retrieval, and my darling husband was to go upstairs to the fertility clinic on level 8 and make his special “deposit.”
At the admissions desk, a nurse pulled me aside and told me when they were entering my health insurance details into the system the computer had flagged that I wasn’t covered for IVF. I immediately got a rush of blood to my head and managed to splutter something along the lines of “What do you mean? I confirmed all this with my health insurance provider before we signed up for IVF. I would never have started this cycle without insurance!” I wished very badly that Doug was with me. He was the one who knew about all the money stuff and I didn’t quite know what to do. The nurse remained very calm and told me she was going to go and phone my insurance provider to re-check my level of cover. After what seemed like an eternity on the phone, she turned to me and smiled and gave me a thumbs up. I let go of the breath I hadn’t even realised I was holding. We were back on track!
I was taken into the next room, asked a whole bunch of questions about my medical history and weighed on the scales. I was shocked to see I was five kilograms heavier than I was a month ago, and now up to 72kg. My all time heaviest. I tried to remain calm and remind myself that a bit of weight gain was worth it if I got to hold my baby in my arms at the end of this whole ordeal.
The Oscars were on today, so I sat and watched Hollywood ladies walking the red carpet in their fabulous dresses in the waiting room. Then, in keeping with the spirit of the day, I went and changed into my own haute couture – bright green disposable underwear, a hair net and one of those racy hospital gowns that don’t have backs to them. Woohoo sexy!
Then I was taken to yet another room where I met with my embryologist for the first time. She was young and attractive with false eyelashes. Not at all what I imagined an embryologist would look like. I told her I was having extremely bad cramping pain down both sides of my body and worried that I was ovulating early. She seemed concerned and went to ask my doctor, who was prepping for the procedure. He came out a few minutes later. We talked about the pain and he assured me that it sounded like tension pain but not to worry because it was unlikely I had ovulated just yet.
As the nurses led me down the corridor towards the theatre (yep you get to walk there yourself when you’re doing IVF you don’t get wheeled in on a bed) a nurse said to me “come on down and let’s go shopping for some eggs!”
I laughed and said “let’s buy some good ones!”
I hopped up onto the table and the anesthetist inserted the needle into my arm. The nurses kept asking me to confirm my full name and date of birth (a sign of a good hospital) and then asked about my profession. I knew they were trying to keep me talking to keep me calm. I remember thinking over and over ok eggies just stay where you are for a few more minutes, Mummy is coming for you. Mummy is coming for you.
The anesthetist said “I’m just going to put some anti-nausea medication into your drip now. We need to give this a couple of minutes to work it’s way through your system before we put you to sleep. Don’t worry you aren’t going anywhere just yet.”
Straight away I just knew he was lying. I started to think to myself yeah sure buddy what kind of sucker do you take me for? and then I blinked and sure enough I was in the recovery room and the procedure was over!
There was a nurse helping me and asking me questions about how I felt. I told her I felt like vomiting so she sat me up a little in bed which helped.
“How many eggs did I get?” I mumbled through my drug induced haze and oxygen mask.
“Thirty-four.” she said, before walking away.
I drifted in and out of sleep for about half an hour and my thoughts were all over the place. Thirty-four eggs! That is incredible! Wait, no. She said four eggs. I only got four eggs. Or was it thirty-four? I think it might have been four. Oh shit I only got four eggs.
The next time the nurse walked past I asked her again: “How many eggs did I get?” She opened my chart and purused the pages.
“Thirty-four.” she said.
“Thirty-four?” I asked slowly.
“Thirty-four.” she repeated again. “No wonder you’ve been in so much pain, you’ve been carrying around three cricket teams inside you!”
My whole body became tingly with delight. THIRTY-FOUR EGGS! I thought to myself. I GOT THIRTY-FOUR EGGS I AM THE GODDESS OF IVF I AM GOING TO HAVE A MILLION BABIES AND THIS IS THE GREATEST THING EVER. I AM GOING TO HAVE TO BUY TEN MINI-VANS FOR ALL MY BABIES!!!
“You should know,” the nurse continued. “That the ideal number of eggs to pick-up is fifteen to seventeen. You have more than double the ideal. Because you had so many eggs crowding your ovaries there’s a much higher chance they will be immature and there’s a possibility they won’t be viable.”
HOORAY HOORAY! THIRTY-FOUR GLORIOUS EGGS! Wait…….what? And that is when I came crashing back down to Earth. Seriously? You’ve got to be kidding me! No one warned me about this! No one told me this was a thing! I stupidly assumed because we were doing ICSI that wouldn’t be an issue.
I sent Doug a text telling him the result. He was understably excited with thirty-four and texted his parents to let them know, even though I’d tried to explain that it wasn’t actually a good pick-up number. I received a text from his mother Kate a few minutes later saying “Congratulations! You’re a breeder! That’s enough for two football teams!” which I think was supposed to be a compliment. I also texted my own mother who responded “OH MY GOSH!! That’s THREE CRICKET TEAMS!!”
Seriously, why all the sporting team analogies here? No offence to Doug or myself but we’re not exactly talented athletes and I can’t imagine our offspring will be either. I highly doubt there were any sporting teams of any sort hiding out in my ovaries. I prefered to think of them as my little political caucus.
Eventually I was allowed to change back into my own clothes and given some food. I was also given a cup of tea. Real tea. With caffeine and everything! Bliss…..
I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned before in this blog that one of the recommendations they make is that women going through IVF severely limit or cut out caffeine. I decided I wanted to take this whole process really seriously so about a month ago I went off caffeine. It was a few days of awful withdrawal headaches, but it was worth it for my own peace of mind. But here I was in the hospital drinking glorious english breakfast and loving it.
The nurses from the fertility clinic came down to speak to me about twenty minutes later and said because of my extremely huge egg pick-up I am going to be monitored on a daily basis. They already suspect I’m already suffering from mild ovarian hyperstimulation and if I get any more ill or start vomiting they need to treat me immediately and I will not be able to have am embryo put back. At the moment I’m scheduled to have my embryo transfer on Friday.
Have I mentioned ovarian hyerstimulation syndrome? In laymans terms, when the eggs are taken from the ovaries, the now-empty follicles fill with fluid. That fluid can then leak from your ovaries into the abdominal cavity where it suppresses your lungs. In some cases the fluid can also get into your lungs and cause real damage. OHSS can be mild, moderate or severe.
Mild symptoms include abdominal bloating and feeling of fullness, nausea, diarrhea, and slight weight gain. Moderate symptoms include excessive weight gain (weight gain of greater than 1kg per day), increased abdominal girth, vomiting, diarrhea, darker urine and less in amount, excessive thirst, and skin and/or hair feeling dry (in addition to mild symptoms). Severe symptoms are fullness/bloating above the waist, shortness of breath,pleural effusion, urination significantly darker or has ceased, calf and chest pains, marked abdominal bloating or distention, and lower abdominal pains (in addition to mild and moderate symptoms). It is very dangerous and can be fatal, but only 3% of women going through IVF end up with OHSS. Risk factors for OHSS include high ovarian reserve (tick for me), youth (tick for me), normal BMI (tick for me up until I started this process – now my BMI is 26), and large number of eggs collected (big tick for me!). Hence the reason why the fertility clinic will be monitoring me daily.
At 2.30pm Doug came and collected me, and helped me to the car which he had parked around the front of the hospital. He told me that when he’d spoken to his father and told him the news that we’d retrieved thirty-four eggs his father had cried tears of joy. Seriously. Over an egg pick-up! That man will cry at anything!
I’m back home now, resting in bed with a heat pack on my tummy and watching Happy Feet 2. This sort of feels like really bad period pain, though there isn’t very much blood. I’m trying to drink as much as I can without feeling completely disgusting and at the moment I’m peeing every hour so I’m clearly fending off the OHSS at the moment. Funny to think that as I’m lying here watching a movie and Doug is downstairs cooking dinner (what a good boy he is!) we have dozens of potential children created by our DNA struggling to come to life in a laboratory across town. I’m desperately hoping we get at least 7 mature embryos that are fertilized and Doug also seems to think we will have 7. Not sure why we think 7 is the magic number?
Fight hard my babies! Fight hard!
I’ll update the blog tomorrow after the embryologist calls to let us know how my little eggies are doing.