INFERTILITY / IVF TALK

My Infertility Journal, Part 6: Retrieval Day 

Megan Tansom | June 19, 2019

March 27, 2016

Easter Sunday was our retrieval day. It has to be good luck, right!? Let the Easter Egg hunt jokes begin! I had to wake up at 4:30AM to drink water and we had to be at the doc at 6:30AM for our 7:30AM retrieval. Ryan had to do his thing (yep, his contribution to this process) for hopefully the last time and I had to be prepped for the procedure.

Of course, it took a couple of tries on my veins for the IV, but I had on my hospital gown and robe and was ready to go! The nurse, Nicci (LOVE HER), answered all of our questions as I was getting prepped. Shout out to the nurses at our clinic – they all were so amazing, helpful, caring, understanding, and just overall awesome throughout our journey. Anyway, Nicci explained how Dr. C would put a needle into every follicle, suck out the fluid which usually contains one egg, then put that egg into a dish that went directly to the lab. They actually had a little window to the lab in the procedure room. From there, my eggs would be fertilized by a process called ICSI. ICSI meant they would take one sperm and inject it directly into each egg instead of putting the sperm in the fluid and hoping they found the eggs. This makes sense in our case since we never had any sperm actually find or combine with an egg during our IUI procedures.

 

I was wheeled into the retrieval room and got on the table. There was a nurse at my head to administer the drugs and chat with me through the procedure and then Dr. C and a nurse Nicci at my feet. I was pretty “comfortable” during the procedure but was still able to watch the ultrasound screen as Dr. C went into each follicle with the needles to retrieve the eggs. It was so cool to watch. Ryan got to watch the ultrasound screen in the other room as well. I chatted with the nurse (probably too much in my good feeling state) the whole procedure and at the end they said “two-nine” as in 29 eggs retrieved! They seemed to think this was great so I was happy (and drugged). 😉 They got my dizzy self back into the chair and wheeled me back into the room with Ryan.

 

I was starting to become nauseous so drank a bunch of water and had some animal crackers (not gluten-free – wasn’t about to ask the nurse for GF snacks haha). Gosh, they were good. I mean when aren’t animal crackers good? After about an hour or so of getting liquids by IV and water, we left to go home. The nurses sent me with some puke bags (I must have been looking really good). I took a little nap before heading to our Tansom family Easter.

It was a fun Easter at Ryan’s Aunt Stacy and Uncle Julio’s place. No one seemed rushed, we had some great conversations and just hung out. It was relaxing and fun after my morning. That night and into the next week, I felt terrible. My stomach was extremely bloated and painful. I had a heating pad on 24-7, couldn’t sleep, didn’t feel like eating, and had the belly of a 4-5 month pregnant person – and THAT really messes with the emotions.

My stomach was painful and sensitive to the touch. Everything hurt and it was so extended. I called the nurse and she reassured me that this was actually pretty normal. Dr. C went in and punctured 29 follicles, all of which fill with fluid/blood afterward and make you more bloated. Great. I decided to just wear leggings and big sweaters for the rest of the week (since I did look pregnant and didn’t want the unknowing coworkers to start asking questions). I could barely walk day 2 and 3 post-retrieval. It was bad. Finally, by late Thursday (4 days post-retrieval) I was starting to feel OK. I still had a large extended stomach but by my transfer date (Day 5 post-retrieval – woohoo), I was starting to feel normal. I only had a small bulge by Friday.

Why wooohoo for day 5 post-retrieval? We were told that transferring embryos back after 5 days versus 3 days yields higher pregnancy rates. It all has to do with the quality of embryos and how well they are growing and developing in the lab. Some people do a 3-day transfer if the embryos reach the right stage early or if the doctor thinks they would grow better inside versus in the lab. The embryologist keeps an eye on the growing embryos and determines what day would be best for the patient based on how well or how poorly they are developing. Factors including the mother’s age and health may contribute to the decision of having a day 3 versus 5-day transfer as well. Sometimes doctors will delay the transfer to day 5 even if a patient has high-quality embryos ready on day 3, so the statistics may be skewed. We were just told our goal was day 5 so took what seemed like a little win. 

REFLECTION TODAY: This was an exciting time. I finally felt like there was an end in sight to this whole 4-year journey of ours. Everything seemed great with the amount retrieved and now all we could do was wait and pray for our little eggs to grow and for one or two of them to stand out from the crowd. 

NEXT up on my journal series, transfer day.

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