IVF Cycle Part Two: Egg Retrieval

I would be lying if I said that I was excited for egg retrieval. I remember in January of 2018 when our doctor first mentioned IVF and BRIEFLY went over the retrieval process. At that exact moment I knew, egg retrieval wasn't going to be easy.
And if I'm being totally honest with you, I let myself really get into my own head about it. Knowing that I had to do that made me not want to do IVF at all. But I'm here now to say- that's SILLY! I am so thankful that my faith was bigger than my fear because egg retrieval was nothing compared to what I expected it to be. And if you're feeling like I did, scared and nervous, I hope that ease your concerns and give you not only hope, but some good tips to help you navigate through your retrieval too!
We ended IVF Cycle Part One with the ending of our STIMS medications and right before egg retrieval. So, BUCKLE UP because this is actually my favorite part of our story. Imagine that- the scariest, most nerve-wracking part of our journey became my favorite piece. I love God moments like that.
Okay, we had our final monitoring ultrasound on Saturday, July 6th and at that appointment our doctor gave us the okay to do our trigger shot to prepare for egg retrieval. And thankfully, our fabulous doctor drew a diagram for how we needed to mix our next set of medications for the trigger shot. At first, it seemed a little intimidating but once we got home and sat down to do it, it was actually very easy.
Our egg retrieval was on the morning of July 9th and by 9am, I was already in scrubs and awaiting our doctor.
Now, please don't let this "happy face" and thumbs up fool you. I was SO NERVOUS. I couldn't stop shaking, I felt like I needed to pee every five minutes (even though I couldn't have anything to eat or drink since midnight), and I was just wanting it to be over. Like, where's my fast forward button? Can we skip to this time tomorrow?
But as we were waiting, something hit me like a ton of bricks and it immediately changed everything. All week long, I kept saying, "we HAVE to have our egg retrieval." But God stepped in and reminded me- we GET to have our egg retrieval. We GET to do this. Why complain? And almost immediately, I felt a wave of peace rush over me that I had never experienced. So many couples that go through infertility aren't able to afford IVF or even get to this point. I was NOT going to complain over something because it was scary. And really, at the root of it all- that was my feeling: scared.
Alex got to be in the room with me for just a little bit. He got to sit with me while I changed into my scrubs and waited for the doctor, but then he had to go. He left to go to a different room to do his part of the whole process. I'm trying to think of how to word this nicely...AKA- he made his sperm deposit.
As soon as he left, I was there in this little room alone and the nervous feelings came back. I kept trying to remind myself why we were here and what it was for, but I couldn't kick these nerves. Doing it alone is awfully scary, I will absolutely admit that. Also, I think there's some serious validity in the fact that just sitting and waiting for the unknown is scary in and of itself. I was waiting for what felt like hours before the nurse came in to check my vitals before taking me back. She was asking me questions and I could barely answer because I started to cry. She reassured me that everything would be okay and guess what...it's time to go.
We went in the room right across the hall, literally. And now that I think of it, that probably also adds to the nerves. You see the door and it says "operating room" and you know you're going in there and you know you're going under a "twilight sleep" of anesthesia and you know they are going to syphon out your eggs (WHATEVER THAT MEANS) but what else do you really know...? Not a whole lot. And that's scary as hell.
When we got into the room, I felt better. I had a group of awesome nurses telling me what to do and how to position myself. Again, trying to word this nicely. Ladies, the table for retrieval is a lot like a table at your OB, ankle holsters and all. Except, instead of your ankles going in the holsters, your knee pit goes in the holsters and you slide allllllll the wayyyyyyy dowwwwwnnnnn to the end of the table. Basically, I'm on display here. But hey, they had a nice painting on the ceiling for me to look at sooooo I guess that helps?
They got me hooked up to everything and they could tell I was super nervous. But both of the nurses reminded me that I would be okay and they knew that because they had both gone through it themselves. Which is just really encouraging to hear. They know how you're feeling and they know what you're going through. It helped me to calm down just a little bit more.
They gave me the first hit of anesthesia and we kept talking. I could feel my body loosen up, but I could also feel my nerves still sky high. We kept talking and the nurse said, "you're really nervous aren't you?" YUP. So she gave me another hit of the anesthesia and bye-bye nerves. The last thing I remember was looking at the painted ceiling and saying, "Ooo, I feel like a fruit loop." And off to dream land I went.
The COOLEST part of the whole process was what Alex got to witness during retrieval. Our egg retrieval room had a door that went into the embryologist lab and as soon as the eggs were taken from me, they were given to an embryologist to look at under a microscope. He would count the eggs and then turn around to tell Alex how many they were collecting. Alex was sitting in a chair on the other side of the glass wall of the lab and could watch as they brought in each set of eggs. HOW COOL! The embryologist would show his microscope view on a TV and would point out the eggs to Alex as retrieval went on.
When retrieval was finished and the nurses were waking me up, the doctor came out to talk to Alex about how everything went. He said that I did a great job (like I really did anything) and that they were able to retrieve 58 eggs! FIFTY-EIGHT EGGS. No wonder I was so bloated in those days leading up to retrieval! Doc said that was almost a clinic record! But truly, what an amazing blessing that is. On average, women maybe get 8-14 eggs during retrieval. We got 58. Thank you, Jesus.
When I woke up, they helped me into a wheelchair and wheeled me back across the hall to our room where Alex was waiting for me. I don't remember getting in or out of the wheelchair. The first thing I remember was pain in my lower abdomen and feeling like I could vomit. They brought me pretzels and a Sprite that I couldn't even function enough to put into my mouth and I just sat there with a dazed look. This post-retrieval pic is the most accurate thing. How I look is how I felt.
Since I hadn't eaten since before midnight, the anesthesia was making me nauseous and ooo boy that pain was no joke. We sat in our room for about 15-20 minutes after they brought me out, enough time for the drugs to wear off. Alex was the friggin' BEST and helped me get back into normal clothes. It hurt to sit, stand, bend over, put on underwear, or basically do anything. The heating pad, Sprite, and pretzels became my new best friends and I wanted nothing more than to sit and munch.
Alex left for a quick second to bring the car to the front door and when he came back, he and a nurse helped me walk to the car. As soon as I sat down, I curled up in a ball and wanted nothing more than to just get food and get home. They recommended that we swing through a drive thru to grab some food on the way home, so Chick-fil-A it was! 8 nuggets and fries never tasted so good! We had about an hour drive back home from the clinic and as soon as we got home, I crawled into bed with my heating pad and had myself a Disney movie marathon.
Retrieval day was the most intense recovery day, that's for sure. I moved from our bed to the courch and I had my heating pad with me the whole time. It helped ease the pain I had, which wasn't excruciating but it wasn't lovely either. Easily comparable to some harsh period cramps!
I was so, so nervous about egg retrieval. You can tell because I think I've said that at least 10 times. But when I look back now, it's actually become one of my favorite days. I look back and laugh about how I felt like a fruit loop and had to tell this to everyone or how I could barely eat a pretzel. I look back and I feel love because I remember how Alex took such amazing care of me and was there every step of the way to comfort me.
But more importantly, I look back and I say that's the day our baby(ies) began to exist. Really, that's the day that made us a mom and a dad. And yes, it was scary. And yes, it was a little painful. But when I see the beauty and the glory that comes from that scary and somewhat painful experience, I can feel nothing but joy. Because that's the day that God made me a mom and I wouldn't have had it any other way.
The week to follow egg retrieval was one of the most amazing week of our lives. We had daily updates from the embryologist and we watched as the lives of our babies formed. Read Part 3 for the most amazing part of this whole process and for some tips on how to handle healing post-retrieval!
Photo Credits:
Featured Image:  Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels
All inner photos are personal use.