I woke up quickly when everything was over, and although I was told I should expect that I would feel weird, I felt pretty good.
In Navigating IVF, IVF Steph takes us on her journey through the wilds of fertility treatment.
On the day before Valentine’s Day, I had egg retrieval.
Nothing says romance like sticking a literal needle through the walls of your vagina, amirite?
I spent the night before the retrieval super stressed out. I had terrible dreams about something going wrong — we would break down, or oversleep, or whatever. The doctor's office stressed to me that it was imperative not to be late.
So, of course, we had car issues and were late. OF COURSE. It wound up being fine — we got there well before our actual retrieval time, and everything was fine — but I wouldn’t recommend it. The entire staff at the clinic was incredibly kind, which made us feel a lot better.
Once we got back into the retrieval area, a nurse came out and took my vitals, and went over what would happen after the procedure. I had stopped injections of Menopur and Follistim, as they promote increased egg production, but I needed to add a daily steroid and a shot of progesterone. The nurse anesthesiologist came in and discussed the risks of the sedation for the procedure. I have to confess that while I know healthy young(ish) people that go under anesthesia are almost always fine, hearing, “Oh, and also, you could die, just FYI” really sucks. Informed consent is a real bitch sometimes.
After putting on the lovely hospital gown and getting an IV placed, I walked over to the procedure room. There were three nurses in the room and the embryologist, and they were all lovely. They very kindly listened to me crack terrible jokes out of total anxiety and pretended to enjoy them — until I realized I was passing out and told them so.
I woke up quickly when everything was over, and although I was told I should expect that I would feel weird, I felt pretty good. The nurse said that they had retrieved 15 eggs and that they would call me in a couple of days to discuss whether I would have a three or a five-day transfer. If the embryos looked good and were developing well, we would have a five-day transfer — if the embryos were okay but kind of meh, we would do a three-day. My doctor explained that this was because embryos will grow better most of the time inside the womb instead of a petri dish.
The nurse said I would have to eat and drink something before they would release me and asked me if I felt up to it. I hadn’t eaten since the night before, and I was starving. They brought me Chips Ahoy cookies, so, yes, I was absolutely up to eating. I mean, is there a wrong time to eat cookies? No. No there is not.
If you’re thinking about having IVF, let me give you this advice: If your retrieval involves anesthesia, take some damn stool softeners and some Gas-X.
Seriously. I know from experience now. (Hi, all of my family! I bet you’re not at all regretting reading this!) Also, you will have weird cramps, and you can’t take ibuprofen, so stock up on Tylenol.
Progesterone shots were also quite scary for me. I had a couple of them during our last pregnancy before we knew that it was ectopic. They were the most painful things in the entire world, and I was not even slightly looking forward to starting them. I started these shots on Valentine’s Day, which meant that the day of love ended with my husband giving me flowers — and then an actual shot in my ass. I can feel your jealousy as I type.
Luckily, I got some great advice from all the women going through IVF on Instagram. If you ever need progesterone shots, hold the vial to warm the liquid a little, have your partner put it in quickly like they are throwing a dart, and then massage the area afterward and immediately apply heat. I keep a hot pack on the site for at least 30 minutes.
Although my husband has greeted me with, “Whoa, your ass looks ROUGH right now,” I’m not in pain and also can’t see my ass, so it’s fine.
I did bleed all over one hot pack, so if you’re wrapping them, only wrap in things that you don’t mind looking like a murderer used.
We got the call that our embryos are looking good for a five-day transfer, so we are planning things out for the weekend. I’m incredibly excited and nervous. Stay tuned — my next column will be full of delightful oversharing about it.
And, hey, everyone — sincere thanks for coming along with me and supporting me on this journey. I’ve heard stories from so many women, and I appreciate how much everyone has shared. You’re all amazing.