Wednesday, March 13, 2013

BEFORE egg retrieval
AFTER egg retrieval

Yesterday was the big day for egg retrieval.  9 days of medications and 30 needle sticks later (most self inflicted)!  We arrived at the hospital (my hubby and my sister) around 8:30 for my 10:00 surgery.  Strangely, it was pretty anticlimactic; funny since I've waited 30 long months to get to this point.  I checked in and waited for a bit to be taken back to change into my hospital get-up.  My sister and hubby had to wait in the waiting room while I had the nurse take my vitals, start my IV (ouch!) and for the anesthesiologist to talk to me and take my history.  I was in the room with another woman but she was behind a curtain....There were 3 egg retrievals scheduled that day and I was the last.  After all that was finished, my other half and sister were allowed to come into the room to help me pass time.  I waited for about 45 minutes or so until the lady that was next to me was finished in the OR and for my antibiotic to drain into my IV.  It was nice to have my big sister there for moral support, otherwise I'd probably let my mind get the best of me and would have been a basket case.  I figured that nothing could be worse than the hysteroscope I had....(and it wasn't!)  Surprisingly I wasn't nervous about the pain, but more the outcome:  would they be able to retrieve enough good eggs to make this work?  Just because the ultrasound shows nice follicles, doesn't mean they all contain good quality usable eggs.  Until now it was a mystery if I even HAD good eggs.  About every other day while taking the injections, I had internal ultrasounds to check the size and number of follicles.  Here's what it looks like:
Each black circle is a follicle:  a fluid filled sac that contains an egg inside.  At the time of egg retrieval, each is about 20 mm in diameter.  

my stomach after injections

At 10:00 it was my turn and I said my good lucks and good byes and walked myself into the OR.  I did some more waiting, lying on the table (staring at the weird machines). I was waiting for the anesthesiologist to finish her prep and had to wait for the doctor.  It wasn't my usual reproductive endocrinologist but another doctor in the practice that I've never met.  That made me a bit nervous but I had to deal.  I saw the infamous "window" they spoke of.  There is a window pass through (like a drive through window!) that connects the OR to the lab.  After each egg is collected, it is immediately passed through the window, to the lab, for them to work more magic.  I was SO ready to have this done and over with since my ovaries were about to explode and were killing me.  After the doctor arrived I was asked to assume the usual position for all these procedure:  in stirrups...that's the last I remembered.  I was given the MJ cocktail of propofol, benzodiazepine and maybe something else.  

Every woman's experience with infertility and egg retrieval is different.  We all have different journeys but share a common goal.  I've read reviews of horror stories with egg retrieval as far as pain is concerned.  Others barely feel it.  I was somewhere in the middle I suppose.  I was in the OR about an hour but the actual procedure itself is only about 15 minutes.  I woke up with moderate pain but it was helped once I filled my Tylenol with codeine script.  My stomach was sore and it was very painful to sit for obvious reasons.  Walking was also a challenge. Occasionally I'd get super sharp pains but they didn't last long.  On the way home I was a little nauseous but this passed quickly and I was even able to go to a restaurant to eat.  After I got home I slept most of the day and woke up this morning at 8:00.  Today is much better as I only have a little soreness. Tomorrow I return to work.  

So you may be wondering, how they collect the eggs? A large needle is attached to an internal ultrasound probe.  Once they find a follicle, the needle is inserted through the vaginal wall (ouch!) and into the follicle.  Once the needle enters the follicle, suction is applied and the fluid in the follicle is aspirated, taking the egg with it.  They repeat this for each and every follicle.  

After the eggs are collected, they are passed through the window and into the lab.  Since we have male factor infertility, letting the sperm and egg do their thing alone in the petri dish is a bad idea.  Our sperm can't seem to get it together enough to do the job. We opted for another procedure called ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection)....the embryoloist takes a small needle and manually inserts the sperm into the egg. This alone added another $1500 to our bill

OUR RESULTS:  We retrieved 14 eggs (a good number is between 8 and 15)!   As of yesterday that's all I knew.  It takes several hours for the lab to do their thing and call back with results.  I received the call this morning that 10 of the 14 eggs were mature and usable.  7 were able to be fertilized.  Each day until the transfer I will receive a call from the lab to learn how our embryos are doing.  Usually not all survive and not all may be good quality.  I am hoping for the best.  I should have the transfer Friday or Sunday and am hoping all embryos survive.  We will only transfer 2 and hope to have some leftover to freeze in case this fails.  If not, our journey may be over and we will have to consider living childless.  


  1. Thank you for this post. I am having my ER tomorrow, and for some reasons I am very emotional, even though we won't ET until the first week of June. Thank you for sharing your journey. It meant a lot on such a difficult day as this one is. All the best, Alice

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