**This post discusses, fertility treatment, drugs and injections. It’s intended to be helpful but if you feel you’ll find any of this upsetting, please don’t read on.
The information comes from my own experience and that of the women in the support groups I’m part of (they gave their permission of course)**
I’ve had a bit of a break from blogging about our experience of IVF while I concentrated on the experience of being pregnant through IVF! But I figured it’s time to finish our story. The next step after starting your injections, down reg and stimulating follicle growth is to collect those eggs that you’ve been working hard to grow.
As I’ve mentioned previously I developed OHSS which stands for Ovary Hyper Stimulation Syndrome. What this means is that instead of becoming slightly enlarged and producing say 5 follicles on each ovary – mine grew to the size of large grapefruits and I had over a dozen large follicles on each side. The condition causes your abdomen to fill will fluid and it can make you very poorly indeed. So while my IVF comrades walked excitedly into the clinic on egg collection day, I waddled in, red in the face and weary. I was in a lot of pain and had been for a week – but I was really looking forward to finding out how many eggs I’d managed to produce. So when reading this please remember that my experience won’t necessarily be typical – not everyone gets OHSS. I wasn’t going to talk about this as I was quite upset about it at the time, but now it just feels like a small part of a very long journey.
Every clinic is different but mine put you under general anaesthetic for egg collection. You prepare for it as you would any minor surgery except you’re advised not to wear any scented products, this includes deodorants and shampoo! I have no idea how bad I smelt that day! While you’re preparing for egg collection, your partner will be ‘making their deposit’ elsewhere. I’d love to tell you all about that and Phill has a hilarious story – but it’s not mine to share ;-P
I remember saying goodbye to Phill who was wearing a full gown and hairnet and popping my legs in stirrups. I was wearing a pair of lucky socks sent to me by a friend I’d met in an online support group and I was already starting to feel a bit drunk from all the drugs. The anaesthetist told me that the doctor would do their initial assessments while I was still awake, but the moment they started I winced ouch! “Oh no no no” he said and started to prepare to knock me out completely. The last thing I remember is turning to the anaesthetist and telling him he’d never let me down and was the best friend I’d ever had…..
When I woke up Phill wasn’t there (he was downstairs buying coffee!) and someone had brought me some milky tea (yuk) and custard creams (not my favourite). I was a bit confused but for some reason decided that the best thing to do was take a selfie. This selfie.
The thing to remember, no matter what your head tells you as you lie awake worrying, is that egg quality is what’s important as opposed to quantity. But of course the first thing we (and I suspect everyone else) asked the nurse when she came in the room was how many??
22…and that’s how many they could get to around my giant ovaries. 22 blooming’ eggs – no wonder I was in so much pain! I was thrilled until I spotted “freeze all’ written across my notes in big doctor’s scrawl. Normally the eggs would be used to create embryos and then after 3 or 5 days, your strongest embryo is returned t their Mum. But they had cancelled my cycle on account of the amount of eggs I’d produced and the fluid in my abdomen. The usual procedure is to create the embryos and then freeze them….then wait three months to transfer the strongest.
I was devastated. I really didn’t think I could wait another three months – physically and emotionally I was completely invested in transferring a fresh embryo now! So I begged the doctor to reconsider. The doctor eventually agreed and sent me home on full bed rest saying we would revisit the situation in a few days.
The nurse advised that I drink plenty of fluids, especially isotonic drinks, protein and salty foods. I had to monitor how much I peed (difficult as we were having our bathroom refitted) and basically stay in bed at all times except to use the toilet.
Later that day we found out that out of 22 eggs, 12 had fertilised and were growing. We had 12 embryos. I climbed into bed and considered the fact that at that moment we had 13 children.
Over the next five days I watched some seriously sh*t TV, took pain killers that made me feel loopy and thanks to the protein, salted nuts and isotonic drinks I burped….a lot….oh and the burps smelt like rotten egg. It was a dark time.
Thankfully the dog didn’t seem to care how I smelt or how much water I was retaining!
Regardless of whether or not you’re unlucky enough to develop OHSS, if you’re about to start the 3 or 5 day wait between egg collection and embryo transfer, I’d recommend that you stock up on the following:
Wheat pack or hot water bottle
Mints…..because nobody likes eggy breath!
As I lay there I considered that if everything worked, these were my last days of not being pregnant. I thought about binging on pate, soft cheeses and prosecco, but settled on a glass of wine or two – for relaxation purposes of course.
I worked hard to get myself into the right frame of mind. This was going to work, the OHSS would have calmed down enough to go ahead, there would be a super strong embryo ready to be transferred and the procedure would be successful. I told myself this over and over again and eventually I believed it.
5 days later we retuned to the clinic to see whether we could go ahead with embryo transfer.