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IVF Diary Part 10: Egg Retrieval and Fertilization

This is Part 10 of the IVF Diary series. I’ll be keeping a diary of all important IVF days, starting from when we first chose to undergo infertility treatment in Prague. Click here to read all other IVF diary posts.

I made it through egg retrieval! After 12 days of follicle stimulating meds, I’m no longer growing follicles. They’re gone. Out of my body, out of my hands. So let’s walk through the process.

 

Day 16: Egg Retrieval

It goes without saying that I barely slept the day before egg retrieval. It must have been a combination of nerves, excitement and the heavy feeling I got in my ovaries that night, probably due to the trigger shot doing its job.

The alarm was set for 5.45 am but I was already wide awake by 5 ‘o clock. You’re not supposed to eat, drink, chew gum or wear any creams/makeup before retrieval, so it didn’t take us long to get ready and leave. After taking a quick shower, we were off to the clinic.

Entrance of clinic

Off to the clinic!

I was the first patient that day and had to be there at 7.30 am. There, I paid 900 euros ($1,060) for the whole egg retrieval procedure. The next €1,200 is due on the day of transfer. That also means that if there is no transfer, it would only cost us €900. That’s an amazing value, considering it includes all the ultrasounds, blood work and of course, the egg retrieval itself including anesthetics.

My IVF-coordinator showed up a few minutes later and took us to the third floor. Before taking me to my room, I had to take off my shoes and switch to Crocs, which they provided. Mr. Frugalcrib had to wear shoe covers.

I had a private room with a flatscreen TV, a chair, desk and of course, a hospital bed. I was asked to put on my gown (brought my own) and my coordinator would be back with consent forms.

We had read the consent forms beforehand as they had sent them to us at least a month ago, so I knew what to expect. A couple of signatures later and we were good to go!  I also got a cute wristband with my name, patient ID number, and barcode on it.

Next up was meeting the anesthesiologist. I had filled out the questionnaire, done all the necessary bloodwork and of course, had already gotten an EKG. But the anesthesiologist went over everything once more and was there to answer any questions.

After that, my coordinator left and said that the nurse would pick me up when they were ready for me. It felt like forever, but in reality, it wasn’t more than half an hour or so. At 8.30, the nurse asked me to come with her and empty my bladder one last time. The operating theater (or well, operating “room”) was just around the corner and Mr. Frugalcrib and I said our goodbyes. This was also the time Mr. Frugalcrib had to do his part.

All I could do now was get back up onto the stirrups and try to relax. The two nurses there were so friendly. I can’t even begin to describe how comfortable they made me feel. They asked me questions about my job, what the weather is like in Florida, and how I liked Prague. They just really made me feel at ease. In the meantime, they were secretly hitting up my veins and put the IV in. The doctor performing the egg retrieval introduced himself and also engaged in some small talk.

After a minute or two, the anesthesiologist said “Ok, we’re ready” but I felt fully conscious and awake. Did she mean ready for the procedure itself, or ready for the anesthetics? The nurse held my hand and told me to think “happy thoughts” and wished me sweet dreams. I could hear the doctor talk about my job some more and I wanted to answer his questions but I slowly felt my eyes getting heavier and my speech became slurred.

And…

After the Procedure

Next thing I remember, the nurse said; “Mrs. Frugalcrib, wake up“. Maybe she used my real name, I can’t be sure. I looked at the clock and it was 9.15. Mr. Frugalcrib was by my side and was patiently waiting for me to wake up. He said I was brought back to my room around 8.55. They moved me to the bed and apparently, in a semi-conscious state, the first thing I said was “how many follicles did they get?“. I apparently also said I had a GREAT nap.

Of course, I don’t recall any of this, but I guess that’s to be expected. I felt really well afterward but was freeeezing! Mr. Frugalcrib tucked me in as tight as possible and put an extra blanket on me. The thermostat was set to 25 degrees Celsius (77 F) so I’m sure it had something to do with the anesthetics wearing off.

My heart rate and blood pressure while waking up

The doctor who performed the egg retrieval met us a few minutes later and told us that he retrieved 23 follicles! He was clearly worried about OHSS and said there was already some fluid in my ovaries. We talked for quite a while and I was so happy he really took the time to answer all of our questions. We talked about my low estradiol levels, about the possibility of doing a fresh transfer, and things I should do to minimize the OHSS symptoms.

He gave me three different types of painkillers to take home. I got strict orders to drink lots of water with electrolytes (not just plain water), eat salty foods and increase my protein intake. He wrote down which protein powder I should get and told me to start drinking that 3 times a day. I’m supposed to come down to the clinic if my symptoms worsen in the next couple of days so they can put me on an IV and make things more comfortable. Really hope it doesn’t come to that, but then again, 23 follicles is a lot!

I was still on an IV drip for hydration and just went through a 500 ml bag. I needed to pee so bad! The nurse disconnected the IV (and the heart rate monitor, blood pressure monitor) and asked if she needed to escort me. No, I feel fine, I bragged. The nurse said to leave the door unlocked and that they’d come and get me if they felt it took too long. Great, time pressure! I was back in no time trying to impress the nurse and I’m sure she was happy she didn’t have to come and rescue me from the bathroom floor, all covered in urine.

The nurse put up another bag with IV fluids which instantly made me want to go pee again. But I wisely waited until the whole bag had dripped through before getting the nurse out to my room again.

The embryologist also paid us a visit. She brought the results of Mr. Frugalcribs semen analysis and we asked her for a copy. She explained the process of how the eggs are cleaned, checked for maturity, injected with sperm and how they’re expected to grow over the coming days. We picked her brain about fertilization rates, percentage of fertilized eggs that make it to blastocyst stage, extended cultivation past Day 5 for morulas that haven’t made it to blast yet, criteria for freezing and lots of other things. We also asked her how she felt about certain add-ons such as Embryogen, EmbryoGlue and EmbryoScope. She gave her honest opinion about all of them. Based on this, and our own research, we decided against these extras.

The nurse stopped by with some hot tea and cookies and told me to eat and drink up before I was ready to go home. And finally, after 2.5 hours of rest, I was discharged. Walking wasn’t the most comfortable thing to do, and neither was standing in a crowded tram or metro, so we took an Uber back to our AirBnB apartment. For less than $5, we were back “home” within 15 minutes.

Recovery

I spent the rest of the day just taking it easy. Lounging on the sofa, stuffing my face with salty potato chips, drinking my electrolyte/protein drinks, and reading books on my Kindle. Mr. Frugalcrib took great care of me and got groceries, cooked a protein-rich meal and was just amazing at helping me get through the day. Standing upright didn’t feel that great and I’m no fan of walking just yet, but I wasn’t in a lot of pain just sitting around or laying down.

Mr. Frugalcrib cooked up some ramen with scallions, boiled egg, and seasoned chicken. Bonus points for the protein and electrolyte powder.

Now, a day later, I can’t say I feel much better but I did go for a short walk around the block. It was a very slow walk though, as in, grandma’s passed us by left and right. I think the symptoms up until now (bloating, pain, etc.) were due to the egg retrieval and not necessarily due to OHSS. I hope I’ll feel better the next couple of days.

In the afternoon, pretty suddenly, my stomach started hurting like crazy. As in, pains so severe, I’ve never felt anything like it. Really bad. Mr. Frugalcrib quickly gave me some of the painkillers the doc gave me, and it’s now slowly numbing away a bit after 30 minutes or so. I’m afraid this could mean I’ll be in for some rough days…

If I do feel fine and we have an embryo make it to Day 5, we’ll do a fresh transfer next Monday. All we can do now is wait and see.

The Fertilization Report

At 8 this morning I got an email from the clinic that showed that 13 eggs were mature and fertilized! We’re really happy, but the tiny 2 nuclei (2PN) embryos still have a longggg way to go. I’m still convinced my low estradiol levels will hinder the further development of these tiny cells (although the doctor said that’s the main reason why they don’t like interpreting estradiol results, as it often doesn’t correlate well).

We should get another report tomorrow. At Day 2, the 23 chromosomes of the egg should have combined with the 23 chromosomes of the sperm, which forms one nucleus of 46 chromosomes. It’ll start dividing, and dividing, and dividing even more. Unfortunately, only a small percentage of Day 1 embryos make it to Day 5, so it’s just a waiting game of when and how many die off each day.

So far, so good though!

Click here to find out how the embryos are doing up until Day 3.

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