The Harvest

I think egg retrieval is my favorite part of the IVF process. It means a full day off from work (and granted, you feel crappy during that time, not great, but it’s still a day off), and it means sleeping, and it means seeing the fruit of your annoying-ass two weeks of injections.

(mostly it means sleeping)

I had my retrieval on Wednesday, as I’d mentioned before. They set it for pretty late in the day, which is unusual–my last several retrievals have been pretty early in the morning, so we’ve had to fight rush hour traffic to get in on time. This time, though, the road was clear, and we made it in with a good 20 minutes to spare, which was a great change of pace. I sat in the waiting room with a whole bunch of people who were theoretically just like me (you could tell the ones coming in for procedures–they had on comfortable clothes and warm socks. Conversely, the ones who were in for just consults or the like were wearing nice work clothes and heels), and Kyle went back to what I’m calling the spank bank wank tank to make his contribution to the furthering of the species.

(he took a video of it that he showed me when I woke up from the procedure. There was a chair covered in sterile paper, a counter with a cup and Roku remote control on it, and a 36” flatscreen TV mounted to the wall)

And then I got called back and had to strip down and don a johnny, bathrobe, and slipper socks. I spent pretty much the entire morning pantsless as multiple people came into my waiting cubicle to ask me Important Questions like “do you ever die during anesthesia?” or “which vein is best for an IV?”

(the nurse didn’t listen to me at first and tried to go in my left arm, but when I pointed out my Best Vein on my right arm, she went there, and things were good)

The big thing I always do before procedures is tell everyone I can, “I will puke unless you give me an antiemetic in my IV. I will wake up from anesthesia, and I will puke on you and everything you love, unless I have an antiemetic.” I think I repeated this about five times before the procedure, hoping that it would mean the anesthesiologist would give me that antiemetic so that I wouldn’t throw up, and so that Kyle could take my woozy self to Friendly’s for lunch.

(I’m just saying that I totally deserved some fried food and ice cream)

(spoilers: I did not get Friendly’s for lunch)

But once I made sure that everyone knew that I would definitely throw up if not given an antiemetic, a nurse came to give me a little blue beret and escort me back to the procedure room.

Egg retrievals are really weird compared to other surgical procedures, in that you need to make sure your legs are securely way up in the stars before they give you the good night juice. I spent a lot of time positioning myself on a surgical table that seemed to be designed for only people weighing 100 lbs or less and then trying to assist the nurses as they hoisted my feet up into slings that would keep my legs way up high for the duration of the procedure. I was strapped down, and some blessed individual placed an oxygen mask over my face.

(retrospectively, it smelled a little sweet to be oxygen, so it was probably some nitrous oxide, which is GOOD STUFF)

They placed electrodes on my chest to monitor my heart, and then the anesthesiologist said, “Okay, you’re going to start feeling really sleepy, really fast, alright? See you on the other side.”

“Okay,” I answered, closing my eyes for a glorious nap. “Good night.”

The next thing I knew, I was back in one of the waiting cubicles. A nurse was talking to me, and I don’t remember what she was saying, but I do know that my knees were bent. I remembered that the waiting cubicles had reclining chairs in them and asked her, “Do you think you could help me put the footrest up?”

“Oh, sweetie, you’re in a bed,” she explained, and I opened my eyes to see that yes, I was in a bed.

“How many eggs did they get?” I asked, because this is the most important thing when you wake up from an egg retrieval.

“I don’t have the exact number yet, but I know it was at least 40.”

Forty eggs! Holy crap! When I’d gone in for my last monitoring ultrasound, I’d only had 37 follicles; another three must have popped up overnight. I eagerly awaited Kyle’s arrival and, when he sank into the chair next to my bed, told him the good news.

“We got forty eggs!” I exulted. He called me a spider mom.

The nurse was quick to correct me, though: we’d gotten at least 40 eggs. They were still counting. A few minutes later, she came back and told us that they’d retrieved a total of 54 eggs.


Kyle and I said, in unison, “Holy shit!” We said this very loudly, and we were probably not appreciated by anyone else in the little recovery area.

The nurse went on to tell us that this was the second largest retrieval they’d ever done; the largest was a woman who’d had 83 eggs removed (bless her, she must have been feeling even more arachnid than I do). She told me that they’d get back to me the next day and let me know how many of those 54 eggs successfully fertilized.

I was concerned about this. I asked Kyle if he’d gotten 54 sperm when he did his do in the room with the paper chair. He told me that yes, he’d gotten at least 54 sperm, though he hadn’t counted.

Unfortunately, it was around then that I started feeling nauseous. The nurse had given me some Tylenol for the cramping in my abdomen (because you don’t produce 54 eggs without some cramping), and my stomach was unsure what to do with this new addition. “Did the anesthesiologist give me an antiemetic?” I asked when the nurse returned. She told me that no, he hadn’t, but he’d given me fentanyl in my anesthesia, which made me more than a little nervous: fentanyl is one of the drugs I’m supposed to avoid when on my antidepressants.

But I was more nervous about my stomach’s newfound enthusiasm for puking. “Can I have an antiemetic now?” I asked. The nurse rushed away and came right back with a syringe full of Zofran, which she injected into my IV. “That’ll take a little while to work, but you should be alright afterwards.”

Even so. The nausea did not go away as quickly as everyone hoped, and I shuffled back to the car carrying a plastic bag for “just in case” purposes. Kyle instinctively took a back road from the clinic to the highway, and the twists and turns and bumps did me no favors. “Maybe next time we can take a main road?” I whimpered as Kyle winced and apologized with every bump.

But I got home safely and slept the day away to the peaceful rumbles of a line of thunderstorms. That night, I got my Friendly’s, and even Kat–who hates Friendly’s–came along for the ride. I sent an email to my office as a reminder that I’d be in late the next day, since I couldn’t drive or shower or literally do anything for 24 hours after having anesthesia, and then I went back to bed.

While I was sleeping the next day, the clinic called me back with fertilization results. Of the 54 eggs they’d retrieved, 38 had been mature, and of those 38, 31 had successfully fertilized. Suffice it to say that I will not be doing another stim cycle again for a lonnnnnng time, even as those numbers continue to drop.

It’s been two days, and I’m feeling… meh. Not my best. If I had my druthers, I’d ruther be at home, still in bed and only getting up to replenish my supply of purple Gatorade and pee, but work calls. I’m tired, and my stomach hurts, but I’m mostly functional and can distract myself from both of those facts. I’m probably going to have a pizza for lunch because health? What’s that?

(besides, pizza)

Assuming I don’t get worse over the next couple of days (today and tomorrow are supposed to be the worst days), we’ve got a transfer scheduled for Monday, two blastocysts. With any luck, my IVF journey will end there; here’s hoping. Until then…

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