My IVF Experience: Phase 1- Stims & Egg Retrieval

Monday, January 23, 2017

I have finally finished Phase 1 of IVF which is the stimulation and egg retrieval, and since Phase 2 doesn't begin for a while (and will be kept a secret when it does!) I figured I would share my experience while it's still fresh on my brain. I think that in the IVF world, it's actually separated in to three phases (stims, egg retrieval, and embryo transfer) but for the sake of only doing one blog post, I am going to combo stims and egg retrieval in to one phase! 

***Disclaimer*** I didn't hold back any details in this post. It is very long, and filled with medical stuff, so don't read it if you have a queasy stomach!

Day 1 of my first set of stim shots was on 12/30/2016. I actually had my little sister, who is a nursing program student, do my first two shots. My meds were Menopur, which stimulates the ovaries to grow & mature follicles, and Follistim which does the same. Brian did my shots every night for the remainder of the stim cycle, and got very good at it in the process! (I'm so proud of and thankful for him!) I give major kudos to all of you who are able to give yourself the shots. I tried, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it. You all are brave, strong ladies!

The needles themselves don't really hurt, but the meds going in burn like crazy. I had to sit with a heating pad on my belly afterward most nights. As far as the side effects, I started feeling very emotional on day 3. I spent the entire morning crying over some dumb and petty things (Literally because no one was getting ready as fast as I wanted them to! Ha!), so I made it a point there on out to really try to keep my emotions in check. (Though hearing sentimental songs on the radio would always get me!) Around day 5, I started getting bruising and bloating in my abdomen, and also a horrid headache/migraine that came and went the rest of the stim cycle. I also experienced fatigue, nausea, bloating, sore breasts, & was pretty quick tempered. I tried my best to keep my cool, but it was really hard, especially toward the end.  (Babe I'm sorry for what I said when I was on hormones!)

On day 6, I had to add a third shot to the regime called Ganirelix which prevents any mature eggs from ovulating on their own. This shot burned so much worse than the other two, and by now my ovaries were really starting to feel full. Finally, on day 10, my doctor confirmed through ultrasound that I was ready for retrieval. He told me that each of my ovaries was about the size of a small orange, and I could totally believe it because it hurt so bad just to walk. I was able to do my trigger shot that evening with the egg retrieval scheduled for the morning of day 12. 

The trigger shot wasn't terrible. It definitely burned more than any of the other shots, but it didn't cause me to have any more side effects than I was already having. The day before the retrieval I was super uncomfortable and nervous about the procedure. I was ready to get the whole thing over with and behind me. 

Thankfully, my doctor scheduled the procedure first thing in the morning. (Though I wasn't very thankful at first when I woke up at 3:30am! Haha!) Once we got to the clinic, things moved very quickly. I kissed Brian "see ya later", got my hospital gown and blanket, and they had me lay on the operating table. What I knew would be the worst part of the day came next, because I hate getting IVs. People always laugh at me when I say it's the worst part (even when I was giving birth!) but my veins roll and I always, always have to get stuck multiple times. It hurts, and I always bruise so bad. I warned my poor nurse, and she just giggled and said "We shall see!", but understood what I meant when she couldn't even get a higher gauge needle to go in. Luckily, my anesthesiologist was a saint and my nurse had her come in to finally put the IV in my hand. Knowing it was going to hurt, she gave me a small shot of lidocaine in my hand first and I didn't feel a thing! Bless her! :) 

Once everything was set up and ready, the anesthesiologist told me "Sweet dreams!" and that's the last thing I remember. The whole procedure only took about 15 minutes so I woke up about 20-30 minutes later in recovery. I was a little out of it, but mostly just thirsty and hungry from having to fast. After they brought Brian in and gave me some water and crackers I felt much better. I wasn't in any pain because they must haven given me some good pain meds through the IV, but once those wore off the pain was terrible. (Not to mention the anesthesia made me throw up everything else I ate that day. It was horrible.)

Apparently the amount of pain a woman feels after egg retrieval depends entirely on pain tolerance and the amount of eggs retrieved. The average amount of eggs retrieved is about 14-15, but I had 27. When my doctor told me they harvested 27 eggs my jaw dropped. No wonder I had been so miserable! The follicles where the eggs come from don't just shrink back down to nothing, so they fill back up with blood and fluid which was where all my pain was coming from. It wasn't sharp pain, more like tremendous pressure and awful period cramps. 

I spent the next two days laying on the couch with my heating pad watching movies. Night time was the worst because laying flat hurt terribly, so I had to sleep upright. I suffered from some mild Ovarian Hyper-stimulation Syndrome, and my abdomen filled up with fluid. I literally looked 6 months pregnant. (What a cruel symptom!) I was able to combat it with eating salty food, drinking water, gatorade, & protein shakes, and limiting my sugar and carbs. Luckily, I only had one scary night where I could feel some fluid near my lungs, but once I sat upright and took some deep breaths I was just fine.

I finally started feeling better about 5 days after the procedure, and now, two weeks later, I'm completely back to normal! Of the 27 eggs retrieved 23 were mature and 22 were able to be fertilized. Of those, 12 made it to 5 day blastocysts and 3 made it to 6 day blastocysts, so in total we were able to freeze 15! I couldn't be happier with the results, and I can't wait to begin the best part! Thank you all for your continued prayers and support! 

If you are going through or thinking about the IVF process and have any questions or need some support, feel free to contact me! 

Also, our Go Fund Me is still open for anyone wishing to donate to our little cause! :) Thank you so much to everyone who has helped!

Until next time! XoXoXo

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