Our Infertility Journey (1.19): An Egg Retriveal Without Pain Meds or Anesthesia!

The plan was to start the process of a full IVF cycle all over again as soon as possible so that my cervix wouldn’t have the opportunity to become windy again. I was ready, but I was also exhausted. I admitted to Dave that I wasn’t sure how much more I could take. We went with the antagonist cycle again because this had given the best response with limited hyperstimulation. Back to the shots, the ultrasounds, and the early morning doctor visits…blood work galore. It was all so routine now that I couldn’t even imagine life without IVF.Sperm injection

Walking into the clinic each morning, the secretaries greeted me by name. That’s not really a positive thing in an infertility clinic. You want to get in and out with success as quickly as possible. Becoming a regular is not the goal. The stimulation went well this time. It actually looked like it was going to offer the best egg retrieval yet. The retrieval day was set once again, and once again we arrived early in the morning to the hospital. I had taken my Ativan and Dave was at my side. My assigned infertility nurse was also present which was always comforting. But today, another nurse who was new to the department was also present. She was the one who would be pushing my pain medications.

I wasn’t all that thrilled at the idea of having an extra person in the room (especially one that I didn’t know), but I didn’t really have an option. Things got started and were going fairly well except for the fact that this time was much more painful compared to my previous egg retrievals. I kept asking for more pain medication (which wasn’t typical for me), and I repeatedly asked how close we were to being done. Pain, Pain, Pain! I squeezed Dave’s hand so hard that I thought I was going to break it. Why was this time so much worse? I wasn’t sure how much more I could handle. I never asked for the maximum amount of narcotics!Cropped image of nurse attaching IV drip on male patient's hand

The physician told me that a significant number of the follicles were close to the ovarian wall. This location was often more painful for egg retrievals. Maybe, but as they wheeled in the gurney I noted that I was much more awake and lucid than the last two times we had done this. I was actually carrying on a full conversation with the nurse, which I had never previously been able to do. On the other retrieval days my mind had been sluggish and my mouth always had trouble forming the words that I wanted to say. A “yep,” or “huh” were typically all that I could utter due to the sedating effects of the pain meds and anti-nausea medications (I’m something of a light-weight). Usually, my legs were so heavy that I couldn’t even transfer myself to the stretcher without significant help. This time I practically hopped from one bed to the other.

I mentioned how strange it was that I felt this awake. Ah, well, it was over. Off to recovery once more. A new nurse came in to check on me and to flush my IV line. As she was flushing, I began to panic at the sensation. What horrible medication was she giving me? She said, “Nothing, just flushing the line with saline.” As soon as she left the room I went bizirk. My hand and arm were on fire and the pressure was unbearable, almost like compartment syndrome. Something was wrong. It was burning. It wasn’t stopping. I called the nurse back in, but she wasn’t sure what was happening. “Maybe a little bit of the medications were left in the tubing,” she suggested.

Well, that was an understatement because then my heart started racing, I began profusely sweating, my head was spinning, and I felt like I was going to pass out and throw up all at the same time. I must have looked as bad as I voiced because she quickly sprang to action, shut off the IV line and grabbed my vital signs. Sure enough…something was definitely wrong. All of the pain meds and anti-nausea meds had been sitting in my IV line, un-administered during the egg retrieval. Either there had been a problem with the IV tubing, or the new nurse hadn’t actually opened the valve on the tubing. Now I had just gotten a whopper dose of narcotics and phenergan (anti-nausea medication known to burn like crazy if not diluted properly) in one quick push!

This all explained why the procedure was so painful this time, and why I had been so alert. Within minutes after the medication overload, I was gone to the world, knocked out until late that evening. A junkie lifestyle is definitely not for me. I felt horrible. The nurse typed up an incident report, but there really wasn’t much else to do now that it was over. It wasn’t like they could take back my extra painful experience.Laboratory Fertilization Of Eggs In IVF Treatment

The good news was that our embryos were gorgeous. They were the best that we had ever obtained from a cycle. Only a few more days and once again two embryos would be transferred into my uterus. I prayed that this time it would work. I wasn’t sure how much more I could go through. My ovaries were huge and aching. My heart was heavy and aching. My endurance was waning.

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Our Infertility Journey (1.15): Fresh Embryo Transfer…second time’s the charm?

Several days after my egg retrieval, my uterus was ready for my second ever embryo transfer. When we heard that we had 6 embryos we were ecstatic. That sounded like so many compared to the last time. However, on arrival we were down to 5. They had decided to transfer only 2 embryos to minimize our risk of twins, but the two were perfect quality! Finally, we were going to be parents! My infertility specialist was in another procedure that day and was unavailable to perform the transfer. Instead, one of her partners was present for the procedure.

I was back in my striped from the waist down position with my legs in the air; I was ready to have this work. My legs started to cramp and get numb after a while, and the ultrasound probe was more uncomfortable than I had remembered. There was so much pressure pushing down over and over again against my sore ovaries that had just been poked with needles numerous times. Time after time, the physician attempted to pass the catheter tube into my uterus. The embryos were handed to her and then passed back to the incubator. She just couldn’t make the tubing work. Several times she unconvincingly thought that she was in the right spot, only to then conclude that she was not. Back and forth the embryos went.Sperm injection

I was starting to get nervous. This was supposed to be the easy part of the procedure. Tiny capillary tube in, baby in, presto…pregnant. Eventually, the nurse, who by now I considered a friend and who was holding my hand on the opposite side from Dave, suggested that we call my primary infertility specialist to let her try. Thankfully, she was able to come down from the operating room. A wave of relief swept over me when she entered the room. Not, that the other physician wasn’t good, but there’s a trust that develops between a doctor and a patient over time. I trusted my primary infertility specialist. I had researched her and chosen her as my doctor. Her knowledge level was great, but her surgical and procedural skills were also top-notch (which is why I had chosen her in the first place). She quickly moved into position and got to work. Unfortunately, my cervix decided that it wanted to be tricky for her as well. After at least another 15 minutes and several different types of tubing, she was in! In went the embryos. We waited for the confirmation from the embryologist that none were left in the tube. Yes, we were once again with child!

I got up from the table, desperately, needing to pee. Their protocol said that I didn’t need to lay flat, or put my legs in the air, or anything special. I could get up and go about my day as usual, but I still wasn’t allowed to exercise due to my ovary size. I was thrilled. This was going to work. Two great looking embryos were now inside of me. They were my little munchkins. I texted my friends letting them know how things had gone. We were only a week away from Thanksgiving, and we were going to Charlotte to see my parents for the holiday. I couldn’t wait to hear the words, “You’re pregnant.” We just had to make it through Thanksgiving and then we would know.

Our trip in Charlotte was fun. Everyone was excited for us. It was going to work this time because the medications had been so much better, the embryos looked much better; and well, it was just going to work. We decided to take a day trip to the Biltmore house. On the way home, Dave took a curb while pulling into a gas station. He didn’t just bump it a little, no, I felt myself lurch in the seat, with my seatbelt tightening. I freaked out! How could he be so careless? I couldn’t be jostled! What if he had just ruined everything that I had worked for? I went a little insane on him and then just stopped speaking the remainder of the way home. I don’t like getting angry, but I had so much riding on this cycle. It wasn’t like it was easy for us to get embryos. Every step had been challenging. He reassured me that everything was fine, and that it would take more than a speed bump to disrupt things. I didn’t want to hear a word of it. Although I eventually forgave him, I was a little nervous that it may have messed up our chances. I was probably blowing things completely out of proportion, but when you are on a gazzoodle of hormones and you have as many emotional and physical ups and downs as I had, you would probably have freaked out as well.

I was at work when the call came. It was my infertility nurse. She had been assigned to me from the beginning, and it was a good thing. I called her quite often when I had a concern, and she was the one who called me with my blood work results and my pregnancy test results. She was the one to hold my hand during the procedures, and she was the one saying “Hi,” to me each morning before my countless ultrasounds. She had called me with the news on my first cycle informing me that I wasn’t pregnant. She had a way of delivering the news that was very predictable. She always started with my name. She would say, “Emma, this is Libby (changing her name for privacy sake).”  And, then she would repeat my name and my results. “Emma, you are not pregnant.”  Followed by a sincere, “I’m so sorry.”

I had gone in that morning for a pregnancy test. Libby was calling with the results. Unfortunately, once again, I already knew what they would be. I had been feeling crampy for several days, and I was having a little bit of spotting. My munchkins had decided not to stay. I felt like they had betrayed me. Libby’s voice confirmed my concerns. “Emma, you’re not pregnant. I’m so sorry.” I was heart-broken. How could this be? This time had been better. This time had been as good as it would get. I called Dave to let him know, but I couldn’t reach him. Typical. He was working. I simply left him a message saying, “It didn’t work. We aren’t pregnant.”a woman blowing on a dandelion muted colors vintage toned

My infertility doctor called me as well to check on how I was doing with the news. We discussed options once more. At least this time we had frozen embryos so I wouldn’t have to go through a stimulation cycle again. And, of course, the price was much less for doing frozens. My gunner attitude pushed me to ask when we could get started again. I would have to wait a little while, but they could start me on birth control and once I had a period we could proceed with a frozen cycle. I was game. I do have to say that the periods after a failed IVF cycle are MONSTROUS. The medicines make the lining of the uterus thicker to support the embryos, but that means that you have more lining to shed. Fun, Fun! Not only are you not pregnant, but you get the worst period of your life. Oh, wait did I already mention that above? It’s worth mentioning again.

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Our Fresh Embryo Transfer (1.13)…baby making made easy????

I was so excited. I was expecting great news from our first-ever egg retrieval. Instead, I was told that only three of the eggs had fertilized, and of those three only two had survived. I had been counting on dozens of left over embryos to freeze for the future. Instead, we only had two. Although I was discouraged, I was also encouraged. Two embryos were all that we needed. I would take them!Two baby boys playing on bed

Several days later we headed to the hospital for our fresh embryo transfer. This is when embryos are placed through a tiny capillary catheter into the uterus. My personal infertility specialist was the one scheduled to perform the transfer rather than any of her partners, which gave me an immense sense of relief. Now that I was an “interesting” patient, with soaring estrodial levels and swollen ovaries…everyone knew me. I had broken records. I was off the chart! No longer one of many, I was distinct. It is strange how something bad like ovarian hyperstimulation can actually work in your favor. Being known made the process easier and meant that I received more time and dedicated attention from all of the doctors. In spite of this, I was still relieved that it would be my own doctor doing the transfer. She knew me the best, and I trusted her the most.

The transfer wasn’t supposed to be painful. It was a quick in and out. They actually said that I didn’t even have to stay laying on my back at all. I could get right up and head to work if I wanted to. I didn’t want to. Were they crazy?  I wanted to go home and put my feet over my head. I wanted those embryos to stick and stay!

We arrived to the procedure room early in the morning. My husband, Dave, was thankfully able to get the time off of work. We were making a baby…yes, the unromantic way, but we were still making a baby. As the nurse brought us back, she told me to undress from the waist down-yet again, and she handed Dave his baby-blue paper jump suit and surgical cap. As I was starting to strip down and Dave was starting to layer up, the nurse announced the sad news that we now only had one remaining embryo. The second one had not survived. I was heart-broken.Baby Fetus Newborn Over Isolated White Background. New Born Chil

One embryo decreased our chances of success by at least 50%, maybe even more. As it was, the chances of success had only been about 50%; now they were down into the 30’s. I gave myself a mental pep talk, but all the time I felt like someone had just punched me in the stomach. As my doctor prepared for the transfer, the nurse pressed the transabdominal ultrasound uncomfortably over my overly full bladder and hyperstimulated and swollen ovaries. I was fairly certain that I was going to start peeing right in my doctor’s face! I felt like I needed to warn her just in case I was about to embarrass myself and soak her. She reassured me that I wasn’t going to urinate. I remained skeptical and started cursing the darn ultrasound. It felt worse than the transvaginal. How was that even possible?

It took a little while longer than expected to get the catheter in place, but once in, the embryo was shot into my uterus. I was with child. A baby was inside of me. Now it was time to wait and see if it would attach and grow. There was nothing more that I could do other than wait.Questions, questions, questions... the Concept photo

Waiting. Waiting. Waiting is such a hard process. I prayed more than I ever have. I pleaded with God to let this work. I prayed that the baby would be healthy. I made promises to God that I probably couldn’t even possibly keep, but I wanted him to know that I meant business. I knew that he could make this happen. He could control the situation. Why he had put me in this situation in the first place I didn’t understand, but I knew that he could rectify it. I figured that I had already learned so much. I had grown so much. I realized my human fragility and my need for divine intervention. I waited, and I waited, and then…..I started spotting. And then, I started hemorrhaging with a full-out worst period of my life. My one little embryo had not survived. My womb was empty once again.Woman having a stomachache sitting on sofa at her home

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