So today was the big day. Or rather, the first big day of the big week where it all happens. Today was “egg collection” day.
As I described last night, I had a lot of fears going in to this. But it turns out that my number one worry this morning was that they wouldn’t be able to get a cannula in to my rubbish veins and I’d have to do the procedure drug free. It turns out that fear wasn’t totally unfounded. Well, I knew it wouldn’t be from previous experience. But the problem with egg collections is that they are a bit time critical. Wait too long, and the eggs will be ovulated out naturally. Plus, without wanting to make it sound like a production line, I knew there would be someone else waiting for their egg collection after me, and that couldn’t be delayed either. So there isn’t a lot of time to keep trying to find that elusive vein.
In the end they got a little butterfly needle in a tiny vein so I did get some pain relief, but I wasn’t properly sedated.
I don’t want to panic anyone reading this who is about to go through IVF themselves, because the situation of not getting enough drugs is very rare. But I also can’t lie. The egg retrieval itself was extremely painful. At one point Ian, waiting in a room across the corridor could hear me shouting out in pain. The trouble is, it’s the kind of pain that instantly makes you want to move to get through it. But move is the one thing you can’t do with your legs in stirrups, and a scanner and a giant needle shoved in your nether regions! So shouting was my only other release.
To complicate matters further, my right ovary had decided to go in to hiding behind part of my bowel. After a number of attempts to reach it the consultant was on the verge of giving up. I really didn’t want to waste these eggs, as this would decrease our chances of success, most specifically of having enough to freeze some. So they gave it one last go with the nurse who was assisting putting pretty much her entire body weight on my abdomen. It was agony, but it did the trick, pushing the ovary down.
The procedure was scheduled to take about fifteen minutes, but with all the difficulties I was gone more than three times that, while poor Ian had to sit and watch a ticking clock – whilst hearing me shout!
The advantage of not being at all out of it was that I could hear them counting out the eggs as they found them. There is an embryologist sitting in the corner of the room (honestly, I’ve reached the point of not caring how many people get a view of me with my legs akimbo, and if you’re about to do IVF, you will too!) with a big microscope. As they sucked the fluid out of the follicles on the ovaries, it was passed over to her to check for an egg, as not all follicles will contain one. Hearing the numbers going up kept me going through the discomfort.
And in total we got a full dozen! Which is a great result.
It’s like a year’s worth of natural ovulations in one go! And it definitely gives us a good chance of several fertilising, which increases the chances of some going all the way to blastocyst stage (the point at which they “hatch” just before attaching to the uterine lining) before transfer, and increases the odds of having some to freeze. And some in the freezer is obviously our “plan B” if this cycle doesn’t result in pregnancy.
The other good news of the day was fresh sperm! We had opted to have Ian provide a fresh sample today even though we knew the odds of it containing any sperm were tiny. But we figured it couldn’t hurt and I just wondered in the back of my mind whether all the poking and prodding they did during the surgical sperm retrieval might have shifted any blockage. Having them look at a sample today was a “free” way of finding that out (by which I mean rather than paying for another full semen analysis further down the line). And they found some. Not many, to be fair. They have still had to unfreeze half our frozen stash and prepared us for the fact that another SSR may still be required if we need to do another full cycle. But it’s still good news!
So now we wait. This afternoon they will have performed the ICSI process where they inject the sperm in to the eggs. And tomorrow we will get a call to tell us how many of the eggs have fertilised. I’m feeling surprisingly calm, as I know that it is all out of my hands at this stage.
I’m not the sort of person who goes in for signs or superstitions, but this afternoon, right around the time they would have been injecting my eggs, a huge, bright rainbow appeared. It made me smile, and I couldn’t help but take a bit of positivity from it.