Egg Retrieval: I Survived…. I Think

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Let me start off by saying that everyone’s egg retrieval experience is different. A lot of it, based off what I have been told has to do with 1. the amount of eggs retrieved, 2. your pelvis size, and 3. your pain tolerance.

My personal experience was:

1. 26 eggs. 1

2. I’m a tiny person so you can sort of imagine how things went. Ow, ow, ow!

3. I’d like to think I have pretty high pain tolerance but what do I know. I might think I do but could be completely wrong. I will say that usually if it does hurt, I don’t speak up and kind of just take it. So that could be high tolerance or stupidity. I’ll let you decide.

My egg retrieval was scheduled for Thursday, March 19, 2015 and admittedly, I did a fair bit of research because the whole 24-48 hours line just didn’t jive with me, and afterwards I felt like I had a pretty good idea of what to expect. I wasn’t anxious2 which tends to be the standard3 and I went in thinking I knew what I was getting myself into and I had this in the bag.

Boy was I wrong. OH SO WRONG.

Though in fairness, I also didn’t expect that they’d pull 26 eggs out of me so I was ill prepared.

The procedure itself wasn’t bad and started by leading me into an exam room. I was asked to me change into a hospital gown, booties, and shower cap. After I was dressed and ready to go, the nurse came in and attempted to set up an IV on my hand which she thought she’d nailed BUT since I have small veins, when she started the IV drip it caused the vein to blow4 and she had to move it up to my forearm.

A few minutes later my RE came in to check in and see if I had any questions and just to see how we were doing. Once he left the anesthesiologist joined us, went over some basic questions and then the nurse came in to retrieve me, had me empty my bladder and then took me into the operation room5.

I climbed up into the gurney6 and they had me put my calves into stirrups, different from what I’m accustomed to, as these particular stirrups encased both my calves and didn’t just involve me putting my feet up. Shortly after, the anesthesiologist started the drip to knock me out and that was it.

The next thing I know, I’m waking up to the nurse asking, “How are you feeling, Angelina?” I responded by telling her “Tired.” and then she told me to just rest while she summoned to have R come back to the recovery room.

We hung around for about 15 minutes before we were released and then we headed home. I wasn’t feeling remotely terrible and was actually surprised at the fact that other than being groggy, I felt okay. I immediately climbed into bed and settled in with my MacBook Pro and caught up on the things I’d missed while I was out. As much as I wanted to sleep, I found it difficult because my sleeping positions are usually on my stomach (obviously, not an option) or on my side, in the fetal position, which again, not really an option so I wasn’t able to sleep. As the sedate started to fully wear off, I figured I could brave some food since I was starving and the only thing I’d had was the Gatorade that I started drinking immediately after arriving home.

As per the recommendation of the nurse, I started with something light, cup-of-noodles. I didn’t seem to have any issues so I rested in bed with my heating pad and Gatorade for a few hours before I suddenly started to feel very ill. I got up to use the bathroom and on my way back to the bed, I had to shout for R to bring me a bucket and soon after started vomiting. It didn’t last long, less than a minute and I just assumed it was because I’d gotten up and upset my stomach, so I laid back down and was okay for about 45 minutes and then my head was back in the bucket and I ended up vomiting up the rest of the cup-of-noodles including the Gatorade I had consumed.

I tried to once again settle back down and just stick to liquids but even that proved to be an ordeal so I gave up on eating and drinking. After awhile I asked R to get me some smart water to see if maybe I could handle a clear liquid and that seemed to be okay. After several more hours I was finally able to fall asleep but it didn’t last very long and I spend most of the time tossing and turning in pain, trying to get comfortable.

The following day I was able to eat and keep food and liquid down but I was till miserable and extremely bloated. Sleep was often in blocks of 2-3 hours because I could not get comfortable and was in agony due to all the bloating. I weighed about 110-111 days after the egg retrieval after starting out around 107-108 prior to the procedure. Due to the bloating, I appeared to look pregnant and I could only wear loose fitting attire, anything else was just too painful.

Finally after shear frustration and aggravation, I forced myself out of bed, two days post retrieval to sit down on the couch in the living room with my feet propped because all the lying in bed was making me stir crazy. That seemed to help but I found that I started to get worse as the night went on. Desperate for sleep, I decided to try to sleep in the recliner in our game room as it would force me to lay a certain way and limited my ability to move. This seemed to help along with taking Benadryl after calling the clinic to let them know I was having trouble sleeping. I’m not sure if the sleep helped speed up the process but from the afternoon of egg retrieval up until the day prior to transfer, I was miserable and still very bloated. It was so bad in fact, I contemplated canceling the transfer and letting my body heal but when I woke up the morning of the transfer, I felt better so we decided to go through with the procedure.

Ultimately, my experience in comparison to others I have read wasn’t that bad, and I think honestly a lot of that had to do with the fact that I researched and read about other people’s experiences and I had a friend who’d gone through it herself who was able to tell me what to do and what not to do. I really think that if I’d not had started on a salt, protein, and Gatorade diet prior to egg retrieval and continued that diet right after, my mild OHSS would have become moderate and likely would have resulted in a hospital visit and possibly admittance. My thanks and gratitude go out to Angela for all her advise and help. I can honestly say without her assistance, I probably would have had a rougher go at it, and for those who are presently on the journey, please do you research and pay attention to your body. You will know if something is right or isn’t and don’t think you’re overreacting if something doesn’t feel right, it’s likely your intuition is correct.

Here are the things I wish I’d known prior to my egg retrieval:

  • Despite the fact that the antagonist was able to lower my estradiol to 1400 prior to trigger, my ovaries were still overstimulated and I’m sure the trigger of HCG didn’t help. I wish I’d been aware of using Lupron as a trigger to help minimize the possibility of OHSS.
  • I wish the anesthesiologist had advised of the possibility of reacting poorly to anesthesia and given me the option of having Zofran administered to negate the nausea after the procedure.
  • I wish the doctor and nurses would have been a little more forthcoming about recovery time. They quoted 24-48 hours for most patients but most patients also don’t have 26 eggs harvested so there should have been some further discussion after the procedure about what to expect and recovery time7.
  • I wish they’d given me more than just extra strength tylenol for the pain because to be frank, it really didn’t work.
  • You will need your spouse/partner to be there right after the procedure. R initially planned on dropping me off and going back into work but since he works for a company that deals in healthcare, many of his nurses informed him that he would need to be home to take care of me. We did not get this information from our clinic.
  • Drink lots of fluids post egg retrieval but DO NOT just drink straight water. In fact avoid regular water because it will only increase your water retention which will increase your bloating. You need to drink fluids that have electrolytes in them to help drain the excess water that your ovaries expel. Gatorade or Powerade are good for this. bloatedangie
  • BLOAT BLOAT BLOAT BLOAT. You’re told you may bloat a little which can be true for some but in my case I was extremely bloated. 7 days post egg retrieval I still looked like I was pregnant AND that was the best I’d looked since the procedure.
  • You will be extremely constipated post egg retrieval and you will fill miserable for it. I ended up taking Gentilax to help with bowel movements because not being able to have a bowel movement + bloating = MY PERSONAL HELL
  • Sex is off the table. At least it was for us. I had 0 interest and even if I did, I was so miserable there as no way I was letting him come near me, especially when it hurt if I just moved the wrong way.

My egg retrieval was positively horrendous, though I know it’s largely in part because of the quantity of eggs that were retrieved and likely because I had all the symptoms of mild OHSS prior to retrieval which was exacerbated by the trigger shot and then the multiple tiny stabs as they punctured each follicle to retrieve my eggs, and from my understanding I am in the minority. Still, if you’re anything like I am, prepare for the worse, so if things do go sideways, you’re prepared, or if they don’t, you can come back to mock me and make fun of the fact that Lady Luck hates me (I really think she does.).

If you’ve gone through egg retrieval what are some of the things you wished you’d known prior to your procedure? Or if you’re on the path towards retrieval, what are you most concerned or worried about?

  1. Yes, you read that right.
  2. Surprisingly.
  3. Understandably.
  4. OW!
  5. I guess that still applies.
  6. I’m not sure what they call it, lol.
  7. I got all of this after the fact from the embryologist who called me two days after the procedure.

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