Egg Retrieval Update!

As promised (and very delayed, thanks Covid) I am writing to give you my egg retrieval update! First and foremost, surgery went really well with no complications. My doctor retrieved 28 eggs (28!!!) and she thought 22 of them were mature. Day one post retrieval 24 were mature and fertilized normally and another made it to day three for a total of 25 which was way more than we expected. My doctor uses a process called ICSI (Intracytoplasmic sperm injection) which means instead of letting the egg and sperm fertilize naturally in the petri dish, ICSI injects a single live sperm directly into the center of the egg. Once again we were humbled by the science of all this, when you think about how intricate that process is, it’s truly incredible.

For those of you that don’t know, IVF entails a LOT of waiting – you wait for updates every other day and like clockwork my doctor would call every other day around dinner time. Since we knew we had 24 fertilized eggs on day one, I knew on day three she would call with final number of mature/fertilized eggs, which ended up being 25. The last update comes on day five post retrieval which is the big one, on this day you find out how many of the fertilized eggs made it to “blast” (blastocysts). A blastocyst is┬ámade up of an inner group of cells with an outer shell, that inner group of cells will become the embryo which then becomes the baby.

Backing up a bit, before retrieval most women are cautioned to understand that likely half of eggs retrieved will not make it to blast. Knowing this, we were so excited to find out that 11 of our eggs made it to blast on day five. It was a great number to send off to genetic testing, better known as PGT (preimplantation genetic testing) in the IVF world. This type of testing is not covered in our IVF insurance (which is extremely frustrating) but it was a necessity for us because of our three prior losses and a confirmed abnormality on the last one. We want to make sure we are going into pregnancy with the best chances because my heart can’t take another loss. This process is by no means foolproof and there (like with any pregnancy) is always a chance of failure or miscarriage.

Now the hardest part (MORE waiting) the PGT results can take up to two weeks. It took 12 days for us and it was torture. BUT that day was a great day. Out of our 11, we had six normal embryos, six! The doctor was thrilled for us, this was a great number and we were over the moon. Considering I was hoping for 2-3 normal ones, this news couldn’t have been better. We still had to wait for the grading but I was ok with it. Grading helps your doctor determine the “best” embryo to transfer. Each embryo is given a number and two letters (something like 5AB). The number represents the expansion of the embryo cavity (basically if its hatching or hatched, weird I know) and the letters, just like in school, are grading the embryo and the placenta respectively. From what I understand a day 5 embryo with a 5AA grade is a ideal for transfer, but you can still have a successful pregnancy with a lower grade embryo. I won’t be sharing grades; however, we have a few great embryos and are confident in which one the doctor will want to transfer.

Two days post retrieval and the bloating wasn’t even at it’s peak yet!

Jake and I are so happy to have had such a successful egg retrieval and we know it doesn’t go that way for all women, we know how incredibly fortunate we are. With that being said, since I did have so many eggs (remember 28 were retrieved) I had a pretty tough recovery. I went into something call OHSS (ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome). Basically it was my body’s exaggerated response to all the hormones from the injectables. The way it was explained to me was that your body realizes you just produced a ton of eggs and recognizes that as abnormal (which it is, you only produce one in a normal cycle) so the body sees it as a problem. To fix this problem, lots of helper cells are sent to your inner lady parts and stuff happens, this is where I was lost. All I know is I had a ton of free floating fluid and bloating like I’ve never had before. It was the most uncomfortable I had been since giving birth, and TMI but the constipation was REAL, for me worse than postpartum. I was like this for probably a week before I started to feel normal. I couldn’t drink anything but electrolyte beverages as to not add any unwanted fluid into my body, was on a medication to try and offset the OHSS and I just had to rest. It was brutal but lots of women go through this, seems to be par for the course and you just gotta take it in stride. I recovered but I am VERY grateful I won’t have to do go through that again (hopefully) seeing as we have healthy embryos to work with.

I have one more test I need to have done before we can move forward with transfer BUT I also need to recover from covid before that test can happen. This means everything is delayed but your girl is keeping her eye on the prize.

And just like that this will be my last update until (crossing fingers, toes and everything else) we hopefully announce a healthy pregnancy some point this year.

Wish us luck and sprinkle all the baby dust!

XO
Christine

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