Saturday, March 5, 2011

Going Under: IVF Retrieval Process

Once I gave myself my HCG/Lupron trigger, I ventured into uncharted IVF territory. From that point on, everything I was about to experience was brand new to me and unlike anything I'd gone through with my three IUI cycles. I have to admit I was a little nervous about those next three steps: retrieval, progesterone in oil shots, and transfer.

Retrieval is the process of removing the follicles which (hopefully) contain eggs. My biggest fear regarding retrieval was that it requires general anesthesia so I was going to be out cold.

Luckily I've been under general anesthesia before. When I was 11, I had oral surgery and the doctor only used a topical anesthesia. I talked through the entire surgery, "What's that?" "What are you doing now?" So when I returned 8 years later to get my wisdom teeth out, the doctor basically said that he wouldn't do the surgery unless I was completely unconscious.


I remember feeling a cold tingly feeling in my arm, then the next thing I knew, the nurse was trying to get me to stand up to walk to another room. My first thought was, "Why the heck didn't they put me under in the room where they were going to do the surgery?" Just as I was about to vocalize this very complaint, I realized I had a mouth full of gauze and that the surgery was apparently over. Oh.

Another concern is that I my veins are very thin and tend to float around. The medical term for this is, and I'm seriously not kidding, princess veins. This causes quite a bit of anxiety while the anesthesiologist is poking around trying to find a usable vein and I'm already panicked about the surgery in the first place.

My doctor had given me a full page of instructions for the day of my surgery. I wasn't allowed to eat or drink anything after midnight (Husband joked that I was like a Gremlin.) and I couldn't wear jewelry or anything scented. Even contacts were prohibited so I had to bust out my brand new glasses. We were told to arrive 45 minutes early so they could prep me for my 8:30 am appointment. I said goodbye to Husband, who wasn't allowed into the surgical suite, and hoped that I would wake up at some point later that morning!

This particular anesthesiologist was great. She introduced herself and told me that she had Pandora radio on her iPhone and said I could choose whatever band or type of music I wanted to listen to while she administered the anesthetic.

Any guesses as to what band I picked?

It sounds so stupid, but seriously sitting there, listening to Somebody to Love while the anesthesiologist tried three different spots to inject the IV calmed me so much! Unfortunately with Pandora, the play list tends to deviate a bit so by the time we were in the procedure room, Hotel California was playing. My anesthesiologist asked if there was a second band I liked and I requested Neil Diamond so I got to drift off to sleep to the sounds of a live version of Sweet Caroline. Very nice!

The next thing I remember was lying in the recovery room with a nurse standing over me. I asked for Husband and they brought him in right away. Later we heard a woman next to me waking up. Several minutes went by and finally the nurse asked, "Do you want me to get your husband?" I told Husband that I had specifically asked for him and he felt very special!

Because I still had the IV port in my arm, they were able to administer pain medication directly into my system. I was experiencing a significant amount of pain so they increased the medication and ultimately gave me a narcotic-based pain medication, which helped. The pain was similar to really bad premenstrual cramps and lasted for about a day.

As I rested, the nurse came out to tell us that they had managed to retrieve 33 eggs! The norm is 8-10 so I'm definitely an overachiever!

I went home and was on bed rest for the rest of the day. Husband stayed home from work because I wasn't allowed to be alone after being under anesthesia. Most of the day I spent sleeping, but I did watch some television and play on our netbook computer.

The next day I was back at work though still feeling a bit of pain. I was allowed to take Extra Strength Tylenol which helped tremendously. Ultimately I ended up having a complication from my retrieval that landed me in bed rest for nearly a week, but since that happened six days after the retrieval, I'll write about that then.

Overall the retrieval was not as scary as I imagined it would be. About a week before I went in, I saw another couple in for their retrieval and just seeing them made me so nervous and panicky. The whole procedure went very smoothly (once they got the IV in) and I didn't feel or remember a thing about the actual procedure itself. Anyone who has a retrieval in their future should definitely relax: the unknown of it is a thousand times worse than the actual experience!


  1. hhahah princess veins...

    you're such a good writer--- you make such a scary situation seem so funny! you should submit an essay for some motherhood magazine out there... ;)

  2. sending you good vibes!! 33 eggs sounds like you have VERY good chances!

  3. yay! Hope it went well, and I second Suzeq's comment. It's great that you're writing about it to demystify it for those of us who haven't been through it.
    And Im SO glad you picked Queen to listen to. Though I find their Pandora station seems to be the most "off" of any other one I've heard. For me it always plays Journey and AC/DC, two band that I really can't stand

  4. Ha ha ha about the doctor saying he wouldn't take our your wisdom teeth unless you were under general anesthesia. Sounds like myself with the what and why questions about everything at that age.

    Interesting to hear about the process since I was curious about it. 33 eggs? Great little overachiever you are! :)

  5. way to go eggs!

    Isn't anesthesia the strangest thing ever? I've only been out for two things (intensive oral surgery in middle school and my wisdom teeth) and both times I had the same thought "why are the having me switch rooms now?". After my wisdom teeth I apparently got really angry and the nurse and kept calling her a bitch for making me ugly when they woke me up - I remember none of that, of course.

  6. I just wanted to write and thank you for sharing your days with all of us. We are trying to conceive, and at age 41, I know my chances are limited, and I need to be well-informed. Reading your experiences is really wonderful for me. Thank you!

  7. Suz - Yeah I started giggling when she called them princess veins. Who knew! And hm I wonder what magazine you might be referring to: do you really think it's worth compiling something? Or you could try to cobble something together from what I've already written. I'm intrigued!

    Robin - Thanks! We were shocked when we heard how many they had gotten! I was thinking we'd be happy with 15 or so!

    Sarah - Thanks! I happen to know that Suzeq has an IN at a certain magazine so maybe I can set something up! And too funny about Queen's Pandora station: I was a little foggy at the time but I know for a fact that they did play a Journey song before we changed channels. So weird!

    Bronzi - Ha I don't think it would have been so annoying except for since it was oral surgery, he couldn't get work done while I was asking questions about everything!

    Ashley - That's so funny that you had the same experience! This time they just wheeled me into the recovery room and wouldn't even let me think about moving for a whole hour. By then I was wide awake. That seems like a much better strategy than making me stumble around half conscious!

    Tracy - Thanks for commenting! I'm glad that reading about my misadventures is helpful! And be positive! I've heard stories (and know women) who have had luck well into their 40s! Hopefully we'll both have good news soon!