March 02, 2014

16 Tips for IVF Egg Retrieval

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I had my egg retrieval this week. It was pretty simple, but I thought I'd offer some tips and tricks I learned through experience, research, and advice from others.
1. Expect the week leading up to your retrieval to be unpredictable. I had a scheduled appointment on Monday, and because my doctor had cut back on my Follistim in the beginning, I expected to be ready for retrieval then. I was not. They upped my stim. meds, and I had to come back for and ultrasound and blood work on Wednesday and Friday. By Friday I was super nervous. I had used up all of my stim. meds and did not want to spend more on them. My eggs on Wednesday were still too small because their growth had stalled, and I was so afraid that things weren't working right. Steve and I prayed together about it the night before, and right before I went in for that last ultrasound, I texted a few people and asked them to pray specifically for ready eggs. I was so excited to be able text them back fifteen minutes later and tell them I was ready for my trigger shot. Apparently, because I have PCOS, my body produced lots and lots of follicles, but because there were so many, it didn't leave much room for others to grow. 

2. If you're using the Follistim pen, like I was, you may end up having to give yourself multiple injections to get the full dose those last few days. The serum comes in vials with 300 units. If I had been ready when I thought I was going to be, I would have had leftover medication, in five different vials, but because I went several days further, and because my doses were increased, I actually had to stick myself four times the one night with 50 units from the end of one vial, 75 from another, 75 from another, and 25 from another, just to get my full dose of 225. It wasn't fun, and was rather nerve wracking.

3. Do whatever you can to make yourself comfortable for those multiple appointments leading up to the retrieval. I took the advice of Logan from With Great Expectation and wore a skirt whenever possible. The weather here made that a little difficult, but it was heplful when I could. First of all they were stretchy which felt better on my belly which was puffy from the stimulation. Second of all, it made me feel less awkward for those internal ultrasounds because all I had to was drop my underwear instead of strip down to the waste. The nurse and the doctor actually commented on how quickly I was dressed after the ultrasound. 
The other thing that helped me feel more comfortable was to bring a pair of socks with me. I wear dress shoes to work and don't usually wear socks with them. Sometimes that makes my feet a little stinky, and because they were up in the air and near the doctor's face, I felt better slipping on a pair of socks. Weird, but it made me feel better. I also brought my Nook with me to read in the waiting room.

4. If you can get someone else to give you your HCG trigger shot, I recommend it. My mom is a nurse and lives next door, so she gave me my shot in my tush. I was super nervous because it was a longer needle than the ones I had been giving myself, but it barely hurt.

5. Wear comfortable clothes to your retrieval. Your doctor will tell you this, but I liked it because it set the tone for me. I was relaxed and ready to go. I wore yoga pants and a v-neck t-shirt.

6. Don't wear perfume or scented lotions. Your doctor will tell you this too. Apparently they can reduce egg quality. Because it's winter, my skin is really dry, despite all of the water I've been chugging, so I used coconut oil as a moisturizer. No scent, but still moisturizing. I was also really glad that I had switched to an unscented laundry detergent months ago. I had already decided that I didn't want the extra toxins (if I want the scent in the future, I occasionally add essential oil in with my detergent).

7. The IV is the only pain you'll really feel during the procedure. The nurse had a hard time with mine...apparently the skin on my hand is tough. Steve watched the whole thing and was pretty grossed out. It hurt, but wasn't unbearable. She switched to the inside of my elbow, and it was fine then.

8. Try not to be resentful that while your giving up eggs in a surgical procedure, your husband is giving his sperm in a far different way, haha. I'm not really resentful, I just think it's a little unfair. :o)

9. That being said, enjoy the time with your husband. We were waiting for the procedure to begin for a while and it was fun to joke about the booties and ridiculous hair cap I had to wear. It was nice to have someone to tie the back of my gown tightly too. :o) We both actually really enjoyed talking while we waited, though Steve eventually got a little sleepy.

10. When the nurses offer a trip to the bathroom, take it, even if you don't feel like you have to go. I was sure that I didn't need to, but apparently my bladder was full when he began the procedure, and he actually had to put a catheter in to drain it, putting me at risk for a UTI (they can't use the betadine that they usually use to further disinfect the sterile catheter because it would affect egg quality). I was asleep for all of this, but I felt badly about it afterward.

11. Expect to be loopy when you wake up. I apparently said coherent things, but Steve says I said them over and over again. I'm sure the doctor and the nurses expected that, but it frustrated me to know that I sounded silly. I also shivered a lot when I was done, which I expected because the same type of anesthesia made me shake when I had my wisdom teeth pulled. The nurse brought me an extra blanket and that helped.

12. Plan to grab something small to eat on the way home. I was super hungry after not eating since six the night before, so we grabbed a small meal at Panera on the way home.

13. Have dinner made or planned ahead of time. My mom planned to make dinner for us, and I was thankful because all I wanted when I came home was a nap.

14. Expect to be uncomfortable off and on after the retrieval. Nothing worse than menstrual cramps, but uncomfortable. I was also a little gassy too, which I had read might be the case. Some people experience constipation too. Thankfully, I didn't; I think partly because I drank a ton afterward to avoid the constipation and to fend off the risk of a UTI. 

15. Enjoy being done with your injections! If you have progesterone suppositories instead of the progesterone in oil injections like me; you're done!  I am so thankful that I won't be stabbing myself anymore. 

16. Relax. The stressful part is over. Now it's just more waiting, and at this point, you're an expert!

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