the egg retrieval

remember when i told you about all the transvaginal ultrasounds that a person has during an IVF cycle?

i’m going to tell you about another. a transvaginal ultrasound of a special variety.

but first you need to know that the egg retrieval is a surgical procedure. with an anesthetist and hospital gowns and hair nets and all. which means that you can have nothing to eat or drink for at least 8 hours prior to the time of your egg retrieval. you can brush your teeth, but don’t swallow any water.

you’ll have to sign some paperwork indicating that you understand that you could die from the anesthesia and that you understand that they will be putting your eggs and his sperm together after the egg retrieval is over.

you’ll get an IV. if you’re like me, you’ve learned throughout your many IUI and IVF cycles that it is easiest for someone to find your veins if you’ve had a lot to drink. which means that the anesthetist will usually have a hard time getting your IV started because your veins have retreated since you haven’t had anything to drink for something like 10 or more hours since you went to bed more than 8 hours before your egg retrieval appointment time.

i believe that all of the IVs for my IVF cycles have been in my wrist, usually in a vein on the side of my wrist just below my thumb. once, i had the IV in one of the blue veins you can see on your wrist on the palm side. am i describing it very well? i hope you get it.

anywhoodle. those veins are really small and delicate. and the catheter they feed into the IV has to be very small. which also means that the drugs might be slow to get in there and start doing their business.

the drugs typically include a narcotic to kill the pain. usually fentynyl. and then there’s an anti-nausea drug to help with the fact that you’re having a narcotic and a sleeping drug pumped into your body on an empty stomach. i’ve never known what the anti-nausea drug is called.

then there’s the twilight sleep drug. always propofol. always. it makes you sleep. prevents you from remembering what happens. i believe it’s what killed michael jackson. but let’s not blame the propofol, shall we.

let’s also not go on a tangent about michael jackson and prince and that they died younger than anyone expected. because i’m tired of hearing about prince. may he rest in peace.

so propofol doesn’t let you remember what happened. like the time during one of my egg retrievals when i woke up and said “that hurts” in the middle of having my eggs retrieved.

those are the drugs.

you also get a blood pressure cuff and a nasal cannula to keep you oxygenated.

once you’re under, as they say, the doctor uses the transvaginal ultrasound wand, now affixed with a needle  on the end, to go in, poke through your vagina wall in order to reach one of your ovaries. (the ultrasound wand, you’ll recall is affixed with a camera so he or she can see what’s happening.) the eggs then get sucked into the needle.

your vagina wall gets stuck one more time to get the eggs from the other ovary.

that’s it. two needle sticks, some aspirating of eggs, and you’re done.

the next thing you know you’re waking up in another room and being offered something to drink and eat as you become aware of general achiness in the vicinity of your reproductive organs. actually, it’s just your vagina that hurts, but it’s hard to really pinpoint the pain when you’re coming off the drugs, so i’m just talking about your general area.

i always ask for coca-cola. always. best medicine for period cramps i know.

i also have goldfish or animal crackers.

at my very first egg retrieval, there was a woman next to me (behind a privacy curtain, of course) when i arrived who was crying out and moaning and groaning because of the pain she was experiencing. she had just awakened from her egg retrieval. she was, to put it mildly, in a bad way.

they gave her some morphine.

now, i have some experience with morphine from my time in the hospital after the car accident i was in during my sophomore year in high school. it’s a pretty sweet pain killer. at least that’s what i remember from nearly 25 years ago.

i made some jokes to the fertility center staff about how i was hoping to be in enough pain to convince them that i needed morphine, too.

the poor morphinated woman was still there when i came out from my procedure. sadly, i wasn’t in near enough pain to justify anything stronger than a coke. but i did joke about it enough that my husband felt he needed to assure our medical staff that i was not actually a junkie. (i really hope no one who is would go to the lengths of submitting to an egg retrieval in order to get access to propofol or morphine.)

i tell you this story not to comment on the rampant problems with heroine addiction in our country but only to illustrate that the after-effects of the egg retrieval vary from woman to woman. hopefully, you’ll be like me and just need some caffeine and acetaminophen.

my egg retrievals have also had theme songs. music is piped into the procedure and prep rooms. pretty sure kelly clarkson has serenaded me into and out of egg retrieval slumber on multiple occasions.

after they’ve observed you for 45 minutes to an hour, you get to go home.

your ovaries are swollen and your vagina just got stabbed, so no aerobic exercise and no sexual intercourse or orgasms for a while. but do start your progesterone (suppositories or shots, you decide).

don’t you love reading about IVF through my eyes?




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One Response to the egg retrieval

  1. Monica says:

    Alice, you have a way with words! I love that I could read about something somewhat unpleasant and still smile the whole time because of your humorous way of describing your experience!

    Liked by 1 person

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