IVF: Phase Three {Egg Retrieval}

We’re finally past the egg retrieval phase and recovered (for the most part)! As promised, here is our account of this long-awaited phase. Keep in mind, I’m sharing a lot of info here so it’s another detailed post.

The day before the transfer I didn’t have any injections or meds to take! Wahoo! The day was pretty normal. I actually felt fantastic and the bloating wasn’t bad for most of the day. Then, late afternoon my belly popped. I couldn’t believe how big it was! That later retracted as the evening went on. 

Nope, that's not a baby bump. It's a stims bump.
Nope, that’s not a baby bump. It’s a stims bump. Ma belly was tight as a tick!

 

Because I took Lupron as my trigger the night before, I had to go in to get some labs done. I busied myself doing some errands, picking up prescription meds for the retrieval recovery, laundry, meal prep, etc. Trust me, you will want to get that stuff done before the retrieval. I did the same thing before I started stim injections. It’s just good to get all of that taken care of so that you can truly rest after the procedure. My doc specifically told Brooks that I needed to be doing nothing for the rest of the day after the retrieval – no cooking, etc. So, meal prep is key and it was nice to come home to a tidy house. We were all set beforehand. 

I also packed a hospital bag. I didn’t need all of it but it was comforting to know I had it available to me. The things I packed were:

  1. A blanket – the operation room is freezing and the IV made me chilly!
  2. Socks.
  3. An extra pair of underwear just in case of bleeding. 
  4. A pad or two.
  5. Bottled water and a snack for after the procedure and for my hubs while he waited. 
  6. A hair tie.
  7. A book, magazine, and my phone charger. 
  8. My wallet but left my purse at home. 
  9. My prescription meds – painkillers & anti nausea meds.

The morning of the retrieval I had a killer migraine that had been tormenting me since dinner the night before and it kept me up all night. So, I was exhausted. Needless to say, I was desperate for that anesthesiologist. #GiveMeTheDrugs And Brooks just being antsy about the procedure lost a lot of sleep, too. UGH! 

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Wow! You can really tell how tired we are in this pic!

Despite this, I was truly feeling great and ready to go. I had complete peace about the procedure and, thankfully, I tend to approach surgeries like this easily! Upon arrival, they moved us to our private room, had me change into the lovely pink gown & hospital socks, loaded me up with an IV, and we met with the anesthesiologist. 

I am assuming all of the IVF labs are similar but our facility was awesome. The operation room was freezing, so they provided a warmed blanket for me during the procedure. The nurses were a delight and everything was really clean.

The stirrups in the op room…. umm what a humbling moment. You think the standard foot stirrups are bad enough… try the ones that your calves rest in… seriously… humble moment. They even strap your legs in! There was no escaping the embarrassment. You’re poondoodle is all exposed to 5-6 people staring at you.

That’s right, I said poondoodle. That’s one of my many names for lady parts. I know. Your life is changed because of this new vocabulary. #AdmitIt ??

Anesthesia was a breeze. I was out like a light and didn’t wake up for another hour and a half. I went into the operation room around 7:45am and got back to our private room at 9:15am. In the words of Brooks, “it was the longest 1.5 hours of [his] life”. That is why I brought his book, a magazine, and the phone charger. Your man will need some distraction because he’s likely to wait a while with thoughts of worry just a stirring. ?

The nurses gave me ginger ale to sip on while I woke up and in a short time we were on our way home. If you are considering IVF or are working towards your egg retrieval, I’d like to sum up the home recovery experience through some tips. 

PRACTICAL ADVICE: 1st Day Recovery

  1. Drink a lot of water and consume some salt & protein. The RE told us that the salt will help pull excess fluid build up into the bloodstream and that will help remove them from the body. The water sounds counterproductive but let’s face it, you gotta pee it all out. So, the more you go, the more those fluids are being flushed out. Drink up! The protein is to support the recovery of your ovaries. 
  2. You will be instructed to remain in an upright position for 24 hours. This is to keep the excess fluids in your abdomen and not allow them to travel into your upper torso. That can be painful! So, remain sitting up for an entire day. I am a stomach sleeper so this brought me a lot of irritable discomfort. I just wanted to lay down! Yuk. I find that it’s easier to maintain this position on the couch. So, it was sofa city for me that first night. 
  3. In relation to number 2, a neck pillow was such a lifesaver! I definitely made all the difference in my comfort as I had to remain upright even while sleeping. Get one!
  4. You will remain bloated for a while. I was in some pain and discomfort all day because of it. Just continue drinking that water. 
  5. This one is a little TMI but I want to be transparent here because it’s for real! Going to the bathroom especially #2 HURTS! Any form of abdominal muscle engagement hurts like the dickens. ? I literally was contemplating whether or not to just accept constipation. Like that would be better than the misery of trying to go. I wish I had some advice for you here but I really don’t know what to tell you. #ImSorry 
  6. In relation to number 5, make sure you have some strong laxatives on hand for your recovery. You WILL be constipated and it WILL make you miserable. So, I would say if you haven’t gone to the bathroom by the next morning, start taking those laxatives immediately. I learned that the unique combination of constipation, internal bleeding, and fluid bloat basically puts you in Hell itself. Not lying. Not exaggerating. Not being a drama queen. I’m serious. Be prepared. 
  7. I forewarned my support group that I would likely be resting so they didn’t get their panties in a bunch when I didn’t respond right away to texts/Facebook & Instagram posts. I just didn’t want that pressure on myself during recovery. I wanted them to understand the boundary but also know they are appreciated. 
  8. Speaking of rest, take a nap or two! Don’t feel bad about it one bit!

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PRACTICAL ADVICE: The Days After Retrieval

  1. Continue a lot of the above.
  2. Allow some of your support group to do their job. Meals, prayer, check-ins, etc. Enjoy the support. 
  3. Expect pain and bloating to continue for a little while. My bloating didn’t really start deflating until about 3 days after the procedure and I really didn’t feel myself until about a week after. I found that lemon water, Traditional Medicines “Weightless” cranberry tea, and Dandelion Root tea really helped to get rid of the bloat. 
  4. Keep an eye on weight gain. This is probably the one time I will ever tell a woman to weight herself twice a day. I gained 10 lbs in about 24 hours time. No wonder I didn’t feel good! I carried that for a few days and then it started to go down. Seriously, sweats and yoga pants were all that fit me and I wore a maxi dress to church that Sunday because of it, too. 
  5. Try to push yourself to get up and moving. You shouldn’t remain sedentary for days on end. The day after your retrieval, try to walk around a bit, make your own meals, go outside a bit, etc. Don’t try to run or workout again. It’s simply to get ya moving. It really helped me in my recovery.
  6. Don’t rely on your pain meds too much. I tried to take Tylenol instead of my prescription pain killers whenever possible. I really didn’t want to take them at all but I had a moment when they were necessary.

Then There’s the Unexpected…

There was one thing that happened that completely caught me off guard. In all of my blog reading, IVF research, and testimonials that I read in preparation for this treatment, NEVER ONCE did I come across anything that talked about this… 

This is was I was talking about in number 6 under First Day of Recovery. After it happened, I started researching it in specific terms and finally found some blogs that spoke about it. Evidently, it is rare. Not everyone comes across this “little” hiccup in their recovery. Of course, I would be a rare one to go through it and you can be sure I’m going to mention it!

At 6pm the evening of the retrieval, I noticed my stomach got really big and uncomfortable after dinner. It felt different from the stims bloating that I’d had. But, by bed time it diminished a bit. I just chalked it to bloating, constipation, and having just ate a full meal. At 9pm, I started getting a pain in my right 3 lower ribs. It wasn’t anything horrible. Just felt like a gas bubble or something. Again, didn’t think much of it. 

At about 1am it hit, after what I now see was a crescendo of symptoms leading up to the mass chaos. I woke up with a stronger pain in my side that made me wince. Within a minute of waking up and moving around, it spasmed. My ribs were on fire and I couldn’t catch my breath. Breathing deeply or normally was excruciating. So, I ended up having hyperventilation style breathing during the spasm. It last about 20 minutes. I couldn’t get relief, walk straight, or breath normally during that time. I applied some ice packs to it immediately and Brooks broke open those hydrocodone pills (which takes a little while to take effect). It was horrible. 

For the remainder of the night, I always had pain in my right ribs and shoulder. And every hour, that area would spasm, rendering me panic-stricken and immobile. This all last in full swing until about 10 or 11am the next morning. Hydrocodone took the edge off but it in no way relieved the pain completely. Not even close. 

Ladies, you’ll need your man during this time. Don’t try to go it alone. Just let him help you. 

Also, don’t be shy. Scream it out if you need to. I did. I had to get some of that pain energy out of my body. So, while I didn’t scream at the top of my lungs, I definitely was shakily moaning through it. It was not a voluntary reaction. It was very much so involuntary. I couldn’t control it. But, whatever that reaction was, it definitely helped me and relaxed me. I’ve never had that happen to me before but it kind of sounded like what you hear during labor & delivery. Some women may be able to account for this reaction?

For the remainder of my recovery, I had some pain in my right ribs. Some days were worse than others and I found myself wincing at times. I couldn’t laugh or take deep breaths for a couple of days but at least I could breathe normally!!! 

There. You’ve been warned that this could happen. Again, I’ve found it to be a rare happening according to my research. So, hopefully, you won’t have to go through it!

For The Men If This Should Happen…

I really felt sorry for Brooks during these times. There was nothing he could do to fix it and I know it was hard to watch. ?

Men, if your woman ends up getting this awfulness just be there for her and get her whatever she asks for. The biggest thing that will help her through the spasms is for her to learn to breathe calmly and to get her body to relax. So, try to encourage her kindly and patiently in this way during the spasm. Be warned, she may snap at you. But, know it’s not you. She’s really & truly in a lot of pain. I tried to be kind to Brooksie in the midst of this stuff. Girls, remember we (you and your hubs) are in this together!

I personally found it helpful when Brooks lightly rubbed my back during the spasms. It calmed me. Your girl may not like that. No biggie. Just get her what she needs. She will also need help being mobile – getting stood up from sitting, etc. because any movement that engages the core is completely out of the question. Which is basically, every movement!

Be ready to assist her at any hour. Mine spasmed 1am and then every hour after. That makes for a sleepless night. You’ll have to be completely selfless. We need our man! 

Also, of course, pray her through it in Jesus’ name! 

 

Wrap Up

Ladies, you’ll do great! I really didn’t find the IVF process as a whole too bad. Yes, there are things to overcome, like bloating and injections. But, try to focus on the positives and keep your eye on the prize. This is an adventure! So, take the bad with the good and enjoy every moment! 

Other Links:

IVF: An Intro & First Steps

IVF: What I did in Phase One {BCP & Antibiotics}

IVF: What I did in Phase Two {Stims}

So, How Much DOES Infertility Cost?

Finding JOY in Miscarriage

Disclaimer: I am NOT a doctor! Consult your own physician before starting any new regimens (medicine, food, exercise, and the like). What was described above is my personal account of the IVF procedure. Your own experiences may look different (and likely will). This is to be used as a simple example & guideline for one woman’s procedure. Happy IVFing!

6 thoughts on “IVF: Phase Three {Egg Retrieval}

  • July 29, 2017 at 6:08 AM
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    I absolutely love your account. Thank you for sharing all of this, it’s really helping me through our first IVF process, I finished my stims last night along with all the other shots I needed to take before my extraction tomorrow. Unlike most people I’ve spoken to, you described all the symptoms I felt during stimming (which were not very pleasant 🙁 . That really calmed me down and reading your blog is making this a fun journey.
    Thanks again and I wish you all the luck in the world!

    Reply
    • July 31, 2017 at 8:09 AM
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      SO glad you are finding encouragement and useful info in our posts. That’s why I wrote them! IVF is not a fun process for sure and it really puts your body through some hard times. So, be sure to take care and go easy on yourself. This is a season that will be physically & emotionally tough. Be intentional about what you eat, resting, and even some detoxing afterwards.

      Brooks and I are looking forward to our next FET since this time I won’t have just finished the retrieval process! I can go into it with my body a little more rested and prepared.

      Praying for you! And if you are on IG, shoot me a direct message so I can start following you! Would love to see how your journey unfolds. 🙂

      Reply
  • June 6, 2016 at 12:21 PM
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    Thank you so much for sharing. We started stims last week, so reading your accounts have been so helpful to me. Prayers for your family as you move into the next phase of this incredible journey.

    Reply
    • June 9, 2016 at 6:24 PM
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      Linda – Congrats! Stims were a pain but they weren’t too bad overall. I am so glad that I can put our story out there because that’s what really helped me more than anything – reading other’s advice for each phase! Good luck in your journey and I will add you to our prayers! Blessings!

      Reply
  • May 27, 2016 at 6:01 PM
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    Hang in there sweet couple
    We are praying for “all” of you.?

    Reply

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