Saturday, 1 August 2015

IVF - Egg Collection Day

Pre egg collection:

As I write this, I'm sat in the waiting room of our fertility clinic. I'm very excited, very nervous, and very hopeful.

Today is egg collection day! 

Thursday was the day we found our when our egg collection would be - I had flowers delivered to Lauren to celebrate - we were excited for this day! 

On Thursday night we had a mini celebration as we gave our final injection - burserelin, a non hcg trigger shot (non hcg as Lauren has high estrogen levels and 30 follicles, and hcg can aggravate Ovarian Hyper Stimulation Syndrome). Although in a funny kind of way our nightly routine had become quite lovely, even though my injecting my wife wasn't the most romantic thing I'd ever done for her, we always had a huge cuddle afterwards, and it felt like we were achieving something together.

After I finished work on Friday, and after our usual Friday coffee and cake time with Laurens sister, and our niece, we drove down to Nottingham. We needed to be in Nottingham the day before egg collection as it was scheduled for 9am Saturday morning, and as Lauren will be tired post sedation, we will stay there tonight too. I wanted Lauren to be as comfortable as possible, so we booked a short stay apartment for two nights. This turned it to be a great decision - we had lots of room, it was quiet, and the fully equipped kitchen meant we could keep food in the fridge, and I can cook dinner this evening, meaning after Laurens egg collection, we won't need to leave the apartment.

On Friday night after arriving and settling in to our lovely apartment, we ventured out into Nottingham, and tracked down some vegan Chinese food and non alcoholic cocktails (obviously I can still drink, but didn't think that would be very fair to Lauren!)

We had a really fun evening and it felt a bit like we were on holiday! Lauren didn't sleep well last night at all, after starting to feel very uncomfortable, and in increasing pain into this morning, due to the amount and size of eggs! Plus she wasn't allowed to drink anything from 6am onwards so needed to get up early to drink before her curfew. The increasing pain meant she was awake and wandering round the apartment trying to find a comfortable and less painful position at about 5am this morning.

We got a taxi to the fertility clinic for our scheduled arrival at 8:30am, and were met with the very lovely nurse who cared for us all morning. After a discussion about what we could expect that morning, checking our consent forms, and checking Lauren's vital signs, she left us for Lauren to get changed. It's far to say the pain was increasing steadily by the minute, so Lauren by this point struggled to get herself changed, or even to stand up easily. Lauren had to wear some very glamorous (!) theatre shoes and gown, and we bought with us her own White Company robe, and the heart print Ted Baker socks she wore with her white Converse on her wedding day! 

Lauren was then taken down to theatre, and I went came up to the waiting room. They have a TV, coffee machine, and magazines, but I am too excited and anxious to do anything but sit there and wait! Wishing for lovely, amazing things...

Post egg collection:

After about an hour I was called through to Lauren's room, where she was still quite sleepy, in recovery from her procedure. She told me through tears that we had only had nine eggs retrieved, despite having 30 follicles, meaning we get four, as if an odd number is collected, the anonymous recipient gets the extra one. Although I was confused by this, my focus was on making sure wife was ok. 

A nurse then told us that due to the findings of the procedure, we would be unable to go ahead with egg transfer next week as planned, and instead any embryos we get will be frozen, and transferred when Laurens body has recovered. 

Seeing your wife looking so small and sad in a hospital bed, weak and confused from sedation, and in tears at the disappointment after going through so much physically and emotionally is really, really horrible. I focused on comforting her, and trying to take in all the information we were given. I sat with her and calmed her down and reassured her, and after a bit of time she started to feel less groggy from the anaesthetic and we began to talk about what might have happened and why we got nine eggs. We were both a bit confused to be honest. 

When Lauren felt well enough we were seen by the doctor who performed the procedure, who said that the problem had been that Lauren had already ovulated. This meant that the eggs had been released by her ovaries in to the abdomen, and so her ovaries were full of fluid. They had managed to retrieve nine eggs from the fluid on one side, but not the other as a blood vessel was blocking it, so they had to leave that ovary unfortunately, and uncomfortably, full of follicles. 

As all that fluid is still there in her tummy, a pregnancy would mean Lauren would be certain of developing OHSS, therefore they need to freeze any embryos and delay transfer. Although we expected twice the amount of eggs, we knew there was a chance of having to freeze them from our conversations with them about OHSS earlier in the week. However we originally  thought Lauren would need to have three menstrual cycles to let her body calm down before having a frozen embryo transfer, but we're pleased to be told she just needs a withdrawal period from this treatment, then one menstrual cycle. We will never know why despite all of the medication she received Lauren's body ovulated early, but we don't need to know. All we need to focus on is that we know have four lovely little eggies that need to grow and develop and become our baby. After some time together to allow Lauren to feel better, some food and a much needed cup of tea for us both, we were discharged and told to ring on Monday and make a follow up appointment to discuss further steps. However just before we left the embryologist popped in to see us. She wanted us to know that the four eggs we have look in their early stages to be very promising and of good quality, and also that our donor sperm had thawed very well indeed. The plan for tonight is to "introduce" the two, allow them time to get to know each other, and by the time she comes back in the morning, hopefully turn in to four fertilised embryos. She said she will ring and update us in the morning.

We said IVF was a roller coaster, and today has seemed like the big, swooping, 360 loops. It has been extremely emotional - the shock of getting four eggs when we had so many follicles, and having to wait a few months for transfer, after going through so much, is a huge disappointment. However we are aware that we are lucky. We got nine eggs - eight or less would have meant that our recipient got all of the them. We were lucky that the doctor was able to retrieve the released eggs from the fluid, and that Lauren had so many eggs in the ovary he was able to access. Lauren's sister awoke from her egg collection years ago to be told she had no eggs, and therefore no chance of ever conceiving a child - although she now has a beautiful adopted daughter, we can't imagine how heartbreaking her egg collection day was.

We also have plus sides to waiting for frozen embryo transfer in that Lauren's body gets a break instead of going from being pumped full of drugs and having over stimulated ovaries to being pregnant, and that frozen transfers have a higher success rate.

Although today has not been the day we anticipated, we are firm believers in things happening as they should, life plays out in the most unexpected ways, but it always seems to turn out ok in the end. Now excuse me while I go and cuddle my sleepy and very sore wife and reminder how how proud I am of her for everything she has been through.
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  1. My wife and I are right in the middle of IVF and can so relate to your experiences, especially, when weeks turn to months and it feels like things aren't going to get better for a while. Just wanted to say thanks for sharing. We are thinking of you and hoping for your miracle as we wish for ours. -Molly and Marybeth (Washington, DC)

    1. Thankyou Molly - it's always good to hear from others going through similar experiences. IVF is a unique journey and very hard to understand unless you're living it. Wishing you both the very best of luck with your treatment - we'd love for you to keep us updated :)

  2. Oh man, there is so much love in the TTC community. Molly's comment made me well up.
    To reiterate what she has already said, thank you for sharing your journey, the rollercoaster of both highs and the lows. Your openness & honesty is so valuable. For those of us slightly behind you on the journey to our miracle, it's good to know that it's okay for things not to go to plan. That we just have to take the hits as you have... cry a little and move on.

    It's painful to read about Lauren's increasing agony on the day prior to and day of her egg collection. Was the pain caused because she had already ovulated or because of how many eggs she had been growing?

    I love reading your posts because they are so detailed and so well written and completely immersing. My heart ached for you both when I read of Lauren's disappointment and confusion after the retrieval. Wonderful to read that four very healthy eggies have been collected. Well grown :D :D :D Also, via Twitter, so happy to hear about three of the eggs fertilising. Interesting to know that frozen transfers have a higher success rate too.

    Everything is clearly happening as it's supposed to.

    Hope L feels better quickly. Lauren is so lucky to have Sarah beside her every step of the way. Your partnership is so strong and so deep rooted. A truly beautiful love <3

    1. Thankyou for such a lovely comment Caroline - ypu're definitely right, the TTC community has given us so much support and advice, it's so very much appreciated.
      We have learnt that people IVF journeys very rarely go the way they originally planned, but that things usually happen for a reason!
      And yes, the pain Lauren experience was from having so many follicles (30) that were all very large, and also that she ovulated. She can always feel when she ovulates so this pain was multipled by 30!
      And thankyou - we found it hard to find detailed info about IVF treatment when we started, so wanted to share as much information as we could. It might help someone/give someone reassurance, but it's nice for us to have it to look back on :)


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