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I held off on writing about my follicle count during stims because I know how quickly it can change. But unlike last cycle, this one held pretty consistent. At each ultrasound I had 4 to 5 good size follicles and a few smaller ones. I kept hoping that the smaller ones would catch up. At my last ultrasound before egg retrieval, I had a solid 5 with 1 or 2 that might catch up in time, but I was told to not bank on those. I was actually okay with that going in and thought that perhaps my body was just putting in all the effort to grow these few high quality eggs, especially since we added in human growth hormone (HGH) for 6 days during stims to help with egg quality. Plus I’ve been on my egg quality cocktail of supplements – oh how I wish it was an actual cocktail – for so much longer at the time of retrieval. So I was ready for retrieval.

The anesthesiologist, however, was not. I sat there in the retrieval room, draped in paper gowns, and waited for this person to show up to my very important, and time sensitive, event. And then I waited some more. The RE assured me that I wouldn’t ovulate before retrieval because they calculate an extra couple of hours into scheduling specifically for uncontrollable events like this. Apparently there was a mix up with the anesthesiologists, or mine overslept – I’m not exactly sure. In an effort to get everything ready and save time while waiting on this person, a nurse came in to start my IV. She joked and said, “It’s okay, I’ve watch YouTube videos.” But then reassured me that she used to be a paramedic and I’m in good hands. Well I think dinosaurs must have roamed the earth back when she was a paramedic because the first attempt she hit a wall  and the second and third attempts were blow outs. My husband intervened and told her not to try again and that we’d like to wait for the anesthesiologist.

I got a little break, then my RE came in and told me that he had a “plan B” – if the anesthesiologist is much later, they will give me “lots of pain meds and a little something to forget”. Now, I know he meant well, and honestly I’d do anything to get the eggs, but I couldn’t help but have a few tears start to fall. I was scared. I know some women do egg retrievals awake, but I’ve never heard a good story about it. It would hurt and I’m getting a little tired of all the pain involved in this process. This was not going how I expected! The RE also said that either way, we need to get the IV started. In came a different nurse who was able to get the IV going on the first try, though not without some struggle. And let me just mention that I have great veins. I’ve never experienced anything like this. To my relief, the anesthesiologist finally arrived in the nick of time and we didn’t need to revert to the dreaded plan B.

I was shocked to find that they retrieved 10 eggs! Some of my follicles contained 2 eggs (bonus!) and I guess some of the smaller follicles caught up. It was great news. My RE said he was hoping to get 5 or 6 embryos growing from these. Ahh, if only. As last cycle, my excitement only lasted a day until I got the fertilization report. The good news was that 9 of my eggs were mature, but the bad news was that only 3 fertilized with ICSI. And I was crushed. Again. I just don’t get it. How can my fertilization rate be so poor? I’ve been taking so many supplements, as recommended by my RE and consistent with the book, “It Starts with the Egg,” and we used HGH. What went wrong? This fertilization rate seems lower than would be expected for my age, and a drastic reduction from the 100% fertilization rate (natural – not ICSI) that I had at age 36. I know I’m 40 now, but that really does seem a bit much. I want to know why, but I’m trying to not focus on that right now, and hopefully I won’t ever have to.

Now I have 3 embryos growing. One of them has to be my golden egg. It only takes one. I focus on that, but it is so easy to get pulled back into the numbers game of probabilities and percentages. That’s a scary game. So I’m putting all my energy, prayers, and intention out to these little 3. Coincidentally, or not, I happened to have 3 egg shaped bees wax candles left from the bunch I bought when I started this journey. Bedazzled with green glitter, rose essential oil, symbols for protection and blessing, and sprinkled with the herbal mix I created when I set my intentions for this cycle, which you can find here, I mindfully light these three candles nightly to send this love and energy to my embryos. Tomorrow I will find out how they fared.

3 embryos