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natalie-rhea-riggs-359448-unsplashEgg retrieval was yesterday and full of surprises. It started off great because I saw that my favorite anesthesiologist was there for my procedure. Yes, I have a favorite anesthesiologist since I’ve done this, and had other fertility related surgeries, so many times. It’s always a relief to see him because I know I’m in good, capable hands. But then my RE came into the room as I was laying there getting hooked up for monitoring. He asked if everything went okay with my trigger shot. Odd question, I thought.

I told him that it had gone well. To my surprise, and horror, he said that my HCG test that I took that morning  was negative – since the trigger shot I take is HCG it should be positive which tells them it’s in my system correctly. The trigger is a vital step in the process because it signals to the eggs to begin making their final maturation preparations, and it begins to loosen the eggs inside the follicles so that they can be retrieved just in time before they are ovulated. If this doesn’t happen, then eggs are stuck and they cannot retrieve them. My RE was concerned. He said that he’s had this happen before – sometimes it turned out fine and other times it didn’t. I was shocked. I’d had such a great response to meds this round, I had about 12 perfectly sized follicles, and I really though this would be my last round – and now this. Was my perfect cycle about to be ruined?

My RE exited the room. I was left with the anesthesiologist and my husband, who was nervously rubbing my feet. The anesthesiologist turned to me and told me not to worry. He said that everything would be okay and that he has a good feeling about this. He said that in his line of work it’s very important to trust your intuition because sometimes it lets you know things that the monitors do not. And intuition was telling him that everything was okay. His kind words and comments on intuition helped me. I believed him without logical reason. Shortly thereafter, my RE poked his head in the door again and happily announced, “the test turned positive – it was just slow.”

And so I drifted off to sleep with a smile on my face. Upon awakening the anesthesiologist and a nurse were the only ones in the room. He asked me if I’d heard how many eggs they’d gotten. With one eye open I said, “no.” He said, “18! But don’t tell the doc I told you – act surprised because he’s going to want to be the one to give you the good news.” I couldn’t believe it.

After I had woken up a bit more, my RE came in to tell me the great news. I seriously don’t know how he manages to get more eggs than we expect. He’s amazing. Of the 18 eggs, 13 were completely mature, 3 were almost mature and they were going to try to mature them in the lab, and only 2 were not yet ripe. This is by far my best response and I feel grateful.

Today I waited for the fertilization report, unsure of what to expect. Last cycle we had an astonishing 100% fertilization rate (the same as my first IVF 4 years ago), but in the 3 cycles before that we had a 50% rate at best. Finally the call came. Of the 13 mature eggs, 6 fertilized normally with ICSI. Another 3 fertilized but were showing significant cleavage, indicating they were not growing well. Nevertheless, the embryologist wanted to give them some more time to see if they corrected. The other 4 arrested after fertilization. The 3 eggs that they tried to mature in the lab did not make it. So there it is – in just one day I went from 18 eggs retrieved to 6 embryos growing with a hope of 3 more. Not the fertilization rate I was hoping for, but still glad to have these.

In my last cycle I had 7 fertilize normally but by day 3 there were only 3 still growing well. The others had significant cleavage and eventually arrested. So that’s why I’m a bit thrown off. With so many eggs retrieved, I actually started thinking that I may have some left over after my transfer to freeze. While it’s still possible, I’m adjusting my expectations. I’m going to continue to meditate, pray, and send reiki energy to these 9 embryos. I hope they grow well and I have a healthy looking bunch on Saturday for my 3-day transfer. And if I have any left over, and if they make it to day 5, I’ll be happy to have a bonus embryo or two to freeze.

I desperately hope that my baby is in this batch. It’s crazy how fast numbers can change, and how moods can shift during this journey. They don’t call infertility treatment a roller coaster ride for nothing.