In the recovery room after egg retrieval

Two days ago, I had my egg retrieval.

Well, that’s not really a sentence I ever thought I’d ever write.

After the nurses walked me out of the operating room, I was led into a recovery room where, unlike the operating room, it is a shared space. There are about four beds for patients who will eventually be recovering from their own procedures, and you are separated from the rest of them by a curtain. After the procedure, I was predictably groggy and sleepy from the IV sedation. I could feel mild cramping and bloating from the procedure (as is considered normal), and the nurse immediately gave me two Tylenol and water before allowing me to sleep and gain back energy to go back home. Chris would be in the waiting room downstairs, waiting for me to wake up and be discharged.

The RE came over and tapped on my foot to get my attention. He provided the update that they retrieved 12 eggs, but we wouldn’t know until the following day how many of them would be mature (immature eggs are highly unlikely to fertilize and reach blastocyst stage, meaning they have extremely low chances of “sticking” after an embryo transfer). That number sounded higher than what the sonographer had estimated with me a few days ago during my last ultrasound, so I felt pretty decent about it and thanked him as he left.

What was the most disturbing thing that happened was what I overheard next to me about ten minutes later. A woman whose procedure had also completed was distraught. A nurse came over to say to her in a lowered voice that she was so sorry about what happened, but the doctor and embryologist would examine the results in more detail to better understand. From what I could hear through the curtain, her egg retrieval… resulted in zero eggs retrieved. While the aspirating needles were able to remove liquid from her follicles, there hadn’t been adequate “cellular development” resulting in eggs.

I was only half conscious listening to this, but I could already feel myself getting choked up. Why and how could this have happened to her, this poor woman? Like me, she had to go through countless injections, endless ultrasounds and bloodwork, too many doctor’s appointments nearly 3-4 times every week for 2-3 weeks…. all to retrieve zero eggs? I felt so horrible for her, and I don’t even know who this person was, nor was I able to see her face.

A woman’s fertility journey can be an extreme life struggle. And when defeats like this happen, it really does feel like your body has failed you… and that part of you is just broken.

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