And then there was one

Somehow I’ve gotten through 35 years of severe incoordination without ever needing surgery. Which means I’ve never needed anesthesia. So when it came time for my egg retrieval, more than anything, I was nervous about the idea of being put under. I may be just a tad bit of a control freak, so the idea of someone else having control over my consciousness totally wigs me out.

So when I was brought in to the official procedure room and positioned on the table with my legs all spread apart and 7 strangers in surgical masks surrounding me, I was almost shaking. Part of that was probably also due to the fact that I had convinced myself that I had ovulated early and had 20 eggs just hanging out in my fallopian tubes. I must have googled “possible to ovulate before egg retrieval?” 30 times the day before. And the fact that apparently everyone who has ever gone through IVF has had the same unnecessary fear and not a one had ovulated early didn’t comfort me. Since when does my body do what everyone else’s does?

Everyone in that room was just chatting it up as they prepped for the procedure, as if it was just an ordinary day and they weren’t about to knock me out and remove potential life through my vaj. And I was just trying to act like I was cool enough to go along with it. I started to feel a little droopy. And the last thing I remember was telling everyone that the ceiling looked like waffles, but that I was gonna eat a giant donut as soon as this whole thing wrapped up, and everyone laughing at me.

In those 20 minutes, I had the best damn sleep of my life. Afterward, I told the nurse if she could just send me home with a bag of the IV meds, I’d totally keep it under wraps. I was surprised to not feel nauseous or weird or even sleepy after. And you know what, on our way home, I did eat a donut. And after weeks of no carbs, processed foods or refined sugars, it was freaking glorious.

The next three days were not glorious. Nobody really warns you about how shitty you are going to feel after a retrieval. The doctor gave me meds for pain. But pain is not the word I’d use to describe the sensation of my ovaries swelling to the size of grapefruits and pushing my insides around. And it wasn’t until I googled some things that I figured out that that’s what was actually happening. At first, I just thought I had about 3 years’ worth of farts stuck up inside me, refusing to come out. Walking and sitting down felt like Olympic sports. And of course, I was working in an agency with a bunch of people all around to witness my grimacing waddle-walk.

Then the horrible numbers game began. There were 14 eggs retrieved. 10 were mature. Of the 10, 8 fertilized. But only 3 made it to day 5 blastocysts. Because of my previous miscarriages, we did PGS (Pre-Implantation Genetic Screening) on the three blastocysts so that we could be sure we weren’t transferring an embryo that I would certainly miscarry. And the results just came in. Only one out of the three is a chromosomally normal embryo.

I feel like I just played blackjack in Vegas. Stepped up to the table with pockets full of chips, and now I’m left with one. The reality is, if I hadn’t had such a great response to the stims, 1 chromosomally normal embryo would be reason to be ecstatic. It’s still a chance, with relatively better odds. But the 20 follicles on my scan played tricks with my brain. They got my hopes up. They made me think we were destined for multiple chances and possibly multiple babies.

Now, it’s all riding on this one little embryo we’ll be transferring in June. Our entire future rests on this thing that is still just a tiny clump of cells sitting in a nitrogen tank. Imagine if it actually does become a child. I think I already feel sorry for it. No pressure, kid, but all of Mommy and Daddy’s hopes and dreams are on your shoulders. If we hadn’t just spent so much on IVF, I’d start a fund for their therapy.