Reciprocal IVF : Part Two: Planning to Egg Retrieval. In case you missed Part 1, you can check it out!
We left off when Krystal and I had come to the decision to proceed with Reciprocal IVF. For those of you that are more visual learners, I have created the graph below to show you a glimpse into the moving parts of this journey.
IVF Got This!
Krystal was first up to bat in July of 2018. She began her “suppression phase” which consists of taking birth control. It’s so weird to me that you are trying to get pregnant and step number 1 is going on birth control. At her baseline ultrasound, they discovered she had already developed one follicle. The goal of the suppression phase is to stifle follicles from developing so when you go into the stimulation phase you have a lot of follicles. (Follicles are eggs). They switched her birth control and she began the suppression phase again.
Giving “Body Shots” : A Whole New Meaning (Stimulation Phase)
At her second baseline scan, she was given the go-ahead to start the stimulation phase. This includes 2 shots for 6 days, and 3 shots for 5 days in the stomach. I was only able to give her the injections for 3 days (I was better than her dad the firefighter…*insert hair toss*), but she quickly became a pro at giving them to her herself.
We Pulled the Trigger (Shot)
We were given the go-ahead to give Krystal her Trigger Shot on Saturday evening for an Egg Retrieval scheduled for Monday. The goal of the trigger shot is to increase your HCG levels for optimal egg retrieval. We had to administer the shot at precisely 8:00 p.m. — so here we are in San Antonio, on our way to play Top Golf and I am drawing up the medication while Krystal drives on the highway. Ha! We are in the parking lot, it’s dark, and I draw up the medicine with the thin needle and prepare to inject the thicker needle into Krystal’s booty. Thankfully she realized it and we switched needles otherwise it would have REALLLY hurt. Oops! We do it and go about our evening, we play Top Golf.
Throughout this process, you are on physical restrictions. Since you are holding so many follicles, your ovaries increase in size drastically… from 1-2 cm to 7 centimeters. Because of this, there is a high chance of your Fallopian tubes twisting.
This did not come to mind when we were playing Top Golf….just think of all the twisting you do to hit the golf club. Eeek.
That night Krystal woke up in EXTREME pain. We emailed our nurse at 2 a.m. freaking out, at 5:00 a.m. we had an appointment for 8:00 a.m. the next morning. Let me tell you our fertility team was 5 stars!! Thankfully her Fallopian tubes were not twisting, but the extra activity exerted her too much and caused the pain.
Retrieve. Believe. Conceive: Egg Retrieval Day
Egg Retrieval is an outpatient procedure, but you do go under general anesthesia. It was done at our fertility clinic and took about 20 minutes from start to finish. She was full of the good drugs so the pre-op and post-op were entertaining for me and her mom. Since the room where they did the retrieval was sterile we weren’t able to go in, but we were able to watch. One camera was the embryologist’s view, and the other was the ultrasound tech’s view as they extracted the follicles. Let me tell you : science is amazing!! They retrieved 25 eggs in total and will fertilize each one. We then had to wait until they develop into an embryo or blastocyst stage in order to determine if they are viable. This usually takes about 5 days.
*These socks were our good luck charm and a good luck charm to some friends who also went through the same process.
Soon after the egg retrieval, Krystal was still in a lot of pain. She was severely bloated, vomiting, and had severe abdominal pain. I assumed it was just her detoxing off the hormones and told her to keep drinking water to flush out her system. That was a big mistake. We called the fertility clinic when it just wouldn’t let up and she was rushed to San Antonio for an ultrasound and diagnosed with Ovarian Hyper-Stimulation Syndrome. Her ovaries were measuring 8 cm, which means they had grown 1 cm after the retrieval causing them to be under her rib cage. Not good. Basically, she was retaining liquid and would have to monitor her intake and outtake while on a high sodium diet. After about a week we got it under control and Krystal was back to normal.
How do you like your Eggs? Fertilized!
We retrieved 25 follicles (eggs) and 20 were able to be fertilized and from there 10 made it to the embryo/blastocyst stage. This is AMAZING results and we were so thrilled!! That 5 days we were a bundle of nerves hoping that we would have at least one embryo to transfer. We were so privileged to have 10. All 10 of those were frozen in preparation for the transfer.
*Fun Fact: We pay for storage for not only our 4 donor sperm vials but also our 9 embryos. It ranges from $800 – $1000 to store both for a year.