My last update consisted of a pre-OHSS diagnosis and entering the process knowing we wouldn’t be getting to transfer any of the embryos we hadn’t even made yet. There was so much uncertainty. We knew I was “extremely likely” to develop OHSS but we didn’t know what that would entail. Imagine someone telling you that on Tuesday, you’re going to get the flu. And as bad as you’ll feel on the first two days, it will get much worse. Its weird. But doc is smart. And he was right.
“If you start having problems breathing, call us and go to the hospital immediately. Take your cabergoline; this is just a storm you’ll have to ride out.”
That’s terrifying. But ok. I think that cabergoline stuff is like Tamiflu, but for ovaries that got too hype. It made me sicker, but shortened the duration of my OHSS.
Tuesday morning, after my trigger shot, the OHSS showed up to the party in full swing, just as Doc suspected it would. I had planned on going to work, but I couldn’t walk from one end of the house to the other, much less work a full day in the office. I spent the day in bed in a weird haze.
Wednesday morning we woke up around 5:00am and got on the road to Jackson. I almost passed out just writing the rent check to drop off on the way (life still goes on, y’all), but we made it. After some jokes and some encouragement from my wonderful team of doctors and nurses, and some “Michael Jackson” level drugs, the next thing I remember was waking up freezing cold (always happens to me after anesthesia) and the lab technician saying they were able to retrieve 17 eggs.
Seven. teen. That’s seven. And then ten more. Doc noted my Wonder Woman socks and asked what my super power was. “This week, its eggs.” He agreed that was the super power de jour.
I had 28 follicles (each follicle holds an egg). The remaining 11 follicles were either too big or too small to successfully get an egg. But we were thrilled! Doc told us that since we had such a good number, he’d likely do ICSI on half, and “normal fertilization” (LOL) on the other half.
The Mayo Clinic defines ICSI as: intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), a single healthy sperm is injected directly into each mature egg.
The next morning (still too sick to function, but I made it to the couch instead of never leaving the bed) we got a phone call just before 7 am. This was our initial fertilization report. Of my 17 eggs, they took 11 and preformed ICSI. Five of them fertilized. Of the remaining six eggs, 4 were fertilized with “normal fertilization” (again, WHAT about this is normal?!).
That’s NINE zygotes. Nine out of 17. We knew the number would likely decrease again, but very quickly I got very attached to nine little microscopic blobs of cells.
Every day, we got a call letting us know our nine little blobs were still growing. We even got cell counts, and they were all right on track. Friday, my OHSS peaked (I could no longer fit in Mister or brother’s gym shorts and I was in a lot of pain). My ovaries were somewhere around the size of baseballs. Normal ovaries are no bigger than an almond.
Monday was Day Five. The day we were suppose to have our fresh transfer, but Doc preemptively canceled it because he was quite sure I wouldn’t be in a healthy place. I didn’t really agree with him, and was bummed when he made the call, but we trust this doctor. Boy, was he right. I was barely in shape to return to work, much less being in tip-top grow-a-baby shape. Monday, I was kind of an emotional wreck. This was the day I knew we would get a phone call telling us how many embryos made it to freeze. Embryos usually grow pretty well initially, but the transition from embryo to blastocyst is where you start to lose some. Around 10:00am I got a phone call that let me know one had made it and been frozen.
They were going to let the rest keep growing and see if they made the transition. It would be very clear in the next 18 hours whether or not they would keep growing. They would either transition in to a blastocyst, or they would begin to break down. So on Monday, I had a bit of a break down. And that’s ok. I’d held it together pretty well through this whole circus, my body had been through an incredibly taxing process, and I was emotionally and mentally broke.
I was terrified of transferring our one and having nothing left. Freaking out over the possibility of having to do this whole ovary stimulation process again. I became incredibly protective of our one blast and our other maybes. I can keep them safe in the freezer. But what if they don’t make it to the freezer? Have we created life with a cavalier attitude and left them to disintegrate and die?
Again, mentally broke.
After some time to process, I was able to talk myself off the ledge of despair, but I had a knot in my stomach waiting for the FINAL final call on Tuesday.
Tuesday came, and they were able to freeze one more. The rest began to deteriorate and breakdown.
If you need a recap, that is:
9 zygotes – embryos
According to the American Pregnancy Association, “chemical pregnancies” (I hate that term, more later) account for 50-75% of miscarriages, usually before the woman even knows she’s pregnant. If you look at our numbers, that’s about right. We just know for certain, where as natural pregnancies are often spared this knowledge. So while its still difficult to process that I have 7 souls I won’t get to meet in this life, I will know them eternally.
We are rejoicing in the two that we have the opportunity to hold. Whether in my womb or in our arms, we rejoice in the life that has been created, and we will celebrate it. Christ tells us that if we hold our tongues, the rocks will cry out and praise Him. I’m not one to be out done by a rock.
My body has recovered from the train wreck that is OHSS. We have set a date with my clinic to transfer one of our two blastocysts.
March 25, Good Friday, we will take one of our little popcicles and transfer it to my body. My thoughts on the timing and the significance of this date are still rolling around in my head, and I hope to be able to sort them out in to sensible English soon.
For the next 5 weeks or so, we have a lot of prep work to do. I’m back on birth control for a little while, and then will be on estrogen for a couple of weeks, and then we’ll start our progesterone-in-oil shots a few days before the transfer. I’ll be on bed rest for the entirety of Easter weekend, and if Mister lets me do anything besides walk short distances in a leisurely fashion for the two weeks that follow, color me shocked.
We are parents. And we will do what is best for the souls that are still under our care in this life. Its weird and its wonderful and its terrifying, and God is really big and really small at the same time.