Today was the day of the egg retrieval process in our fertility treatment. To say I was anxious is an understatement. I barely slept last night just worrying about the whole thing. But I’m happy to say I survived and it wasn’t as bad as I expected it to be.
We arrived at Tygerberg Hospital way too early, but we had to leave home early to avoid the peak hour traffic (my appointment was for 8:30am). KB and I sat in the car and chatted to pass the time. He also showed me a bunch of beautiful photos taken by the Hubble telescope which were quite calming – the thought struck me that surely we can’t be alone out there in the universe? It is so vast and so beautiful! I also checked my email and social media feeds, and generally just tried to distract myself from stressing about the upcoming appointment.
When it was time, we went in and waited a few minutes at Room 22. Dr Thabo Matsaseng arrived – he was already in the swing of his work day! He escorted us to the maternity ward where the procedure was going to take place. He tried to set me at ease joking that I was very quiet (because I’m usually quite talkative). In the maternity ward he gave me a hospital gown to change into and asked me to disrobe from the waist down (I was wearing a long sleeve t-shirt and was allowed to keep that on).
The aspiration process
After I changed, Dr M escorted me into the room where the magic happens. KB was not allowed to accompany me. He sat and waited just outside the room on a visitors’ bench. In the room I had to sit in one of those stirrups chairs. Before putting my legs up in the stirrups, Dr M explained that he would give me a shot (in the bum cheek) and that it might make me feel a bit drowsy. The shot wasn’t too bad, just a burning sensation. Then I lay back in the stirrup chair and he waited a few moments for the drugs to take effect and readied his instruments.
I couldn’t see much of what he was doing, because I had a sheet draped over my knees. However, he did show me on the sonar scan that there were three large sacs that he was going to remove. He used a speculum to get to where he needed to be and told me that he was first going to clean the area. This didn’t hurt and felt a bit like having a pap smear. Then the retrieval process started. I won’t lie, it wasn’t painless. There was a bit of pain, but it also wasn’t super painful (not according to my pain threshold anyway). Just a few moments here and there that were not nice, but definitely less traumatic that I expected it to be, and a complete walk in the park compared to KB’s biopsy.
Dr M was accompanied by Dr Geyer (whom we had met with on one of our very first visits to Tygerberg Hospital). I told Dr G that I remembered him and our first meeting. He was surprised that I remembered that he has a practice in Rustenberg!
So, in the room was Dr M, Dr G and 2 female lab assistants/nurses. As Dr M retrieved the sacs (it felt a bit like they were being sucked out with a tugging sensation), one of the ladies immediately checked for eggs. Dr G also assisted in the retrieval.
The whole team were so supportive and sweet, trying to comfort me by rubbing my leg or squeezing my shoulder in reassurance. Dr M also kept a flow of dialog, checking in on me, asking how I was doing and letting me know how far we were in the process. The pain wasn’t too bad and it was over quite quickly. If you are ever in this situation, the emotional stress is way more painful than the physical pain – so draw comfort from that. By the end of the process we had confirmation of 3 eggs!
Afterwards, I felt really nauseous and light headed from the drugs. My mouth was also super dry. The one lab assistant was really kind and helped me to sit in front of a fan, which made me feel a whole lot better. Luckily the nausea only lasted a few minutes. Despite my dry mouth I was advised not to have any water or anything to drink or eat for roughly an hour. While I sat quietly for a few minutes waiting for the nausea to pass, KB was allowed to join me. When I felt better we paid the aspiration fee and I went to change. There was a bit of bleeding, but Dr M warned me about it and reassured me that it was completely normal. The information pack I received at one of our earlier appointments advised to bring a sanitary pad for after the procedure, so I was prepared.
You can watch this short video I found on Melbourne IVF’s website for a more detailed explanation on the whole ICSI treatment process.
What happens now is that they thaw one of KB’s sperm samples and use a special microscope and needle to inject a single sperm into each of the eggs. After a day or so they will see whether or not fertilization took place and how the cells are multiplying. If fertilization did take place, then I’ll go back in 3 days for the actual implanting to happen. As I understand it, from there it’s a 10-day wait before I do a pregnancy test.
Honestly, it feels a bit unreal. This whole thing has been in the pipeline for so long and now that it’s happening I feel like it’s not real. I know that probably sounds odd, but KB and I are almost in a bit of a state of disbelief. But in a good way. I will keep you posted!
Read more about our fertility treatment journey at Tygerberg Hospital here.
Header image from the Hubble posted on NASA’s website.