Two months ago today, my husband and I found out our bad news. Two months ago today I was terrified. Two months ago today I never would have imagined that – in just two, small little months – I’d be waking up in an operating room with six possibilities for healthy life. The egg retrieval is over my friends, and we have six eggs to show for it.
This is how it went down:
I was slated as the first egg retrieval of the morning – a fact I was very pleased about because I envisioned the surgeon arriving to work bright-eyed and fresh, ready to take on his first patient of the day with the utmost precision and accuracy. 🙂 Upon arrival, I was immediately called into the internal waiting area to change into my scrubs and robe. The nurse took my vitals and administered the IV into my arm. A note about IVs: After weeks of getting blood drawn on a daily basis (with the arm bruises to prove it), I hardly gave the IV a second thought. But, damn that IV needle smarts! And remains pinching, too. “This will be the most painful part of your day,” the nurse patted my arm as a fresh bruise already started to form.
I was sent back into the outer waiting room to – very awkwardly – wait in my scrubs with my bum IV arm dangling (ever tried to use your arm with a thick needle hanging from your vein? Don’t). I looked around the room and noticed that all the other women, who were also donning scrubs and IVs, were casually flipping through magazines as calmly as if they were waiting to get their hair done. I wanted to yell: Why is everyone pretending to be so calm, cool, and collected? Doesn’t anyone think this is a little nerve-wracking?
Side Note: Maybe I’m the only one that thinks this day is a big deal. Or even scarier: Maybe these other women have done this so many times before that they ARE truly calm about the whole thing! Which means that maybe IVF doesn’t really work…which means: what am I doing!
Just as I began mind spiraling with these thoughts, the nurse called my name. It was time. I kissed my husband goodbye (really quickly, so I wouldn’t cry) and followed the nurse down the wide corridor leading to the OR. “Just head through those doors there,” she pointed.
I walked through two large swinging doors and instantly felt like I was on the set of a movie in a scene entitled, “The Operating Room.” Dark and cold, the room buzzed with various medical machines and equipment. A single gurney stood in the center, lit up by the unforgiving glare of menacing medical spotlights above. A team of doctors and nurses in blue face masks and gloves turned to greet me as I walked in. There was techno music playing in the background.
I almost turned around and walked out the doors. But there was too much to do.
“Remove your pants and place them here.”
“Give me your finger, we need to set you up on the heart monitor.”
“Hop up on this gurney and place your feet in these stirrups.”
“Hold still so that we can put in your oxygen tubes.”
It was all happening so fast and I suddenly understood that sensation of “floating above yourself.” Dr. S., the main doctor heading my procedure, introduced himself and asked how I was doing. “I’m really, really nervous,” I said. The staff chuckled. Dr. S. said: “Yes we know; we can hear that!” My heart was beating so fast and loud on the heart monitor that it almost (almost) droned out the softly pulsing techno music.
The nurse said, “You can just relax now. We are starting your meds and that is going to help with those nerves.”
I thought, “I cannot believe they’re fucking playing techno music.”
And then I was waking up in the recovery room with my husband’s smiling face floating before mine. “You’re really loving those chips,” he brushed some crumbs from my face. I looked down and realized that I was very slowly and methodically feeding myself a bag of Baked Lays potato chips (a snack I don’t like). Apparently, after wheeling you into the recovery room, the nurse puts a bag of chips and a small bottle of juice in front of you and tells you to eat. Still in an anesthesia stupor, I took her orders as my soul mission in life and fixated on carefully eating them, one-by-one.
“How many eggs did we get?” I slurred between a mouthful of chips. The nurse popped her head through our curtain, “You got six, sweetie. You did great!”
“Six?” I smiled drunkenly, and then immediately burst into tears. The nurse popped her head back into the room, “Is she okay?” she asked my husband. “Yes. She’s just happy,” he said.
And I am happy. Even though the amount of six eggs isn’t breaking any records, I haven’t felt this relieved and proud of myself in a long time. After so much physical work and mental stress and preparation, we now have six opportunities for healthy life. What a curious and special feeling that is!
I rested in the recovery room with my husband for about an hour and then we slowly made our way to the lobby to hail a cab. As soon as I got home, I got into bed and slept for a few hours, while my husband ran to the grocery store and stocked up on the fixins’ for a good “recovery day,” including coconut water to rehydrate and ice cream for love.
Overall, the egg retrieval was not as bad as I thought it would be, just like everything else in this IVF journey. As a person who’s never had an IV administered before or seen the inside of an operating room, it was definitely intimidating. But physically, it’s totally doable: I fell “asleep” comfortable, I woke up comfortable, and right now I’m lying on my couch with fuzzy socks and a blanket, pretty comfortable, save for some significant (but tolerable) cramping. The nurse was right, the IV was the most painful part of the day.
If you couldn’t tell from the opening of this post, the fact that our egg retrieval was slated on the two-month anniversary of our news is very special to me. I’m not a sucker for superstitious “signs,” but I do appreciate a nice symmetry in life. It also feels pretty amazing that in that small amount of time we’ve been able to research IVF, make a major decision to go forward, find a highly-accredited clinic, figure out the logistics and the financing around it, successfully complete one cycle…and now, stand here with actual possibilities for a healthy baby.
I know that this next week will be a rollercoaster of highs and lows as we wait on the progression of our eggs. But tonight, I’m going to bed happy knowing full well that I did the best that I could do and the rest is out of my control.