I'm old hat at the whole IVF process. There was a period of time where I think I saw more of my reproductive endocrinologist's nurse coordinator than I did my husband, ironically enough. A lot goes into those appointments, and you might feel more like the subject of an experiment than a mom-to-be for a while. From suppression to fertilization, it's a long road. Somewhere in the middle is the egg retrieval procedure. It's a crucial step and nerve wracking — and that's OK. Here's what to expect after an egg retrieval so maybe you're not quite so freaked out.
You'll come out of anesthesia, groggy and possibly nauseated. Your nurses will give you a small snack and if you can stomach that, you'll get some pain meds. You may spot, and you'll be crampy and bloated. Your partner will take you home within a few hours, where you'll need to recover for several more hours at least. You'll be given a prescription for fertility friendly pain relief, and restricted from high-impact activity and sexual intercourse until your embryo transfer. You'll also continue your intramuscular injections of your specific fertility cocktail at the same time every day before returning to the clinic.
I felt hungover and really bloated post-procedure. I threw up, and it wasn't pretty, because there wasn't really anything in my stomach. I cramped a lot, and spotted afterward. I was a real moody lady, and not taking anyone's crap. According to Delilah Jackson, a fertility center nurse coordinator, that's fairly common. "It's not fun. You're limited on activity and exercise, and you can't even take an NSAID, even though you desperately want an Advil." I remember this feeling well. I hate how Tylenol number three made me feel, and wanted nothing more than to take a few Aleve to dull the pain, but NSAIDs, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, are off limits, Jackson says, because they disrupt prostaglandin production. The same goes for antihistamines like Benadryl.
Honestly, losing Benadryl was almost worse for me because when I get nervous — and I was very nervous after egg retrieval — I get hives. I had to use ice packs and aloe for relief, and it did precious little against the welts. Don't worry, though, Jackson tells Romper that I'm my own kind of neurotic special case on that side effect. (I'm paraphrasing. She used kind words.)
Jackson says it's important to follow doctor's orders to the letter. "Your ovaries are swollen and tender following the retrieval, and it will take some time for them to decrease in size and sensitivity. Depending on your doctor, they might ask you to refrain from jarring activities for up to two weeks after the procedure, especially those women who will be undergoing an embryo transfer a handful of days after the retrieval." She notes that you need to continue taking your meds at the same time every day, whichever time works best for you and your partner if they're giving you the shot. Personally, I self-administered, because I'm a control freak, and because I have to give myself a pep-talk as I do it, and I only need to reveal so much of my freak flag to my husband. I mean, he already knows I talk back to podcasts like they can hear me, I don't need to add glitter to my flag.
The physicians at Egg Helpers Fertility Clinic in Ontario tell Romper, "We suggest that after an egg retrieval, donors take it easy for the day, that they aren’t left on their own for 24 hours, and they take all medications as prescribed." They also note that the follow-up appointment the next day is crucial because they want to ensure that ovarian hyper-stimulation doesn't begin.
The doctors at Egg Helpers also note that exercising and movement falls completely within the doctor's discretion and is discussed on a case-by-case basis. But, whether or not you're up and about, I know it was still one of the most nerve wracking things I've ever done, and I've sat for the Oxford viva exam. I'd rather pole dance for the stodgy old professors than do another egg retrieval if my egg retrieval didn't have such adorable results. All of the nerves and heartache were worth it, but honestly, just talking about it makes me break out in hives. At least I can take a Benadryl if I need it now.
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