Let me start this post by saying that everyone’s retrieval experience is different. I’m sure it has a lot to do with A. how many eggs they get, B. the size of your pelvis, C. your pain tolerance. For me:
A. They retrieved 27 eggs.
B. I have a tiny pelvis. My hips are sort of a joke.
C. I have a high pain tolerance.
I also did not do a fresh transfer with my cycle due to my tendency to hyper stimulate so I did not have progesterone in my body post procedure. I’m not sure if that would have made things better or worse.
This is to say that my experience may not be like your experience. I do know that a lot of women shared similar frustrations saying they “wished their doctor had been a little more forthcoming about how rough retrieval is.” I hope that by sharing this list you will be a little more prepared in the event your retrieval is not a cakewalk.
Here are the things I wish I had been prepared for:
- When a lot of eggs are harvested, the pain can be fierce. I came out of anesthesia writhing in pain. (see Letter C). The nurse immediately put morphine in my line to help. It was great for about an hour.
- My doctor initially said that the majority of people are mostly recovered within 24 to 48 hours. I would like to know what his definition of “mostly” is because it certainly is not mine! I experienced all over abdominal pain, cramping and shortness of breath that did not let up until about Wednesday after a Saturday retrieval. I still have stabbing pains when I pee. The bloat did not back off until Friday. Bottom line I have heard from almost all women: It takes some time to heal. Be patient with your body and do not push it.
- Anesthesia made me terribly ill. I was super nauseous and dizzy for about 24 hours. If you are sensitive, be prepared to hang out at home for the next day or two so you don’t toss your cookies in the Co-Op (I had a very near vomit experience in the middle of the hot bar at our co-op. You are not cool if you puke in the tofu scramble.)
- The pain medication they gave me, Tramadol, made me itch like a bandit. I think this is a really rare side effect, but just be warned.
- Prepare Mr. Husband to wait on you. I very rarely ask Mr. Husband to do things for me, but I’m so glad I did. It was so nice having help the first day and it let him feel he was more a part of this process.
- The first pee post-retrieval is scary, painful and tea colored and will make you think your kidney’s are failing. They are not.
- After retrieval drink lots of fluids. This is something I did not do and is why my first pee was so scary. Flush your body of the anesthesia meds with water and sports drinks for the first few hours, then taper back and prepare for THE BLOAT OF DOOMMMM (see below).
- No one warns you about the bloating. Had my doctor said, “Your gonna be bloated to the point you look like you are 4 months pregnant” I would have been better prepared. Before retrieval dig out a few super stretchy bottoms. My favs are these skirts from Old Navy with leggings underneath.
- The post-retrieval constipation is no myth. Pre-emptive strike it with 4 pills of Colace in a.m. and p.m. for several days leading up and several days following. You will not regret it as straining while your ovaries are all angry from being needled is NOT fun times.
- The memory-wiping drug they give you will make you wonder if they aspirated some brains with the eggs. I seriously felt like an idiot for the three days following surgery.
- There will be NO RELATIONS with Mr. Husband for 7 to 10 days. This is so disappointing as I wanted nothing more than to be close to him after this experience. Opt for lots of snuggling instead.
- All together it took 7 full days for me to be able to move around and do daily activities without any pain. Tomorrow, 9 days post, I get to return to spin class and on Tuesday I’ll get to take my first run.
- You forget 95% of all the pain and misery as soon as your beautiful embryos are transferred (or in my case, frozen).
My retrieval was positively hellish. I know I’m in the minority due to the huge quantity of eggs they got, but still, be prepared for the worst so you can come back to this post later and mock me by saying “I love Tramadol, memory wiping medicine increased my IQ and I was back running and having “relations” with Mr. Husband in no time. Retrieval is easy and you are a sissy!”
What do you wish you had known before having a retrieval. If you have not yet done a retrieval, what are you most concerned about?