Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Lucky Number 7 - Retrieval Day

Today was egg retrieval day and retrieve eggs they did. I said this morning before the procedure that I was confident that there was an egg in each of the mature sized follicles that I had grown with the help of all the heaps of hormones. I just knew it. I had been visualizing them and talking to them and I swear, they were talking back. Well, it turns out I was right and there were three more eggs that had grown along the way that they were able to retrieve. These extra three likely aren't mature enough to be fertilized, but they'll give it a shot, and if not, they'll go to research so that others have even more advanced opportunities in the future.

I was literally beaming when the doctor came to speak with me in the recovery room and told me that we had seven eggs to work with. I was stunned. We had been told that there is a 50% chance that each mature follicle would actually contain an egg, but against the odds, all of mine did. I got all teary eyed and was flooded with emotion - finally, the happy kind. Craig came into the recovery room and was equally shocked and misty-eyed at the news. Great success!

It was worth the 26 shots in the abdomen, the more than half-a-dozen blood draws, the swollen, low-hanging fruit feeling, the back and front cramps. We're so thrilled that we held onto hope and went through with the process. We'll find out tomorrow how many of the eggs fertilized with Craig's little guys and find out a couple days later how many grow enough to be frozen as embryos for us to access when we're ready to try for a family.

The retrieval procedure itself was easy. It was the IV insertion that took a lot of deep breathing and mental strength to get through. It took them not one, not two, not three, but five stick attempts in five different veins to get a suitable IV placement. The nurse tried each arm and kept hitting the hardened scar tissue from the months of chemo without the port. Then the anesthesiologist himself got in on it and he tried my right hand, no luck. Then my left arm, again, no luck, then finally he went from my left hand.

I've already felt like a pin cushion the past few weeks. I have very sensitive skin so my arms are already bruised just from the blood draws and you can see the needle pricks all over my abdomen. I can't fathom that drug addicts to this to themselves for pleasure.

"This is the one, right doc? I can feel it," I said smiling to the doctor as he went for the fifth needle stick as kind of a warning, like, this is ridiculous.

Finally I was ready and we rolled into the procedure room. It was a mini-OR right there behind the exam rooms that we'd been visiting so many times. I hopped up onto the table and had to scoot all the way to the bottom. Ass out and spread eagle. They strapped my legs to supports on either side of the table - glorified pedals that us women have to put our feet in for a gyno exam. Luckily there was a towel covering my unmentionables until I fell asleep, but it was still quite a compromised position. But as I've said before, dignity has been left in the dust a long time ago. I was doing it for the eggs.

Just as the anesthesiologist started to send in the meds, Miley Cyrus' "The Climb" came on over the speakers and I smiled as this song has met so much to me throughout my cancer experience. Cheezy, I know, but to me it's inspirational and was the perfect send-off to unconsciousness.

The procedure itself is very minimally invasive. They go in with a scope, just like the ultrasound scope they used for all of my ovary examinations, but this one has a needle on the end. Through CT-Scan guidance, they aimed the needle at each mature follicle and sucked out all the fluid and the egg into a test tube. I felt nothing and don't feel crampy or anything. I came right out of the anesthesia with no problems and it was straight to take-out at Joey Garlics for a massive chicken parm grinder as I had had to fast from midnight the night before until 1:30pm today. That doesn't bode well for someone who eats every few hours.

One of the nurses at The Center took a liking to Craig and me from our very first visit and has made it her job to be there with us for every part (even though it's not her job - exactly). She even was in on a Saturday doing paperwork in her jeans and came up to our exam room knowing that we were there for an important scan. It was like having a very caring, very thoughtful concierge throughout the whole process. So, it was appropriate that she scrubbed up and came into the OR with me in addition to the OR nurses. She was there holding my hand through the whole IV insertion process and there holding my hand until the drugs sent me into la la land. She sat with Craig through all of his bloodwork, carried my purse around for me while I was in the procedure, then walked us out of the building and asked if she could call to check in on us. I think she'll truly miss our almost daily visits - and we'll miss seeing her.

Everyone there was rooting for us. It seemed that all the nurses knew our story before we met them and they were all pushing for success for us. It really meant a lot and it obviously paid off. I think the young adult cancer card may have helped with the special treatment, but, hey, we'll take it.


  1. Go, baby, go - do it for the eggs! xoxo

  2. i got tears again. reading about the nurse that followed you. it's obviously an mild indication of the two of you. people stalking you. i mean helping you out of the kindness of their hearts. keep on keepin on. you are gonna do it. i just know it.

  3. YESSSSSSSSSSS!!!! Wonder if those sweet eggs knew your Mom used to deliver them???? Congrats---they will patiently wait for the treatment to finish ---actually I should probably say your Mom delivered the mature 9 mo ones----made her sound like a chicken farm!!! xoxoxo Bev & Blake

  4. Congrats on 7 leaps of faith, glimmers of hope, and future miracles. Praying that they all surprise you and wait patiently for you to be done with the cancer biz and ready for the life you always dreamed of. It may be a long journey but the reunion will be so sweet, hang in there and know that strangers see how special you are and are rooting for you and holding you up in prayer.

  5. Karin and Craig, I'm teary eyed also, the happy kind! So happy for the two of you. Lynn :)

  6. I am crossing my fingers for lot's of frost babies for the two of you!

  7. I don't know you, but was passed your blog by a cousin who does. I check every day to see what's happening (and feel a little like a stalker). You weren't the only ones with tears of joy at this got me all misty eyed myself.

    I pray that God brings you and your family the peace and strength to handle this difficult situation

  8. Go eat LOTS of cheesesteaks - you two deserve it!! Hip, hip, hooray!!!!!!!!!!!!!! - Michelle

  9. Dear Karin,
    I am friends with you Mom and Dad and my sister is the one who spoke to you about her experience with a stem cell transplant at Yale. I have been asking about you all thru your illness and glad to know now about your blog. I pray all will go as well with you as it did with my sister. You will do fine, I'm sure of it. You have a wonderful support system and positive energy lifestyle.

  10. Karin-
    You and your little frozen ones are in my thoughts and prayers. I went thru IVF myself last year and that alone was like running an emotional ironman. You are amazing, a role model and a hero.

    Keep on trucking on.

    Dena (a friend of Jen MacDonald's) and happy mother of little Bella, her wonderful IVF baby born 1 month ago:)