getting graded

Holy cow, friends, OHSS is even less fun than I anticipated – and mine has been a mild case! I am finally on the mend now after over a week, but Dr O was right when she said it would get worse before it got better – for several days I could do nothing but lie in bed, and even that hurt. I was too nauseated to eat much, and felt super bloated as well. I will admit, for past rounds of IVF I have secretly thought, why not use more medicine? Surely it’s okay to try if it means we could get more eggs! but now I totally understand why my clinic tries to err on the side of caution and not overdo follicle stimulation specifically to try to avoid this! BIG OOF. Apparently OHSS used to be way more common, which I can fully believe since getting the balance of chemicals right to push the body to prepare more eggs seems to be a complicated procedure. But whew, it has not been fun – and my poor husband has had to do everything in my comparative absence on top of working full time, so everybody’s been tired!

Still, I had to go in to the clinic twice this week, once on Tuesday for another ultrasound as well as the results of my previous blood test, and once on Friday to talk with the technician who was looking after my eggs. Both times they had me fill out the same OHSS questionnaire, to monitor my condition. Since I was still so sore and uncomfortable, the ultrasound was honestly quite painful! Dr. O apologised, but assured me that things were beginning to settle down. “You’re still in for a few more days of it, though,” she said. Alas, she was right. Then regarding the blood test – OHSS can cause clotting and problems with liver and kidneys so they wanted to make sure there was nothing to be worried about there, which there apparently wasn’t. “Your blood,” said Dr. O, “is silky smooth!” ✨ Hooray for that.

On Thursday night I wondered aloud to my husband, “What’ll we do if NONE of the eggs have survived and we have to go through this part all over again?”

“Cry, probably,” he said. “Or you would, at least.” He was half-joking, but there was definitely some truth to it!

Feeling significantly better on Friday morning, I caught the train into town and once at the clinic, filled out yet another OHSS questionnaire while I waited for my number to be called.

The technician called me into her counselling room and then sat behind her desk, opening my file. “You had eighteen eggs retrieved, of which twelve were mature, of which ten were fertilised, yes?”

“Yes,” I said, with some trepidation.

“Of those ten, four continued to grow. One of them took a little longer than the others, requiring six days to reach the stage we prefer, but… you’re familiar with our grading system, I think?”

“I am,” I replied.

“Well,” she continued, “the grades of your four eggs are here:”

4BC on the 6th day is exactly the same as the egg that failed to stick the last IVF cycle we did back in March/April, so in my head I was already writing it off (even though, as I mentioned in the post linked above, I know people with wonderful CC toddlers!) but WHAT is that one at the top?! An AB?! I didn’t think I was even capable of producing those. Surreal.

“Honestly,” the technician said, “getting any kind of A is really lucky; Bs are great and are far more common! And as you can see,” she continued, pointing to another piece of paper (which I foolishly forgot to photograph), “the success rates for our clinic when it comes to AB and BB are almost the same, so I’d say you’ve got three very good chances here.”

Three! Technically four but at least three chances! I was thrilled. She showed me the timelapse video of the twelve eggs in their little petri dishes, and I could watch the four successful ones split into cells and more cells and even more cells. Wild.

“Being able to see all that is amazing,” I said. “I’ll never get tired of it. Technology is so great.”

“Right?! I really love science,” the technician gushed with an embarrassed laugh, and we chatted for a couple more minutes before it was time for me to go. What a lovely person!

Out in the waiting room I sent my husband a wall of text via instant messenger, and while he was happy (of course!) he also took a moment to look at the actual numbers.

Less than half of the ten fertilised eggs, though… The more I think about it, the more I realise what a miracle our daughter is.

He’s right, of course. That the one single egg from that retrieval three years ago could be mature, get fertilised, grow properly, survive being frozen, implant, grow well and come into this world is nothing short of a miracle. And this time, three (four) possibilities from 18 eggs, before you even get to the ‘will it stick or not’ stage! It couldn’t be more obvious what a lottery pregnancy is, and how much of it is down to luck. I wonder if the people who are fortunate enough to get pregnant and give birth without any medical assistance even realise how lucky they are…

So what now? Well, now we’re back waiting for my period to show up again, which usually happens pretty quickly after egg retrieval (10-14 days after, normally). Once that shows up then things kick into gear with oestrogen patches and progesterone pessaries in preparation for egg transfer once again.

In the mean time, I am busy decorating the house! Since we’re a multicultural establishment over here, “Europe season” is from mid-November to 26th December, and from the 27th onwards it’s “Asia season” busy with cleaning and preparing the house for the Japanese New Year. Getting to enjoy both cultural events is one of my favourite things. I love this time of year so much!

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