What’s Our Lucky Number?/How Many Eggs (Follicles) Did We Get?

There were only five mature eggs (follicles) in my ovaries. Only five?………

I was really hoping, with everything inside of me, that there were seven… What did all this mean? What were we supposed to learn? Why did this happen?

Bursts of anger snuck into my peaceful mind. We could have finished this whole thing with the FIRST cycle. I felt like the previous decisions made about stopping the cycles, had been put on me. So when this happened, I felt like I should have decided to go through with it on the first cycle. It would have saved everyone time, money, and energy. GURRR:(

Gordon reminded me that we had both made the decisions, and that we based it on the professionals’ opinions and our guidance from God. He encouraged me to put away the beating stick and focus on what I had created. He continued by telling me that we wouldn’t be here and wouldn’t be this far in the process if it wasn’t for me and what I strived to accomplish.

What a guy! He helped me find the peace that I worked so hard to keep.

The Egg Retrieval

The day had come! My little eggs (follicles) would be taken out of me.

The egg retrieval is typically done right in the office as a very simple procedure. A needle is passed through the top of the vagina under ultrasound guidance to get to the ovary and follicles. The fluid in the follicles is aspirated (drawn-up) through the needle and the eggs detach from the follicle wall and are sucked out of the ovary. The fluid with the eggs is passed to the IVF lab where the eggs are identified, rinsed in culture media, and placed in small culture drops in plastic dishes. The dishes with the eggs are then kept in specialized IVF incubators under carefully controlled environmental conditions. Sperm is mixed with the eggs about 4 hours after the egg aspiration, and then it begins to fertilize.

Because of the concern with how my heart would do during the procedure and the risk of bleeding, I had it performed at the hospital in the operating room. Once again, there was cardiologist, cardiac anesthesiologist, several nurses, and my fertility doctor who was the one performing the retrieval. I was completely put out so they could monitor my heart and be able to control the pace-maker/defibrillator (ICD).
My biggest concern was the survival of my precious little eggs.

And once again, Gordon could not be there with me…….But of course, he was waiting for my return.

Previously Gordon had given sperm that they could freeze so they would have back-up, it was required. Obviously fresh is better, so off he went.. While I was in the OR, Gordon went over to the infertility center to give them fresh, healthy sperm.

I was sent home the same day to recover. Ouch!!! And so sick from the anesthesia and pain pills.

Synchronizing Cycles/Important Medications/Inch and a Half Long Needles!

With the help of the birth control, Alice and my cycles were synchronized. (I guess it is good for something, lol)

The doctors put us back on Lupron shots, which shut off the connection from our brains to our ovaries. This way, the professionals could completely control our hormones without interference from the normal process of the body.

She was also put back on Progesterone injections. Progesterone is one of the reproductive hormones normally produced by the ovary after ovulation. It is needed to prepare the endometrium (uterus) for implantation of an embryo.

I forgot to mention earlier, that the Progesterone shots were not the little needles that we used for the lupron shots. Through the two previous cycles and for three weeks, Alice had Progesterone shots every day. She had to use one and a half-inch long needles and have her husband stick it in her glute muscle. Ya, you guess it! Right in her ASS!!! And then, if that’s not bad enough, he had to pull back the needle to make sure it wasn’t in a vein. If it was, he had to pull it out, and do it again. The medication has to go into the muscle, not a vein. Inch and a half, holy hell! That’s freaky!

Here she was giving it a third try for us. Another three weeks!

She told me that through the previous cycle, she had a few times where she almost passed out while her husband was giving her the shot!!!!!!!

Along with the Lupron shots, I started back on Follistim shots. Two simple belly shots, compared to Alice. The Follistim is a follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), the hormone that stimulates the ovaries.
The new super-boost injections that the doctors put me on was called Ganirelix Acetate. It also stimulates the ovaries, while preventing eggs from being released prematurely.

I made up my mind that I could push through one more cycle, and would give it all I had.

The Waiting Game/Holiday Break???

I started back on medications to calm and quiet my ovaries AGAIN, and Alice and I both started back on birth control AGAIN…… Stupid birth control! I felt like it was controlling my life….I wasn’t myself when I was on it.

The doctors had mentioned that they had one more drug they could add to the mix right at the end of the next cycle. It was supposed to super-boost everything, but could be dangerous. They stressed that this would be the last cycle that they would recommend. If it didn’t work next time, they didn’t have any other ideas……

As Alice and I waited again for our bodies to regulate so we could start another cycle process, I tried very hard to forget about all of it for a minute… I wanted to just BE with my family through the holidays and enjoy what I DID have….I had completely exhausted myself, and needed a serious break…………

Right at the beginning of the surrogate process, I had committed be present with my daughter and to stay conscious about not pushing Destynee aside while we were trying to get pregnant. I felt like I was staying pretty focused on her during the preliminary work and during the first cycle, but I realized that through all the stress of the second cycle, I wasn’t as present as I wanted to be with her.

In the back of my mind, I was scared about what the final outcome would be, but for the most part, I was able to reconnect with my adorable daughter, Destynee, and my amazingly, supportive husband, Gordon.

I managed, at times, to find peace about what was going on. This time I embraced the month and a half break for my ovaries. I continued to support them, and through inspiration, gave them what I thought they needed to be strong.

Alice and her family spent Christmas with us. We had a great time and were able to talk a lot about what we were both going through.

Loving My Ovaries

As my ovaries returned back to normal size, I could still feel that they weren’t strong. It was like they were begging me for help…I didn’t know what they needed, but I had recognized a pattern that I tend to do with my body. When something doesn’t work perfectly, I unconsciously generate negetive thoughts and feelings towards it. I am becoming more aware of it, and I’m wanting to love my body for what it does do for me.

As I recognized and became conscious of the negetive energy I was sending my ovaries, (because I thought they failed me), I immediately knew that I needed to change what I was doing, thinking, & feeling. I began appreciating them for going thru what they did, and for being strong enough to go thru it again. I sent them lots of love and gratitude.

I instantly noticed a difference in how I felt, and how my poor little ovaries felt.

By this time, I didn’t have a whole lot of time before we could start another cycle of medications. Alice and I had been on birth control again for about a month and a half. I had another vaginal ultrasound to see if my ovaries were ready and back to thier normal size, so we could start the fertility injections again.

My ovaries felt fragile, but according to the doctors, I was ready. I was anxious to start again, in hopes that this would be it. I was very excited to get my surrogate mother pregnant.

Quieting My Ovaries/Can We Do This Again?

The doctors immediately put both Alice and I back on birth control pills. I was very nervous to go back on birth control pills, I didn’t know what feeling unstable would do to me…I never wanted to feel like that again, especially while I was in the middle of such an important and delicate process.

They gave me another medication to calm and quiet my ovaries. My LARGE ovaries needed a long rest before starting again. They were hurting!

Here we were again, waiting, waiting, waiting!
I didn’t know how much longer Alice would want to wait, and how many times she was willing to try. Starting another cycle, meant three more weeks of shots, which she wasn’t a fan of.

The ultrasounds that we had, were not the simple over the belly ultrasounds…No, No, they were VAGINAL ultrasounds, everytime. The continual invasion of personal space, wait, no, more than personal space, private space was almost more than I could handle.

I felt an infection coming on after about 2 weeks of when the vaginal ultrasounds first started. I felt like a few of the doctors weren’t very cautious when it came to infection risk, some didn’t even wear gloves, and most were not very gentle either. By the end of it, I was on just about everything to try and get rid of not only a yeast infection, but an allergic reaction from some gel that they used. I was so miserable:(

It was a dreaded process to have to go through again. All of it!

Every week felt like an eternity, and more that that, I still had my doubts about whether I even COULD produce enough healthy eggs.

Experienced Professionals Make Decisions

The doctors remained cautious. They had run into this dilemma before, but were very hesitant to increase the medication because of the risks of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome and my heart history….

Gordon & I asked God to influence the doctors in which ever way the decision needed to go. We knew that we didn’t have enough experience in this area to make a safe decision.

The infertility doctors wanted to gather together to discuss it before making a decision….

They did not feel confident that I had enough eggs (follicles) to succeed, and they were willing to try another cycle with increased medication.

I had a lot of fears come up about how complicated it all seemed. I didn’t know if my body could produce the perfect results. It was so scary!

Will there be Enough Eggs (Follicles)?

After two weeks of shots, we were ready for our ultrasounds. Alice’s uterus looked amazingly beautiful, as the doctors put it.
My first ultrasound showed only a few eggs (follicles). I didn’t know what to expect, and immediately started stressing. They reassured me, that it looked very normal for the first ultrasound. I went home and tried to imagine more eggs developing in my healthy ovaries.

The next day, I went back hoping for some miraculous change. There was only one more egg:( The doctors seemed a little confused as to why my ovaries were not responding to the medication like they had hoped…..They wanted to give it two more days.

The third ultrasound was about the same, only now the few eggs that were healthy and big, started getting too big. They were nervous that the eggs would die, and there wasn’t enough middle-sized eggs. I had five good eggs, and they didn’t want to wait another day, for fear of losing the ones I had….

It was time to make a decision…..We could either go ahead with the process and risk losing all of the eggs. If none of our embryos survived, we would be completely out of money, and have to come up with about $25,000 again, which meant that the $25,000 that we had to pay up front, would be gone. OR we could stop the process and try again in a few months….

I was devastated! Why weren’t my ovaries producing what the doctors thought they should? I had heard from several sources, that after a partial hysterectomy, I would lose my ovaries within 3 years. It had been almost 3 years!!! Were my ovaries dying? Did that mean I could never have a baby through surrogacy? All this hard work, time, money & engergy spent, for nothing!!!? I knew it! I knew something would be able to stop us from achieving our dreams…..I felt like a failure…It was my fault once again, that we couldn’t have anymore children.

My mind began to find that familiar dark hole. I immediately confronted the doctors with the many questions running through my mind….They reassured me that my ovaries appeared to be very healthy and that having a partial hysterectomy, didn’t necessarily mean that my ovaries would die in 3 years.

I was slightly comforted, but I was still not convinced that there wasn’t something wrong with my ovaries.

Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome

Another very important reason that the doctors wanted to monitor my ovaries so closely, was because of the risk of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome. They were exceptionally concerned because of my heart. They knew that my heart would not be able to handle any additional fluid.

Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) usually occurs as a result of taking gonadotropins — hormonal medications that stimulate the production of eggs in a woman’s ovaries.

Sometimes, too many follicles begin to develop in the ovaries, causing them to become swollen and enlarged. OHSS can cause severe pain and trigger the release of fluid into the abdomen and lungs.

If left untreated, OHSS can result in serious health complications. Severe cases of OHSS are rare, but they have been known to lead to permanent injury and even death.

Possible complications include:

Twisting of the swollen ovaries (which may require their removal and loss of fertility)
Collection of fluid in the stomach and lungs (which interferes with bodily processes, including breathing)
Loss of kidney and liver function
Blood clots (which may lead to stroke)
Frequent monitoring of your ovaries and follicular (egg) development using ultrasound
Frequent testing of your blood estrogen levels