First of all, I want to make it clear that I am not complaining. My motivation for writing this post is to be a resource for anyone else who may experience OHSS during IVF. Although my symptoms were noticeable prior to our egg retrieval, they got worse in the days following the retrieval. Not only that, but they worsened quite rapidly. The symptoms I was experiencing prior to the egg retrieval were symptoms of mild hyper stimulation, and they seemed manageable on my own. But that is no longer the case.
Our egg retrieval was Saturday morning. By Sunday morning, I could not lie down or stand up straight. It was difficult to breath, and my stomach felt like it was going to explode. I had already gained seven pounds over the course of only a couple days. Then, between Saturday and Sunday, I gained another three. I did not even try wearing anything other than yoga pants, but I’m fairly certain there is no way I could have fit into my jeans. On top of all of this, the pain was excruciating. My stomach hurt, of course. But also, the pain in my back was nearly unbearable, and my breasts were tender as well. The pain kept me up at night (that, and not being able to lie down), and kept me from doing much during the day. I was also constipated.
I was advised to drink a lot of Gatorade, and coconut water. I did this; however, by Sunday, I could not drink a lot at once. It just felt like there was no room in my tummy. I could only sip throughout the day. The nurses also recommended that I eat an incredibly low carb diet, that is high in protein.
Throughout the day on Saturday and Sunday, I was in consistent contact with the nurses. They called every few hours. The fact they were so concerned about my condition helped me realize how seriously I needed to be taking it.
Even after following the guidelines (Gatorade, salty foods, etc.), Andrew ended up taking me to the emergency room on Sunday. My stomach had become so swollen (my entire stomach… from the chest down) that breathing was very difficult. I was also nauseated, and in such intense pain. The only way I can describe it is that I felt like my stomach was going to explode. My weight gain was up to 13 pounds.Since we were in constant contact with our nurses, Andrew was able to relay to them my symptoms, and by 1:30 on Sunday afternoon, they were encouraging us to head to the E.R. We went, and were there for about six hours. For whatever reason, they did not drain the fluid from my abdomen while we were there. They gave me lots of fluid (via IV), along with morphine to help with the pain and nausea. I was able to sleep while we were there, for the first time in two days. On the way home I threw up for the first time in twelve years. Poor Andrew had to clean up after me.
I slept from 9pm to 1am on Sunday night, after taking a Lortab. That was the most I had slept in three nights. I say that only to warn you that, if you become severely hyper-stimulated, you will want to be prepared for the pain to keep you awake at night. It is impossible to get comfortable.
Yesterday morning I saw my doctor at GRS. Each of my ovaries were about nine centimeters from side to side, and the same from top to bottom. My abdomen was filled with fluid, which she drained. She warned me that it would be painful, but it was honestly not bad at all. They drained TWO LITERS of fluid from my abdomen. I instantly felt significantly less swollen, and was able to breath more easily. The pain was still intense, and I bled a lot for the rest of the day. SO WORTH IT. I am scheduled to go back again Thursday, when I will have more fluid drained. Apparently, it will continue to build back up between now and then.
Since I was more comfortable after Dr. MK drained the fluid, I was able to come home and sleep for about an hour. Even though my stomach was less full, I was still not able to eat, and drinking was a challenge because when I would sip, I would become nauseated.
This whole hyper-stimulation ordeal has been 100% worth it. God has used it to do more than we could have asked or imagined! Due to the hyper-stimulation, the doctor retrieved FIFTY eggs on Saturday. Of those fifty, 43were mature, and 39 became embryos . The doctor and the nurses were shocked by this number. They said women who experience hyper-stimulation usually produce 20-30 eggs, which is considered a lot. This means that my case was severe. In a strange way, I am so thankful for it.
The night before our egg retrieval, I could not sleep, both because of the discomfort I was in, and because of how excited I was for what was to come in the morning! But I laid awake feeling terrified that something would happen between Friday night and Saturday morning, and that we would somehow not have any eggs. Zero. Now I can just picture God listening to my silly thoughts and thinking, “Child, I am about to blow your mind.”
And then he gave us more eggs than I had asked for or imagined possible. I had been praying so specifically for at least ten embryos. Now, it is looking like we will have far more than ten! It is looking like, after we’ve had all the children we want, we will have embryos to bless others with… to donate to couples who are unable to conceive on their own.
God is so good.