The day was finally here. Surgery day. Egg retrieval day. I thought this morning would feel like Christmas, like I would spring out of bed and be glowing and beaming with excitement, but that wasn’t the case. I was exhausted, I could have slept for many hours more. Even in my state of exhaustion, bloating, and tenderness, I pulled myself together with a hot shower, put my new pajamas on, tossed my hair up with a messy bun and a headband, and applied a hint of mascara and some moisturizer. I know we weren’t supposed to wear makeup or accessories, but in the words of Coco Chanel, “A woman should be two things, classy and fabulous.” I could at least give my self a hint of fabulous-ness in my current state.
We piled into the truck to make our way to the Littleton office. I could tell Rick was anxious, judging by his driving, it was a very fast paced drive with many hard stops and go’s…I told him he would need to drive much more relaxed on the way home after my surgery. A man pulled up next to us at a stop light, and I looked over to see him enjoying an egg McMuffin breakfast sandwich, and it looked absolutely amazing. I wasn’t allowed to eat before surgery, and my stomach began to rumble. I turned to Rick and told him I couldn’t wait to go get an egg McMuffin sandwich after surgery.
Rick and I arrived right at 9:30. I signed the check-in sheet and we took a seat in the very full waiting room. I brought a book to keep my mind occupied, and Rick rubbed my back, sensing that I was a bit anxious and trying to keep myself calm. A nurse came over and gave us our identification bracelets for the surgical staff, and we waited for the doctors to come retrieve us.
Our doctor walked into the waiting room, and he called my name, “Amber?” Rick and I began to stand up, and another woman in the waiting room bounded out of her seat and approached our doctor to say hello. “Hi!!” She began chatting with him, and he assumed she was the patient he was calling back for surgery. He began telling her he would be taking extremely good care of her during surgery, and the processes they were going to be going through together. The woman finally stopped him and said, “Oh I think you must be looking for a different patient, I’m not here for surgery today.” I raised my hand and said we were here for surgery. I know it was the hormones and the anxiety, but I was so frustrated with this woman. She was clearly not there for surgery, and the doctor does not come out to the waiting room in scrubs unless he is calling a patient back for surgery. Our doctor began walking towards us and apologized profusely for the confusion. I told him not to worry, and we understood that the waiting area was very busy that day. He informed us that we would have a meeting with the anesthesiologist and then we would meet again in the operating room.
Moments later the anesthesiologist entered the waiting room and called for us. He led us to the room where we had our IVF class months before. He told us we needed to get the payment portion out of the way, so I reached for my check book, but Rick was prepared with cash. He pulled out four crisp one hundred dollar bills, and handed them to the anesthesiologist. He pulled out his brown leather wallet and tucked them away. I felt like I was purchasing some sort of cosmetic surgery on the black market. We covered our questions and concerns, and Rick was sure to mention that I process medication very quickly. Once we were all finished I was told to give my husband a hug and a kiss and I would see him when I woke up. I wasn’t ready to say goodbye. I needed a moment in private with my husband to say a prayer and have a hug and kiss that didn’t include a stranger watching us…but I didn’t get that. I turned and walked toward the surgical section of the office with the anesthesiologist. I was becoming increasingly emotional. The tears were coming. I couldn’t breath. I was so afraid not to have Rick with me. It was the first moment that we were not a team in this process. It was just me. Me and my eggs.
I was told to go to the restroom and empty my bladder, and then go to the recovery suite to put on my gown. I couldn’t get to the restroom fast enough. I shut the door and sobbed in silence for a few moments. I told myself to get it together, because this had to be a positive experience. I took deep breaths and put on a brave face, then went down the hall to put on the gown. I sat on the bed with a neatly folded blanket covering me. The anesthesiologist came back moments later and said, “okay lets head down the hall.” He helped me up and took the folded blanket and draped it over my back to keep me covered. We arrived to the operating room and I sat down on the surgical table. A nurse helped put my feet in the stirrups and I was told not to touch anything blue. The IV went into my hand to administer the medication…it hurt like hell. There were so many nurses prepping and I was beginning to get overwhelmed again. The anesthesiologist told me, “certain scents tend to help alleviate nausea from the anesthesia,” and he began opening glass bottles with scented oils for me to smell. The first was floral, the second smelled like pepto, the third smelled like candy, and finally the fourth was a soothing lavender. He took the bottle and put it on my thumb, flipped it over to put some of the oil on my finger and told me to wipe the oil under my nose. He then began prepping the medications and asking me questions to distract me. “What do you do for work?” What does your husband do for work?” “Oh that’s impressive, what kind of engineer is he?” “Where did you go to university?” I began to feel the medication entering my blood stream. I started to feel heavy, woozy and tired. I told him, “I can feel that, and I’m getting tired…” I was out. It felt like a very short nap and I was being woken up by the doctors and nurses.
Without realizing it, they had moved me out of the operating room and into the recovery suite. They said, “you did great!” I began to feel pain. The kind of pain like a jackhammer removed my eggs and not a small needle. My doctor was talking to me about the surgery and I blurted out in my drug induced state, “am I supposed to be hurting right now?” The anesthesiologist asked on a scale of 1 to 10, what is your pain level. I couldn’t even comprehend anything and blurted out a 15. More medication was administered to my IV and I began coming back down from the pain. Much of the next half hour was a blur and the nurses went to get Rick from the waiting room.
I could hear Rick’s voice in the hallway asking the nurse how everything went. He entered the recovery room and the tears began to well up again. There is something about him that makes me feel like I don’t have to be the strong one all of the time. Our bond allows me to have moments of weakness because he will carry that burden for me when I need it. At this moment, I needed it because we were about to hear the results of the surgery. This moment would determine the next chapter for us; did they get any eggs? Are my eggs healthy? Was the surgery a failure? Did my body not respond well enough to the medication? He hugged me and held my hand as our doctor reviewed the results of our surgery. He told us they were able to take 22 eggs, which was such an amazing number, AND the quality of my eggs gave us an indication that the joining of sperm and egg would have a positive outcome. I couldn’t believe these numbers! TWENTY-TWO!! I thanked God and I was able to breath again.
We were told that we could stay in the recovery room as long as we liked, and to take our time before heading home. I was just ready to be home in my own bed, with my own blankets and my own pillow. Rick helped me get up and get dressed. He helped me into the truck, and stopped on the way home for my breakfast sandwich. It would be several days of recovery, and I prepared for the worst but prayed for the best.