Ever wonder what you might look like at lets say 5 months preggo? You know we have all done it. Put a big pillow under your shirt and dance around in front of the mirror, maybe rub your faux belly a bit just to imagine what it might be like. Well I guess I got the lucky chance to borrow a 5 month preggo belly for a whole 10 days! There I go again, always hitting the Murphy’s Law Jackpot! It’s really a miracle no one has caught on to my winning streak by now 😉
O.H.S.S aka Ovarian Hyper Stimulation Syndrome. It’s no joke people. The symptoms can vary depending on the degree and person but generally include:
- Excessive weight gain
- Mild to moderate abdominal pain
- Tenderness near the ovaries
- Shortness of breath
- Decreased urination
- Tight Enlarged Abdomen
- Blood clots
I clearly knew going into IVF that there was a risk for OHSS, but you know how it goes, you are so desperate to make some progress in this whole brutal process of infertility that you are willing to take just about any risk to get to the symbolic finish line. I was already fairly high risk for developing OHSS because of my age, number of follicles and my high estrogen counts. Even with all of this factors I never dreamed it would happen to me. I certianlty wasn’t prepared.
Remember back to my last post about feeling very, very uncomfortable, bloated etc? Yes, well those symptoms were only the half of it. The morning of my surgery I was weighed in prior to the retrieval, lets call that our baseline measure. By the evening of my procedure I was clocking in a full 6 lbs heavier and a heck of a lot more uncomfortable. You see OHSS is basically your bodies shock response to missing eggs. It’s like your body knows there were 22 some odds follicles filled with eggs and suddenly they are all empty. Your body mis-reads this, plus the hormones and starts pumping your ovaries back with all the available water in your body, and then it doesn’t stop so now those ovaries over flow into your abdomen and once thats full it ends up in your lungs. With all that chaos occurring in your system sometimes your blood becomes too thick (it needs water too) and you can end up with blood clots even death in severe cases of OHSS.
You see, I thought OHSS risk was only related to the STIM medications and getting pregnant, meaning if I did have it before my egg retrieval I would probably be ok since we would be waiting a full cycle to do a frozen transfer. Boy was I wrong. I truly feel like I was not warned about what to expect. No wonder they say OHSS is so dangerous! When I tell you my belly looked 5 months pregnant I am not exaggerating!! I will add some pictures to prove it to you.
Aside from gaining 6lbs in only a few hours, I no longer could walk without pain, move without pain, or breath without pain. Eating?? for get about it! It felt like my stomach was going to burst and it looked like it too! Has anyone every seen Harry Potter?? You know the scene where the mean aunt starts to blow up like a balloon at the dinner table, and all her buttons pop, and her clothes rip, and she flys away??
Well thats what I felt like. I had to wear oversized sweaters and dresses (thank god both are in style and its winter here) to try and hide my growing belly as well as to try and reduce some of the pressure on my tender stomach. It got so bad I couldn’t reach behind myself, bend over? Forget about it! How about roll out of bed?? Not going to happen! I needed my husband to assist. Needless to say trying to make it through the rest of the week at work was torture! People were staring at me as I waddled with my large belly, all out of breath and wincing in pain up and down the halls to work with kiddos.. it was not pleasant people! I swear people thought I was pregnant and had just been hiding it this whole time!
By Thursday I was finally seen by my RE and she immediately could tell something was wrong. I was out of breath, with a massive stomach and clearly in pain. She ordered blood work and did an on-the-spot ultrasound. Sure enough, there it was.. huge swollen ovaries, tons of fee flowing fluid in my uterine cavity… I had OHSS. Then she said “well at least its only mild OHSS”…. Come again?!? Did you say mild? If this is mild I literally don’t ever want to imagine what severe OHSS is like. No wonder people can die if its left un-treated!! She told me to keep taking my Cabergoline and to stay away from drinking plain water. Drink lots of V8, gatorade, salty broths, etc but not plain water. I guess drinking straight water can make the whole scenario worse as it tends to just keep pooling in your abdomen. Salty drinks and foods help to pull the water back into your digestive tract to be processed. It sounds like an oxymoron, to drink salty stuff to get rid of the god awful bloat, but let me tell you, I would have done just about anything at that moment to feel better. You want me to take one shoe off, jump up and down while sticking my tongue out and rubbing my belly? Sure lets get this party started!!
The positive news to this whole visit was that out of my original 14 mature eggs, 11 had fertilized on day 1 and an additional 2 had fertilized on day 2! So we were now waiting to find out how many out of the 13 embabies would make it, if any, to freeze day! Our fingers were crossed for good news, but our hearts were guarded in preparation in case none were successful. I told my husband to pray, but to keep in mind we would be lucky if we even got 2. My secret goal was 5. (Greedy I know… It’s hard not to want to keep all of them!! Especially when you worked so hard to get them in the first place!)
Waiting for the call sunday felt like torture. Every time my phone rang I sprang into action, fearful to answer, but knowing it was an inevitable call I would have to take. Every-time I would see my clinic’s number come up on the screen my heart would start pounding. Then I would hear on the other line “Hi Joy, this is nurse so and so, just checking on your OHSS how are you feeling?”… BLAH! all that excitement for nothing! I mean don’t get me wrong, I am glad that they kept such a close eye on me during my OHSS recovery, but that wasn’t exactly the call I was hoping for.
Then early sunday morning, I was startled awake by my phone ringing. Still in a haze but one full of excitement and anxiety I answered THE CALL… “Hi Joy this the embryologist at the lab, I just wanted to call you with the results of your embryos”…. I felt like everything was going in slow motion. “We were able to freeze seven very healthy embryos, mostly grade B with one grade A”…. HOLD UP… DID you say SEVEN!!!! I thanked her profusely and hung up with my head still spinning from the excitement. SEVEN!! My husband looked at me prepared for another dose of bad news, instead I was able to put the biggest smile on his face when I turned and said “SEVEN!”. Jason was so excited to hear that we now were the proud owners of SEVEN FROSTIES!! He immediately started to correlate lucky 7 with everything he could. Seven was his lucky sports number throughout high school and beyond. Seven is the month we got married and the month his mother passed away. Maybe this was a gift from her!
Lucky number 7 it is !! Until next time, lots of love, luck and baby dust to you all!