The Exciting Intersection of IVF and Body Dysmorphia

An IVF cycle consists of these main steps:  suppression (tamping down the ovaries to coordinate their response later); ovarian stimulation with hormones; egg retrieval; and embryo transfer.

Friday we had egg retrieval, a procedure under conscious sedation in an OR.  The husband and I arrived at the hospital about 7:30 a.m., and by 10:45 (that wait wasn't nerve-wracking or anything) I was in the sub waiting room with another woman ahead of me.

We watched as the OR techs wheeled out women ahead of both of us, post-retrieval, dead to the world, completely unaware and completely vulnerable.  Even knowing it's a 10-15 minute procedure, not even under general anesthesia, that was unsettling to see, to say the least.

When I got to the OR and they had me settle down on the table, I looked up at the lights and started crying.  (Just a little, more like the errant tear rolling out of one eye, then the other.)  It just hit me so hard in that moment: I don't get to make a baby the old-fashioned way, probably ever. I have to have an entire team of medical professionals extracting pieces of my body to even have a shot at it.

They were all incredibly sweet about it, and the embryologist offered to wipe my eyes for me.  It's the little things.

In the recovery room the nurse told me, "Well, you're the big winner today. They retrieved 23 eggs." This is a moderately high number, related to my PCOS. Thanks to that, I developed moderate OHSS (now downgraded to mild, as of today), which, if you Google it, feels every bit as pleasant as it sounds.

The OHSS is where this all ties into this blog's overall focus.  I had to head in for a very early ultrasound today to assess the free fluid in my abdominal cavity (again: every bit as fun as it sounds), and part of that exam entailed weighing me.

I was expecting to step on the scale and see perhaps an 8% increase over my weight at the baseline appointment for our IVF cycle.  I mean, I haven't been running, I had to stop exercising completely a week ago, and I've been eating more full-fat foods... and just generally eating more of whatever the hell I want, as long as it's healthy-ish.  Or not.  Bison burgers, real ice cream, broccoli saut√©ed with a bit of butter instead of steamed (and since Saturday bacon and sausage, because one surefire way to keep OHSS from getting worse is to eat plenty of protein and salt).

Instead of an 8% increase, I saw I'd gained .8 lbs, much of which is presumably free fluid in my abdominal cavity.  It was an excellent reality check because while there's no denying my abdomen is distended right now, there's also no denying I was walking around seeing the rest of my body as enlarged, too.  Clearly that's not the case, unless I'm packing air in there, or something?

It's a good reminder that no matter how far I get from disordered eating, some piece of the disorder might always be there.  (Every Harry Potter devotee reading this just said, "Constant vigilance!" to themselves, quietly.)

With any luck we'll be able to do a 5-day transfer on Wednesday, and then we go from there. In the meantime, wish me luck hobbling around like a 90-year-old (at least I can breathe normally again), and not getting too in my head about looking vaguely 4 months pregnant when I'm actually not.

1 comment:

  1. This is excruciating to reread. She better skip being a teenager to repay all you've been through...


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