Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Our IVF Journey, Part IV – Retrieval & Transfer

This is Part IV of a five-part post. For the first few posts on our journey, read:

Our IVF Journey, Part I – The Two Zees, Infertility and IUIs
Our IVF Journey, Part II – Infertility, Disease and PGD IVF
Our IVF Journey, Part III – PGD IVF (needles and drugs)

Retrieval Day – Exactly 35 hours after the trigger shot was egg retrieval day. My husband and I went to the surgery center, where I changed into an ever-so-stylish hospital gown, cap and booties. The nurse started an IV and within minutes my gurney was wheeled into the surgical room. The RE and anesthesiologist greeted me and comforted my nerves. The doctor turned my attention to the ultrasound screen to show that my follicles were still there. I prayed that they would all contain viable eggs. Counting backward from 100…99, 98, 97…I was out!

•I woke up in recovery with cramps and a strange hankering for chili fries. The doctor told me that everything went very well and they retrieved 22 eggs. Wow, what a day! I went home, gingerly walked up the stairs, and plopped into bed for the rest of the day. No chili fries for me.

1 day post retrieval – The doctor called to tell us that 21 out of the 22 eggs were injected with sperm. Still great numbers! We were happy.

2 days post retrieval – the doctor called to say that 12 of them fertilized, 2 were abnormal, 4 degenerated, and 3 were still iffy. We were so happy with 12 fertilized embryos. This would normally be when the embryos are returned to the uterus. Most IVF protocols without PGD are day 3 transfers. However, because of PGD, our journey would take an extra detour here.

3 days post retrieval – Our 12 embryos were biopsied. Each of the twelve embryos still growing and dividing in the lab would have one cell removed for PGD. This process does not harm the embryos. Those individual cells were then sent overnight to the Reprogenetics lab in New Jersey for the genetic probe test. Within 24 hours they notified our doctor which embryos were affected with the defective gene.

4 days post retrieval – Waiting day…no news at all.

5 days post retrieval – Embryo transfer day. I felt like a mother penguin who lays her egg, transfers it to the male to incubate and then returns after a long winter to reclaim her baby penguin. My eggs were retrieved and left to incubate at the fertility center and this was the day I could come back to reclaim my babies. Oh the joy!

We received a call that morning only hours before the transfer about the status of our embryos. The genetic tests revealed that 7 of the embryos were affected with the defective gene and 5 were free of disease. The tricky part is that these were just the biopsy results. This process also hinges on the hope that the embryos which don’t have the defective gene are still growing and dividing back in the lab.

The doctor gave us the great news that 3 of the embryos were of excellent quality and if we agreed, he would transfer all three blastocysts. Three was our number! Sadly, the other two stopped growing and went to heaven to be with Jesus.

So, Tall Man and I put on our hospital gowns (yes, he had to wear one too). They wheeled me into the room for the transfer. The doctor showed us the ultrasound screen where he inserted the thin catheter into my uterus…and voila…it was finished. The embryos were gently placed far back in my uterus into the lining. Home sweet home!

Then everyone in the room counted to three and said, Get pregnant, Ellie! I spent the next hour inverted on the gurney (head below my feet), so the embryos wouldn’t move. I was overwhelmed with emotion as Tall Man and I began to pray for our little “penguins” and prayed for God to protect them and grow them.

Hubby drove me home while I laid flat in the back seat of our car. I told him to be careful as he was driving a family of five!

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