Saturday, March 16, 2013

Nugget's Story - Egg Retrieval and Fertilization

I have to start by saying how wonderful our nurse at Shady Grove was during this whole process.  Actually, all of the nurses we'd had over the three years we worked with the RE were great.  They do a fantastic job of keeping their patients informed about how their cycle is going and test results and were always available to answer whatever deranged questions I would come up with.

Once our donor began her stimulation medication on August 19, I talked to our nurse pretty much every day.  Each time the donor would go in for a check on how her ovaries were responding, Pam would call me in the afternoon with an update on the number of follicles they saw and the sizes of the ones they measured.

After eight days of stimulation medication we got the call that our donor was ready for egg retrieval on August 30.  We'd made an appointment the same day for Jim to drop off his sample so that it would be there and ready to go for fertilization.

Let's stop for a minute and talk about fertilization.  There are two ways that the embryology lab can do fertilization.  The first is a natural unassisted process.  They put the sperm and the eggs together and let the sperm fertilize the eggs the same way they would inside the body.  The other way, which is automatic with my clinic for donor egg cycles, is intracytoplasmic sperm injection.  In this method, an embryologist selects a healthy-looking, single sperm from the male's semen and injects it directly into the egg with a microscopic needle.  Shady Grove chooses to do ICSI because they want to ensure that as many eggs as possible have a chance to become embryos.  This was especially important to us, since we were sharing eggs with another couple and this would be our only chance at this.

Late in the day on August 30, Pam called to say that we had 11 eggs retrieved.  Of those 11, seven were mature eggs.  Of the seven, four fertilized with ICSI.  Now we just waited and watch the eggs develop.  Pam would call every day with an update on how many cells each egg had divided into and we planned for a three-day transfer on September 2.  At this point, the worry changed from will we have any eggs and will they fertilize, to will any of them keep growing to make it to transfer.

On September1, the on call nurse let us know that they were going to push the transfer to day 5.  The embryology lab wanted to give them two more days to see if they would differentiate more.  On a three day transfer, all the embryos look pretty much the same.  By day five, you can usually tell if some are better than others. 

Part VII - Egg Transfer

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