Our donor’s egg retrieval was yesterday and I got the update call this morning. They retrieved 29 eggs, 19 of which were mature enough to inject sperm into, and 17 fertilized properly and are now zygotes! WOW! That is awesome!! Unless things go horribly awry somehow, they expect I’ll have a good amount of 5-day-old embryos (aka blastocysts) from which to choose the best-looking two, and probably a bunch to freeze for subsequent cycles (if necessary) or donation to another recipient(s)/research (if a baby happens this time!). I’d say this is the best news I’ve gotten in forever.
They’ll give me another call on Saturday morning to let me know how many are still developing normally. Human reproduction, you see, is just a wreck, even under normal circumstances. It seems like people don’t realize how often it goes awry extremely early on in the process, even with a healthy, fertile young woman. If you are a healthy, fertile (or formerly fertile) woman who has vaginal sex with men, and you didn’t use contraception for any extended period of time, well, you’ve probably produced a lot more zygotes than you have babies; their development just arrested long before you’d have become pregnant. This is an implantation failure – an embryo was produced but did not implant into the uterine lining. This is probably because it had a genetic abnormality.
Genetic abnormalities are common in eggs, and they are absurdly common in sperm. Morphological (i.e. shape and composition) abnormalities are very common in sperm, too. After my husband got his sperm aspiration surgery, while he was still knocked out on fun drugs, they took me into the lab to show me some of his sperm on a microscope slide. They showed me what some good-quality sperm looked like. I started freaking out. “Oh NO! That one has two tails! That one has two HEADS! That one doesn’t even have DNA in it [side note, the DNA glows! So cool!]! And that one’s head is squashed, and that one’s got a coiled up tail, and that one’s swimming in a circle over and over…. and that bunch over there is just outright dead.”
The lab technician was like, settle down, chill out, lady. And I remember his words exactly – well, maybe “remember” is the wrong word, because I took a video of my husband’s sperm swimming around on a slide while the lab tech explained things, because I’m a weirdo – anyway, he explained that “There’s no quality control in the testicle. It’s all about just making as much sperm as physically possible.”
[another side note, I just re-watched the video and I was saying the dumbest things. “Awwwww, how cute!” “They DO look like tadpoles! They really DO!” The lab tech also mentioned that what was retrieved was months and months of sperm built up, and I got all defensive and reminded him “Well THAT’S because of the vasectomy!”]
Back to today’s news, I’m very excited! I guess despite all the frustrating delays, I am now a believer in fresh donor cycles. In my frozen one, I purchased 6 mature eggs, 3 fertilized, and 2 turned into viable embryos. Neither of them got me pregnant. So, I’m kinda blown away that, for the same price (though, admittedly, a higher price in the form of a lot more inconvenience and disappointment) I got 19 mature eggs and 17 fertilized. 90% fertilization vs. 50%? Not too shabby. I’m guessing it wasn’t really the fresh vs. frozen egg issue, necessarily. Just got a “bad batch” last time, probably. But it was nice to have a greater number to work with – better odds. I’m generally feeling a lot more confident that it will work out for us this time.
Although everyone who doesn’t actually have to raise my kid keeps telling me they hope we have twins. Note: everyone who doesn’t have to be pregnant with or raise twins… hopes we’ll have twins. Riiiiight. Mm hmm. I’ll be leaving one of them on the doorstep of whoever has the most severe twin-fever. So far, my mom wins the jackpot!