Tribal council is on strike – day 14

The last 24 hours have been pretty long. We are 2 weeks into this cycle and it feels like 2 years. This whole process is a drug that seems to suck you in and take over your life. Hooray! – another drug to deal with! (but at least this one is free and doesn’t require a needle).

So, welcome to “Survivor Island: IVF Land”, which is a whole new phase in this process, (with new drugs and bigger needles! oh, the joy this gives the jabbee is well … nil). This is the really fun part where we get to see day by day, who gets voted off.

“IVF Land” Survivor Island has 3 or 4 challenges depending upon our choices. Nothing is guaranteed and all or anyone can get voted off at anytime.

Opening ceremony / Base camp: 5 eggs retrieved

1st challenge: Maturity. So out of the batch how many are good? In the last 3 cycles we have consistently lost 30% of the eggs here. Today we didn’t lose any!. All 5 were mature. No one was voted off, no one went home. Tribal council abstained.

2nd challenge: Fertilization. Ok so the egg might be good, but it takes 2 to tango and my fellas might be rubbish. Normally we have lost an additional 30% here, (so all up we are down around to about half the eggs / embryos we started with.) 

What is tricky here is that we do ICSI. For the uninitiated, there are actually 2  ways to create a human being. You let the boys and the girls swim together in the pool where they all hang around having a swell time and eventually (hopefully) all hook up. The second option is you grab the fella by the scruff of his neck and make him head butt the nearest female. (How romantic). I cant remember the fancy name that ICSI represent but I prefer my own interpretation – I Can’t Swim Internally.

Today, ladies and gentlemen, tribal council took a holiday (and they can stay there) and we have 5 fertilized eggs!!! So all the kids are still on Survivor island! 5 eggs, all mature. all fertilised.. Can i type that again… it felt good, 5,5,5….

So another day on the roller coaster and it was clearly an up, but we are no fools and we still have a few challenges to get through

Challenge # 3: Genetic testing (optional) Boy – have we debated this one. Officially known as PGD (Policing Genetic Duds, in my speak) the process is simple enough, but its not an easy call. Here’s the recipe: Take a cell out of the day 3 embryo (I believe the kids don’t miss it, you are too early in the process for that, and they don’t give it back), cook and cool it a few times, put some fluro die on it leave to rest and then check under some funky disco microscope and count the colours. 2 of each colour is good. 1 or 3 is bad (its looking at the 8-12 chromosomes that cause most 1st trimester miscarriages). This process is called FISH (Fun In Synthetic Heaven – my term (again)). I believe this process holds the Guinness book of records for the earliest disco a person has attended in their life (3 days old).

If you pass the test, you get an embryo that has a lower chance of miscarriage, but who knows how much playing with it upsets the bugger and he / she might not want to play ball and implant in a pregnancy. (i.e. You make him head butt his girlfriend then 2 days later rip his arm off and expect him to be happy and grow another one back in a few hrs, which, a lot of the time, happens. Nice work kids, keep it up) The other option is that you just drop them back in and hope that what turns into a pregnancy has no genetic issues and goes full term. No arms missing, but no idea if the kids you drop back have any genetic issues. Tricky call.

So far we have had 1 miscarriage on a genetic issue (cycle 1) and out of the other 9 embryos we PGD’ed in cycles 2-4, only 3 passed. So that’s a crap pass rate, but we don’t know if the 6 that didn’t make it was due to sulking / dropping out over a missing arm (i.e. the shock was just too much) or if they were genetic issues involved. I think most were genetic. We have a call in to God’s wingwoman (our Dr) in the morning to chat further.

So tomorrow we’ll get up, have breakfast, check out the weather and play God’s secretary for 15 mins (assuming the tribal council aren’t back from vacation) and make a few potentially life and death decisions and then head off to work for a bit of email and a herbal tea around 10.30am. All in a normal day in IVF land.

If we PGD and pass, we will transfer back the winners on Friday. If we don’t do PGD, and tribal council leaves us at least 1 winner, transfer will be Thurs.

 These hurdles don’t get any smaller. If anyone has the magic answer, please drop me a back a note, don’t be a stranger.

As for our patient, she is out of bed a fair bit more today and riveted by (what feels like) a 45 hr season finale for The Biggest Loser. So life is returning to normal a bit more I guess. If The Biggest Loser is an enthralling ratings bonanza by watching fat people turn to thin people with tears of joy over an 18 weeks people just wait until they wake up to IVF and what they can do on TV with a couple slowly turning insane over their parenting desires. Must watch TV.

The pain front for our legend mature egg grower seems to be improving with fewer huddled shuffles around the house but out of this process she has managed to pick up a bruised belly button. Now out of all the parts of your body, I bet you have never bruised there, and I don’t recall seeing that in the IVF Land brochure we picked up before this trip.

With that folks, I leave you. The demons headed home for a sleep after a big party yesterday, but they know where we live and sadly they have key to the door. We are too tired to get too excited, but every day like today is a great step, we recognise that.


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