17 December 2008

The Magnificent Seven

Friday was another bizarre, bizarre day. Honestly I don't remember much of it except the beginning...and the end.

The beginning: we learned from our doctor that of the seven eggs that he was able to retrieve, four had been mature, and three were not. So they picked four good-lookin' sperm (out of millions?!) and injected them, one each, into the four matured eggs. Those fertilized -- hoo yeah!

The other three slowpokes, they let mature overnight in the lab. By morning, they were in good enough shape that the embryologist went ahead and picked three more sperm and injected them as well. But by 1pm -- when this conversation was happening -- it was impossible to tell if those would successfully fertilize; all we knew was that they had a good chance, since the other four had 100% fertilization.

Here's a picture of them all, the magnificent seven:(I think they look like cocoa and butter cookies -- with the cocoa part in the middle. Mark thought the whole thing looks like a satellite reconaissance pic, like the one Colin Powell showed the UN: "these are the Al Qaeda bunkers, and these are the trucks carrying new shipments of ammo...")

Once we wrapped our minds around all that, it was time for a decision: how many to put back in?

Seven, of course, seemed like way too many. Maybe we could put in three or four, and freeze the rest for a second round of implantation, if we dont' get pregnant with the others?

But -- the expert opinion was far less optimistic, in a way. I had a history of increasingly high FSH levels, indicating my egg reserve -- and hence quality -- were not so good. It took extra days of injecting the maximum doses of the fertility meds, and we got only four mature eggs. The three "little" ones were already under stress from maturing in a lab, and there was no way of telling if they'd even properly fertilize. They probably wouldn't survive cryopreservation; their best chance of growing was right back in my body. So his recommendation? Put them ALL back.

...And we agreed.

Hopefully, at least one would develop properly, make its way to my uterus, and implant. Maybe two would make it; three or four would be highly unlikely. And even if they made it to the uterus, they wouldn't be "competing" -- the doctor explained that each embryo would send out signals to my body to ask for the fluffiest lining possible, so even if only one actually grew after implanting, it would have the luxury bedding made for the presidential suite, sleeps four. (Or more!)

So we went with it.

The next thing I remember....basically... is Mark tucking me into bed back at home. He stuck around until Hana came over and took over the baby sitting. I slept mostly, but later on she made me some yummy oden (like Japanese chicken soup), which REALLY hit the spot... arigato!

My belly button bled a little when I got out of bed, but otherwise it was all kind of uneventful. I just had three patches like bandaids down my abdomen, no big scars. Apparently all seven eggs went back into my left fallopian tube, no problem. Amazing.

So now it's the waiting game. I've been trying to just take it easy and minute by minute. The only real exertion was when the day after the surgery, I made it to the church for the choir concert. At first I was concert, because my throat had been a little sore (despite the anesthethiologist's repeated assertions that when he put me on the respirator, which was part of the procedure, he would use the "soft" tube he uses for opera singers. God knows what it would have felt like with the REGULAR tubing!) -- and most surprisingly, I found myself very short of breath. I suppose that's also from having been on a respirator, for however short a time. How delicate we are. So that bothered me even more than the tightness in the tummy. But my fellow singers were very supportive -- and the music itself was invigorating, as expected -- and the concert turned into a beautiful, spiritual, energized evening. And I just know it was good and healing.

Mark and I keep talking to the little ones. Now the message is "xiao xin, xiaohai" -- careful, little ones!

Here is the path they will take (courtesy of...I'm not sure, apologies. This image is everywhere.):

We're at "Day 5: 8-cell compacted morula" already. ("Morula" from the Latin "morus," or "mulberry.") Who knew.

Safe journey to all, and happy holidays :)

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