Jun 10, 2016

Why Are We Doing This?

First off, I wanted to thank everyone from the bottom of my heart for the outpouring of love and support we received after the (finally) good news earlier this week!

We are thrilled for the first one, but eagerly awaiting the next round to get some more.

I wanted to back-track quickly to clarify WHY we have to bank embryos, WHY cells have to be shipped, and WHY we have to go through this in the first place, especially for new folks.

Because I'm pretty sure some of you may be all....well they already got one, why don't they just transfer it and get knocked up already?

And trust me...I totally would have pulled that trigger if we weren't dealing with a huge genetic mess.

I have written about this in detail, in previous posts, but the long and the short of it is this:
...back in January 2015 we were balls deep in our first round of official fertility treatments.

Something wasn't working, after trying naturally for over a year.
All our preliminary lab work came back normal...but SOMETHING must be wrong...how could we not get pregnant after all that time?

So we headed in for our first IUI. (this is the turkey baster method, btw....they pump the woman up with hormones to produce one ripe egg, then suck up the man sample in a catheter....and....well....you get it)

During that process, we elected to both have genetic testing completed.
It's a simple blood draw. No big deal.
Totally not mandatory for an IUI, but something that we figured...eh...what the hell, why not!?

And low and fucking behold....Mark and I found out we were a genetic carrier match for a mutation with the acronym MCAD.
The chances of both of us carrying this mutation, and then meeting and getting married to each other and then trying to have babies is 1 in approximately 289,000,000.
This mutation, by the way, hinders the way a baby processes proteins, most of the time leading to SID's...and if you're lucky enough to jump that terrifying hurdle, future episodes can lead to seizures, dementia, and a life time of other fun problems.

Carriers, by the way, don't have the mutation. They simply carry in their DNA.
But two carriers can make a baby that actually has the mutation.

Armed with that information, we said no thank you to chancing having a baby with that type of uphill battle (naturally, we have a 1 in 4 chance of conceiving a child this way....those odds are NOT in our favor).

Our only option to ensure a baby free of genetic mutations was to move forward with IVF along with genetic testing for both our mutation (PGD) and for general chromosomal abnormalities like down syndrome (PGS).

If we're in...we're all in.

So here we are my friends.

I had a couple questions about why the cells had to be shipped to New Jersey.

First, the IVF lab isn't shipping the whole embryo.

That baby stays here, cryo-preserved in Illinois.

They biopsied a tiny itty bitty cell from that embryo, put it in some fluid, then shipped just that cell to New Jersey, which is the location of Reprogenetics, the lab my IVF facility contracts with to test for our genetic mutation.

It is what it is. We didn't have a choice for location.

So I get local, constant monitoring during stimulation injections at either Crystal Lake or Buffalo Grove.
My retrievals and transfers are completed at the Highland Park location.
The genetic testing is completed in New Jersey.

And this is all coordinated through a team of nurses and staff like a well-oiled machine.
It truly is amazing.

So why do we have to bank more than one embryo?

There are two statistics working against us in the process.

Statistic 1 is chromosomal issues.
For every 10 embryos, statistics say that approximately 60% of them will be free from abnormalities.
That's 6 in 10.

Statistic 2 is our genetic mutation.
There is a 1 in 4 chance, or 25% chance, that an embryo will be affected with our genetic mutation.

So if you combine these statistics, it goes something like this:

Originally I was naive and assumed we could easily bank 8-10 embryos.
Right now we have 1, and I only get two more cycles covered under insurance for this year.
I think we will be lucky if we get five.

So let's say we start with 5 embryos for testing.
Of those 5, we can expect that 60% of them will be free from any chromosomal issues.
That leaves us with 3-4 embryos.

Of those 3-4 embryos, we can expect that 75% of them will be free from our genetic mutation (on the high end).

That leaves us with (at best) 2-3 "perfect" embryos.

But there are a couple more hurdles, of course.

Any remaining perfect embryos will need to be thawed for transfer.
Obviously there are risks with freezing and thawing.
There is a chance the embryo may not survive the thaw.

Then there is the transfer back to me.

Typical transfers, without genetic testing, yield a 20-30% success rate.

With genetic testing, transfer success yields up to a 50% success rate (and although I have read higher reports, up to 80% success...I'm erring on the side of caution)

So as you can see, all of this work and waiting literally comes down to hope.
Neither us, nor the techs, nor nurses, nor scientists can actually make this work in the end.

Phew...ok, you got everything? Good.

So that is why this is hard.
That is why it takes so much time and effort.
That is why we bank.

And even with everything I just said....in my heart of hearts, I know this will work.
It may only work once, but God damnit, it'll work.

Have a beautiful weekend! XO


  1. This is incredibly informative. One of my best friends went through IVF and just hearing parts of their journey...wow. You've got the faith, and good things will come. Thinking of you!

  2. My best friend is starting IVF this week, and hearing your story is so helpful for me. Science is truly amazing. But you know what? So is hope!