Our fertility clinic is not one of those that gives you pictures of your embryos. But before they transfer them, you are allowed to step up on a stool and look through a microscope at them.
We did that for our first IVF and saw three beautiful embryos. We transfered those three, one of them implanted and at 18 weeks gestation was diagnosed with a fatal genetic disorder.
When we did the frozen embryo transfer we had one 8-celled embryo and one that used to be 8 cells but was down to two after the thaw. Again we got to look at these embryos. One of them turned into our little Jack-pot. But you couldn't tell from looking at the embryos which ones would implant, which ones were healthy and which ones had chromosomal problems so severe that they could not survive.
Nine days ago we looked at five very beautiful embryos under a microscope. I hope one of them becomes a healthy baby. But there is no way to tell if one of them will just by looking at them.
Embryos are a blueprint for a baby. They contain all the instructions on how to make a baby. And to build the baby they need raw materials -- nutrition, oxygen, etc. And they also need a suitable site for building the baby.
Lots of things can go wrong at any stage of the process. Number one, the blueprints can be flawed. They may not provide the instructions to build all the things the baby needs. This is what happens when there is a chromosomal problem.
Number two, the right raw materials may not be available. Maybe there is not enough folic acid for one reason or another, or some other vital substance that is essential to an embryo's development.
Number three, there may be issues with the building site. Maybe there are antibodies that are working to oust the newcomer. Maybe there is a polyp or fibroid compromising the suitability of the site. Maybe the embryo lands in the fallopian tube.
Not all embryos turn into a baby. So far we have a one in eight record -- one embryo out of our original eight in the first IVF turned into a baby.
And even after there is a positive pregnancy test, there are still so many milestones that must be passed on the journey to a healthy baby. The miscarriage rate for women my age is one in three, I think. And the odds of a chromosomal problem get higher as you get older.
Nonetheless, we have passed a bit of a milestone, getting positive results on our store-bought home pregnancy tests.
It feels a bit like the game of Survivor on TV, or a game of musical chairs. Getting a positive doesn't mean I'll end up with a baby. But at least I haven't been voted off the island yet.