The emotional numbers game of counting follicles, oocytes, hopes, and dreams.
Today is day 1 after my oocyte (egg) retrieval (known simply as OCR in the IVF community). The phone call with my fertility clinic is scheduled for 9am to receive some details about yesterday's events. At 9am I dial the number that I found on the document that I received after my oocyte collection. I turn on the speaker on my phone to make sure that my husband does not miss any information. A very kind voice answers the call and the woman introduces herself as our embryologist. After a short identification process, she informs us that she found two mature oocytes out of the five that were collected yesterday, and one of the two was successfully fertilised.
I am speechless. That is not the news I expected. She must feel my disappointment because she quickly continues. She will go back and check on the other three oocytes again later today to see if they also matured. If they have, they will be fertilised, too. She also let us know that our embryo transfer (ET) is scheduled for Monday, four days from now, at 7.30 in the morning. She kindly wishes us a great weekend and we hang up the phone.
I am sitting on the couch, trying to recall every single word of the conversation. My summary is this: yesterday we had five oocytes collected, two of them were definitely matured, but only one of the two was fertilised. However, there is still a possibility that we might have more fertilised oocytes by Monday. All of these facts play an equally important role.
I don’t allow myself too much time for an emotional breakdown. My analytical mind needs to inspect every fact that I have learnt today. It is time to turn to my best friend: Google. Here is what I learnt and why I call this the Numbers Game:
- There is a set number of follicles before the OCR. In our case this number was five follicles. BUT
- Some oocytes may be partially or completely damaged. I do not have any information on whether this has happened to our oocytes, so let’s just say that the number stays at five oocytes.
- There is a possibility that some of the follicles were empty, meaning, they did not contain any oocytes. In my case, each of my follicles had an oocyte inside of it, so our number is still five. BUT
- There is a chance that some of the collected oocytes were immature at the time of the OCR. Furthermore, some of them could be overly mature, as well. In our case the embryologist found two mature oocytes after the OCR but she will wait and see if the others will mature by the time of our embryo transfer. BUT…