Friday, February 5, 2010

Transfer Day

Dr. Yash pulled us aside as we entered the IVF waiting room in Lilavati. She led us to a set of chairs, sat down next to us and said, "As of this afternoon's tests, four of your embryos are in very good condition. We will check them once more before the transfer but my opinion at this moment is that we implant all four now rather than freeze a mere one for later use. Let's make the best use of this opportunity." Shannon and I looked at each other, saddened by the news. We always imagined freezing a few embryos on the off chance that we'll want or will have to make a second attempt without Shannon having to bear up with a whole new cycle of IVF. However, we've always told ourselves that success is a single child, that freezing embryos is a nice-to-have, not the goal. We assented to Dr. Yash's advice as she was called to the transfer room for the final evaluation and to ensure R - our surrogate - was comfortable and ready.

Shannon and I put a good face on things, comforted by the idea that R would be carrying four embryos, more than the usual count transferred and thus, we figured, having a high chance of pregnancy. Sitting with us in the waiting room was another couple who had just flown in from Australia to use donor eggs for a round of surrogacy. They congratulated us on the news and took it as a positive omen for their chances. Soon after, Dr. Yash returned.

"Your four embryos are in absolutely excellent condition. We have a new option. We can transfer just two now and freeze the other two. I wouldn't normally suggest this but their quality is excellent. I suspect that if we implant more than two, the chances of multiples are very high and will require selective reduction." Talk about out of the blue.... I asked if we were undermining the chances of success this first go-round in order to justify freezing. Dr. Yash replied no, the quality is very good and this should not be a concern. In her opinion, transfer two. Shannon and I sat back, talked it over briefly, and agreed to transfer only two. In less than sixty seconds we made a decision that may very well impact the rest of our lives. The other SI couple couldn't help but eavesdrop so when Dr. Yash walked away with our answer, I looked at them and said, "Now that was a heavy moment, huh?"

Dr. Sudhir, also in the waiting room, told us that Dr. Yash does not spare couples honesty about egg quality. Excellent means excellent. The other couple agreed. Apparently, they'd gone through multiple rounds of IVF with no success (thus their trip to India) and had certainly never heard the word 'excellent' used to describe embryos before. All of sudden the number four, which had seemed a sober compromise, now felt like an absolute jackpot.

The transfer process itself was completed fairly quickly, conducted by a Dr. Pai - the head of the IVF clinic and the same person responsible for the ICSI procedure. A mere 15 minutes after Dr. Yash left with our decision she returned with, can you believe it, R herself. She's this absolutely cute, little woman who was now the most precious person on the planet next to my wife. She and her caretaker sat down with us and the doctors (R's husband was at work). R carried a very composed air that was, in retrospect, a little surprising considering what she'd just committed her body to. She was also much more comfortable with Shannon and I, making full eye contact and flashing a smile; clearly, that first meeting in the clinic had broken the ice. We had a brief conversation mediated by the doctors, wishing her well, inviting her and her family to Boston, promising to learn a little Hindi, and then telling her we looked forward to speaking with her in a couple weeks via Skype. (SI communicates with all their clients using Skype and will connect couples with their surrogates once transfer has occurred.) Then off she went to the clinic for two weeks of lying down - probably the longest vacation of her life. I, meanwhile, wiped the flop sweat off my forehead and Shannon fell back in her chair.

Every step in this process has its own challenges and Shannon and I know we're in the midst of a statistics game. Just because our little guys are judged to be excellent doesn't, of course, guarantee anything. We'll have a better idea two weeks from now when our carrier is given her first pregnancy test. So are we relieved? Absolutely. Excited? Well, we're too cautious for that. But this is one heck of a hurdle and, to appearances, we've leapt it as well as we could have hoped.

Oh, and try this on for size:  If we do find ourselves with a baby or two nine months from now, they're already growing inside R. Now that's a mind blowing thought......


  1. YAY!!! We are so happy for you two. Exellent is great news! We didn't get an "Exellent". I believe Dr. Yash told us that ours was good. So I am excited. The two week wait is dreadful. However, There will be lots more waiting. The 8 months was easier than that 2 week wait. I think once you know there is a heartbeat it makes it a little easier to keep going. This has all become a reality for you two. Have a safe trip home and call me when you get rested up.

  2. It is fantastic that you have completed some of the major steps in the medical process of your surrogacy journey. Hopefully, from this point onward there is much more success and joy. We are only 4 weeks behind you in the transfer process and we can only imagine that there will a lot of anxiety on our end as we will be in the UK as it happens.

    Wishing you well and safe travels back to the US.

  3. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful! You have great chances with this first transfer, and even better, options for the future. Dr. Pai gets very good results with FET too.

    I trust Dr. Yash's judgment 200% on these matters and your post today brought back very similar memories of our own such discussions with her and Dr. Sudhir in that same waiting area. Now let's hope for similar success for you!!! Safe travels home -- it was such a pleasure to meet you while you were here!

  4. Great Post.....

    I found your site on stumbleupon and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you down the road!

    Thanks for sharing....

  5. Hi Shannon & Geoff,

    I have not posted before but I am catching up on your story and I am very happy for you both. I can't begin to understand everything you are going through but you are an amazing couple. I want you to know we are sending you lots of love and positive thoughts. I look forward to seeing you in the future as it has been way too long.

    Marty & Kristine

  6. Tick, tock...and so it begins, eh?! Thinking postively and anxiously counting down the next 2 weeks with the two of you!!!
    Love, Kim

  7. My heart raced reading this entire post - I can't even imagine making such a huge life-altering decision in a single moment... "heavy" is right.

    As the auntie of two beautiful new twinsies I must point out, Geoff, in your last sentence you used the word "they" in referring to this pregnancy ... looks like perhaps you've just predicted twins? ;)

    Fingers crossed for safe travels home, a fully-healed Shannon and even more good news in a few weeks.
    xo Lise