Today we had our first call with the genetics lab that will be creating a probe to test our embryos. That last sentence sounds like it's out of a science fiction movie. This stuff is so crazy and exciting and scary at the same time. Essentially, the geneticist explained in detail the process that they will use to test one cell out of each of our embryos for the HD gene.
The first step is getting cheek swabs from myself, S and each of my parents. Once they receive those swabs back in the mail, they can begin creating the "probe" based off of our family DNA. This will take approximately 14 weeks. Yes, 14 weeks. That brings us to late October. From what I've read on message boards, the waiting process is brutal. Ideally we will be getting updates every few weeks, but it'll be a rough wait.
After the probe is created, we can begin the standard IVF cycle. After I'm on fertility drugs, my doctor will remove my eggs and let them fertilize overnight. After 5 days, one cell will be removed from each viable embryo and sent to the genetics lab. Within 24 hours they will give us the results of which of the little guys are healthy and which have the HD gene. The chances are 50%. From those, we'll also be testing for chromosome abnormalities. Statistically, for someone my age, there's a 60% chance that our embryos will have some sort of chromosome abnormality. So, say if we have 10 embryos, statistically 3 of those should be viable and healthy for transfer. The good news is that after all this testing, we should improve our chances of a healthy pregnancy because we know we'll be transferring healthy embryos.
After we get the results, the healthy embryo (or embryos) will be transferred back into me through a fairly painless process. And hopefully one (or two) take. After the embryo transfer, we'll go back 2 weeks later for a pregnancy test. I should say that there are no guarantees throughout the entire process. Some women need to have multiple egg retrievals because they don't have enough viable eggs for transfer. And, like in natural pregnancy, some embryos don't make it past the first few weeks for one reason or another. I think it's important for me to think positively, but also to prepare myself for having to go through the process multiple times. Luckily, my age and overall health is on our side.
Until there's a baby in my belly, I'll just be crossing my fingers and hoping that some good karma is heading our way.