Donor Conception

The Expectant Grandfather – Part Three: The Operation

Eloise Edington  |   3 Jan 2020




Welcome back to part three in a series of four, where we hear about the pain of infertility through a grandfather’s eyes. You can read back part one here and also part two here.

Over to Gordon Edington…

Micro-TESE Sperm Retrieval

My son was naturally apprehensive about his forthcoming operation (Micro-TESE), but was absolutely certain that he wanted to go ahead with it, to try and achieve a genetic conception – even if the odds were five to one. The donor sperm was on ice, ready to go if the outcome wasn’t as planned. I hadn’t really appreciated that this was like synchronised swimming – once my daughter-in-law’s eggs were ready for retrieval, my son had to go in for his invasive operation.

When the call came through that tomorrow was the day of the operation, there was nothing for it – we went to Niketown for some retail therapy and then went out to supper at Mighty Quinn’s for a bustling, extremely nice meal. Then we took a night-time trip to see the New York skyline from the Staten Island Ferry. We were told the ride took 10 minutes – it took 25 – and despite rushing, we missed the next return ferry.


HCG Trigger Shot

We caught the following ferry, rushed out of the terminal to hail a yellow cab, and persuaded the driver to put his foot down along FDR Drive. We got to the hotel five minutes before the nurse was due to give my daughter-in-law her HCG unit trigger injection to stimulate ovulation. There was the nurse, standing waiting in the hotel reception waiting to give the shot. I said, “A few minutes doesn’t matter, does it?” “Yes, it does!” The nurse replied. I said good night to them, knowing we had just made it back in time, for the all important HCG trigger shot – PHEW.

An early start the following day, arriving at the hospital by 06:15. We were taken into a room in the fertility clinic, overlooking the East River: the consultant’s visit, highly professional staff, my son calm, then the call to surgery – he was feeling very nervous, but not showing it – a brave chap who was still showing his sense of humour to the staff.

I went downstairs for coffee, to meet up with my daughter-in-law who had been at her pre-op in a hospital building opposite. Seeing her made me feel very emotional. We went back to the room waiting for news, and she became tearful but pleased that she and my son would soon know if the current route was viable. We waited and waited (and waited) wondering if the length of the operation was a good or a bad sign. At last, after five hours, the consultant urologist came into the room to say that he had investigated both testes and had found very little to work with. He said that tissue taken would be further analysed in the IVF lab, but the chance of finding viable sperm was ‘thin’ and the use of the donor sperm, looking likely.

We were then called into the Recovery Room to find our very drowsy patient lying in bed with ice bags over the operational area.


Moving onto Donor Sperm

My blessing was that I had seen the couple together for a week – they had both been so happy and mutually supportive, and they laughed a lot. Whatever the future held on the trying to conceive front, they were desperate to have a child and would be wonderfully supportive of each other – irrespective of the conception journey – to reach that happy outcome.

With her husband restricted to his hotel recovery bed, I was the one to accompany my daughter-in-law to her egg retrieval procedure, and her spirits were up – we even laughed in the fertility clinic waiting room, wondering what people thought looking at us and hoping my name didn’t come up to give a sample!

But the laughter stopped when my daughter-in-law took a call from her fertility specialist, learning that the IVF lab had analysed my son’s tissue and had found no viable sperm. I felt strongly that this was going to be the result, but the new reality was very painful – I cried as I thought of my son as a little boy, and having gone through so much recently, about to be told that he was unable to create his biological offspring. All that hope – dashed in an instant. I should have held my emotions in check because it upset my daughter-in-law. This was all coming like an express train – a few minutes later my daughter-in-law was called away for her egg retrieval procedure and I was left with my tears.

I was the last person left in the waiting room and after about an hour, I was called through to see my drowsy daughter-in-law, still attached to a drip, but smiling as she so often does. As I sat at her bedside, a nurse told her that thirteen eggs had been retrieved – a very good number and testament to her natural strength, her healthy lifestyle, and her meticulous approach to her medication. She was very happy with the news. For the rest of the day, the couple snuggled up in their hotel bed.

Related Article – Sperm Donation – 5 Top Tips for Choosing a Sperm Donor

The eggs were fertilised with the donor sperm overnight and tomorrow we’d know how many made it through this part of the process. We ended the day with pizza, Budweiser and a bottle of Merlot, the first drink my son had enjoyed following three months of preoperative abstinence. But I could see in my son an underlying deep-seated disappointment that they had to use donor sperm after his unsuccessful Micro-TESE operation. He remained stoical, and didn’t want to talk about his feelings.

Catch up with The Expectant Grandfather next month, where we’ll complete his account of our fertility journey in Part Four – The Coda.

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