Causes & Treatment

The Expectant Grandfather, Part Two: The Trip

Eloise Edington  |   28 Dec 2019

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Grandparents IVF – here’s what to know

Welcome back to part two. If you missed the beginning of this story – infertility through a grandfather’s eyes – and the neglected topic of grandparents IVF (and their unique experiences) – you can read it back here. See what happens next after this grandfather’s son was diagnosed with azoospermia (lack of sperm).

Over to Gordon Edington…

Micro-Sperm Retrieval & Picking a Sperm Donor

My son bravely reconciled himself to the possibility of his sperm retrieval being unsuccessful and a sperm donor needing to be used instead, immediately after the egg retrieval, given the couple wanted to create embryos.

They then started to investigate sperm donor banks and after much thought the two of them decided that they would like their child to know about the sperm donor and have access to information about that person in later years. This reduced the number of potential donors, as some wish to retain anonymity, but the pool still offered plenty of choice. They read many IVF and donor blogs and decided that for them, they wanted to search for an ‘open’ donor (identity released at 18).

Related Article – IVF with Donor Eggs – Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Ask a Mother via Egg Donation

Agreeing on the sperm donor was bitter-sweet; my son fervently wishing he could be the biological father, but being appreciative that there were donors out there who could help. My son knowing the joy he would feel at his wife becoming pregnant, but pained by the thought that another man had facilitated it.

They wanted the selected sperm donor to have the same broad characteristics of my son –  tall, straight dark hair, blue eyes, full lips and so on. They also looked through information on education, careers, interests, sports and family medical history. They were able to read essays and hear the donors being interviewed.

My son asked me to dig out some photos of him as a youngster so that these could be used as a reference point when looking at childhood photos of sperm donors. The process was again bitter-sweet – it was lovely having happy memories rekindled, but less pleasant knowing the pain the couple felt when they started the process of going through the on-line selection process. Eventually, the decision was made.


IVF Abroad Prep

Project management skills were needed in abundance, including a detailed budget and timelines for each stage, as there were a number of small procedures that had to be undertaken in a particular sequence – consultations, blood tests, scans and pill-taking. I was asked if I would like to join the New York trip in a supporting role – I was honoured.

Related Podcast Episode – IVF Abroad Using Donor Sperm

Before going to New York, we were confronted with another long list of questions, this time from my daughter-in-law’s fertility specialist in New York. Should the egg retrieval be done under general aesthetic? If the first IVF cycle was unsuccessful, what gap must there be between cycles? Should one embryo be transferred, or two?

So many questions for the prospective fertility clinic. The fertility specialist was excellent during the conference call – easy to talk to, with a sense of humour and a self-assuredness that gave us confidence she was the right person to go to.

There was good news about my son’s blood tests – testosterone levels were up, so the medication seemed to be working!

Flights were booked, but my daughter-in-law still had to go through more blood tests: CMV 1gG – 1gM, AMH, Rubella IGG, Varicella IGG, Blood Group/RH, Prolactin, HIV I/II, HEP B SAG, HEP C AB, VDRL (RPR), T3 Total, T4 Free, TSH, and CBC w/DIFF. Phew – I’m not smart enough to ever be a fertility specialist!


New York For Fertility Treatment

The trip started with my daughter-in-law and her mother going to New York first and soon the medical interventions stepped up in pace:

My nurse has shown me how to inject. x3 jabs a day, then steroids, a trigger jab and jabs in the buttocks for 8 weeks. Mum is going to get a nurse to come and do the first lot as it is rather complicated preparing all the meds and getting the injections ready.

Good news: we’ll have free time in New York, and my daughter-in-law has been speaking to friends to see where we should book up, particularly on the restaurant front – and the itinerary for our visit is expanding, as will our waistlines no doubt!

Bad news: an email from my daughter-in-law to say there were serious last-minute problems with the sperm donor. The selection process started again and the couple agreed to a new donor. They had to have forms legally notarised to switch the sperm – more complication.

Throughout the journey, I could think of no better analogy than the corny rollercoaster image – the happiness of any ‘up’ we enjoyed was promptly followed by the unhappiness of a ‘down’. It was only the couple’s mutual support for each other, their courage and their determination to bring a much wished for baby into the world that kept them going.

My son arrived in New York, happy to see his wife, but nervous about his forthcoming operation. In London it was Mothering Sunday, and my wife and I and our family went to a church service. Daffodils were sweetly handed out to all mums and I hoped that in twelve months time, a new member of the family would be joining us for the service.

That hope grew when we received a call from New York later in the day – good news: six eggs were already developing. It became clear to me what an exact science IVF is: my daughter-in-law was having blood tests every morning at her fertility clinic, to check hormone levels, then receiving a phone call later in the day from the IVF nurse, to be told how she needed to adjust her fertility medication for the next injection that evening.

Looking for info on low sperm count? NHS The has a straightforward guide to work through.

Catch up with The Expectant Grandfather next month, where we’ll continue his account of our Fertility Journey in Part Three – The Operation.

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