We flew over the Atlantic to arrive in Prague where we drove to Brno to check into our hotel in less than 24 hours from departure. A feat that would seem impossible less than a century ago, yet in the course of our travel I was never really that uncomfortable. Fatigued, sure, but having made this trip six years prior for a backpacking adventure through Europe, I felt prepared enough to ready myself for the stress of travel; and stressful it is. With calamity lurking at every corner in a airport, one must rely on a certain amount of luck to navigate the ever pending doom of delayed flights, canceled flights, or if you are even going to see your luggage 5,500 miles away from where it was entrusted. Luck would have it we had a four hour delayed flight in Cincinnati, Ohio due to weather in New York, and would indeed cease any chances of making our Prague flight. (We were not made aware of the delay until one hour before our departure.) Luckily, a fellow international traveler sitting behind us on the flight from Denver intelligently found another commuter flight to New York a few gates down as soon as she landed. Having heard of our travels from the inquisition I’d endured from the woman sitting next to me, she actively sought us out to relay this information. She literally saved the day, and with her the help we were able to switch flights and obtain the last two out of three tickets available on the plane. Once we arrived in New York we found our gate and made sure our Prague flight was on time, and just less than two hours later we boarded our international flight and nestled in for our last leg of travel to Europe. The flight was actually decent, except for the knees in my back all the way to Europe. Though we loved the on demand movies with plentiful choices but didn’t love doing an injection mid-air so much.
Once we arrived in Prague, Czech Republic we rented a light blue 4-door 5 speed manual transmission Skoda. A very economical European car with minimal amenities, or as I see it, a stripped down Corolla. Nonetheless, it does its job nicely, and armed with our Skoda, IPod, European Garmin, and utter excitement to lie in bed at our hotel, we traveled to Brno. The next day we had our first appointment at Reprogenesis, and Jill received her ultrasound to determine the exact time for egg retrieval and any medication adjustments. Our doctor, Tomas Vrana, conducted the study in his office (which is in a older mansion that’s been rehabbed into a state of the art fertility clinic) and determined that Jill responded really well to stimulation drugs with a count of 16 follicles. 10 on the right ovary and 6 on the left with every other measurement taken produced good results too. So he felt that there was no need for a second ultrasound and we reserved the date of 9/4/13 for the egg retrieval at 8:00AM. Only being August 30th at the time, we were allowed some time to experience Brno, and Jill continued her stimulation injections up until the day before transfer.
So I put my Pumas to the pavers, and walked the cobblestone pathways that led to such marvelous sights such as Spilberk Castle, Cathedral of Saint Peter and Paul, and old town square. We happen to stumble upon a folk music festival where we witnessed the actors on stage dressed in presumably traditional Czech attire, slaughter a women dressed as a giant pink pig. We had no idea what was going on. Then had the pleasure of listening to the best xylophone exhibition Jill and I have ever encountered. Quite a treat really, considering the beautiful courtyard that held the show was riddled with Romanesque sculptures and marble slabs and columns at every turn. The next day we experienced Brno once more and on our stroll we found ourselves at the Moravska Galerie (the Moravian museum). With high hopes of seeing something ancient and interesting we entered enthusiastically, but only to find bitter faces and bad attitudes. We started walking through the museum with the hickory wooden floor weaved in the basket formation crackling with every step we take. Which then alerts the hound dogs that follow us through the museum watching every movement we made, as if we were casing the place. I tried to reassure the museum attendants that I came only to be enlightened by the exhibit with a smile to show my intent. Though, to no avail, we were just silently followed around by dour older women with frowns on their faces. Creepy, to say the least.
On Sept. 1st we traveled to Bratislava to stay in the Marrol’s hotel, a very charming upscale hotel just down the street from the main square. Jill and I fell in love with this area with its street markets and delicious food and sight seeing. We traveled up to the Bratislava castle and walked into beautiful cathedrals. We bought souvenirs at a local artisan fair and here we decided to buy a decorative beer stein in all the cities that we enjoy the most. The next day we traveled into Poland and stayed at the Piramida hotel (a hotel that is fashion after the pyramid of Giza), a pyramid in Poland. I know, right? It would be weird if we didn’t stay there. However, we were only in Poland for one reason, to visit Auschwitz concentration camp. We felt that it was important to remember those who tragically lost their lives, and honor people like my grandfather who fought against the Nazis for freedom. We also need to remind ourselves that it can never happen again, because, as they say history repeats itself.
We drove back to Brno that Tuesday for the embryo retrieval and stayed at the Holiday Inn due to their reviews of having the best beds in Brno. We haven’t had much luck with a comfortable bed thus far, though to our surprise they did indeed have the best beds in Brno. And best of everything else too, but of course, everything seemed to be a surcharge and very expensive. Totally worth it though, because up until then I had been suffering from a mild case of insomnia. The next day Jill underwent the egg retrieval under general anesthesia for approximately 10 minutes. During the procedure our doctor was able to aspirate 11 eggs (oocytes).
The next day, the clinic informed us that 9 of the 11 eggs were mature and suitable for attempted fertilization. They work on fertilizing these 9 eggs with first using a procedure called PICSI to collect the best of the best of my little guys and then used ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection) to fertilize the eggs, and 7 of the eggs did indeed fertilize and became embryos. On Friday, day 2, we received another update on our embryos. (Embryos that are developing properly should have 2-4 cells by the second day and continue to multiply from there.) Of our 7, one stopped developing. Though 5 of the remaining embryos have 4 cells and one has 3 cells. So they are all potentially viable!
Each day until we do the embryo transfer we will get an email of an update on our little guys, or girls. The clinic actually uses embryo monitoring to visually inspect the stages embryonic development, and we get a DVD copy once completed. Tomorrow will be day 3 and our embryos should have 6-8 cells to complete week 1 of IVF journey abroad. Week 2 will have the exciting conclusion of the embryonic development and the adventures that come along with doing IVF abroad.