Hoping for a Miracle Part 4: Rescue ICSI


All this month Eyewitness News has featured Photographer Ashley Matulis as she and her husband try to have a baby. After six years and many procedures and medications later, they turned to in vitro fertilization (IVF).

“When you hear the word ‘rescue ICSI,'” said Ashley, “and you know your eggs have been out of you for 24 hours and Marc’s sperm out, everything sitting there for 24 hours, clock is ticking.”

Rescue ICSI is an attempt to save the fertilization process, after Ashley’s egg and Marc’s sperm failed to come together in the petri dish on their own. 

“We don’t normally do it day after,” said Dr. Daniel Griffin. “But in a case like this we would do it day after retrieval if able to.”

An embryologist helps the sperm find his way by actually  injecting the sperm into the egg. It’s not done as a rescue very often, and it’s considered a long shot.

“You pray it’s gonna work, but you don’t know,” said Ashley.

The news comes the next day. Of the 11 eggs retrieved, only four were fertilized and alive.

“We had four embryos,” said Ashley. “Back in the game. Everything is fine.”

Except one thing. It is critical that Ashley’s uterus accept the embryos. That means the transfer has to be done at just the right time. The rescue ICSI threw that timeline out of whack.

“So the best thing to do is not do a transfer at all,” said Dr. Griffin, “freeze the embryo, wait for patient to start a menstrual cycle, and transfer embryo in a subsequent menstrual cycle.”

That means waiting for four weeks with the embryos in the deep freeze. The freeze and thaw means more risk.

“I was mad,” said Ashley. “I was so mad because you get so low knowing you don’t have many embryoes. For him to call the day before transfer and say that not gonna do is like, alright.  I’ve waited six years.  Now, I have to wait another whole month? Why?”

“That will give them a much better chance,” said Dr. Griffin.

One long month later, timing back on track. Ashley and Marc arrive for the next big step, transferring the two surviving embryos into Ashley. Using a catheter, Dr. Griffin implants the embryos into the uterus. A five minute procedure, rather anticlimactic.  

“Very quick and now up and not very dramatic for everything that has gone into past three months,” said Ashley, “but that’s fine. No more dramatic. I don’t want any more dramatic.”

And now, yet another wait of nine days to know if all this worked and if Ashley is pregnant.

“You know they’re in there,” said Ashley. “Saw them go in. What are they doing in there? Are they doing what they are supposed to do?
Just pray every day.”

On April 21, Ashley receives a phone call from Dr. Griffin’s office with the amazing news. She is pregnant.

The infertility journey is over, but the motherhood and parenthood is just started.

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