Breeding and Embryo Transfer
Horses and children, I often think, have a lot of the good sense there is in the world. ~Josephine Demott Robinson
April 24, 2012 - 16 days and getting bigger
So I know I am suppose to start the official pregnancy blog, but I am too excited
that I must share this new photo. Today Dr. April took another ultrasound of the
baby and it is growing. We grew from 6mm to 20mm in just 4 days. Holy cow,
what a difference in the photos. The embryo is still floating around in the uterus,
and should attach at 18 days. Pregnancy blog to come soon, just need to build
the page. :) So so happy we are pregnant.
April 21, 2012 - Plan C CANCELLED...WE ARE PREGNANT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I gave those dang shots for nothing, Plan C officially is cancelled. Yep that is right
WE ARE PREGNANT. Ok let me say that again just because it sounds so good...
We Are Pregnant! WOOT WOOT. I got the text while shopping in Costco at the
meat counter. I totally started crying, like real dripping tears. I am such a dork but
I was just so happy. Had quite a few people looking at me that was for sure. Thank
you so much Dr. April. Hey here is Little "B" (as in plan B) at 6mm and 12 days old.
Which by the way Dr. April says is a perfect size for my perfect embryo. Looks like
a pregnancy blog to come.
Oh this will be a long 11 months.
April 19, 2012 - Gave My First Prostin Shot
So why you ask, lets just say we are gearing up for plan C just incase Nani does not preg check for us this weekend. The Prostin should bring Sienna and Foxie back into heat, should we need to rebreed and do this all over again. So let me first preface, I HATE giving shots. Seriously. I get all tense, pit in my stomach the whole thing. I stressed all day about having to come home and give these two shots, the last few hours of work went by very fast. Also, Dr. April informs me that the Prostin shot can make the girls feel sick, crampy and sweaty. OK so first I have to stab the girls, then they are going to get sick from it. Great, just great. She sure was not kidding. Within 5 minutes, It was like watching an episode of the Golden Girls with Blanche and Rose having hot flashes. Sweat dripping off of them in puddles. And they were just looking at each other going "do you think it is a little hot in here"? They maybe each had a few cramps that I noticed and ate there dinner through the whole thing. It wore off in about an hour. But wow what a crazy drug that can make them sweat so much so quickly. Just crazy.
April 18, 2012 - Things I learned about Embryos
So as we are waiting for the preg check results on Nani I thought it would be fun to share of few things I learned during the embryo flush.
One of my main questions to Dr. April, as I was looking at my embryo in the microscope was "how do you tell if it is healthy". So the great
Doc that she is gave me a little education. Embryos are graded from 1-4, 1 being excellent and 4 being well not very good. Below are some photos of each Grade. Sienna was Grade 1 with a perfect inner cell mass (see the top left corner in the first photo...that is my baby)
April 15, 2012 - Another Grade 1 (Excellent) Embryo
Wow what a day. Sienna gave us yet another beautiful Grade 1 embryo, and this time we had a home for it. "Nanulator" is now currently Sienna's Baby Mama (For some reason the term "Baby Mama" really makes me think I could be on Jerry Springer.) Our little embryo wanted to play hide and seek today, and gave me a little heart failure in the process. The first flush came up empty...at that point I just left the lab and took a walk, basically thinking "are you kidding me my super Sienna did not take and we have to do this again". Dr. April went in for the second flush while I exited stage left. A few minhutes later I see Sienna back in her stall and Nani walking into the stalks. That could only mean one thing...we have an embryo. So hard to hold back the tears, I was just overwhelmed with joy. Actually a little in shock too, nothing ever goes right for me so to have something actually work was quite the surprise. It was quite interesting watching Dr. April, suck my embryo up in the straw, which you could see with the naked eye. It looked like a little air bubble...so cute. Then she put it in Nani, which from what I am told is not so easy, as you do not want to touch/disturb the cervix while passing thru to the Uterus. Now we just wait one week and preg check Nani. So by next weekend I should know if I officially have a pregnant mare. Yikes ...more to come.
April 10, 2012 - WOOT WOOT...Nani "Nanulated"
Looks like Nani ovulated or now coined as "Nanulated", so we are 100% lined up for a beautiful embryo flush on Sunday. First string girls back in action. This time the little guy has a nice warm place to go. Well lets hope there is a little guy first. My husband keeps reminding me not to count my chickens before they hatch. I can't help it, way too excited.
April 9, 2012 - RIP Sicle
Oh just a heart wrenching text from Dr. April. Foxie did not get a positive preg check today. It was conclusive, no growing embryo in her. Dr. April tried so hard and did a fabulous job. This is why Dr. April set us up for plan B, so at least we are moving forward and not at all delayed. Would have been cool to come on here though and say that little frozen guy is alive. All I can say is Plan B must be the grey filly after all. :)
April 8, 2012 - Sienna Ovulated
Well the bunny hop worked and Sienna ovulated on schedule Easter Day. Looks like we might just have another "easter egg" cooking. I had a few friends ask me about the "ovulation shot" and wondering if we gave it. That shot is human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG). It's used to induce a timed ovulation in in-heat mares. In basic terms, hCG hastens the maturation and induces ovulation of the dominant follicle in a mare. I asked Dr. April about this today to better my knowledge. Basically hCG will induce ovulation on a mare if they are naturally going to ovulate anyways. If they are having a inconsistent heat cycle hCG will prove to have no effect. Sienna was given hCG on Friday and probably ovulated within 36 hours...text book. Nani will get hCG tomorrow for expected ovulation Monday night or Tuesday. If this happens the girls will line up perfectly for embryo flush.
April 7, 2012 - Breeding Day
First let me just say, I am way more relaxed for this second run thru. Almost a little blase. I think it is because little Sicle is alive and this breeding is just extra. One can only hope, and think positive thoughts. Sienna and Nani (recip mare 2) are looking good. Sienna was bred on a 40 on the right ovary. (The second 29mm follicle has shrunk to a 24mm, so she probably won't release that one this time) Nani is also looking great and having a much better cycle this time...Dr. April thinks they will match up perfectly. Guess is is time for the one legged ovulation dancing again..or since it is Easter maybe a bunny hop ovulatin dance.
April 6 2012 - Al is on His Way Again
Moving forward with Plan B - Dr. April ordered more semen today for Saturday delivery via Fed Ex. She did check on Foxie and "Sicle" first, but has expected did not see anything. The embryo has to be at 2mm to be seen on the Ultrasound - and just 4 days ago it was microscopic. So we wait until Monday, and in the meantime breed Sienna tomorrow.
April 5, 2012 - Getting Ready For Plan B
My "Siennasicle" is safe inside my recip mare, which is great. However, we really won't know for sure is she is truly pregnant until Sunday or Monday. Not so horrible, but man this has been a long week. Can it just be Monday already. With that said, here lies the problem. Sienna is ready to ovulate again this weekend. She currently has 37mm and 29mm follicles getting ready to go on her right ovary. What do we do; wait this cycle out and see if the frozen embryo survived or ship semen and get ready to breed her again just in case. My decision, ship more semen and get ready to breed again. I don't want to wait another few weeks if the frozen embryo does not work. So Dr. April gave Prostin shots to Sienna and the other recip mare this week, and we will be ready to breed again if we have too. What the heck will I do if I have multiple embryos...who knows deal with that next week I guess.
April 2, 2012 - Once A Frozen Asset
So today was the day. Dr. April thawed little Sicle and implanted her into the
recip mare. Unfortunately, I was unable to be there so I don't have any good
stories of Dr. April talking to the embryo...but I am sure she did. From what I
understand the thawing process is basically just that...thaw. Sicle has been
frozen residing in a straw for the last 10 days in liquid Nitrogen. Dr. April then
removed the straw from liquid Nitrogen placing it at room temperature for a little
bit, then placing it in a warm water bath. Then the straw goes into a gun and is
implanted into the recipient mare's uterus. Voila! In 7 days we can preg check
and see it it works. This will be a long long week...Monday April 9 we will know
if Sicle survived. Here are some photos.
March 27. 2012 - Our Recip Mare Ovulated
So I heard from Dr. April and our recip mare has ovulated. So 6 days from today, Monday April 2nd, we will thaw our "Sicle" and put her somewhere warm and safe for 11 months so she can grow big and strong. I really hope "sicle" survives, I am already thinking of "frozen" themed registered names for her...I know bad luck to name them, but is it bad luck to think about it?
March 25, 2012 - 2 Eggs means 2 flushes
Well so my fertile horse Sienna lays an egg a day. When Dr. April flushed her yesterday, she ultra sounded her again and what did she find...another CL. Meaning Sienna princess ovulated twice. The chance "Al" was still alive for that second ovulation is slim, but Dr. April has to go back in today to make sure there was not a second embryo (aka "Siennapop"). Well I nervously awaited the news...I swear I could never be an expectant mother myself. Anyways, there was no "pop" just "sicle".
March 24, 2012 - "Sienasicle" is now stored forever
So Dr. April completed the vitrification process on our embryo and put it in the liquid
nitrogen storage container. So now we just wait for the recip mare and cross our fingers.
Sienna's embryo was very healthy and the freezing process went very well. So I have
to pray there is a good chance of survival. I think the best thing of the whole day was
watching Dr. April talk to our embryo like it really is a living baby horse. She loves them
even in the cellular stage...it was so cute, she truly loves her job. So we joked all day
we were making a "Siennasicle"...so now this embryo is forever called "Sicle".
(I kind of think we found her barn name)
March 24, 2012 - OMG I Saw My Baby
The embryo flush was just amazing. Dr. April and her technician flushed Sienna this
morning. Basically they fill the uterus up with fluid and then let it drain out. If there
is an embryo they catch it in a super fine filter when the fluid drains. Then Dr. April
takes the cup back to the microscope and starts looking for the little guy. Dr. April
found a beautiful healthy text book embryo...so cool. Then I got to watch it in the
microscope, that was so surreal. They had to tear me away, because if you
remember we have to get this little guy frozen and stored.
March 23, 2012 - Thought I Would Read up on Freezing
It is Friday night and I am so nervous about tomorrow. We flush Sienna tomorrow and make a "Siennasicle". I have been reading up on this "freezing" thing I got myself into, wow it is kind of cool. If you do a regular flush, you do that at 7 days, but a freezing flush has to be done at 6-6.5 days. You want a smaller embryo for freezing. Also the embryo does not fall down in the uterus until about the 6th day...so timing is very important. Here are a few articles.
March 22,2012 - I Decided to Freeze it
- Here is an easy reading article about freezing embryos that I found. Click Here
- Here is a more technical article. Click Here
Well - I thought about this long and hard all night. As much as I would love to put my beautiful healthy embryo in a nice warm uterus and be done with it...I just really want my recip mare for the long haul. I trust my recip mare with this foal and that is also really important to me. So I decided to freeze it...even though Dr. April fully warned me of the risks. Basially, ET is messing with mother nature, and everytime you add another scientific step you reduce survival rate. Dr. April did let me know that if it survived it would be fine...no birth defects or anything from freezing. That of course was important to me.
March 21, 2012 - Big Decisions
Well today is Tuesday and I just spoke with Dr. April. Unfortunately my recip mare that I want to use is having a very strange cycle and just won't ovulate. Today was the drop dead day for her. So I have 2 choices; Lease another recip mare that has ovulated this weekend or freeze my embryo and wait for "my" recip mare. I really had my heart set on using "my" recip mare, and things were looking so great with both girls when we started. I was fully warned of the trouble and set backs when you have a specific recip mare. Freezing is an option but the survival rate of the embryo reduces down a lot. (About 54% survival rate in clinical studies)....hmm I have to really think on this one.
March 18, 2012 - OVULATION! OVULATION! OVULATION! (Kind of sing that like Halleluiah)
So at 9:00am Sunday I received the following text from Dr. April. "All that dancing worked, one beautiful CL, embryo transfer scheduled for next Sunday. Whoo Hoo!" I can not even describe how I felt. I just got tears, and Chad (my husband) started laughing at me. All he said was 'thank god it is just the horse that is getting pregnant and not you'. He is so right. Oh and by the way...the dancing may have helped, but I really think it was Dr. April's skill, determination and true expertise...oh and some Irish luck. Now we just need our recip mare to ovulate by Tuesday. Stay tuned.
March 17, 2012 - Still No Ovulation
Seriously Sienna??? You drag Dr. April out of bed in the freezing rain, just so we won't miss ovulation and now you don't want to ovulate. OMG...Al is dying in there every hour that goes by, can you say I am a little nervous. So we had to resort to desperate measures....the "One Legged Egg Dance". Yep that is right..."one legged egg dance", of course it was St. Patty's day and a few green drinks were going around (wink wink).
March 17, 2012 - Sienna Bred at 1:00am with the Luck of the Irish
So I stayed up until I knew Al was on that SBA bound plane. Dr. April, however, got up
in the cold pouring rain and went to the lab to breed Sienna. She did not want to miss
that ovulation. She was able to send me some photos. Looks like some little green
"leprechauns" came to add some luck on breeding day.
March 16, 2012 - Still Have A Pretty Follicle
Dr. April, just checked Sienna and it looks like we are good to wait
for "Al" to arrive at midnight. I feel bad she is going to have to work
so late in the night, sorry for the mix up in LAX and temporarily
losing "Al". The Follicle is now at 56mm...ovulation can be just
about anytime. Here are some photos from tonight.
March 16, 2012 - Found Al
Ok after a great conversation with American Airlines operator explaining to him that the missing cargo must get on the next plane because "it is semen and I need it now"...long silent pause from the operator..."oh oh oh I don't need it, my horse needs it. It is horse semen not "man" (who says that) semen". LOL...only me. All good I think, "Al" should arrive in SBA at 11:00PM. Dr. April is checking Sienna and hoping she has not ovulated and can wait until midnight to be bred.
March 16, 2012 - Al, Al, Where Art thou AL?
Oh No, Oh No, Oh No!...I just tracked "Al" with the air bill #, (yes I am the crazy one tracking semen)...but he is stuck in LAX. The cargo did not get on the SBA bound plane. Sienna is going to ovulate anytime. We must find "Al".
March 16, 2012 - Breeding Day, "Al" is on his way
I am so excited today, got the phone call from Dr. April, Sienna is in a holding pattern and did not ovulate. Woot Woot. "Al" has been ordered and will arrive on a plane in Santa Barbara, a courier will then pick him up and deliver to Dr. April this afteroon. (I have to admit I even got a few tears of joy after the call, this is what we have been waiting for)
March 15, 2012 - Looks like Breeding Day Tomorrow
Well Nani is progressing so Dr. April is going to go for it. She will check Sienna in the morning to make sure she has not ovulated, and then fly the semen out so we can breed on Friday (rather than Saturday via Fed Ex). Nani is a little behind, but Dr. April feels it is worth trying. Ideally we want Nani to ovulate on Sunday, but she has up until Tuesday as a window. Maybe that follicle is the gray filly after all. (Oh Foxie is doing NOTHING...nice back up I have...LOL)
March 14, 2012 - Not Shipping Semen and an Update
So April never called to ship semen, so it must have been a mix up.
The update today is not so good...Sienna is a way over achiever
and is way early coming into heat. She has uterine edema: grade 3,
(means she is in heat) RO (right ovary) 51mm follicle...crap needs to
be bred soon!!! Foxie: nothing! Nani: RO: 50mm follicle, no uterine
edema, not quite in heat yet. So we will wait on semen, check all
three tomorrow, if it looks like Nani is catching up and Sienna has
not ovulated we will order semen and go for it. If Nani does not
catch up...looks like we wait for the next cycle on both of them.
March 14, 2012 - Phone Call from Allocate Your Assets
So this was hysterical...I can sure clear an aisle in the grocery store. I received a phone call from the Stallion, wanting to confirm my semen shipment for tomorrow. First of all I thought we were shipping Friday, so this was way exciting. Still waiting to hear from Dr. April to see why things were moved up. My girls must be ready. But as I was in full conversation about SEMEN...I had a strange feeling people were staring at me...I looked up and just started laughing. Everyone just dropped their heads and pretty much ran away. Ha Ha...wonder what they were thinking?
March 13, 2012 - Prostin Shot for Nani today
Nani had a prostin shot today. The girls should come into heat soon. Dr. April explained to me that she can tell when they start to come into heat via the ultra sound. The uterus wall will start to thicken and she will be able to see that. They will ovulate towards the end of the heat cycle. We want the semen in there when they ovulate, so it is all about timing. The semen only lives for 48 hours and because it is being shipped overnight you lose about 12-18 hours.
March 12, 2012 - Update from Dr. April
Dr. April checked the girls today. All is looking good. Sienna's follicle grew to 42mm and Nani to 50mm. Sienna and Foxie had Prostin shots today to short cycle them and get them into heat. Nani will get her shot tomorrow as Dr. April wants her one day behind Sienna. (Foxie got hers today, as we think she will take a little bit longer to come into heat)
- Here is a fun article from TheHorse.com that explains about reproductive ultrasound. Click Here
March 10, 2012 - Arrival at Shoreline
I took Sienna and Foxie up to Shoreline Equine today, which is about a 4 hour drive. The place is located in the beautiful eastern hills of Ventura County, in a town called Oak View.
We were able to check both Sienna and Foxie today. Found out Sienna ovulated 2 follicles last cycle, so probably not likely to get 2 this time. The cavity left behind from the ovulated follicles is called a Corpus Luteum(CL)and they appear grayish on the ultrasound. The function of the CL is to produce the hormone progesterone which will help maintain the impending pregnancy. If a pregnancy does not occur, the body is notified by the uterus by producing Prostaglandin. Prostaglandin then attacks and kills the CL which allows the mare to begin another reproductive cycle.
Sienna also currently has a large follicle at 35mm on the other ovary forming...think that one just might be my baby. (hmmmm Sienna, I hope that follicle is the gray filly). Dr. April stated that Nani also had ovulated and had a 40mm follicle forming...so looks like her and Sienna are right on track.
March 1st - Tracking Heat Cycles
So it is the first week of March and we are just starting to track heat cycles. This is very easy for Dr. April and our recip Nani, as she has the ultra-sound machine and can officially check Nani. I still have Sienna at home and our back-up recip mare, Foxie. So for me a guessing game.
I think Siena came into heat around the Feb 25, and probably out of heat around the 29th or so. At least as far as I can tell with her mood. Nani was checked and came into heat on March 2nd, Foxie I think came into heat around Feb 29th. Dr. April was thrilled as all the girls were cycling around the same time...time to plan our trip to Shoreline.
Sienna's Uterus Sienna's Follicle
Sienna's Follicle before Ovulation
Grade 1 embryos have few if any detectable abnormalities and are expected to have the highest potential for a successful pregnancy.
Grade 2 embryos have mild abnormalities that are not expected to negatively impact establishment of a pregnancy (See the outer edge is not perfectly round)
Grade 4 embryos have such significant abnormalities that establishment of a pregnancy is unlikely.
16 Days/20mm 12 Days/6mm