My theme this year is IVF/ICSI, a process we’re starting at the moment and today it’s X for XX or XY.
X is one of my favourite days of the A to Z Challenge because I always wonder what other people will post because it’s got to be up there with Q as one of the most difficult letters to come up with a word for. So far, in three years of doing the challenge, I’ve not stumbled on X yet (Z is another matter altogether) and this was one of the very first posts I came up with!
|Day 5 blastocyst, image from here.|
That’s what an embryo looks like. Cute little bugger, isn’t it?
Did you know that at that stage of development they can tell the gender of the baby that it would develop into? In some cases, particularly when there are genetic conditions that a couple may be using IVF to avoid, only XX or XY embryos will be selected for transfer. That means that some couples will know that they might be expecting a baby girl, before they’re even actually pregnant.
It’s amazing how much potential there is inside that little bundle of cells, isn’t there? It’s approximately five days post-fertilisation and already there’s a hell of a lot of genetic information in there. Already it knows whether it’s going to become a little girl (an XX) or a little boy (with an XY), the colour of its hair, eyes. It might be preparing to have Mum’s eyes, Dad’s chin, and Great Uncle Frank’s knobbly knees. It’s got almost everything it needs to become a person, except somewhere to hang out for nine months.
I mentioned back in my post for L for Love, lots of women report feeling a lot of love for their baby-to-be at the stage when it’s really little more than a virtually invisible collection of cells. When you think about all the things that those cells could become it’s easy to understand why people become attached to their little embryos, even without the knowledge of what gender they’ll turn out to be.
Which brings me back to my subject for today, XX or XY? Boy or girl? If you’ve got a friend or family member going through treatment and you ask them this question, which do you want? don’t expect a definitive answer. If that person have been trying to start a family long enough to be going through IVF treatment, chances are, they don’t really mind which. Somewhere, deep down, they might prefer a girl they can dress in pretty dresses, or a boy to take over the family business, but really what they want is a child. That’s why they’re doing this after all.