This year, for a change, I am playing around with a bunch of heirloom tomato seeds. I planted 7 different varieties in many different colours and as they sprouted this past week, I kept drawing paralells between growing the seedlings and our journey with IF and IVF.
In this first photo, there are actually 3 plants that sprouted. There's the big one on the left at 10 o'clock, the tiny little one on the right at 2 o'clock, and believe it or not, there is a small one poking up through the soil in between the two at 12 o'clock. The first thing that I noticed was that although I had planted them at the same time, some took longer to germinate than others. I have no doubt that these seedlings will all grow to be healthy, producing tomato plants, it just took longer for some seeds to settle in and sprout. This reminded me of my 2/3 embryo that was biopsied on day 6. I've been concerned that it was developmentally slower and therefore less viable than other embryos since most would normally be a full blastocyst by day 5. However, like my little seedlings, sometimes it takes just a little longer to get to the same stage.
In this next picture, there are three seeds that have sprouted in the pot at the front but you'll notice that the one in the back right hand side looks like it is wearing a little helmet. That's because the seed pod is still attached and is preventing the leaves from opening up. I've seen the leaves on some of my other seedlings shrivel up and die when they weren't able to successfully separate from the seed pod. However, if I remove the stuck pods, they will continue to grow and become strong tomato plants. This reminded me of the assisted hatching that the embryologist performed on our embryos. Sometimes they just need a little help to get going and sometimes they won't even be able to make it without a little help.
Finally, there is one variety that I planted where all three sprouted at the same time and they are all healthy looking and all three are growing at the same rate. Sometimes, you just get some real strong ones that take off and do everything that you expect them to do the first time. You just never know which one you're going to get. Of course, you hope for this best case scenario but even with my little seedlings, only one variety out of seven turned out to be so strong. This reminded me of how some people seem to not have any trouble, that everything they "plant" seems to take without any apparent effort at all. But that is not our story...we're more like one of the other pots but with a little coaxing and some extra attention, those pots did okay too.