Leftover Embryos- The part of IVF I hate talking about

leftover-embryos

A reader recently emailed me and asked, “What are you going to do with your leftover embryos? We are confused as what to do with ours.”

A. Can I be honest with you all? This is the blog post I have been avoiding writing for over two years.

The short answer to the question is this: We don’t know what we will do with our eight “leftover” embryos.

Some background

Our first two IVF cycles were disasters. Most of our eggs successfully fertilized, but we had problems with the embryos dying off before we could transfer them. We transferred poor quality embryos each time, and they all failed.

So imagine our surprise when we made it to Day 5 of our third IVF cycle with one beautiful, high-quality embryo to transfer and EIGHT more good-to-average quality embryos that froze. This cycle resulted in the birth of our daughter and of course, we were overjoyed.

But the thing I don’t talk about much- because it’s such an emotional, complicated decision- is what to do with those eight embryos.

The plan was to use them to try for Baby #2. Well, it turns out Baby #2 is shockingly and miraculously coming the old-fashioned way for us. My first thought when I saw that positive on the home pregnancy test was, “What about the embryos?”

Honestly, the odds are that we still would have ended up with “leftover” embryos even if we had used some for Baby #2. However, it makes the decision of what to do with them even more intense because of the extra amount we have.

The options are few and they each have their downsides.

1) We could use the embryos to try for Baby #3. This is something we will consider. I am getting my tubes tied when Baby #2 is born to ensure no more “surprises.” But I will be 37 when Baby #2 is born. By the time I recover from that, get pregnant again (maybe), and give birth, I would be at least 39. No, it’s not old, but I’m also not sure that’s for me. And realistically, we would still probably end up with “leftover” embryos. And anything more than three children is definitely off the table.

2) We could discard the leftover embryos. This would be difficult for us. If you had asked me 5 years ago when I believe life begins, I would’ve responded with the standard Evangelical answer:  “At conception.” However, going through IVF has caused me to question that response. We lost over a dozen embryos in the process of IVF- mostly between Days 3 and 5. Do I believe all those embryos were babies and are now waiting to meet me in heaven? If I’m being honest, no. (No disrespect to those of you who DO hold that view).

My IVF experience has shifted my thinking more towards believing that life begins at implantation. Of course, I am not 100% sure… it’s just where I lean. The whole issue is theologically complicated and I’ve read arguments for both views. I am not a theologian.

At the very least, I see un-transferred / un-implanted embryos as POTENTIAL for life and feel they should be treated with utmost respect. And I’m not sure that discarding them allows for that.  (Again, no disrespect or judgment to any of you who have discarded embryos.  My goal here is to share my personal beliefs and values- not condemn the actions of others).

3) We could donate them to science and research. While I see the incredible potential for scientific advancement (and the potential for helping other infertile couples in the process), most of my hesitation about this option has to do with the same reasons I hesitate to discard.

4) We could do nothing and freeze them indefinitely.  I don’t mean put the decision off for a year or two.  I mean never making a decision and leaving it up to my next-of-kin to make the decision after I die. To me, this is extremely irresponsible and borders on unethical.

5) We could donate them to another couple. Embryo donation / adoption is an incredible thing and I know of so many people who have been blessed to receive an embryo. I have nothing but admiration and awe for couples who are donate their embryos to another couple.

But I also have questions and hesitations about the emotional effects on myself, my husband, my existing children, my parents (my children’s grandparents), and any children that may be born as a result of the donation. I have searched the internet far and wide for emotional resources for couples who are contemplating a donation and I have found nothing. I’ve even emailed heads of large embryo donation/adoption organizations asking for resources and no one has responded.

Where that leaves us now…

I only know that I wish I’d had a clearer idea of the life-altering decisions we’d be required to make. It was so easy to get bogged down in JUST GETTING PREGNANT that we didn’t look at the whole picture and think ahead.

Do I regret doing IVF? Not for a second.

Am I trying to scare you from doing it, too? No way.

Do I wish I had thought about all this earlier and perhaps have made different decisions about how many eggs we allowed to be fertilized? Maybe. I don’t know. It’s hard to say something like that when I’m looking at my two-year old IVF miracle in her crib via the baby monitor.

So you can see that this decision is fraught with moral, spiritual, and emotional issues. I plan on writing more about it as we pray, see counsel, do research, and go through the decision-making process in the coming year or two.

My goal is not to get you to think like I do, or make the same decision I do, but to bring readers to an awareness of the questions you will be facing when you do IVF.

I welcome your (respectful) thoughts and comments.

P.S. I realize I am in an EXTREMELY fortunate situation to even be having this dilemma.  So many of you are having trouble getting any embryos at all.  You have my love, my support, my encouragement, and my hope.


Do you have a question you’d like me to answer on the blog?  Feel free to submit your questions (anonymously) here.  I’ll do my best to answer the in upcoming posts.

Photo via Pixabay, CC0 Creative Commons license.

10 Things You Might Not Know About Me

This post contains affiliate links.  You can read my full disclosure here.

 

 

Infertility bloggers share a lot of private things about ourselves.  I’ve told you about my menstrual cycles, my marriage, my faith, and our three IVF cycles.  With all those serious topics, things can get a little somber around here sometimes.  So each year for the past two years, I’ve published a post sharing some random facts about myself.  It’s fun for me to write and I hope it’s fun for you to read.  (Be sure to read the 2016 and 2015 posts if you weren’t reading my blog back then!)

 

1.  I don’t drink coffee.  I love the smell of coffee brewing, but I cannot stand the taste.  I get my caffeine fix from tea.  I usually have a cup of hot tea in the morning, in the afternoon, and a cup of decaf or herbal tea at night.  One of my all-time favorites is Tazo Apricot Vanilla Creme (my grocery store doesn’t alway carry them, so I buy ALL.THE.BOXES when they’re on sale), but lately I’ve been enjoying Heath and Heather Green Tea with Coconut (I discovered it at Marshall’s).

 

 

2.  My favorite color is purple.  I keep my clothing color choices pretty neutral and basic, but I will ALWAYS buy purple if that’s an option.  My wedding color was purple, and I bought a purple bedspread when Tom and I first got married (much to his dismay)!

 

 

3.  My latest guilty pleasure is Velvet.  No, not the cloth.  In my last “10 Things” update, I wrote about how I was watching Gran Hotel, a Spanish drama, on Netflix.  Well, I finished the series literally HOURS before they pulled it off Netflix, but now I’m obsessed with another Spanish series: Velvet! If you like beautiful costuming, cheesy-yet-addicting storylines, and beautiful Spaniards, this is the show for you!
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 4.  I don’t like scary movies.  There are two reasons why I just can’t watch.  First of all, I’ll think about them for weeks afterwards and lose sleep over it.  Second, I can’t stand “jump scenes.”  You know, where something jumps out suddenly and makes you leap out of your seat.  If I even suspect that’s going to happen, I cover my ears so I can’t hear it.  In college, my roommates and I went to see the re-release of The Exorcist.  (We thought that since it was from the 70s it would be more funny than scary.  We were wrong.  We walked out of the theatre before it was over and spent the entire car ride home singing Jesus Loves Me).  Since then, I haven’t been able to see any scary movies because I end up thinking about them for days afterwards and scaring myself at night.

 

5.  I rarely read fiction.  I used to be a librarian, so this is like my dirty little secret.  I read a ton of fiction when I was a kid, but as I got older, I started to prefer biographies, history, and memoirs instead.  I read maybe one or two fiction books a year, and it’s usually a young adult fiction book.  And no, I haven’t read Harry Potter.  I think the last fiction book I read was Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell.

 6.  I broke my brother’s arm.  When I was 6 years old, my 2 year- old brother and I were sitting and playing in a large laundry basket.  Our dad wasn’t home and our mom was in the shower.  I tried to get out of the basket and somehow ended up flipping it over with my brother still in it.  I still remember his screams as I ran to tell my mom.  The poor guy spent a few weeks in a cast.  He’s 31 years old now and loves to tease me about it!

 

7.  My least favorite chore is cleaning the shower.  Ugh.  We have one of those showers with a plastic, textured floor.  No matter how hard or how often I scrub, it never gets clean.  Also, our bathroom doesn’t have a window and the exhaust fan doesn’t work well, so mildew grows very fast.  We’re blessed to have a lady who comes to clean the bathrooms every other week, and things get pretty bad when she goes on vacation or gets sick!

 

8.  I’m a HSP (highly sensitive person).  Yes, this is a thing.  People with this personality trait process are more sensitive to stimuli and process things a little differently.  There’s a great book and website about it.

 9.  My favorite non-fertility blog is Modern Mrs. Darcy.  I love the mix of fun and informative articles on Anne Bogel’s blog.  She’s a voracious reader and I’m really impressed by her reviews and reading lists.

 

 

10.  I can’t drive a stick shift (or parallel park to save my life).  A friend tried to teach me how to drive a stick in high school and it was a disaster.  I haven’t tried since.  My parallel parking skills improved out of necessity while I lived in Los Angeles during college, but now that I’ve been back in suburbia I will park farther away to avoid having to parallel park.  My husband, on the other hand, can practically parallel park with his eyes closed!

 

What about you?  I’d love to hear some random facts about you!  Feel free to comment below.

Snag a Free Copy of My Book

This post contains affiliate links.  You can see my full disclosure here.

Almost two years ago I released my first ebook, 31 Days of Prayer During Infertility. Since then, I’ve been humbled and blessed by all the positive feedback I’ve received. Many of you have emailed me to let me know that you printed the whole thing out in order to write on the prayer journal pages. And many others have emailed me asking if it’s available in printed, paperback format. Well, I’m happy to let you know that it is now available in print on Amazon, and a Kindle version will be released in August.  Having the book on Amazon means that I have the opportunity to share the message of hope in God during infertility to even more people.

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Join My Launch Team

A lot of work goes into successfully launching a book on Amazon. Honestly, I can’t do it alone.  That’s where you come in!

One of the greatest things about blogging and writing online is that you realize how many of your readers are incredibly talented, creative, and smart. I have a lot of ideas on how to get the word out about the book, but I know that many of you probably have awesome ideas that I would never think of on my own.  So I’m creating a Launch Team!

The team will be personal and special.  We’ll be interacting on a regular basis, and together we’ll come up with innovative and fun ideas for spreading the word about the book.

What You’ll Receive

If you sign up to join the launch team (and get accepted), here’s what you’ll get:

  • A free copy of the newly-edited and re-designed PDF eBook
  • Exclusive access to a private Facebook group where we’ll interact and share ideas
  • The opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes look at the launch
  • A link to your blog (if you have one) and a special thank-you on my website

Plus, I’ll randomly choose 10 people from the Launch Team to receive a free copy of the print workbook! {U.S. residents only}

What I’ll Ask You To Do

If you’re accepted for the team, it means you agree to:

  • Read (or re-read) the book and leave an honest review on Amazon during launch week (August 8-12)
  • Spread the word any way you can during the launch week. I’ll provide you with some tips and ideas
  • Participate in the Facebook group by sharing your ideas and interacting with other members

This book means a lot to me, both personally and professionally. I’ve invested a lot of time and money it in and I plan on taking this launch seriously. It shouldn’t take too much time for you, but I ask that you apply only if you plan on taking it seriously, too.

Apply Now!

I need to keep the size of the group manageable, so I won’t be accepting more than 30 members. You don’t necessarily need a large blog or a lot of social followers to be picked. I’ll be choosing members based on your ideas and creativity. Applications will close on June 15.  

I’ll be emailing everyone who is accepted by June 22. If you don’t hear from me by then, you can assume that you aren’t being asked to join the team. But don’t worry; there will be several other opportunities to help with the launch! Just keep an eye out on the blog and on social media for updates.

CLICK THIS LINK TO APPLY! 

If you don’t want to join the Launch Team, but would like to order a copy of the book, you can get a print version now or pre-order the Kindle edition.  

Thoughts? Questions? Feel free to share them in the comments below!