I have two beautiful, healthy babies after infertility—a set of twins; one boy and one girl. When I tell people that they usually say, “You have one of each, now you can be done!” But the truth is, I think about my nine remaining frozen embryos every single day.
My husband and I had very good results from our one and only IVF cycle. Our Reproductive Endocrinologist was able to retrieve 45 of my eggs, 35 of which were fertilized, and we ended up with 12 embryos. Trust me when I say that those numbers were not lost on us—we were thrilled and so hopeful.
After all of the failed cycles we had experienced prior to starting IVF, we felt like we finally had something to show for all of the hard work and time we had put into fertility treatments. With 12 separate chances to grow our family on ice, we thought, It’s finally our time.
We had decided against genetically testing our embryos before freezing them because it wasn’t covered by insurance and my doctor was confident that due to our age most of our embryos wouldn’t have had any genetic abnormalities. Then, our first frozen embryo transfer failed and we were absolutely devastated. I kept thinking, Doesn’t IVF work for everyone?!
I immediately regretted not having paid for the genetic testing of our embryos. Why had we been so cheap? Didn’t we want kids badly enough? I started Googling, which never helps, but even my doctor didn’t know why the transfer didn’t take.
She said it could have been a genetically abnormal embryo or it could have simply failed to implant—I guess we will never know the real reason. Our Reproductive Endocrinologist seemed confident that we would still have success with IVF, but I wondered after this, if she could really know that for sure?
After letting myself take time to grieve the loss of our first embryo baby, I became determined to transfer two embryos the next time around. Despite warnings from my doctor about the risks of a multiples pregnancy, I had my head and heart set on doing whatever would increase our chances of getting pregnant, and my husband agreed. Little did we know at the time, but on our second transfer, both embryos would stick and give us our twins, who are now 15 months old.
Since then, motherhood has brought me more joy than I ever could have imagined. Still, after our twins were born I found myself already thinking about having another baby.
I can’t really explain why, but after going through infertility and IVF, even when I was on the “other” side, I have felt like I’m racing against the clock in terms of whether or not I wanted to give my kiddos a sibling. And with having frozen embryos in storage, it’s been hard not to feel like the door is still very much wide open.
The truth is, even if we were done having kids, we still have to decide what to do with our frozen embryos—which is a moral dilemma for us. First, there are all of the hormones, blood draws and tears that went into making those embryos. Then there’s knowing how much joy babies bring when they’re earthside, both of which make discarding them seem like an impossible thing to wrap my head around.
At the same time, donating our embryos is an equally momentous decision. Part of me just doesn’t want to have to make a decision at all, but embryo storage isn’t cheap and realistically, we can’t afford to pay for it forever.
All that being said, I know how lucky I am to even have these choices, which isn’t the case for everyone who goes through IVF.
With twin toddlers at home, I don’t feel ready to go through IVF and pregnancy again at this time. But I still do think about my frozen embryos every day and what we will decide to do when we are ready to give our kids a sibling (or not).
Should we thaw them and do genetic testing the next time around to avoid a potential miscarriage or chemical pregnancy with two other children at home? Should we wait until our twins are older and more self-sufficient, just in case I am put on bed rest again? Should I just come off of birth control and see if it happens naturally?
The questions are endless, there are a ton of unknowns and sometimes I still can’t believe there are people out there who simply have sex, get pregnant and don’t have to think about these things. For now, I’m trying to embrace the uncertainty and enjoy the ride…until next time.