I’m not done having kids—and I think about my frozen embryos every day

I have two beautiful, healthy babies after infertility and I think about my nine remaining frozen embryos every single day.

thinking about frozen embryos

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.

After 4 kids, this is still the best baby gear item I’ve ever purchased

I wouldn't be swooning over the BABYBJÖRN bouncer after eight years and four kids if it didn't work.

I have four kids 8 and under, so you might expect that my house is teeming with baby gear and kid toys.

But it turns out that for me, the more kids I have, the more I simplify our stuff. At this point, I'm down to the absolute essentials, the gear that I can't live without and the toys my kids actually play with. And so when a mama-to-be asks me what things are worth registering for, there are only a few must-haves on my list.

The BABYBJÖRN bouncer seat is on the top of my list—totally worth it and an absolute must-have for any new mama.

In fact, since I first splurged on my first BABYBJÖRN bouncer eight years ago (it definitely felt like a splurge at the time, but the five star reviews were really compelling), the bouncer seat has become the most-used product in our house for baby's first year.

We've actually invested in a second one so that we didn't have to keep moving ours from the bedroom to the living room when we change locations.

BABYBJÖRN bouncer bliss

baby bjorn bouncer

The utility of the seat might seem counterintuitive—it has no mechanical parts, so your baby is instead gently bounced by her own movements. In a world where many baby products are touted for their ability to mechanically rock baby to sleep, I get that many moms might not find the "no-motion" bouncer that compelling. But it turns out that the seat is quite reactive to baby's little kicks, and it has helped my kids to learn how to self-soothe.


Lightweight + compact:

The BABYBJÖRN bouncer is super lightweight, and it also folds flat in a second. Because of those features, we've frequently stored it under the couch, in a suitcase or in the back of the car. It folds completely flat, which I love.

Entertainment zone:

Is the toy bar worth it? The toy bar is totally worth it. Not only is the toy bar adorable, but it's one of the first toys that my babies actually play with once they discover the world beyond my boobs. The toys spin and are close to eye level so they have frequently kept my baby entertained while I cook or take a quick shower.

Great style:

This is not a small detail to me–the BABYBJÖRN bouncer is seriously stylish. I am done with baby gear and toys that make my house look like a theme park. The elegant European design honestly just looks good in my living room and I appreciate that parents can enjoy it as much as baby.

It's adjustable:

With three height settings that let you prop baby up to be entertained, or lay back to rest, we get years of use. And the bouncer can actually be adjusted for bigger kids and used from newborn to toddler age. It's that good.

It just works:

I wouldn't be swooning over the BABYBJÖRN bouncer after eight years and four kids if it didn't work. But I have used the seat as a safe space to put baby while I've worked (I once rocked my baby in it with my foot while I reported on a breaking news story for the Washington Post), and as a cozy spot for my second child to lay while his big brother played nearby. It's held up for almost a decade with almost-constant use.

So for me, looking back on what I thought was a splurge eight years ago, was actually one of the best investments in baby gear I ever made.

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


This is my one trick to get baby to sleep (and it always works!)

There's a reason why every mom tells you to buy a sound machine.

So in my defense, I grew up in Florida. As a child of the sunshine state, I knew I had to check for gators before sitting on the toilet, that cockroaches didn't just scurry, they actually flew, and at that point, the most popular and only sound machine I had ever heard of was the Miami Sound Machine.

I was raised on the notion that the rhythm was going to get me, not lull me into a peaceful slumber. Who knew?!

Well evidently science and, probably, Gloria Estefan knew, but I digress.

When my son was born, I just assumed the kid would know how to sleep. When I'm tired that's what I do, so why wouldn't this smaller more easily exhausted version of me not work the same way? Well, the simple and cinematic answer is, he is not in Kansas anymore.

Being in utero is like being in a warm, soothing and squishy spa. It's cozy, it's secure, it comes with its own soundtrack. Then one day the spa is gone. The space is bigger, brighter and the constant stream of music has come to an abrupt end. Your baby just needs a little time to acclimate and a little assist from continuous sound support.

My son, like most babies, was a restless and active sleeper. It didn't take much to jolt him from a sound sleep to crying like a banshee. I once microwaved a piece of pizza, and you would have thought I let 50 Rockettes into his room to perform a kick line.

I was literally walking on eggshells, tiptoeing around the house, watching the television with the closed caption on.

Like adults, babies have an internal clock. Unlike adults, babies haven't harnessed the ability to hit the snooze button on that internal clock. Lucky for babies they have a great Mama to hit the snooze button for them.

Enter the beloved by all—sound machines.

Keep reading Show less

It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

Keep reading Show less