My six-year-old son doesn’t remember hanging out with me for countless hours in our fertility doctor’s waiting room.
Much more patient than I ever was, I might add.
He doesn’t recall the separate, much smaller waiting area for patients who already have children.
He has no memory of the kind nurses, physician’s assistants, lab technicians, doctors or receptionists who knew him by name, gushed over his long eyelashes and offered him lollipops every time he visited.
He doesn’t recollect his father administering the twice daily shots of progesterone in the fleshy part of my hips or the heparin shots I’d give myself in my belly or the handful of pills I would take as we practiced his counting.
I’m grateful that Lucas doesn’t remember our struggle to give him a sibling, but I do. Just like it was yesterday.
And when he wistfully asks when I am going to have another baby, my heart aches and I am taken aback.
There are also times when it is just the two of us and his little sister is being cared for so we can do “big kid stuff” and he’ll announce unabashedly, “I really love Lola but I am so glad she isn’t with us right now”. Once again, my heart aches and I am taken aback.
It is no secret that our daughter, Lola is an IVF baby.
A miracle baby.
But aren’t they all?
After struggling with secondary infertility for over three years; having six miscarriages, countless failed natural cycles, IUIs and one failed IVF, our second attempt at IVF worked!
Of the five eggs retrieved, three fertilized but only two were good after PGD (pre-implantation genetic diagnosis).
A boy and a girl.
The girl became Lola.
The other embryo is still frozen.
Typically two embryos are transferred increasing the odds of conception or attaching to the uterine wall, but in my case, my fertility doctor’s statistics were better with patients with my history and age to only transfer one embryo.
All it takes is one!
Thinking pessimistically, I thought we would fail again and try to use the second one right away, but instead we succeeded!
We were lucky.
And now we have an embryo on ice.
It costs roughly $350 per year to store.
We have six options and please trust that this is a deeply personal decision, a moral and ethical decision and there is so much more to each and every one of these options than what I have shared here. It is weighting heavily on my mind and heart and so I write about it. Because that is what works for me.
I’m also not looking for advice or a solution.
It will come to us, my husband and I.
Throughout this process, I realize that the further away from my fertility struggle I get, it is still there, front and center, ready for access.
1. Transfer. It works and we go from a family of four to a family of five. Of course, I just turned 43 and my husband is already 43 and our family feels perfect just the way it is. This option also involves a heavy dose of fertility medications and doctors visits throughout the pregnancy. Due to my age, I’m already considered high-risk and given my struggles in the past, I will see a perinatologist beginning at 12 weeks, if not sooner. A very small price to pay for an addition to our family, but must be considered nonetheless. Can my body go through all that again? I still have bruises from my pregnancy with Lola, who is a year and a half! Are we naive to think everything will work out as well? And let’s say we make it full term, what would our family of five look like? What if this third child needed additional care of one sort or the other? So many questions.
2. Transfer. It doesn’t work and we grieve the loss and move on the best way we can.
3. Donate. We know the fertility struggle all too well and would love to help a couple or family have a child or another child. Sounds simple enough and completely altruistic, but dealing with the fact that our “son” is out there somewhere could be more than we can bear.
4. Put the embryo up for adoption. Yes, you really can do this, but again see above. Plus, I doubt either of us could ever accept payment for our embryo.
5. Discard. At this moment in time, time option is out of the question. I simply do not have the heart or strength for this. And I probably never will.
6. Store. Continue paying storage fees until the end of time.
Option 6 it is.
We have decided to table our decision for six months.
According to the National Embryo Donation Center, an estimated 600,000 unused embryos are currently frozen in clinics throughout the country.
Last year, doctors at IVF clinics performed more than 165,000 treatments — more than ever before.