We received “The Letter” from CCRM over the weekend. I’m referring to the annual invoice in which CCRM requires us to either pay $300 to store our three remaining embryos for another year, or to provide our signatures so that the embryos can be destroyed.
Note: Because I have a genetic condition, we cannot donate our embryos to another couple–I checked with CCRM’s genetic counselor, Danielle. Our options are to use, destroy, or donate for research.
When we received The Letter last year, we decided to pay the storage fee “just in case.” Just in case what? I guess we were worried about making a rash decision and then having regrets. And now even though we have talked for months about signing away our rights to these three little embryos, it’s a sobering thought to actually have our signatures notarized. As much as I want a sense of finality, I have a tiny bit of fear that I’m making a decision I will later regret.
Before infertility, I had long thought I might like to have three children someday. Both of my parents have two siblings, and my grandparents’ lives always seemed so full with three kids and eight grandchildren. Two parents + three kids always felt to me like an ideal family.
But honestly, a rough pregnancy and our girls’ health complications have caused me to feel very negatively about going through any of it ever again. I’ve been robbed of any desire to repeat the process.
My pregnancy was filled with 8 full months of daily morning sickness (not complaining about this–I know how lucky I was to have experienced it at all!), dislocating both kneecaps, three broken bones after falling in the shower, invasive left knee surgery, a total of 11 days in the hospital, three months on almost complete bedrest, wheelchairs and walkers, sciatica and enormously swollen feet and legs (I was prescribed a water pill after giving birth and lost FIFTY-THREE POUNDS of fluid in two weeks–no joke!).
Then September 13th arrived, the birthday of our gorgeous twins and those perfect first three weeks of normalcy. The pain and discomfort of pregnancy subsided as my body healed quickly now that it was not allocating resources to my babies. Although we were sleep-deprived, we felt like we were in a wonderful dream. And then, the drama resumed:
- Eight fractures in about a month from little to no trauma.
- Complete and utter fear when thinking about handling our own babies (our absolute emotional low point was holding our newborn niece in our arms the night she was born, and then going home knowing that we could not hold our own newborn babies because we might cause a fracture).
- Starting PAM infusions… seeing our kids hooked up to IVs.
- Clubfoot treatment, first surgery (double tenotomy), months of casts and braces.
- Craniosynostosis… seeing our child emerge hysterical from a 7-hour surgery during which her head was cut open from ear to ear and a piece of her skull was removed.
I must add, I know so many parents have had to watch their child go through so much worse. I follow bloggers who have kids with cancer, and I even have a friend whose baby just had open heart surgery last week and is still on a ventilator. My heart goes out to parents of sick kids, as I clearly do not have half the strength that they do. The past 18 months of seemingly nonstop medical intervention has been draining, to say the least.
So that’s why I was pretty surprised when we casually discussed “The Letter” last weekend and my husband said, “Maybe Violet and Layla will need a little brother or sister someday.” I felt my heart drop into my stomach because this was the first time he had ever expressed an interest in further expanding our family. In fact, he has always seemed pretty opposed to trying to have another child.
I stewed over it for a few days, and then broached the topic again. During those couple of days, I searched my soul to try to unlock my feelings about the idea of another FET. All I felt was dread thinking about it, honestly. Sure, it would be cute to have a little baby boy toddling around, looking up to his big sisters (what I pictured in my head was a little boy, but we don’t know the genders of our remaining embryos). But then I thought about the fact that he or she would have a 50/50 chance of having OI and that it’s a spectrum disorder, so his disease could be more or less severe than V&L’s. I thought about the possibility of more complications, like Violet’s clubfeet or craniosynostosis.
What I realized is that I am spent. I would not change a second of the past 18 months, because those experiences have shaped our family and we are stronger for having gone through it. But I can’t go through that with another baby, and I know it from the depths of my heart. I know 100% that the best choice is for us to sign away our embryos, to eliminate any future waffling and to move on with my life. I had my fallopian tubes ligated during my c-section, so the three embryos in question are our last chance at expanding our family.
So when I broached the topic again with my husband, I put it all out there. And thankfully, he agreed. He said his remark was just a fleeting thought and that when he thought about the ramifications of having another baby, he was no longer on board. We are comfortable with just being “Violet and Layla’s parents,” and we are planning on making it official next week by meeting with a notary. Although I am a tiny bit scared that I will hate myself someday, right now this feels right. And I have to trust that feeling.