A Surreal Problem to Have

We are joining the bandwagon of trying to figure out what to do with our three frozen embryos. What an amazing problem to have–when we were awaiting our Day 5 report after retrieval, I thought it would be amazing if we only had one or two blasts. I never dreamed that 18 months later, we would have two babies and three frozen blasts in the freezer at CCRM. How fortunate we are! This week we received the notice from CCRM that we need to decide whether to pay for another year of storage, or somehow discard our embryos.

Even if I would want to try for a third baby someday, it is a really, really bad idea. After my accident last May, it became apparent that my body cannot make enough calcium to nurture a baby and keep my own bones strong. My joints also loosened and caused my kneecaps to dislocate. I also became very iron-deficient, which seemed like the very least of my problems at the time but could pose a danger to any future embryos in my body. We’ve determined that personally for us, we are not comfortable with the idea of someone else carrying our embryo for us. It’s just not for us. There is no way to tell whether my body would behave differently with a singleton pregnancy, but no doctor can tell me any differently, so I don’t really want to find out.

Then there is the OI issue. My babies had a 50/50 chance at inheriting the gene, and they both have it, so that tells me we either have really bad luck or it’s a really strong gene. A third baby would have the same 50/50 shot. In the thick of the fractures last October, I felt briefly like I was at my absolute breaking point. I remember a day when my husband and I drove to our pediatrician’s office to pick up several cases of formula that their Enfamil rep had kindly hooked us up with, and we decided to grab some lunch nearby while a family member watched our babies at home. We were both so exhausted and emotionally spent, we barely even spoke. I think he would agree that we were both at the lowest point of our lives, which was so opposite of how we were supposed to feel as new parents. In retrospect, I know that we were “only” dealing with broken bones and not so many worse afflictions involving survival, but it seemed like the end of the world in that moment. I do not ever want to repeat that experience, so that has turned me off even more from wanting another child. We can test the frozen embryos for OI, but then that’s a moral issue for me. I have OI, so I might not be here if technology had been more advanced when my mom decided to conceive me. We may choose not to transfer our frozen embryos, but it won’t be because of OI.

So now we are wondering about embryo adoption. I need to talk to CCRM to find out whether my OI even makes us eligible for this. Would an infertile couple want to deal with such an affliction? OI varies SO much from person to person. Even in my family, those of us who are affected have had vastly different experiences. Some of us have only fractured a few times, some of us have had more like 25-30 fractures (which in the grand scheme of things is still relatively mild). I’ve had 12, so I’m about middle-of-the-road for my family. Some of us have lingering side effects, like my loose joints that cause kneecap dislocations, but some of us have no side effects. All I’m trying to say is that there is no way to predict how mildly or severely our frozen embryos may be affected. They will all have Type I if they do have it, which means there will be no skeletal deformities, but they could have a few fractures or dozens. Would dealing with this be better than continuing with life childless?

If we can’t or decide not to pursue donating our embryos, I would want to know whether our embryos could be used to benefit OI research. That would probably be the next best thing to actually using the embryos for the purposes of conception. But I want to research the other paths first.

Or of course, we could simply pay the money to keep our embryos frozen for another year. My fear about this is that as the memories of my accident and recovery fade, as our daughters grow strong and seem less like the fragile little creatures that they were last fall, my resolve about not conceiving again might weaken. I find myself wanting a resolution to avoid mixed feelings later.

It’s a lucky but difficult position in which to find ourselves. We have some thinking to do, but getting this all down has at least put all of our options in a place other than our heads.

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4 responses

  1. We just got our notice from CCRM too. We’re struggling of what to do as well. (see my recent blog post). I hope you can get your questions/concerns answered and come to a decision that you are at peace with.

  2. I know…all of us IFers that crossed the other side that have blasts in the freezer have big big decisions to make. Each decision has been carefully thought of and very very personal. For me, I just paid the fees for this year and thus put off this question for another year.

  3. That’s alot! To think about and consider. You’re right…as time goes on, your decision and clarity will become stronger. I hope your babies are doing awesome! They are beautiful.

  4. Em, what a quandary to ponder!

    To me, you and your DH are truly remarkable. The sacrifices you made – financially, emotionally, physically – is more than most couples can imagine. I know everything you do comes straight from your heart and out of sheer pleasure.

    I know I’ve said this prior, but us IVFers have a heightened awareness that I don’t think a “natural pregnancy” parent could ever understand. So, from that standpoint, I believe the right IVF couple would be overjoyed to receive your gift. I can also think I can empathize, but the truth is that I can’t.

    As parents, we go into our pregnancies with hopes and dreams, but in the end most of us are clueless and things don’t always work out as we planned.

    I don’t know if you remember the link I included in my very first blog post, but if not, click below (WARNING – have LOTS and LOTS of tissues nearby – you WILL cry):

    http://www.kellehampton.com/2010/01/nella-cordelia-birth-story.html

    She reminded me that we can find beauty and love in the unexpected.

    As Lisa and others have said, you’ll know what to do in your heart when the time is right.

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