Our Frozen Embryo

It doesn’t seem fair that you existed in this world for 5 days, but we pressed the pause button.

We have frozen you in a moment in time, but we don’t get to meet you for a while yet.

You are known as the power of life, but we pay $60 a month to keep you just so.  It’s such a small cost in comparison.

You made it against all odds to grow strong, to be the strongest as you could in just 5 days, but we needed you to wait a while whilst my body repaired itself.

It’s been two years of knowing you, but we don’t know what the colour of your hair is meant to be, whose eyes you are meant to have, whether you have your father’s smarts or your mother’s craziness.

Will your sister ever get to play with you?  What do we tell her if you don’t get to play together? ….And if you do, how do we tell her that you have been in this world longer than her? It’s a mind blowing thought.

How can we ever make a decision not to meet you?  How do we make a decision instead that would result in us giving you to some researcher that will never think of you in the way that we do.  How do we make a decision that you are better off not with us?

I tell myself that you sing to yourself ‘The cold never bothered me anyway….It’s hard to imagine you with your own personality.  Your own you.  But we try to keep it clinical because that’s how we can cope, but it’s hard to not let our minds wonder to happiness and completeness.

Your existence in itself is both awesome but a challenge.  I wish it wasn’t a challenge, but it’s not so simple.  I wish we could look into that magic crystal ball and it tell us that you will be fine, it will tell us that you will fight to be here with us and you will win. We will win. The world will win to have you with us.  It would tell us you are small but mighty.

Our one frozen embryo

Earlier this week at dinner Chris and I were talking and the topic of ‘we haven’t talked about timings for #2 baby yet’ came up.  I talked about the minimum suggested time between giving birth and getting pregnant again according to doctors is after 12 months.  I am not sure I would want to get pregnant sooner than that anyway!  And so I said to Chris,

“well we can get ready for a frozen embryo transfer with our one left in the freezer after a year”.

Chris then said, “But I would like to try and conceive naturally first before doing a transfer”.

I paused, looked at him for a moment and just burst into tears.

I couldn’t explain to him exactly why I was crying, but I had a gazillion emotions running through me at that moment.  It was difficult to process, but here are some of the things running around in my head before I could even get a word out between the tears….

  1.  A reminder that we were not able to conceive naturally in the first place.
  2. It’s so so so unfair.
  3. But what about our embryo in the freezer? How can we leave that behind?
  4. I would LOVE to conceive naturally and believe that our infertility can be resolved and that pregnancy ‘resets’ my hormones (somehow).
  5. We haven’t got to take home #1 yet, I can’t imagine #2!
  6. Aghhhhhh this stuff is just scary to think about right now.
  7. HORMONES HORMONES RAGING HORMONES can’t stop crying, why can i not stop crying???!!!

So Chris consoled me and asked me to talk to him.  Once I gave my nose a good old blow, I started thinking all these things out loud.  We had a long talk about it all, our thoughts, opinions and differences.  But for me the most important thing I wanted to explore was the fact that we have one embryo in the freezer still.  I was unsure what I felt about that, and how we should be involving that into our decision making.  It lead to some general questions about the existence of life and ethics.  Our journey to conceive and the stages we have faced along the way.  We talked about attachment to our embryos and changes over time.

Every month I receive a bill of $60 from my fertility clinic for embryo storage costs. A monthly reminder of what we are lucky to have.  This little embryo was frozen from our first IVF cycle and is the only embryo out of our three IVF cycles that made it to the freezer.  So our frozen embryo is now over a year old already.

Each of the subsequent IVF cycles after our first I have often questioned the logic of pursing another round of IVF when we have one embryo ready to go.  But it was all about an assessment of risk.  Risk that we would prepare for a Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) for our one and only embryo not to survive the thaw and have nothing.  So the idea was to get at least another one to the freezer so we could de-risk the chances of preparing for a FET and not having anything to transfer.  It was all about numbers.  But the longer I think about it and further we got into IVF, our embryo is not just a number.  It’s a life we created. Although many argue it’s not really a life as some people consider a life to be.  It’s kind of mind boggling, and I wish I could articulate it in words.

So part of my response to Chris was my wrapped up with my convoluted feelings about our frozen embryo.  Maybe it’s guilt or maybe I’m thinking why the hell are we paying $60 a month if we don’t plan on using it!

It’s complicated and we have lots of time to decide what to do if we decide to try for #2 baby.  But I don’t ever forget about our frozen embryo, it’s existence and it’s strength to survive out of all our others 23 embryos (not including Rocky of course!).  May be it’s a future brother or sister for Rocky.  May be it will never survive the thaw.  But it’s definitely not forgotten about.