Frozen Embies

Before we began IVF we thought we had all the answers to all our questions. What we didn’t know is that we didn’t have all the questions.

We thought about it, prayed about it, asked about it, and searched out what information we could to educate and prepare ourselves. We felt that we knew all there was to consider before moving forward. In May of 2015 we had our egg retrieval and embryo transfer and were blessed us with our rainbow baby, James. When we did our egg retrieval we were thankful to hear the doctor retrieved 26 eggs, 20 of which were mature. This was fantastic news, it meant we had a great number to work with in order to increase our chances of getting, and staying pregnant.

Once we got word that 18 of our 20 mature eggs fertilized, I was again so thankful. Then I was quickly overcome with emotion. What in the heavens were we going to do with 18 embryos? We clearly were not going to give birth to 18 children. Sure some people do, but this girl wasn’t about to. I should explain that we believe life begins at conception whether that is in a woman’s womb, or in a glass dish with the assistance of medicine. To us, each embryo is a child that has a right to life. So, with that said I was overwhelmed beyond belief. The day of our transfer, May 12th, approached and I will never forget sitting on the edge of our bed sobbing into my hubbys shoulder. You may be confused as to why I would be so upset. I was hormonal due to all the IVF medications, about to have two of our precious children transferred into my uterus in a matter of hours, and couldn’t help but think about 16 others. I knew I most likely wouldn’t carry each one. That was so many. So where did that leave us?

We got to the doctors office that day and they gave me a valium, thank you very much, and my nerves did settle down. As I laid on the bed waiting for our transfer the embryologist brought me two pictures of our embryos that would be transferred. It became so real seeing the first pictures of our babies.

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So amazing to see how life begins. The embryologist then told us we had 9 embryos that made it to Day 5 to freeze. I can not explain the amount of relief that came over me. Nine was definitely more manageable in my mind than 18. Nine is still a lot, more than many couples are able to freeze. In that moment I was just thankful. Thankful we had come that far and my mind was a little more calm for the time being.

We transferred two but only gave birth to one. We never were pregnant with twins and never saw a second sac on the ultrasound. I also have NK Cell Hyperactivity which was the reason for our Recurrent Pregnancy Loss (a topic for another time). Thanks to our amazing doctor and IV Intralipid Infusions we had a successful pregnancy and James was born on my 28th birthday January 27th, 2016.

Fast forward to the present and what the future holds for our 9 embryos. We have learned in the recent months that one embryo is frozen individually and the other 8 are frozen two by two. This was something that came as a surprise to us because we never knew the way they were frozen even needed to be considered. We assumed they were frozen individually. Moving forward we only want to transfer one at a time for personal and health reasons. Our doctor discussed thawing two at a time and being able to refreeze one in order to only do a single transfer. It’s great that a thawed embryo can be refrozen, but it also just didn’t sit well with us. We have done some research and it appears that re-frozen embryos seem to have the same success rates as first time frozen embryos. It still seems odd. As if the whole process of IVF isn’t odd enough and trying to take a step back and still allow God to be in control of the process. We don’t decide anything on the embryos. We leave that up to God. Whether an embryo will survive the freeze or thaw is part of “nature” and God’s plan. If it doesn’t result in a pregnancy it wouldn’t have whether conceived naturally or in a dish. The lab is only responsible for inseminating the eggs and letting them do their thing until freeze and thaw. I’m getting off on a tangent here, the point is, we wish we had known that we could have asked to have each embryo frozen individually to reduce the chance of “messing” with them.

Our next transfer will be the embryo that is frozen individually which makes the process a little easier and a little less mentally stressful on me. It still overwhelms me when I think that we have 9 embryos and we may never use them all. There are plenty of variables that could cause me not to be able to carry more children, something could happen to either one of us, God could make it clear our family is complete and we still have frozen embryos. We know that in the future God will prepare us for what his plan is for our family and each of our frozen embies. Perhaps he will bless us with a large family and lots of children. We realize donation to embryo adoption is a possibility that could bless others but right now that isn’t possible for me to imagine.

Had we known this would be a stress on us and make our hearts heavy, we would have made different decisions. We still would have done IVF but what we didn’t think about was only having a few eggs inseminated at a time and freezing the rest of my eggs. We can’t look back though. We’re where we are now and we have those embryos because God ordained it. I struggle with guilt and feeling like we could’ve been more knowledgeable, but we truly thought we were. When you are so desperate for a baby I think your judgement can be clouded. I write this in hopes it will help others ask questions they didn’t think of.

We feel and know that God has a purpose for his creating each of those embryos and we can’t wait to see what his plan is.

If you are considering the path forward with IVF I urge you to consider two things:

  1. How many embryos are you comfortable with freezing, if any? Consider asking your doctor about freezing eggs and inseminating 2-3 eggs at a time.
  2. Ask your doctor about the freezing process if you get that far. Do they freeze them individually, two by two, and if so tell them what YOU would prefer. They are YOUR embryos.

If you find yourself in the same situation I would love to hear your story and how you handled it or how you plan to move forward. IVF if so hard and so conflicting, but I am so thankful for the lessons I’ve learned as well as the ones I’m trying to understand. Most of all I’m thankful that it blessed us with our James.

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