Embryo Decision

Disclaimer and sensitive topic warning: I realize that to some, we are in a privileged position of having more embryos than we can use. Part of me hesitated to post about this, but it’s a tough decision, and I need to talk about it to work through it, come to a decision, and be confident in that decision. I’m not soliciting advice, though if you’ve been in this position, I would welcome you sharing your perspective on how you made the decisions you made.

We received a letter from the long-term embryo storage facility that my clinic uses that our two remaining embryos were recently transferred back to the facility, and that our annual storage fee would be due soon. Always mindful of wasteful spending, my initial thought was, “Do we need to store them?” We already decided that we weren’t going to use them. If this pregnancy works out, we’re done building our family. If it doesn’t, we don’t have it in us to start over again. Basically, I started to push us into making a decision about what to do with them NOW, before the fee is due.

I called the facility to inquire about our options. As expected, they are:

  • Dispose
  • Donate anonymously to another hopeful parent
  • Donate to research

I always thought I would lean more toward the donate to another parent option, but the more I think about it, the more unsettled I feel. I know I would always wonder if it worked, and even though I would not think of that child as “our” child, the thought of the possibility of our biological offspring out there somewhere…. I don’t know. I think I would be overly preoccupied with the idea.

After speaking with the storage facility, the donation route is rather involved. My husband and I would have to have physicals and blood work, complete a 3-generation medical history, and have a phone session with a social worker. All told, a 3-6 month process, and I’m not so sure we would even “pass,” since I know nothing about my grandparents and their medical histories. Plus, both of our families have a history of mental illness. I understand the necessity of all of that, but my gut reaction is that I don’t want to go through all of it. Then again, it could make someone’s dreams come true. I know there’s a chance the embryos may not even survive the thawing process for transfer, or they may not implant, or the ultimate result may be miscarriage. But at least they would have a chance.

Donating to research is an easier process. It’s the option I’m most comfortable with at the moment. I understand that ultimately the embryos would be destroyed, but hopefully they would first contribute to furthering stem cell research.

The only thing I’m sure of is that I don’t want them to be disposed of before they have a chance to make some kind of contribution to the world. Is that crazy? I don’t think it is, considering what we went through to make them. The emotional and financial toll…. They should be put to some kind of use.

Of course, we don’t have to decide anything right now. Sure, we could save a few bucks, but, honestly, the storage fee isn’t significant. It’s a drop in the bucket compared to what we shelled out for IVF and FET. Not to mention, it’s a small price to pay to ensure that we have the time to make the right decision for us. In theory, we could pay to keep them stored pretty much indefinitely, if we wanted to.

“How NOT to Be an Asshole to an Adoptee: The Rio Olympics Edition”

This blog is almost exclusively about me and my family building journey through infertility and IVF. However, my brilliant and hilarious internet friend Jenny wrote this amazing post about the importance of the language we use when talking about families created through adoption.

Here’s a little preview:

Without further ado, today’s post-coffee lesson on how NOT to be an asshole to an adoptee, and more specifically, why the statements made by Al Twatwig were so wrong.

BECAUSE THOSE ARE HER REAL PARENTS YOU INSUFFERABLE ASSHAT.

Sorry. Rough beginning. Let me start over.

The person, two people, three people, or whatever the hell Timon and Pumba were, that raise you? Those are parents.

That is not a fluffy concept meant to make adoptees feel better, or to be stitched ever-so-lovingly into a decorative pillow.

The people that raise you are your parents.  I am 34 years old, and in my lifetime I have been made painfully aware that this is a difficult concept for a lot of people to grasp. I have been asked, hundreds of times in hundreds of ways, by perfectly well meaning people, questions like:

Read more on Dear Moof. Enjoy!

 

 

Money Can’t Buy Happiness….

…. But it CAN lessen one’s burden, and less stress leaves more room for happiness.

This weekend was weird. My sister got a call from our aunt, the sister of our estranged father who passed away years ago. His father (our grandfather, obviously) passed away a few months ago, and since our father was also deceased, my sisters and I were to be the recipients of my father’s portion of the estate.

Our family is not wealthy, so I wasn’t expecting much. Maybe a couple hundred dollars or so. But, my aunt insisted on giving us our checks in person, rather than sending them through the mail, so we agreed to meet her. Seeing anyone from my father’s side of the family is always stressful. There’s just not a lot of love there, rather lots of resentment, and you can feel it. It was a stressful encounter, but afterwards we shopped then ate sushi, so that made up for it.

Anyway, my sisters and I were shocked when we saw the figures on our checks. It’s not a life-changing windfall, but it’s enough to pay for our FET cycle, plus medications. We had put most of it on a credit card, which we can now pay off in full, with funds to spare for our savings account.

It’s a huge weight off of our shoulders. We were managing just fine, but I was beginning to get really stressed out thinking about my maternity leave and how much of it will likely be unpaid, followed immediately by a doubling of our daycare bill. (In fact, we’ll likely have to start paying for a spot long before we actually need it, just to ensure we will have a spot at all.) Being able to clear out our credit card debt (we still have plenty of other debt, like student loans, car payment, and a mortgage) is a huge relief.

Feeling incredibly grateful.

whoever-said-money-cant-buy-happiness-has-never-had-to-pay-for-ivf--decb8

Seeing Pink, Again!

12 weeks

I really thought we were having a boy this time! But I’ve never been so excited to be wrong.

It feels strange to know this early. I realize some people know even earlier, if they tested the embryos before transfer. We found out early with C, too, but that was around 16 weeks. I’m not even in the second trimester yet. Almost, but not quite. If I believed in jinxes….

More importantly, the Panorama test result was low risk for Down syndrome, Trisomy 18, and Trisomy 13.

I feel like I can breathe a little easier knowing this information. I would feel even better if I could pick up the heart beat on my Doppler at home, but I haven’t had much luck. I heard it once last week, and I’ve tried twice more since then with no luck. I know it’s still early, so I’m not freaking out.

I met with my doula today, just informally. She was excited that I’m planning for a VBAC and thinks I’m a great candidate. (She used to be a labor and delivery nurse, so she knows a few things.) She’s also excited that I want to use Hypnobabies to help manage the pain. She had another client use the same program recently, and said it worked wonderfully. That makes me feel good!

For now, I’m focusing on names, and staying calm and relaxed.

10+ Weeks

Today has been emotionally exhausting. Leading up to my first OB visit this morning, I was actually doing just fine. Slightly anxious, but nothing to write home about. Then I got to the OB’s office. I was the only one in the waiting room for about 2 minutes. After that came the parade of heavily pregnant women. One after another, until there were 8 other very pregnant women in the room with me less than 5 minutes after I arrived. You’d think it wouldn’t bother me much, being pregnant myself. But that’s when the anxiety started to set in.

Once in the exam room, my anxiety just kept increasing. I was annoyed by the nurse’s questions about my history and current medications. (I know they have to do it every time, but when you visit the doctor frequently, it becomes tedious.) She kept saying, “Since you’re only 9 weeks…” and I kept correcting her, “No, I’m 10 weeks 3 days.” She kept saying, “Well, we have to go by the last ultrasound,” to which I replied, “My last ultrasound was only off by a couple days, so I’m still at least 10 weeks.” She insisted, “Well, that doesn’t change the fact that the doctor probably won’t even attempt to listen with the Doppler, since you’re SO early.” I realize she was trying to manage my expectations, but in some ways she just made it worse. (Oh, and the way she kept focusing on my last menstrual period, like she couldn’t get her mind around the fact that I didn’t get a fucking period before I started my FET cycle, because, hello, I’m infertile! Drove me mad.)

After the nurse left the room, and I waited for the OB to come in, I burst into tears. I tried to stay calm, but couldn’t. I kept remembering my first pregnancy, where the doctor couldn’t hear the heart beat at that first prenatal visit, and the ultrasound confirmed a blighted ovum. Even though I saw a healthy, growing baby 10 days ago, I still feared the worst this morning. Thankfully, my OB was very understanding. She tried the Doppler for about a minute, then wheeled in the ultrasound machine. It wasn’t the greatest image, but we saw the baby dancing around and heard the heart beating. That was all I needed!

We discussed VBAC, and she stressed that I was an excellent candidate, since the reason for my Cesarean was breech presentation. She raved about my doula when I told her who I planned to hire. I knew I made the right choice! (I should note here, this OB is different from the one I saw with my last pregnancy. This new OB was actually the on-call doctor who delivered my daughter 2 years ago when I went into labor before my scheduled Cesarean. I don’t dislike my previous OB, I just knew there was probably a better fit with someone else.) She officially took me off all progesterone and estrogen. (YAY!) I will continue the baby aspirin until a few weeks before my due date.

So…. Even though my mind is at ease right now, I still feel blah after all the crying from this morning. You know how it is, the crying hangover: exhausted, emotionally spent, a slight headache. From now on, I need to focus on more self care. I have the Circle+Bloom meditations already, I just need to download them to my phone and make time to listen each day.

9 Weeks

I know I’ve said this before, but all this waiting during the first trimester is pure agony. The last two weeks have felt like an eternity (which is a tired cliche, I know, but I’m tired, and cliches are all I have right now). My last ultrasound was fine, great even. I’ve had no more bleeding, no cramping. The only thing that has given me any real reason to be concerned is morning sickness that comes and goes. When it goes, I worry; and when it comes back, I’m only moderately relieved.

Finally, the day of my 4th ultrasound arrived, at precisely 9 weeks. I was nervous going in, needless to say, and even more nervous when I saw that my technician was the inexperienced one who did my second ultrasound and possibly got the measurements wrong. Again, it took her about 20 minutes to complete the ultrasound, and she had to have her work checked by an experienced technician before she could remove the wand. It was incredibly uncomfortable.

Fortunately, she let me know right away that the heart rate was around 169, and at the end, she let me see the little flickering heart beat on the screen. Later, I learned baby grew by 2 weeks 1 day since the last ultrasound, exactly 2 weeks ago. So, looking good! My RE officially released me to my OB, who I will see next week. I took my last estrace and Crinone yesterday, and plan to stop the PIO after my OB visit. Thank the gods!

I don’t know if it’s my age (almost 39), or the fact that I have a toddler, or the large amount of hormones I’m taking, but this pregnancy is kicking my ass in the exhaustion department. A couple nights ago I was so tired at 7:00 pm that I was actually a little lightheaded. I’m ready for my second trimester burst of energy!

With the bleeding and confusing measurements early on in this pregnancy, I’ve been hesitant to tell a lot of people. At the same time, I’m too tired and lazy to hide my already-visible bump, so it’s been a bit weird around people who haven’t seen me in a while. I can tell they want to say something, but are too polite or scared of being wrong. I think now, though, we will start telling more people, and letting ourselves believe this will actually turn out okay.

Oh, and the people who do know about this pregnancy are already referring to the baby as “he.” I have a boy feeling, too, but I can’t be sure if it’s because I kind of hope to have a boy, or if it’s actual maternal instinct. Time will tell!

7 Weeks & a Due Date

This last week has been the longest, most anxious one I’ve ever had. Even though I’ve had no more bleeding, and I’ve been nauseated almost constantly, I still worried that my baby wasn’t growing. Finally, today arrived, and I had my third scan first thing.

We have a baby! I still don’t have the official dating measurement, but the RE said he saw a week’s growth, and I saw the heartbeat and baby blob during the scan. In fact, even before the tech showed me the screen, I knew it was good news, because she had me hold my breath – which is only necessary to record the heart rate. I could barely hold my breath, because I was already crying tears of happiness.

I was too relieved to remember to ask the RE about the SCH, but it must have resolved, because I didn’t see it on the screen (I looked for it briefly), and I’m pretty sure he would have mentioned it if it were still there. I got my official due date: February 11.

The RE was very happy and very optimistic. He even asked me who my OB would be, and encouraged me to set up my 12 week appointment now. I told him it hasn’t been on my radar, given that I couldn’t be sure I would still be pregnant this week.

My next appointment with the RE isn’t for two weeks, which is another good sign, I suppose, but a long time to wait for another scan.

I can’t even describe how relieved I am! I feel like a new person.