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One

04/11/2013

Belle

embryos 10-10-12

One of these became the baby currently inside of me. One did not make it.

I got a bill yesterday for a $100 storage fee for our last embryo.

When we started the IVF roller-coaster we were so hopeful for enough embryos to make freeze that we could have two children. When 27 eggs were retrieved we were CERTAIN of this fate. And then only 6 made it to blastocyst.

My first FET (frozen embryo transfer) was with one embryo and resulted in a pregnancy. JOY! There is hope for two children!

Three weeks after the first positive pee stick I was wheeled back to have the “products of conception” stripped from my uterus.

And then there were five.

In September we thawed two more embryos. Only one was thriving so we did another single transfer. Negative.

In October we thawed two more. Desperate for a child, we transferred both on Oct. 10, my 32 birthday.

One of these guys took and today I’m so thankful to say I’m 28 weeks pregnant. I never thought I’d get this far.

But what to do with the remaining embryo? Of the five that were thawed, only one resulted in what we can tell is a viable pregnancy. That is not boding well for the remaining embryo. Also, it seems tremendously foolish to undergo an FET with only one maybe-baby in the bank. What if it does not survive thaw? Then you are just out the money and go home with an empty uterus.

I’ve considered saving this embryo just in case. Maybe in a few years I’ll feel emotionally ready to take a gamble with one? Maybe, but didn’t we agree over the holidays that we were done? Am I not ready to reclaim my body and my mind? Fertility drugs were HARD on me. “I’ve paid my dues and will be happy with one child,” I say with resolve.

That one remaining clump of cells might have the chance to give Chicken the same bond I have with my brother, Hermano.

There is also the financial aspect of storing one embryo. Currently, storage costs $100 every three months, which is $400 a year. I won’t be ready to even consider another pregnancy for at least a year, probably two. That’s $400 to $800, which is pocket change to many, but when you are moving to one of the most expensive cities in the country, living off of one income and adding a third family member, well, $400 to $800 becomes a whole hell of a lot. Add in the cost of transferring the embryo to another clinic, and then undergoing a final FET and the expense is just too much for us.

I’m not a religious person. I don’t believe that “life begins at conception.” I don’t believe that the six day old clump of cells suspended in liquid nitrogen is a real person. I do believe that that cell clump was fiercely wanted and fought for. I do believe that I love that embryo, as I love the baby kicking inside me, and as I love the first baby who had just started to put down roots back in May 2012.

So how do you make the call? How do you pull the plug?

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33 Comments

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  1. April 11, 2013

    I can’t imagine how hard it is! Have you thought about donating your adorable cell clump? I know that would be a huge decision as well… Either way I hope it turns out how you want it to!

  2. April 11, 2013

    It’s an interesting situation to love the potential being in that clump. When I thought my infertility could possibly be explained by a short luteal phase I spent some time mourning all of the *maybe* fertilized eggs that didn’t get a chance. I couldn’t even be certain if there were any!

    Yours is a difficult and very personal decision, for sure.

  3. Amy #
    April 11, 2013

    I am behind and catching up – so sorry for the terrifying telecon, first, and I am glad that you got some reassurance from Dr. Shannon, though I absolutely see how you are still nervous, to say the least. I fervently hope everything goes perfectly normally for you and that no future checkups or ultrasounds give you any further reason to worry. As for your remaining embryo, I know you will again honor your gut, as you said. I have not actually done IVF, so far be it from me to say what I would do in your situation, but hypothetically…I don’t think I could let it go at this stage. I’d be more likely, I think, to keep paying the storage fee until I felt more strongly one way or the other, thinking that I wouldn’t want to look back and regret having donated it (or whatever). I would easily be able to justify that $400-800 a year for my own version of hope (hoping for more hope?). Hugs to you Belle…you are doing awesome, even when it doesn’t feel like it, you really are!

  4. Shelley #
    April 11, 2013

    Such a tough call and one we’ll have to face someday too. I agree that embryos are not people. I like to think of them as “people seeds.” I wouldn’t go stomping on a garden of beautiful flowers, but I might throw away some seeds if I knew I wouldn’t be able to care for the flowers should the seeds manage to take root and grow. That said, the person that that seed MIGHT grow? Is your child and Chicken’s sibling.

    Yeah, I have no good advice because I’m still so torn on this matter. My strategy is deny, deny, deny until I’m forced to make a decision. Doesn’t help you much in this situation though, I’m sorry. :-/ Like Amy said, maybe if you’re torn right now it’s better to pay the fee and wait to see how you feel after Chicken is born. It’s possible you might seriously regret letting his or her sibling embryo go once he/she has arrived.

    • April 11, 2013

      “People seeds” is a perfect description of embryos! This may help me make our decision later when we need to decide what to do. Like you – I deny the possibilities and keep paying the bills. That’s easier than deciding the fate of my “people seeds.” 🙂

  5. Arbrefleur #
    April 11, 2013

    Totally your call on this tough decision, but just wanted to chime in and say we are in similar boat. Though less far along than you, we only have a few C- level frosties left and our odds are not good for them to make siblings. Can’t afford an IVF Do-Over that’s for sure. As of now, we are paying the awful storage fees and just waiting at least until this one (hopefully, please!) comes into the world healthily before making a decision about our “people seeds” (I like that new phrase! 🙂 )

  6. 35life #
    April 11, 2013

    That is such a tough call and I think there will always be what-ifs no matter which way you decide. I know money is an issue, but give yourself a little time to decide. You certainly have a lot on your plate right now to make decisions on. My sister went back about five years later for her last two. One didn’t make the thaw and the other didn’t take. While it was sad, it really made her realize what a blessing her twins are that she currently has from the first round of IVF. I guess it put things into perspective for her. On the flip side, a former coworker of mine was unsuccessful with IVF until they tried their very last frozen embryo, it was not the best quality, but it worked! They named her “Hope”. So this is tough. It will ultimately be a decision you’ll have to make, so I’m not sure what advice I can offer, but wish you luck.

  7. April 11, 2013

    You could always donate the embryo if you don’t want to consider storing it.

  8. melanie meyer #
    April 11, 2013

    I saw your little chicken and felt the pain of having the pictures of my 4 embrios that did not make it. I have 3 left in the freezer, and after having my second and last transfer fail, I also have doubts that they would ever make it through the thawing process.
    My husband feels different and I think that’s where it complicates things. It is a personnal family decision. I do not know how I will feel in a year, but I know I am leaving mine in a time out… hence my head and body needs a break and I really don’t know if they will want me or not.
    I understand that you love that clump of cells. you have work so hard mentally and physically for it. It’s part you and part your husband. I think of all the eggs that I have lost in the last 3 years and feel a pain in my heart. Those little eggs were my hope to carry another child. They are now gone and the pain is always with me. Possibly the fear of regret is making me keep them in the cold. I have a little miracle at home, now almost four, she is making me laugh everyday and I think that if the frozen chickens were to stick, I would have another miracle to look at and smile.
    If it was not to happen and to lose them, I would probably be devastated and angry, but in the long run, happy to have done it all.
    I know money is short in your move, but money is money and you guys have managed to budget like I have never seen even my mom do it, and you will managed this expense as well.
    It comes down to a choice. A choice to make that you and your proffessor and not look back.
    I once saw a psychologist that said to me not to regret any decision I made in the past because I made those decisions with the knowledge and experience I had at the time. After a while, you might think and feel like you would have gone a different direction, but that’s the person that you have become that would make a different decision. The person that you are now is not to blame.
    I try to apply this when I make hard decisions. Really not easy but it has helped me.
    I am glad you speak up on these issues, I made me think of my own and I do not feel alone about it now.
    Melanie

  9. April 11, 2013

    Ugh. I have no idea. We have 12 on ice. And some not great quality. I am not dying to spend 3.5k per transfer for embryos that won’t stick….but can I really pour then down the drain? No idea.

  10. April 11, 2013

    This is such a hard decision. One that takes time and lots of discussion to sort out. What I’m wondering is if there’s a less expensive option for storage. I know that we were suppose to move our embryos to a long-term storage facility that offered less expensive rates ($200 per year). Granted, it’s not cheap, but it would give you some more time.

    Remember, changing one’s mind about pursuing treatment is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s a personal choice. But it is a decision that obviously needs to be weighed against what’s best for everyone involved and only you and the Professor can decide what’s best for your family. So, don’t ever feel quilts. Too often, people feel pressure to continue on one road after making a decision by others who have no stake in the journey, let alone the outcome. Only you two can decide what’s best.

    • jak #
      April 11, 2013

      holy crap this is insightful!!: “Too often, people feel pressure to continue on one road after making a decision …”

  11. jak #
    April 11, 2013

    hmmmmm.

    1. if there wasnt a move to a new facility, i’d say leave it stored for now. you might not have the same feelings about chicken 2.0 right now that you will after chicken is born.

    2. IVF drugs were really hard on you, you said. so, if this one freezy tot works, and you really want chick 2.0, then that will save you a big headache and lots of drama. is it a 5 or so day blast? if so, the chances of it sticking are actually quite good. even if there’s just the one.

    3. if you can stand another round of IVF drugs (i could make myself do it, but the choice is yours not mine), then go ahead and let this embryo go. your insurance is likely to change and NY laws about covering IVF may be different than Kentucky laws, making it easier to go another round. perhaps look into this first? besides emotional investment of the drama of IVF and hope of a second child, the current freezy tot is also a monetary investment considering that your IVF coverage was not exactly fabulous.

    these are really the points i would consider when trying to honestly put myself in your shoes and not my own. if i had a freezy tot that was a 5 day blast, i’d never let it go. maybe even not until i’m 50. we had nothing to freeze. ever. i went through 3 rounds of IVF, one cancelled just before ER because of barely any eggs, the other two returning only 9 and 11 mature eggs, 4 and 6 of which fertilized with ICSI which we didnt know going in that we’d need. then out of all of that, only 1 – the bony, wiggly, somersaulting, lung-punching monster that’s in me now, ever made it to blast. if i had a blast in the freezer, i would keep it there. but my journey has been different, and i’d be lying if i said that that wouldnt influence my choice. you gotta do what’s right for you though:)

    • April 11, 2013

      I feel the same way as you, Jak. We have 5 in the freezer and we THINK we’ll try for baby #3 in two years, but if that works and we have embryos still left over, knowing we have no interest in having 4 children (but who knows.. that could change), we’ve already agreed to keeping them frozen indefinitely. I don’t know why this is, but neither of us can part with them. We think about donating them, but we just won’t know until we’re there. It’s strange to me – how attached we (my husband and I) feel to those embryos. We just got the bill the other day for a year of storage, and my husband said, “please pay this right away!” As if they’ll thaw and die if I don’t get the bill paid immediately. HA!

      • jak #
        April 12, 2013

        hehehehehe, “please pay this right away!”. 🙂

  12. April 11, 2013

    I have the opposite problem — we have 11 day five blasts frozen. Our last transfer we used two and only one stuck (I’m 11 weeks now). We have no intention of having 11 more children. Maybe three, total. I have an 18 year old cousin who just found out she might lose her ovaries due to large (volleyball-sized!) cysts that keep coming back and she might have endometriosis to boot. So right now my plan is to use what we want and store the rest for her if she needs them down the road.

  13. April 11, 2013

    I know that you are tight on money with your move to NYC, but I think that you need to think about whether you will regret donating/destroying the embryo in the future. Maybe once Chicken is here you will get an urge to have a second child. Instead of spending thousands upon thousands of dollars to do another IVF…..or not being able to do IVF at all because of the costs….you have another chance. Spending less than $500/yr for a chance to have another child….even if you decide in two years that you only want Chicken….well, I think that it is totally worth the money. I just wouldn’t want to regret it later on. FYI, $400 in storage fees for the year is really cheap! I just got the bill for our 1 frostie and it’s $870/year!!

    Good luck making your decision.

    • April 11, 2013

      This is all very helpful for me, because I just got a bill for $600 for our 5 remaining embryos and I was like, “what, what, what?” It used to be $400 – but $600 is sounding alright for 5 right about now. Thank you for unknowingly making me feel better about this. 🙂

      • Lisa #
        April 11, 2013

        Our clinic charges $700/year in L.A.

  14. April 11, 2013

    Belle, I will be very frank with you right now. You DON’T make the call right now. You pay the bill and move on until you are no longer A) emotional from pregnancy, B) financially stressed, and C) uncertain of your future. You are the first to say that you are still nervous about getting the chicken home, safe and sound, so I would not go and make this decision until Chicken is safe at home (which he wil be!). This decision can’t, and shouldn’t, be made right now. I know it sucks to keep spending the money, but spending the money is better than regretting the decision later.

    Just my thoughts… but I feel very strongly about this. Not for any religious reasons, but because I don’t want you to regret it later. You will NEVER regret delaying the decision a few months 🙂

    • MaLa #
      April 11, 2013

      I agree with this comment 1000%.

  15. Denise #
    April 11, 2013

    It’s really really hard. I think in the end, you will make the right decision, but you can buy yourself some time by storing it a bit longer. Don’t think of it as wasting money, think of it as payment to prevent mental and emotional disturbances at a time you really can’t take any more. Give it some time and revisit it. After dealing with a baby for a while you might see the true joys and, yes, burdens of children which may not make the choice easier but may make you more SURE of your choice. It was a struggle for me. We’re currently paying nearly $15,000 a year for child care so my husband and I can both work full time. And much of that money goes to our mortgage and childcare! Having a 2nd would put us under (and yet neither one of us could support the family to leave one at home to avoid child-care costs.) It took me some time to realize that our sanity could not survive another child, and we wouldn’t be able to provide a good home in such a stressed situation. I’m still coming to peace with that, and it gets easier every day. But I’m glad I didn’t rush myself early on so I can OWN my decision.

  16. April 11, 2013

    OK, I know everyone is saying this is your decision to make and all, but GAHH!! Don’t pull the plug! Give that embaby a chance! At least that’s my vote. The storage fees and cost for one FET isn’t even remotely close to another fresh cycle, so you may as well toss it in there and see what happens, and then know that you gave it a shot rather than tossing it and forever wondering. I don’t know… for peace of mind, I would pay the money. But that’s me. And it’s really up to you (BUT LISTEN TO ME!). 🙂

  17. Lisa #
    April 11, 2013

    We just did our first IVF (a freeze all cycle) two weeks ago so these ideas are still fresh in my mind since our clinic required us to make advance determinations about our embryos. Such a hard decision. I would go with your gut either way, if you decide to continue to freeze the embryo, you will find the money. We also live in an expensive city on a budget and I really really hesitated to do IVF at all for that reason, but sometimes you just have to trust that it will work out if it’s something you want to try for. And if you decide to not pursue it, that’s okay too. Do whatever is best for your family.

  18. SM #
    April 11, 2013

    If it were me, I would have to use it. Not right after baby #1 but eventually. I would need to see the definite end of the road to feel right about only having one. But that’s me. I would definitely urge you to keep them on ice until you’re ready to work through all the emotions. Wait until the Chicken is born and you’ve moved and you’re stable. You’ll be able to make a better decision then I think.

  19. April 11, 2013

    I agree that you might change your mind down the road. During the end of pregnancy and right after childbirth i was CERTAIN I was waiting until the twins were potty trained before trying for another. But I’m already thinking about it. And we were certain 4 was our child limit, but now that we have seen what potential those embryos hold….its world shattering. Its made us reconsider our ideal family size.

    We have 4 frozen still. I always wanted kids close in age and even though it seems incredibly daunting considering how much work it would be – avoiding storage dues is just one of many reasons to do it sooner than later.

  20. April 12, 2013

    I’m repeating a lot of what has already been said, but the answer if very simple: You don’t pull the plug right now!!! You’re looking at between $40-60/month right now to store your one and only maybe baby–Chicken’s little bro or little sis. I don’t know if you ever buy Starbucks, but that’s 2-3 less decaf soy lattes per week to preserve the chance of having Chicken’s sibling there for a little while longer, until you are under a bit less stress. Not sure what the toast equivalent is $$ wise, but you see my point! A few less coffees and a few less pieces of toast, and you have the $40/month. When you break it down into smaller chunks, it’s not a huge chunk of money, and I believe it’s worth a small sacrifice. That money is not being thrown away–there is a value to keeping it, ESPECIALLY given all of the other stressors in your life right now. Emotional depletion (like stress or regret) is often more costly than financial depletion…and we want to keep that emotional bank account of yours chock full of Belle goodness for Chicken! My belief is that you shouldn’t add another major decision to the long list of things you’ll be dealing with in the next 3-4 months. And given that the first year of motherhood can also take a toll on stress levels, I don’t think you should begin to think about pulling the plug until after Chicken hits his/her first birthday.

  21. el #
    April 12, 2013

    This is such a hard and personal decision. For the moment we also have one embryo in the freezer and I also don’t really know what to do with it. After 3 IVF treatments, a lot of disappointment and 1 ectopic, I am now 34 weeks pregnant of our little miracle. I too don’t know if I can handle another treatment or even pregnancy (lots of bloodloss, complications and fear). On the other hand I sometime dream about a sibling for the little miracle in my belly. So I can’t really advise you what to do. On the other hand maybe this isn’t the decision to make right now, you have so much on your plate for the moment. Wait another 6 months, after the chicken is born and you guys settled down and make the balance at that time? I wish you a lot of luck and I am sure you will make the right decision for you.

  22. eli #
    April 12, 2013

    These are exactly the kinds of questions I’m grappling with as I consider the possibility of moving on from IUI to IVF…and are pretty much the reason I haven’t been able to make the leap yet. There’s a lot to consider, and they are just weird questions. I’d probably try to hang on to the embryo, but I think it’s gotta be whatever your gut tells you. I do know someone who has a child who was an adopted embryo…that’s a thing. Although that would be a whole other weird set of questions. Congratulations, by the way!

  23. April 13, 2013

    I am a little late in commenting here but I wanted to tell you that we have the same thing – ONE in storage. We had to pay $1,000 up front for them to freeze any, and it turned out to only be one, and we’ll be paying the monthly whatever amount it is soon. I think we’d like another child, and I’m pretty sure it’s not going to happen naturally. But to pay the money every month for the next..what, 2-3 years? Then to maybe use it, for it to maybe thaw properly, and maybe work? I really don’t know. But I don’t want to start from scratch, either. I’m no help, because I really don’t know myself.

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