Embryos: To Keep or Not to Keep

I tried to post this yesterday, but it didn’t seem to show up in my feed, so I’m trying again!

Last week, a “Mr. Oliver” from our fertility clinic left me a vague voicemail message while I was at work requesting a call back. I returned his call immediately.

First off, let me just say that this dude’s voice is creepy. Actually, I really want you to hear how creepy his voice is so I just figured out how to export the file.

When I called, that voice answered the phone. “This is Mr. Oliver.” I cheerfully told him who I was and that I was returning his call. “Ahh yes, Molly.”

First off… if you’re not going to use your first name, why the hell are you using mine? Does that strike you as rude? It really rubbed me the wrong way.

Anyway, he launches into a spiel about how he’s calling to collect a total of something like $2,000 that we owe them before we’re sent to collections.

I was confused. We paid up front for everything we did with them. I asked him what it was for, and was told that we haven’t paid our embryo storage fees since 2014. And actually, 2017 is due soon, so he’ll just add that on now as well.

Um… backup. You are trying to collect three years’ worth of storage fees right this second? Huh? I’ve never even seen a bill! Not one single bill!

So, upon further (creepy) investigation, we discover that the clinic has our old address on file. Apparently, they have been sending invoices to our old address, so we never received them, therefor they were never paid.

Wait… that’s THREE YEARS of unpaid invoices. I am quite certain that at some point, someone returned a piece of mail to them. Not to mention that we had our mail forwarded from our old address for MONTHS after we moved, and we didn’t move until I was almost 8 months pregnant, so it’s not like we just finished with the services and took off. Also, they have 4 valid phone numbers and two valid email addresses for us. Heck, the guy called and I returned his call within minutes. We have even exchanged holiday cards with our doctor and she mailed me—to our NEW ADDRESS—a nice note after I sent her our birth announcement. Do not even attempt to tell me that you couldn’t find us for three damn years. That is a load of crap.

I am BEYOND pissed off.

I hung up on him. I shouldn’t have done that, but he caught me totally off guard and I was seeing red… not to mention that this subject is a bit emotional and, well… I just couldn’t. Especially with Mr. Creepy.

Naturally, I called Catch immediately after I got off the phone with the dude. She was angry too, and she said something to the effect of, “I’ll call them and pay the outstanding balance and we’ll just tell them to discard the rest of the embryos.”

Silence.

Guys, we are solidly one and done. I am happy with one child. I did not particularly enjoy pregnancy, my birth experience was kind of scary, recovery sucked, breastfeeding was awful, and postpartum overall was just a barrel of shit. Not to mention that having a second child means walking back into that fertility clinic and going through that all over again and I have less than zero desire to do that.

Even better, I really love having one kid. I love that I don’t have to try to juggle my very limited available hours to stretch between two kids who both need me. I love that someday, when daycare/preschool are done, we’ll have our disposable income back. I love that we’ll be able to afford to enjoy our lives if we only have one kid. I love that we’ll be able to give her opportunities that she wouldn’t have if she had a sibling. I really just love my kid. I feel complete. Any hesitation I have is simply that sometimes, I think she’d love having a sibling. But we can’t have another child for Charlotte. We have to do it for us. And frankly, “us” is really enjoying parenting an only.

So why is it that I can’t just agree that it’s time to let go of our embryos? Why does the thought of that render me totally incapable of speech?

I am going to be honest with you guys, and it’s a bit dark, but I’ve spent the last week tossing this around in my head. Maybe I’m the only person to ever have this thought, but I doubt it.

I’m afraid to discard our embryos because I am terrified of losing Charlotte and not being able to have another child. I hated all of that early stuff, but I love being a mom. I worship that kid. She is the most amazing gift. If anything ever happened to her, I would never recover… but I would still want to have the opportunity to actively mother another child. Especially a child who shares the same genes as my baby girl.

I know that’s all ass backwards and totally wrong, but feelings aren’t exactly logical or politically correct sometimes. Those frozen embryos are like a lifeline to my Charlotte.

Also, those embryos were hard fought. They were literally blood, sweat, tears and so, so much money. They are—quite literally—a part of me. It’s sort of hard for me to just check a box and decide I don’t want them anymore.

So what do we do now?

I realize that I can’t live in fear of losing my daughter. It’s not healthy. I don’t want to think about those embryos and feel like they’re some sort of insurance policy for motherhood. They’re not.

Logically, I know that if Catch and I decide later that we would like another child, we have options. We can foster. We can adopt. We will figure it out.

I think we’ve agreed to pay for one more year of storage. Just in case. Will we change our minds about having a second child? Doubtful. I guess I’d just rather regret wasting money on storage fees than regret not having those embryos.

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15 thoughts on “Embryos: To Keep or Not to Keep

  1. Ugh…we went through the same thing. Not the financial part but the what to do with the embryos part. We had 5 “good” ones (all of them had a 75% chance of ending in a pregnancy) but my husband was totally and completely done. I considered another but man, at 44…I don’t know if I have the energy!

    So we donated them. I thought long and hard about how bad we wanted a baby and how heartbreaking it must be have 2 reproductively challenged partners. And how difficult adoption can be. And how amazing our kids are. It just made sense to me. There are so many factors to consider and I recognize that not it’s not the right option for everyone. But just thought I’d through it out there.

    And…so creepy.

    • We have 5 on ice, too. I would LOVE to donate them, but our embryos aren’t eligible for donation due to some health history I have. When we signed all of our IVF paperwork, we agreed that in the event we decide to part with them, they’ll be donated for scientific research. I feel pretty good about that. I just have to get to the point where I feel good about letting them go.

  2. I completely understand that dark, convoluted thinking. I’ve actually had the thought in the past that one of the reasons I want 2+ kids is in case I ever lost one. I know how morbid that sounds, and I know it would completely and utterly devastate me. But I get your line of thinking. It would be super hard for me to just “toss” something we worked SO hard for.

  3. About a year ago someone contact me with sperm from our donor. (Because I have on the bank’s forum that I am searching for it.) We seriously considered buying it and storing it. We are not having another child. Like not at all. I think that when you have a baby that you can’t just “remake” it gets tough. I feel you, you are not nuts, and that guy’s voice is creepy.

  4. I think storing them for another year makes a tonne of sense because it’s one of those decisions that you cannot undo if you change your mind. I also think all of your fears are perfectly normal for every parent and as Pot and Lid said above, its not like having another kid in the future will be easy, so holding on to the embryos a little longer just makes sense to me.

  5. All of your feels on this resonate with me. We’re really on the fence about more (for a lot of the reasons you listed) and will be absolutely fine and happy stopping with our two girls (I think), but if I found out tomorrow that my best shot at having another child was going away if I didn’t act, I’d be totally unprepared.

    I’m so sorry they blindsided you. That was really, really awful.

  6. RE offices are the worst. I’m not going to end up with any embryos left over, but if I did, I’d have a really hard time making the call to not store them anymore.

  7. I know I should have something better to say or to offer here, but i’m just going to remark that that guy’s voice is like ONE TICK away from the infamous Weepy Voiced Killer… and that is fucking creepy, especially since he was essentially a bill collection call. Damn.

  8. Shit, I know these feels.

    That is legit one of the items in my “pro” column for having a 2nd, is if anything were to ever happen to Wolfie. If I were to suddenly just not be a mom anymore, I don’t even know how I would go on living.

    I only have 2 frozen embryos, but I would have a really hard time discarding them even if we don’t decide on a 2nd. I am not anywhere near the “embryos are people” camp, but it just doesn’t feel right. Maybe because we worked so hard to get them. I will do whatever I can to try and donate them before having them discarded.

  9. One of our reasons for trying for no 2 is kind of similar – if something happened to my partner and I, we wouldn’t want DD to be alone in the world. And sometimes I think we should try for 3 in case something happened to one of the siblings…
    But after 5 transfers and only 1 child, if we are lucky enough to have another pregnancy, I think that will be it. Time and finances are not in our favour

  10. Whoa. That’s not a roller coaster of emotion; that’s a damn spook house. From creepy voice mail to infuriating financial bullshit to emotional decision-making? And on top of everything you had in your last post? Just…whoa.

    For the record, I think you made the right decision. Money is precious, but regret is haunting. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t struggled with the thought process around unused frozen embryos.

  11. Thanks for sharing your story. I think it’s great that you decided to hold off on the decision for a year. Will give you time to be at peace with whatever route you go. That’s the most important thing!

  12. Not really the same as an embryo, but right before we had our final insemination with Watson, we gave up. I was done. She was done. We didn’t want to ride the rollercoaster anymore and I actually called and asked them to destroy the last vial of sperm we had.

    I made that phone call.

    I made it with regret and anger and frustration and sadness and exhaustion.

    The only reason they DIDN’T destroy the sperm is because they needed a signed and notarized form and I wasn’t about to pay for that song and dance, so I said I’d just pick up the sperm myself and dispose of it, and then return the tank.

    Literally with the tank in hand, she had a surge, so we just did it one final time because I had the sperm and because we PAID for it and whatever.

    And, of course, as you know, that baby is six months old now.

    So I think it’s a good idea you are waiting until you are properly ready to make a decision either way, and then feel GOOD about that decision, because I know when I made that phone call, it was for the wrong reasons. And I’m thankful the universe intervened. 🙂

    The other stuff? Creepy as shit. :/

  13. We have 4 embyros left. We have 5 children. We also refuse to destroy them and are paying $2500 a year for storage. It’s dumb, and chris is all “let them go” and I’m all, “NOPE!” because like you, fear. Because like you, even though I likely will never be pregnant again, there is something so final about “getting rid of them”, even though we can intellectualize that no matter what happens NOW, those embroys won’t change anything. Still can’t do it, so don’t feel crazy. This parenthood thing is a giant bag of “wtf am I doing/wtf is happening/wtf wtf wtf!” so, we’ll probably hang on to them for a while, since my insurance is basically covering storage fees as well. Soon as that $50k is tapped out (-$22,750 for IVF cycle) we’ll get rid of them. So, I think 10 years from now, we’ll be certain….well….maybe….probably not….I won’t be….

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