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Our Story – Frozen in Hope – Embryo Donation after IVF

Our Story – Frozen in Hope – Embryo Donation after IVF

Frozen In Hope

When we were trying to fall pregnant with our first child, all manner of fears swept through me:

  • What if we can’t get pregnant?
  • What will we do then?
  • Would we need someone else’s genetic material to help us?
  • And how would that impact on this ideal family we had dreamt of having?
  • How would it feel to have unrelated children?
  • Would it make any difference? Of course not.

We struggled on with our own eggs and sperm, and we got so lucky. Our second round of harvested eggs gave us three great embryos.

So we begged the doctors to let us have two of them put back in me. We had to sign all sorts of multiple-birth waivers, but they agreed.

And hooley dooley, we got twins!

They were large as life on the screen at our seven-week scan, reminding me of tiny seahorses with their hearts blipping on the screen in green against the black background.

I wish I’d remembered my phone so I could record it because by the 11-week scan there was just one.

It was a bittersweet day for us. I honestly had to grieve the one we had just lost. I felt it was necessary given that I hadn’t dealt well with our last miscarriage, and so that I could fully appreciate the gift of the remaining baby.

We hadn’t found out the sex on purpose, as everything else had been so damned medical and planned that we (actually I) wanted a bit of suspense and romance about this one aspect. Because actually would it really matter whether we had a boy or a girl? We were having a baby! It could have been a puppy for all I cared at that point.

He was born in November of 2012. And we called him Luke – partly because it was the only boys’ name we had agreed on the entire pregnancy, but also because we felt so lucky to be out the other side finally holding our baby.

His infancy was wonderful. And as he grew we got those pangs of wondering whether we’d put ourselves through it all again to complete our family with a sibling.

Of course we would, but we were super lucky that when Luke was weaning we fell pregnant – All. On. Our. Own.

We were amazed. And if I’m honest for a moment, I was a bit miffed that my body had known how to fall pregnant all along, but hadn’t earlier.

Like hey? What about before?

But we were also so pleased to not need to go through all the needles, the prodding, and having the doctors all up in my business again. I can’t even tell you how relieved and grateful I was that this time was going to be different!

The week before Christmas 2014, we welcomed our second miracle, this time to our surprise again, a girl we named Keira.

This birth had been hard on me physically, requiring significant surgical repair that I was advised would not withstand another delivery.

Our fertility struggle chapter was complete

Then we received a letter from our fertility clinic, asking us to decide whether to continue storing the embryo we had in their freezer.

And it occurred to us that we were complete, the two of us and our two kids.
But while our family was complete, we knew there were many more others out there who weren’t.

And we couldn’t just let our embryo defrost. We’d been through too much to make it possible.

We have seen how much egg donation has meant to some close family friends who had their own long and winding fertility journey. So for us it was a no-brainer what to do with our extra embryo.

Our two healthy, happy kids were so amazing to us, and the thought that maybe someone else could have that same happiness if only they had some help was all we needed to choose to donate our last embryo to help others.

We met with a clinic that specialised in donations and had the prerequisite meetings to ensure we were really set on the idea of handing over our genetic material to another family.

During those discussions, we learned a lot about what it means to be a legal family, and that any resulting child would not be technically related to us, and we would have no rights to meet with them or obligations under the law to them either.

But we did provide details to the clinic about us and the kind of people we are so that if one day the resulting child wanted to learn more about their genetic history or reach out to meet us one day, then they could.

We also chose to not put restrictions on who could receive our embryo, leaving it up to the clinic.

Because love is love.

They could be single, a hetero couple, gay couple or any other permutation of family.

We trusted that the clinic would make it available to someone in real need, who would be sure that trying to make this baby would be the right thing for both them and the child.

What the future holds

We will probably never know who received our cluster of cells. It’s probably better that we don’t. But I sincerely hope that it worked out for them.

So far, we have chosen to not call the clinic and see if anything came of our donation.

I like to believe that we did a good and noble thing, and the result is something separate. It’s a bit like Schrödinger’s cat experiment – there either is or isn’t another child out there made with our recipe, but once I ask the question of the clinic I can’t un-know the result.

And if it didn’t work out, what then? Guilt for putting someone through another loss?

It may be a romantic notion, but I choose to believe it worked out because I would hate to think that it didn’t, having known what it’s like to have lost babies too.

For now, I’ve put the clinic’s number in my phone, and one day I might call.

But not today.

I want to hope just a little longer.

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This story is part of Sheila Lamb’s book This is IVF and other fertility treatments. It’s available now in paperback and ebook through amazon here: http://mybook.to/ThisIsIVF

I was honoured to be asked by Sheila to write about my experience of going through fertility treatment – the raw, honest truth. I’m joined in this book by many other amazing IVF warriors, and we share our fears, anxieties, pain and hopes, as well as advice and information you won’t find anywhere else.

We write about:

– the loss of failed cycles

– the grief when embryos don’t develop

– juggling cycles when you’re working

– the financial costs

– deciding what to do with frozen embryos

– secondary infertility and IVF

– affirmations, yoga and

– taking care of your mental health.

Although our stories are all different, no matter where you are in your fertility treatment, there’ll be one, if not many warriors that you’ll relate to. We’re all here to support you emotionally and to let you know that you are not alone. We see you. We hear you.  

If you’re in need of someone in your corner, who’s been through what you’re experiencing and not only survived the process but thrived, then please consider me keen to be on your team.
I can’t wait to help you take back control of your fertility struggle from living life on hold while you try to conceive, so you can live in the now feeling calmer and more confident to continue, no matter the outcome.
Let’s have a chat and see if we click, check out my availability here to choose a time that suits you really soon.  https://sandifriedlos.as.me/coffeechat
Trying Times – Diary of an IVF patient: Receiving news from the fertility clinic

Trying Times – Diary of an IVF patient: Receiving news from the fertility clinic

The good, the bad and the ugly: Receiving news from the fertility clinic

March 25, 2011: 

“I’m at work. I stand in a hallway, away from my desk for privacy, processing the sincere apology from the nurse on the phone that no, I’m not pregnant this time either.

I am calm, circumspect and almost OK with it, but then I crumble realising I have yet to call my husband and break the news. 

That’s the tough bit.

I’m ok with failing if it’s just me that stands to be disappointed. 

But Dave so badly wants to be a father. And he’d be such a great dad.

The frustration I feel at this wasted chance is so futile. It must be so hard for him to be standing on the sidelines waiting for things he can’t influence to happen.

Fighting back tears, I grab my sunnies and wallet and head for the door to go for a drive to clear my head, only to realise I won’t get far without the keys. Sniffling and avoiding eye contact I return to my desk and dig through my handbag until I find them. 

I announce to my nearest colleague that I’m going out for a bit. She is aware something is wrong, but in too harsh a tone I bark, “Everything’s great” as I march out the door to my car.

Inside the car, it’s hot and the air-conditioner struggles to soothe me. I wipe away tears and sniffle some more before gripping the wheel. I back the car out and leave the car park, not really sure of my destination. I drive for a bit and eventually I pull over on a stretch of uninhabited road in the industrial park near the office and kill the engine. After a few deep breaths so I can calm down, I ring Dave.

It’s not fair to give this kind of news over the phone, but he had sent me a text message earlier in the day asking me to call when I knew the result of that morning’s blood test. 

So then, alone in the car with no witnesses to see me sob, I call his mobile expecting him to answer and walk out of the room for a private conversation. It doesn’t ring but goes straight to voicemail. I’m not going to leave a message I think to myself, and dial his office line instead.

He answers quietly. I guess he’s been expecting this private call for a few hours now.”

By this point in my fertility struggle, I’d learned a lot about being frustrated with our lack of progress. 

I’d learned that positive thinking is great and all, but hoping wasn’t helping us get there. 

More importantly though, hoping isn’t the same thing as coping. Being upbeat and perky despite the dashing disappointment is exhausting and a damned near impossible task to pull off. 

After this experience with life altering news sideswiping my day, I set a boundary around my emotional energy for things like results phone calls. 

I asked the clinic to let me know when the results of future testing were likely to be available so that I could call them instead. Handling the calls this way around allowed me to create some mental space to focus better on what I had to do at work instead of being distracted and operating in a holding pattern waiting for the call. 

So,on the days we were expecting to know something (like after blood tests, or on development days for embryo fertilisation) the clinic staff were to give me a time after which I could call them, if I could create some privacy for the outcome.

Adjusting things like that to suit the way I knew my mind worked helped me take back some control. Because no one likes living in a constant state of “what if?” or panic. And when we finally did get our positive news I was able to go straight home to hubby to celebrate!

If you want to feel calmer, more confident, and have more control over your quest to add to our family, then please get in touch for a chat with me about how easily that can be possible for you.

Am I the right person to help you while you add to your family? Make a time to video chat on zoom with a BYO beverage here.

Ready to start working together? Awesome, let’s get started here 

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