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.
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.