What About My Frozen Embryos

by Ellie Thompson

Have you ever stopped to think about what you might do if you had frozen kids? Kids on ice?

You might think they’re just a bunch of cells, but when you’re at the start of an IVF journey a bunch of cells is exactly the result you’re after.

A bunch of cells, an embryo or an “expanded blastocyst” to be precise, is a life, and not just any life, one you’re counting on to develop and grow so you can have children and be a family.

It’s the reason for all of the syringes, the drugs, the suppositories, the scans, the blood tests - and the operation…

But where do you stand and what do you do when you have embryos left in the freezer?

There could be a million reasons why moving forward with a frozen cycle isn’t feasible, and it’s completely understandable why couples choose to donate them to research, or to let them perish. I totally get it.

But I feel like I have four kids instead of two.

I have two fully formed, larger than life, beautiful kids. The first is three years old and the second is almost 18 months old. Shouldn’t that be enough?

No, because then there are my two, day six, 4BB- embryos. Frozen. Waiting. Locked in time. How surreal is that?

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Number one was a result of our first successful cycle in 2016, resulting in the birth of our daughter, in June 2017. Number two was from our second successful cycle in 2018, resulting in the birth of our son, in April 2019.

Just lately it’s been playing on my mind a lot. I’ve started to think about them as two children I wonder if I’ll ever have the privilege of meeting. The privilege of raising. Will I ever get to know them?

The honest truth is I’m 39 years old and I still don’t feel as though I’ve finished having kids. I think Jamie would be happy with two, but I know he too can’t bear the thought of our embryos dying, or being used for research.

Every year we get the tick box form.

a). Continue embryo(s) storage

b). Allow embryo(s) to perish

c). Donate embryo(s) to research

My heart stops at b).

We talked about donating them to another couple after Billy was born, during one of those ‘what if’ conversations. I’m not even sure it’s something our clinic would offer, but could we do it? I couldn’t. Not right now. Not ever. Not when I want them for myself. It would be like giving Billy and Maddie away to strangers. Those embryos are genetic siblings – pretty much twins for both kids – having been created at exactly the same time.

I called the clinic today to pay our annual invoice of £330 to keep them on ice for another year. I also spoke to a nurse there about the costs of a frozen cycle, how it would work – would they put two back? How much would it cost? What are our chances?

It’s approximately £1.5k for a frozen cycle. All the hard work is done. My two day 6 embryos have an 80% chance of thawing. If they don’t thaw to plan there’s then the chance they’d transfer them both. My age might also play a part in that too, but then again, the fact that we’ve been through two successful cycles with one embryo in play each time, it would probably mean one transfer would be our limit. And then there’s my Caesarean scar. Will that present a problem?

“You’ll have to buy a bigger car - so much changes when you go from 2 to 3!” my mum said. But that doesn’t faze me.

She also said “I feel as though I should be warning you against this, both of your pregnancies were so hard, but I understand where you are coming from. After two children, I felt the same. I wasn’t finished.”

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While my parents had no trouble conceiving naturally, our situation seems more serious. We’ve already created these children. At some point, it will be a matter of life or death.

If we had nothing in the freezer, would I want to try for a third?

Even if we could have afforded to fund a third private cycle (we can’t afford to), I’m not sure I could put myself through it all again at 39. I think mentally, I could have moved on with my life, content with my two beautiful kids.

I can’t move on right now.

Is it crazy that I feel that we owe it to ourselves, and to those embryos to at least try?

They came so far for us when we had nothing.

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Written by

Ellie Thompson

Blogger
I’m an anxious but sometimes positive 38-year old mama to two children, a hectic two-year-old named Madison, and our new addition, William (he’d better be chilled – the jury’s still out), born in April. We live in Surrey with my Tesco bargain wine-in-a-box loving husband (lasts six weeks once open – the wine that is!) and our beloved black cat Delilah. I am editor of popular UK parenting and lifestyle website My Baba, and author of The Jellie Diaries, a vlog that detailed our journey to family life via IVF. Shout out to all our loyal followers! :) I run fertility, pregnancy and parenting support groups from our Facebook page and continue to write daily diary entries about our lives as a family, shared primarily through Instagram and Facebook. A lifetime over-sharer, I’m here to blog our experiences from the point of view of a relatively normal (!) family… Enjoy!

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