real life

Dilemma: What would you do with your frozen embryos?

It’s a question I never expected to have to answer.

I read an article recently about couples who needed to decide what to do with their remaining embryos after IVF. It’s a subject I’m personally interested in as I have three frozen embryos in a fertility clinic.

The article outlined some options available, but I found myself agreeing with all of them.

In March 2013, after five arduous years of IVF, I gave birth to my gorgeous twin boys. Even today, two years later, I look at them and think I’m the luckiest Mummy ever.

Even today, two years later, I look at them and think I’m the luckiest Mummy ever.

When you start IVF, if you're fortunate enough to have a lot of eggs, the clinic will fertilize them all, keep one or two out to transfer and freeze the remainder. This way, if the round isn’t successful, there are embryos ready for your next cycle and you don’t have to take as many hormones as if it were a fresh cycle. This is fine for other women, but I was only managing one, occasionally two viable eggs per cycle and was never successful at producing a pregnancy. In the end I went to Greece and used an anonymous egg and sperm donor. All of this was through my fertility clinic in Sydney. You can read about about my journey here and here.

Lying on a bed in the fertility clinic in Greece, listening to the doctor tell me he was transferring three embryos out of the viable six gave me more hope than I’d had in all the years of unsuccessful IVF. I’d never had so many "chances".

Two weeks later, I was finally pregnant. Since then, the past few years have been a whirlwind. I have loved every minute of it. Well, maybe not every moment, but I would not change a single thing for anything.

As for my embryos, the clinic stores frozen embryos for up to five years. I have two years left to decide what to do with them. The choices are, use them, donate them to an infertile woman/couple or donate them to science.


Listen to Dee Madigan and Nicky Lavigne discuss their IVF journies on Just Between Us... post continues after audio

When I was in the midst of IVF,  it never occurred to me that I might have extra embryos. People mentioned it. But all I wanted to do was focus on what was happening in that moment and put all my attention into growing those embryos into even just one baby.

But, now I have a dilemma.

I would love nothing more than to have the remaining embryos transferred and be able to bring more gorgeous babies into the world. However, I am waaaaay closer to 50 than 40 and even though, according to my gynecologist, my uterus is still good for growing a baby, I’m not sure I’m mentally and physically ready for the work and sleepless nights of another child. I feel blessed to have not one but two tiny humans. and I'm extremely happy with my little family, just as it is.

When I was in the midst of IVF, it never occurred to me that I might have extra embryos.

I’m not sure how I feel about donating them to another couple. The clinic doesn’t let me choose who they go. I’d be worried my boys may meet them (if they’re girls) in years to come and not know they’re related. I know I would look at my boys and think about what the other embryos would grow up to be like. Are they girls? More boys? Would they be more like one of mine than the other? I’m not sure I want 'my' babies growing up with another family. On the other hand, seeing as I used donor eggs, I can see how many people might think it would be selfish not to donate my embryos. I’m still on the fence about this…

As for destroying the embryos, I went through so much heartache through the years trying to have a family, the idea of it makes me want to lie in my bed and cry. I know that the embryos aren't babies yet and I am pro-choice, but knowing what those embryos could go into makes the decision a difficult one for me.

What would you do?