For the last 9 months we have known that our diagnosis was male factor infertility. That seemed pretty “fixable.” We’d pay lots of money, make some embryos, and then bring a baby home in 10 months. Not having a baby at the end of in-vitro fertilization was not in my plan. If you don’t know what in-vitro fertilization is, read this post before going on.)
Well… here we are. 9 months and thousands of dollars later we are back at square 1. Maybe square 2 since we have the diagnoses out of the way. After our failed frozen embryo transfer (FET) we scheduled an appointment to meet with our fertility doctor- Dr. Bidwell. Our “WTF appointment,” as some call it. I didn’t have a long list of questions, only 2.
Question #1 — Why was the fertilization rate so low?
In addition to in-vitro we also had a procedure called ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection.) All that together means that I took a bunch of medications, I made a lot of eggs, in a process called “egg retrieval” they took my eggs from inside my body and brought them to a lab. Then they put 1 sperm into each egg. That sounds like a sure-fire way to end up with a fertilized egg, right? Nope. Out of 14 eggs, only 5 fertilized. On average 70% should fertilize, so we were well below average. So why did this happen? Well, it turns out I had several “degenerate” eggs. That sounds so degrading or offensive. Basically it just means they were unhealthy and dying. Beyond my “degenerate” eggs, 2 eggs actually fertilized incorrectly– which is way more complicated than I can explain. Based on ultrasounds and AMH there was no prior concern to egg health, but retrieval and fertilization changed that.
Now faced with “egg quality issues” and male factor infertility, we were told we can “roll the dice again.” That’s right, we are literally gambling. Dr. Bidwell said we can try supplements over the next few months and hope for better results next time, but no guarantees. That brings us to the next question…
Question #2 — What can you tell us about embryo adoption?
I can honestly say Dr. Bidwell did not see this question coming. I assume that most couples don’t “throw in the towel” after 1 round of IVF. That’s not what we’re doing, we just don’t feel like we can “gamble” again. IVF is hard: emotionally, financially, and physically. Each night you have to stop what you’re doing and give yourself 3 shots. You can’t exercise (my form of stress relief) because your ovaries are swollen. And you feel limited on what money you can spend because you just dropped your savings paying for something most people get for free. You spend your days worrying that you’re going to have a crazy number of embryos and no way to bring them all to life. I do not want 19 Kids! On some level it was somewhat of a relief that we no longer had to face that issue.
While researching what I could have done with leftover embryos, I found out about embryo donation/adoption. I never in a million years thought we would end IVF with ZERO embryos and NO BABY. Our plan was going to be to donate the embryos to a Christian family. That was terrifying though. What if my children weren’t raised the way I thought was best? So now we are on the other side. My hope in all of this is that we can take that burden off of another family. I want another set of parents to rest easy at night knowing that they found the perfect match for their embryos and that they will grow up in a stable, loving, Christian family. I love the idea of embryo adoption so much that I likely would have gone down this road initially had I known more about it.
One of the major ethical dilemmas with IVF is what to do with remaining embryos, which is the problem I thought we would have. I wish I had known more about embryo adoption before we started IVF because now I feel called to pursue embryo adoption. My passion behind embryo adoption is to help out a couple who is genuinely concerned about the placement of their future children. Ideally I’d like to find a Christian couple because I can raise their babies in a Christian home as my own children. The “parents” can rest assured that their children will be loved, provided for, and most importantly taught about God.
Dr. Bidwell went over some things to consider with embryo adoption (how they were frozen, quality, parental testing, travel for transfer etc.) He was supportive of the decision to pursue embryo adoption and said they would do everything they can to help us. But he also didn’t want us to be hasty and left the door open for a future IVF cycle. I felt he was truly unbiased.
It’s a relief to know we both contribute to our infertility (hence the name “the infertilizers”), and no one has to shoulder the “blame.” As of now our plan is to for-go further IVF cycles and research embryo adoption, especially different agencies. Honestly, this was our plan before we found out about the eggs – that news just confirmed our decision. The agencies/websites we are researching for embryo adoption are: Miracles Waiting, National Registry for Adoption, Nightlight Christian Adoption, and the National Embryo Donation Center.
If you have any information on or experience with embryo adoption please let me know. I’d love to hear more about your story. I’m so excited to share more about what I learn and how we move forward with this journey!
Thanks for stopping by! See you next time.