The geekdaughter and the geekson are both miracles of modern science. The geekdaddy and I were unable to have kids without assistance, and so both our children are a result of IVF treatment. They are, in fact, twins born two and a half years apart, as they were both conceived at the same time, during the same treatment cycle. We regard ourselves as hugely fortunate in terms of our treatment – our first IVF cycle resulted in 11 eggs collected, 9 of which fertilised, 2 implanted back (one of which became the geekdaughter), and 6 frozen (1 didn’t develop). Two and a half years later we defrosted 4 embryos, were quite surprised when only one survived the thaw, had that single embryo implanted, and it went on to become the geekson.
So. Two left.
Prior to the geekson’s birth, I was thinking about the future of these two embryos. I was seriously considering going through one final treatment cycle. Giving those last two embryos a chance. I felt they deserved a chance. Then I had the geekson. All 9lb 15oz of him. I had a very positive birth experience, but at the same time I felt very strongly that my family was now complete. I didn’t want to put my body through pregnancy and childbirth again, plus I remembered how much I dislike newborns!
At the start of this year, our annual embryo storage invoice arrived. £175 to store our two remaining embryos for another 12 months. Now, don’t get me wrong, when you’re still planning to expand your family, that is a small price to pay for retaining the chance of another child. However, when you’ve decided your family is complete, it’s an expense you could do without. Neither I nor the geekdaddy can see any value in keeping those embryos “just in case”. So we are left with three choices – allow the embryos to perish, donate them to research, or donate them to another infertile couple.
To us the decision was easy. Having been through the agony of infertility ourselves, we wanted to help another couple in a similar situation. We were unsure whether our embryos would be suitable for donation – after all, there are only two of them, and I was 35 at the time they were made, which is at the upper limit for donation. We weren’t sure they’d be viable, but we completed the form and sent it off.
Today we completed step one of the donation process – a visit to our fertility clinic for an initial consultation, after which we were given a pile of consent forms to complete and had to have some blood taken for testing. We were amazed at how pleased everyone was that we were offering our embryos for donation – apparently not many people do, and there is a waiting list of couples waiting for donors to come forward.
The implications of donating embryos are the same as having a child adopted. The child has the right to request the details of it’s biological parents at the age of 18, and so if you’re going to donate your embryos you need to accept that one day a young adult may stand on your doorstep and say “hello Mum”. In donating our embryos we give up all parental claim to any children born as a result of treatment, however I was pleased to learn that we would be informed whether the embryos survived the defrost, whether there was a successful pregnancy, and whether there was a live birth. So we will know for sure the outcome, rather than being left wondering.
It’s going to take a while for the blood test results to come back, plus we both have to attend a counselling session before we can donate our embryos, just to make sure we’ve considered all the implications in donating. But today we took our first step down that path. And it feels like the right thing to do.