Saturday, May 5, 2012

It's All Coming Back To Me Now

I am seriously investigating whether we should do a FET with our remaining embryos. I have also discovered that two of my friends are going through infertility and pregnancy loss and my heart breaks for them. Infertility and loss are back in my life in a big way.

We have three Grade 1 embryos left from our donor egg cycle. If they didn't exist, then my wee boy would remain an only child - no doubt about it. I would not pursue a fresh donor cycle - too much waiting, too much money, adding another thread to our family that may or may not become an issue for any resulting child and the existing one sometime in the future.

However, there are some real considerations as to whether it is wise to try for another baby - mainly to do with my health. My DE pregnancy was high risk - I have glucose intolerance, hypothyroidism, high blood pressure and not one but TWO clotting issues. I am also over forty. I spent a lot of time in the hospital during my pregnancy and took a lot of medications, some of which are not usually advised during pregnancy but the risks of not taking them outweighed the risks of taking them. As it turned out, the pregnancy itself went remarkably well. The birth and its aftermath, not so much. None of the other issues have gone away and I can now add slightly odd heart rhythms (so far benign) and prolapse, front, back and middle to the cocktail - and I'm more than two years older. My mother has also had a DVT - she has the same clotting issues as I do and this is significant - the medics will have a different attitude to my Factor V Leiden now that I have an immediate relative with it who has had a clot (especially as it was spontaneous and not related to flying or surgery). Emotionally, I did not handle the early days of motherhood too well either and work-wise, it's tough-going even now.

When you also consider that my husband's working hours (and therefore his salary) have now been reduced because of the recession and that we also have an enormous mortgage on our new property, both of which mean that I HAVE to work full time from August, you have to wonder whether an addition to the family makes any sense at all.

These are the negatives - very real and rather risky. Let's face it - losing a real mother in pursuit of a hypothetical sibling would be a pretty bad deal for my boy. But the positives - far less concrete and practical - are also huge. We always wanted two children - back in the days where we thought we could have any at all in the normal fashion. We gave up on the idea fairly quickly but it was always the ideal.

I love my sister dearly and having her in my life is one of the best things about it - why would I not want to try to give my son that joy. And there's another, deeper, vein to the sibling thing - it would be a full sibling to my son - someone who is the same as him. I don't know how he's going to feel about being donor conceived but it's possible that having a full sibling is something that would make him feel more part of something (same goes for the sibling of course).

Then there's the embryos. Oh the guilt! On the cycles with our own eggs, before all my medical issues bubbled up and when I was under 40, extra embryos would have been so welcomed. Now they feel like such a mixed blessing. Like I said, if they didn't exist, there would be no dilemma about a sibling. We'd be living our lives, grateful for our son, slightly wistful about the absence of a sibling but knowing there's nothing we could do about it without significantly disadvantaging him in another way.

And I love those embryos. Unlike the unused embryos from our failed cycles, which were very poor quality, clearly not going to turn into babies and already failing by the time any decision on freezing came up, these ones are not just cells to us - they are our sons potential brothers and/or sisters. I cannot bear the idea of having to allow them to perish. We would love to have donated them (and we had a particular couple in mind), but because of the laws around donation in this country, we can't. Donation is anonymous when it happens, but the donor has a responsibility to update the clinic with any significant medical changes, any house moves etc because when our son turns 18 he can contact her. This was very important to us and it was why we waited to do DE here rather than abroad. But it does mean that we can't pass our embryos on to a third party - the contract was exclusively between the donor and us.

Let me be very clear - I know how lucky we are. After all our years of trying and losses, we have a child - a wonderful, amazing son. AND we have 3 great quality embryos in the freezer. I know there are people out there who would LOVE to be in our situation. I am incredibly grateful for our boy, but the existence of the embryos is bittersweet.

I just don't know what to do! My husband feels it is up to me - the risks are mainly mine. I think he leans to the side of not trying again but he can see the advantages to our son of having a sibling. I am trying to get an appointment with our high risk OB to see whether she thinks it's reasonable to go ahead. I spoke to her before our DE cycle, because by that time we knew of all the medical issues I was facing going into pregnancy. Now I need to go back to her and add the new ones and see if she still thinks pregnancy is a good idea for me. If she says no, I think that will make my decision - I'm not keen on dying and the idea of taking an unborn baby with me and leaving my son motherless - or possibly leaving two motherless babies to be cared for by a grieving father and grandparents - is appalling.

Unlike before the birth of my son, I don't know where to go for emotional support and a chance to discuss the feelings behind this decision. I cannot go along to an infertility or miscarriage support group and whine about not knowing about what to do with spare embryos when there are women who still haven't had their first child or their rainbow baby.

As far as I know, there isn't a support group for infertile-recurrent-miscarriers-who-have-a-baby-and-don't-know-whether-to-risk-having-another ;-). Don't suppose anyone out there fancies setting one up with me?


Rebecca said...

First of all, about your comment on my last post (about our dog's struggles)...of course I remember you! You're one of my best online blogger friends. In fact, I was thinking of you when I wrote that post - I was remembering that when our other dog was diagnosed with cancer, you had written that your family didn't get another dog for 15 years because of the pain involved in losing a pet. I don't know if we'd go that long in between pets, but I also don't see us getting a new pet any time soon. (Of course, we won't be pet-free anytime soon either since we also have 2 cats and my mom (who lives with us) has 2 dogs...)

About your post...have you met with your doctor yet? I'm curious what her thoughts are. I know that no 2 pregnancies are alike, but I would think that having a good first pregnancy that didn't develop the things you're at risk for could be a good indicator that those issues can be kept at bay with proper treatment and monitoring. Since your delivery was challenging last time (I went back and read up on it), would you be open to doing a scheduled C-section for the next one? Would your doctor be open to doing that? There's slightly more risk to you with that approach because of the clotting issues, but since that's a known issue, if you're on blood thinners and your coagulation level is being monitored regularly, that should go a long way in mitigating the risk.

I know it's not an easy decision. Whatever you ultimately decide, I hope it brings you peace.

MyTwoLines said...

I know I'm really late to this post and also this is the third comment I've tried to make (blogger!!) but: my advice is to close your eyes and without overthinking it picture your ideal life in two years--if it includes a baby then def. talk to your doctor. If not, I know it will be very sad to not use your embryos but your heart usually knows what it wants....

Good luck.

CeCe said...

Thank you for your recent comment on my blog. I appreciate the kind words of support!

Good luck at the crossroads that you are at. I will be following your journey.