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Saturday, July 13, 2013

One Of The Hardest Decisions I've Ever Had To Make

Last week, I made one of the hardest decisions I've ever had to make. I've been wrestling with making a choice for many years now.  The choice of what to do with our last fertilized embryo.

9 years ago, after struggling with secondary infertility for 5 years and after waiting 3 years to try to conceive I had an egg retrieval for In Vitro Fertilization (IVF).  Our first IVF using 3 fresh embryos failed.  We had 3 embryos left which were sent to cryopreservation.  Our second attempt using 2 frozen embryos was successful which is how we were able to have our daughter Aleshanee who just celebrated her 8th birthday yesterday.

Through the years we have been waiting for the right time to use our last embryo but out of the blue and spontaneously on our own we had Dakota 2 years and 4 months later.  Then Hayden almost 2 years after that.  Most recent we had a miscarriage 19 months ago.  The perfect time had never come.

Every year a bill arrives in the mail for cryopreservation   This year makes 9 years and the cost jumped significantly.  Also, they are switching their cryopreservation to another company on the mainland.

We always had the choice to do the following:
transfer cycle
compassionate transfer
cryopreservation forever

This is the first year that the option to donate to research was given.

Transfer cycle means you will do all the injections and drugs it takes to force your cycle and body to be ready for the embryo to be transferred at the right time to get pregnant.

Donate means you donate your embryo to a couple who cannot use their own eggs.  This is done anonymously.

Compassionate transfer is where the Dr will transfer the embryo into the mothers body on an off time of cycle where pregnancy will not occur so the embryo will pass through the mothers body naturally.

After having 5 very hard and painful high risk pregnancies (including our first miscarriage before Aleshanee), I knew having another baby would not be the best choice for me and my body.

I would not be able to give up my babies for adoption and would not want someone else to have my babies so donation was out of the question.  However, I know a lot of friends and family who are struggling with having a baby of their own and I have given it a lot of thought to donate to them.

Compassionate transfer to me was the same as discarding.  Knowing I didn't do all I could to insure a pregnancy was not right.  This choice seemed to be my last option and all honesty would give me the best way to grieve my baby and choice with my baby being returned to my body.  But it was still to me like not giving my baby any chance at all.

discarding to me is the same as abortion and that is something I would never do, therefore was never an option.

Although donating to research is like sending my baby to poked and proded, I knew it was the best option for me because my daughter was born with issues which we believe come directly from being an IVF baby.

My daughter was born with Beckwith-Wiedemann Syndrome.  We knew during my pregnancy and it was a very scary thing.  Thankfully the form she has is mild and other than some physical features she is doing great.  She also has cognitive delays, perception disorders, retention problems, and signs of Aspergers.

It is my prayer and hope that by donating our embryo which is out of the same batch that Aleshanee was born, that specialists will be able to get answers for chromosome disorders and other things that happen with IVF babies.

We were not aware, nor were we informed of all the side effects of IVF before we went through with IVF.  It was only after having our daughter and going through our daily challenges with her did we learn there are a lot of other families out there with kids born through IVF who have Beckwith-Wiedemann Syndrome, who are suffering from physical, mental and emotional problems and disorders.

These are the reasons why I decided that donating to research was my only option and a very good one.

You may be asking yourself, why I am sharing this with you.  Believe me, it's hard.  I haven't shared in detail about our going the IVF route or about my daughter's medical history before because it is very complicated and this is not something everyone is ok with.  But the reason I am sharing it is because I know there are others out there that may be going through the same thing.  I pray our story will help someone else with their infertility journey.

The honest truth is that I struggle with my decision to go the IVF route everyday.  It's something I never thought I would do in the past but my situation and circumstances led me to the point where I felt that was my only option at the time.  I believe that God has blessed me with my three pregnancies after my successful IVF with my daughter because it's a sign to me that He is there and has always been there.  I feel like I wasn't patient in His timing and took the matters into my own hands.  This is something I will live with for the rest of my life.  Being in a position to have one embryo left over and it be almost 10 years with life passing us by and my embryo being 9 years old with no outlet for life to continue, eats away at me everyday.  I wish I was not in this situation but I am.  I haven't shared this with anyone except my husband prior than this.  Having dealt with infertility and making the choice of using alternative reproductive technology is not for everyone.  Everyone has their own reasons for going that route.  It's not an easy one to take.

Like my two previous miscarriages, I am dealing with grief and emotions I never expected after finalizing my decision of donating my last embryo to research.  When we walked into Pacific In Vitro last week, I handed over the form that both my husband and I signed and I almost did not want to walk away.  I walked out of that office holding back tears because that was it.  I did not expect to have these feelings of loss.  The thoughts of our baby's future and dreams are flooding my head just as when we had our miscarriages.  But this time, not only is there no baby to morn as with a miscarriage but how do you go about telling others what you're going through in a situation like this?

I was hestitant to write this post because of the friends and family who are struggling with infertility and failed alternative reproductive procedures.  Know that if you are one of those I speak of that you are on my heart.  I pray that our decision to help with medical research will help the success of your future family.

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AbsoluteMommy said...

You are so honest and brave. I can cannot fathom what it took for you to come to this decision. I won't even try. I will just tell you that I'm very proud to know you. And know that you made the best decision for you. Thank you for your honesty. The love you have for life and your children is clear and true. God bless friend.

isshounoyakusoku said...

your decision may not be the best decision for anyone else, but it was the best decision for you. and no one can ask more of you. you're very brave and honest about your decision and i actually applaud you for going that route. it's like being an organ donor in a way because your decision could possibly help someone else out! when my best friends mother passed away, they were devastated that she couldn't be an organ donor because of certain circumstances but was able to donate her tissue. even if it was something small, there is another lady on the other side of the world who can see now because of this tissue. and that alone felt wonderful for her family. and i'm sure your donation is going to make another family a very happy one. :)

Maria-Isabel @ Agape Love Designs said...

You are so brave to talk about this girl. I want to give you a big hug! You have such a huge heart. And its clear how much love and passion you have for your kids and family. I do hope that through this post, though, that it can reach others and be of help. Your story and testimony can and will definitely be used for God's glory and to help others in the same situation.


Aunie said...

Oh wow, Salena. This is such a heavy topic. You and your family have handled it all with grace and so much love for each other. I am keeping you guys in my heart.

ahappygirl said...

Oh, I wish I could give you a huge giant hug right now! You are so brave to talk about all of this and to write about it so openly and honestly. Kudos to you girl.