Posted by: DD | February 16, 2009

POKEY

Recently I have found myself thinking a lot about Pokey.

Pokey was embryo number four out of four that we got through our donor egg cycle which ended up on ice, all by his lonesome. He was also a little late dividing and I suspect he is not of Best of Show quality and more than likely a bit of a mouth-breather.

When it comes to left-over frozen embryos, there are three options that families face (I say “families” since it would be only logical to assume that only patients who have already had a successful transfer would have the three options):

  • Destroy
  • Transfer
  • Donate

Now for my conundrum.

At one time, back when I was an IVF newbie, I referred to my embryos as “embies” and I experienced quite a mental fuck when my first and only FET attempt was cancelled when all three of said “embies” arrested the morning of my transfer. To help myself get over that, and because I grew up just a bit, they simply are now called Embryos.

Even though I have tried to keep myself emotionally distant from any embryos we had created since then, Pokey is something special because he has a sister who I cannot, not even for a second, imagine my life without. Even Mr. DD walked a minefield by stating, “If we hadn’t gone through all the shit, we wouldn’t have ZGirl.” Refer to this post on how I feel about that kind of talk.

It’s with knowing the potential that I find myself very opposed to destroying Pokey.

Why not transfer then, you ask?

Such a simple solution except with one minor problem: Mr. DD does NOT want to go through any more treatment, even a rather uncomplicated FET. Not only that, but he does NOT want another baby; even though the likelihood we were to get pregnant with Pokey would be a one in a million shot. However, see THIS post about what happens when you put one egg in your basket and run though a forest on five-inch heels. In other words, stranger things have happened, even though they can (and did) end badly. Very badly.

As a couple who seriously considered donor embryos, I am more than willing to donate Pokey. But would any agency want to bother with a lonely embryo, and of suspect quality? I don’t have proof that Pokey is pokey. I only remember when they called with the fertilization report on Day 2 that Pokey had fertilized late and was slower in dividing, hence “Pokey”. I should have transferred all four since even with the three good-quality embryos transferred, my pregnancy never was more than a strong singleton (thank god).

I guess that’s why if I was a betting woman, I would say that Pokey doesn’t stand a chance, even in the best of wombs. Yet, knowing this, I still am not able to consider just destroying the little slacker.

I ask you, what would YOU do if you had a sub-par, single embryo on ice that no one other than you would want and your Significant Other doesn’t want to do another cycle, much less have another baby? If you say destroy it, how do you get over the sentiments attached to it when you know how beautiful and funny and endearing that baby would be because you are raising its sibling?

(Pardon the links down memory lane. That was a whole lot more painful then I expected it to be.)

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Responses

  1. I’ve never been in your shoes so I don’t pretend to know the answer to this…but I’m thinking about you!

  2. Well, I would say pay for storage, for a few more years, because frankly, making a decision about baby #3 when you are still in the throes of baby #2 is not so good.

    When Z-girl is sleeping through the night, and 2 or 3 years old and the economy is humming along like mad in a few years, he very likely will change his mind. And you might as well. Every man I have ever known makes reproductive decisions based on whether or not they can afford to raise the potential future child. Every.single.one. Most women base it on how they feel. So who knows what will happen?

    Regardless, if you want your marriage to be ok, you really do both have to be on the exact same page and in agreement about what you will do. You don’t want regrets on either side, since the whole thing is so irreversible.

    Why not pay fees for a few years and then come back to it? Of all the things on the planet you could spend money on, this ranks up there, IMO.

  3. I had to make this decision myself recently (though the circumstances were a bit different). We knew for sure we were not going to have any more. I had 5 embryos on ice. Didn’t want to pay for storage. But I’m oldish and my husband is older still so I didn’t figure our embryos would be very well regarded. I looked into donating, but it was really quite a lot of hassle – not cheap, and you have to repeat a bunch of medical tests. But I couldn’t bear the thought of destroying something that we worked so hard to create. So we compromised and donated the embryos for research. In California that’s super easy (or at least it was for us). In other parts of the country it may be a little more of a challenge.

    But that said, I think if there’s any possibility you may decide to try for another someday, I’d keep it in storage til you know for sure.

  4. We have a few on ice still. I want to try for one more and hubby doesn’t. I currently cannot destroy them. Just to think that there could be even one more baby in there just makes me want to try again. So we are paying $200 to keep storing them for now. Good luck with your decision. I would wait for a while if you can though.

  5. As the recipient of donor embryos and as someone who is now pregnant with twins via slow growing day 6 blasts, I am all for donating Pokey. You needn’t be concerned about an agency accepting your embryo. Miracles Waiting has many donor listings and recipients can look at what’s available and go from there. It is a free service for the donors.
    If you’re still not sure, then keep your embryo on ice for a little while until you are sure.
    Best of luck in this decision. It can’t be an easy one.

  6. As someone who has no personal idea how it must feel to go through infertility and its related treatments, I’d suspect I would donate them to research if I reached this point.

  7. I know someone who just transferred a pokey. Although she is hopeful, it seems like going through the whole nightmare again brings all the nasty feelings back and opens old wounds.

    On the other hand, I couldn’t donate, wouldn’t destroy, so I would have no other choice than to transfer it and see what happened. I have heard of women transferring them at the wrong time in their cycle and letting them perish in the uterus but that just seems way too crazy.

  8. This is a tightrope walk for sure. All I can offer is what would work for me, not for everyone.

    I couldn’t deliberately destroy. It would haunt me. Forever.

    I would feel weird about donating if I had a wonderful sibling in my home…I would always wonder where, if, what etc.

    The only option for me (and this is assuming that I was POSITIVE that we would never change our minds about expanding the family) would be to donate for research. In my own twisted little mind, this would be for the benefit of so many more people. What if that embryo could be the one that confirms a cure for a horrid disease? Yeah, I think weirdly but those thoughts are all I have šŸ™‚

    It is a tough decision and one that you have to be happy with in the long run. If you aren’t sure, hold off on making any decision you can’t undo.

  9. I had a number of embryos frozen for a year after P was born. We decided that if we wanted to have another baby and needed IVF, we might as well start from scratch rather than relying on an FET. Here in the UK it was not a whole lot cheaper to pay for storage and subsequent FET than it was to start IVF again, and of course the rates of success are higher that way anyway.

    I donated mine to research, and I’ll be perfectly honest that I didn’t think of them as potential siblings for P at all. I don’t know why, but for me they were never nearly-babies, they were just clusters of cells. I know a lot of people feel differently, and sometimes I wish I did too.

    That resolved nothing for you, I know. I’m very helpful like that.

  10. Do you have to decide today? This is the kind of thing I like to put off.

  11. I’m all for procrastinating on decisions like that. And those links were very painful–I remember reading them as you went through them the first time, and it makes me sad to remember that for you. Many hugs.

  12. Your husband doesn’t want another baby but does he have an opinion on donating or destroying the last embryo?

    Personally, I like the donate to research option.

  13. I would put off the decision day first. Then if no more tries was really the bottom line I think I would go for research. I think that was the box we ticked for if we died and there were any in the freezer. There aren’t so no decision necessary here. On no to more kids – that was Mr Betty’s position until the miracle pregnancy that went nowhere – he flipped over to thinking it was a great idea pretty quickly and was very upset when it failed so I’m not sure I would regard today’s decision as final. Does Mr DD have a preference for what next for Pokey?

  14. Very tough decision and a very personal one too.

    As you know, we just finished the process of donating our 6 frozen embryos to research. It was a very tough decision for us too, but we were certain our family-building was complete, and couldn’t agree on donating to another couple. It took us a while to come to it – and $$ was definitely a factor since you do pay for embryo storage and our clinic ups the monthly fee once the embryos have been stored for 2 years or more.

    We live in CA, but they ultimately were donated to a research organization on the east coast (in the news recently for stem cell research milestones). Interesting note – some research organizations have restrictions on donor gametes and require that your embryos are stored in the same state as where you reside (I think). If you are considering donation to research, let me know and I’ll forward you the contact details I have for this organization – the coordinator there could answer any questions you have.

    Tough decision – frought with so much emotion and “what if.” I hate that we have to make these decisions at all…

  15. The weight of this post is only fully realized after reading your heartbreaking memorabilia links. Infertility is such a difficult and dark journey – of course, there are brilliant, bright outcomes from that journey and I suppose that the arch of pain/bliss is equally distributed but damn, the thought of that roulette game makes me feel dark and sad for anyone and everyone involved. I cannot imagine your shoes and can only pretend to know what I would do but in the core of my being, right now, reading this, I say that I would donate the embryo to someone in hopes that they would have success.

  16. Oh DD – you know I could have written this post, right? I also can’t wrap my mind around what to do with our 14 frozen ones. Does anyone want them knowing that I had 3 miscarriages prior to their creation and I was 40/41 when they were created? Is there anyone I would trust enough to donate them to (this would require about the highest level of trust I could give to someone)?

    There is one person I would donate to in a heartbeat but I don’t know how she feels about IVF and pregnancy is something that is highly risky for her. Do I try to approach her? Is it too cruel to even ask?

    And everytime I look at my daughter I can see the possible potential in those embryos.

    I will likely read the comments you have here as closely as you do yourself. If you have any great insights, let me know, okay? I am also a little intrigued by what Julianna said but I know I shouldn’t poke my nose where it doesn’t belong.

    My situation is also slightly more complicated as supposedly (according to my fertility clinic) we cannot donate within Canada as we did not sign “intent to donate” forms prior to the creation of our embryos. Supposedly it’s not a problem if we ship them outside of the country.

    Anyway…. I am still at a loss and that’s why mine are still in storage a few miles away.

    DinoD

  17. I’ve thought a lot about this because I’m kind of hoping this is where we’ll end up. Our current plan is to do an FET with a surrogate in the next few months. If (knock on wood) that cycle were actually successful, I’d donate whatever leftover frozen embryos we had.*

    *Assuming they qualify for donation under whatever documents we signed.

  18. Echoing Dino’s comment, it’s harder to decide what to do when you have an actual child from a cycle of embryos – you see THAT child in your frozen embryos. Definitely wait, it seems like a few months after babies turn one, people seem to seriously examine the “one more” possibility.

    Donating would be tough emotionally I think, but in the end I think it’s what I would do if we weren’t going to use our 3 in storage. Sort of pay it forward if you will, donating embryos created with donated eggs.

  19. I am so glad you asked this question. We also have just one frozen embryo and are really struggling with what to do. My big issue is cost. I need to find out how much a FET costs and what happens if the little bugger doesn’t thaw. Plus if I’m going to commit financially and emotionally, I have to know there’s at least a tiny chance of it actually working. I keep meaning to set up an appointment with our RE just to talk about odds so I have a better idea of what I’m looking at. I can’t even remember what kind of quality that last one was. I’m thinking not that great.

    I’m the emotional overly attached type. I think in the end we’re going to have to transfer just to put my mind at rest. Luckily DH is feeling the same way (either that or he doesn’t have the guts to tell me differently). I’m also curious what Mr. DD thinks should happen to pokey.

  20. It sounds like that if it weren’t for the fact that you think Pokey might be pokey, you would donate? Why not see if anyone or any agency would be willing to receive Pokey? You never know. Someone might be willing to take the chance and maybe be successful.’

    This is a tough decision for sure. I think if you can afford to keep Pokey around longer and make the decision later, that would be a good idea.

  21. I know this is a late response, but I think Aurelia has a good point about waiting a bit longer if you can. But as to whether anyone would take Pokey, I’d try either Miracles Waiting or Embryos Alive.

  22. If you’re still thinking about donating in a year (as in give, yourself lots of time to have the option for a baby #3) . . . have a raffle and fix it so that a certain beagle blogger wins. My boy would probably like a sibling.

    OK . . . what? You wanted a serious answer?

    I’m only half kidding.

    On a more realisitc note . . . I wish you luck in coming to a resolution. But at least give yourself more time to get there.


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