You’ve heard of couples starting a college fund once they hear they are pregnant…well the couples going through IVF have some additional planning to account for. Now that you’ve made all the decisions on whether to do chromosomal and genetic testing, you can move on to the next phase…making more pre-IVF decisions! The questions, choices, and life altering decisions to be made, seem to continuously be smacking you right in the face. Here is a guide to some things you will need to consider, when it comes to planning for your embryo’s.
Our fertility clinic includes a Participation and Consent Form, in the packet of information received at our fertility class. This consent form, is more like a manual and asks several questions which must be answered by you and your spouse, then each question includes a signature line, as well as a section where the form must be notarized. I envisioned that we would be able to fill this out one evening after dinner, take it to be notarized and email it into our nurse the next morning…NOT THE CASE! The questions in this consent form (manual), required thorough consideration, and brought up topics that my husband, nor I, had never even considered while starting this process.
-THE CONSENT QUESTIONS-
1. Will You Elect to Participate in Cryopreservation?
The answer to this question was yes, for us. We made the decision to do a frozen transfer rather than a fresh transfer. I wanted to regulate my body and give it a chance to come back down from the progesterone cloud it had been floating on for the last several weeks. In order to do a frozen transfer, you must freeze your embryo. Also, if you have remaining embryos that you are not transferring, then you have the option to freeze them and preserve them for another transfer at a later date. The consent forms inform you that you will be charged an annual fee to store your remaining frozen embryo’s (it doesn’t matter how many you have, this is a flat fee). Our clinic stores your embryo’s for a period of four years, at which time you will need to make other arrangements to store them at a cryopreservation facility. If you don’t make other arrangements, your embryo’s will be discarded or donated to medical research…this part made my stomach tighten. It was the moment that I felt a deep connection to the lives we were about to create through IVF. I felt a responsibility like none I had ever felt before. The word “discarded” made me feel like this precious life we were creating was just going to be tossed in the garbage, if we didn’t take our role very seriously.
2. Will You Elect to Have Genetic Testing Done on Your Embryo’s?
Again, my husband and I elected to have genetic testing done on our embryo’s. This is a personal choice, and one that takes so much time, thought and consideration. It makes you contemplate life very differently. Your faith may play a role in this decision, your personal feeling about the process, or the financial aspect. It is different for each of us.
3. The Disposition Plan
This was by far the most difficult portion of the consent form for me, and it ended up taking four days to complete. This portion of the consent forced you to elect what would happen to your embryo’s in the event of your death. Not only do you have to fill this out for yourself, but then your spouse has to answer these questions as well
“In the event of my death, we wish the cryopreserved embryo’s be…”
A. Transferred to the care of the male partner, understanding that the embryos could be implanted into the male partner’s new spouse
B. Used in research
C. Used at the discretion of the reproductive facility
D. Donated to another couple
E. Thawed and discarded without undergoing any further development
My initial reaction was HELL NO!!!! I could’t begin to wrap my mind around having this conversation with my beloved, my soul mate, my everything. The thought of my passing and not being with him, then him remarrying and potentially using our embryo’s with another woman, was more than I could handle. I didn’t say anything for a few minutes, until Rick looked at me and said, “I would never re-marry if something happened to you.” It was one of those moments where I fell in love with my husband all over again. One of those moments where you didn’t expect that kind of sincere, loving response. He then told me if we weren’t together physically anymore, that he would want the chance to have another one of our children in his life. A child that we created together, and would be a reminder to him of me, as well as providing a sibling to the child/children we already have. This man…my heart seemed to grow three sizes like the Grinch. I began to think with my rational brain rather than my emotional brain and I realized that this was the right thing to do. If I were to pass away, I wouldn’t want to take choices away from my husband. We elected that he would have full rights to the embryo’s, and the same went for me, should he pass.
I told my sister-in-law about this moment I had with my husband when we were trying to make these extremely difficult decisions. She told me that her husband often times told her that he would never re-marry if anything happened to her. I remember her getting emotional about this and she told me, that wasn’t what she wanted for him. She wanted him to enjoy marriage so much that if anything happened to her, he would have a full heart and want to do it again. She loves her husband more than she loves herself, and she wanted companionship and love for him always, no matter the circumstances. It was a powerful moment I had with my sister-in-law, and it gave me such a positive outlook on how this process was going to force my husband and I to look deeper into our marriage. We were either going to come out stronger and closer, or it could tear us apart…We made the choice to become stronger, and more closely bonded than ever before.
4. The Disposition Plan (part 2)
“In the event that of divorce or dissolution of the marriage we wish our embryo’s be…”
A. Used in research
B. Used at the discretion of the reproductive facility
C. Donated to another couple
D. Thawed and discarded without undergoing any further development
Great…death and now divorce discussions. All we want is to create a life and have a child of our own, why are we having to face these awful discussions?!?!?!?! In retrospect, these discussions are absolutely necessary. Although they are morbid, and leave you feeling emotionally drained, it’s vital to have these talks with your spouse and have a plan. The best part about all of this, is you can change your mind at a later date! You can always fill out a new form with updated requests and turn them into your reproductive facility.
I hope I was able to shed some light on this topic for those of you who are about to embark on your journey through IVF. These decisions are not easy, and they are often times not ones that many couples ever have to deal with, but the silver lining in all of this is that you have the opportunity to approach these questions with your spouse and find a new and deeper level of understanding. You truly have the ability to find out so much about yourself and your marriage through this!
Lots of love and baby dust to you my dear friends!