Deep in a freezer, suspended in preservative fluid, lie two of my embryos. They are part of my little one's cohort. The two that were ok but not great. The two we left frozen in the event that my little Jude wasn't to be. I neurotically like having a back up plan. Not just for me, but for my sisters.
Those embryos are genetically close enough for them to use in the event that they too couldn't conceive naturally. The dark and deranged part of me also liked the idea of a back up plan in case anything ever happened to my living children. Those two embryos were like a delusional safety net for me. An insurance policy made out of thin air. So we kept paying the yearly storage fee of $700. Our two embryo cubes are part of the nearly 400,000 frozen embryos stored in the United States as of 2015.
When we got the bill this past December, I filed it away under "take care of later" because I didn't want to deal with the choice. I suspect that many of these 400,000 frozen embryos have donors that keep them suspended in time because they can't bring themselves to decide. I'm talking about the women who have been successful with IVF but have extra product. The decision to thaw or donate is so FINAL. It doesn't allow for the "what ifs." It's like taking a really valuable (and expensive) heirloom that holds within it your effort, pain, time and saying, "i don't need this anymore." It's a hard goodbye.
But as a 40-year-old mother of three who is at a blessed and glorious maximum capacity, I need to decide. Shelling out thousands of dollars to avoid reality isn't healthy for me.
So, to my little vials of fluid with eight primordial cells -- go and help scientists understand Parkinson's or diabetes or cancer. Be a safety net for other people.