Thursday, August 9, 2012

Fertility treatments, ethical dilemmas and frozen embryos

Disclaimer - This tends to be a very controversial topic, one where people have vastly different views and opinions on the matter. The post below describes how WE, as a couple, decided that fertility treatments were the right path for US to take as a family. It might not be right for you, and that is ok. Please keep that in mind as you read. Thank you! 

There are many views out there regarding fertility treatments, especially from those who believe in a God who is in control of essentially everything, and that His perfect will, will always prevail. Some believers question if fertility treatments are "playing God" so to speak, and feel that undergoing treatment is showing a lack of faith in God's will/plan for their life. I have heard these opinions from others all while going through treatment myself.

Makes for a very interesting discussion indeed.

I am a Christian and have full confidence in His plan for my life. Yet, I also was not able to get pregnant without assistance from IVF. If you are new to our journey click here, but in a nutshell a woman cannot get pregnant without growing and releasing an egg/eggs each month (duh) and well my body wasn't doing either of those things. When I did get on injectable medicine to help with egg production/release my body freaked out and produced, I don't know, about a million eggs. In an effort to avoid our own reality show on TLC, IVF was the safest and really, only, option.

Obviously we were comfortable with fertility treatments in general or else we would have not moved forward and would have just called it quits and/or looked into adoption. So how did we become comfortable some ask?

Here's the only logical way I can break it down for those who question how we "came to terms" with undergoing IVF. . .

I made a bad choice. Remember. . . anorexia messes with fertility. Please don't ever forget this minor major detail, especially for any of you who are reading and might be struggling with your eating, or lack of eating, habits.

Sometimes bad choices reap negative consequences. Sometimes these consequences are short term while other times they are life long. For me? Only time will tell. But that is not the point. The point is that while God tells us we might endure a consequence for our actions, I do not believe that means we must remain stuck in the consequence itself. I imagined God saying to me "Brittnie, because of your defiance and selfishness, becoming a mom is going to be a little a lot harder than you planned, but if you lean on me, I will walk with you through this next phase of life." And we translated that "next phase of life" to be each and every month we would undergo treatment. Does that make sense?

We felt confident that said treatments were another phase of our story and ultimately I could use it for good, to continue His work. What a privilege to share my experience with others, and encourage others who might be faced with the same scenario.

We also believe that God blesses our society today with amazingly smart doctors and technology for a reason. To use them when medically necessary! Praise God for IVF and the brains behind the entire process. We needed help forming our little embryo(s), and feel that God hand picked our doctor to help make it happen. I could go on and on about this train of thought in general but I think you get the idea.

Ok, so now you might be wondering. . . what about those seven little embryos that matured and are now frozen at the clinic? Well duh, we always dreamed of having eight kids so that's an easy decision.

Kidding.

In all seriousness, should we struggle to get pregnant again in the future several of these embryos will be used to do another frozen embryo transfer (FET). And if that attempt is unsuccessful, or say it is successful yet then I miscarry, then we have more to work with as time goes on. But if we don't ever use them or get pregnant imediately after another FET then what?

There are three choices given when deciding the fate of embryos (should Brandon and I die suddenly or should we never need the embryos, a consent has to be in place to tell the clinic what to do).

1 - destroy

2 - donate to science/research

3 - donate to another couple

We chose option #3.

This might seem like an obvious choice given that we are Christians and are 100% team pro life, but there is more to the puzzle and more we had to think through. How do we know that the embryos will be donated to a Christian family, whose ultimate goal is to teach their children about Jesus and eventually meet us in heaven?

Well. . . we don't. And we didn't get to negotiate the specifics.

We only got three choices.

So then, how did we wrap our minds around this specific ethical dilemma?

We had to let go of our need for control and just TRUST. Seriously. If we believe that God's hand was/is all over the IVF process then we must continue to trust that His faithfulness won't stop with us. His faithfulness will continue on and on and on. Our little embryos were hand picked, created by God, and He will oversee which families are blessed and when. We had to LET IT GO and let FAITH take over. And honestly, I am 100% relieved that He is in charge of the decision making and not me.

After all, His track record is pretty perfect.

Have you ever thought about fertility treatments and ethical dilemmas? If you have gone through fertility treatments, were the ideas presented even an issue for you? Please (lovingly) share in the comments! 

19 comments

  1. You did such a great job explaining these things that are super hard to explain. :) Matt and I have considered embryo adoption at various points over the years and are so thankful for the option, should we ever choose to pursue it.

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    1. Thanks! I think embryo adoption is such a great option for couples!

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  2. This is certainly a very controversial topic and I really don't know where I stand. I think the intervention today has gotten completely out of hand but also I think there is definitely room for some medical intervention. I didn't need help conceiving so I am sure if I did my views would be different. I think you explained yourself so well and I think you and your husband made great choices.

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  3. Being someone who had no problems at all conceiving (wasn't even trying), I will never be able to understand how difficult it has to be for a couple to not be able to do that with ease. But being a mother, I cannot imagine my life without Lily in it, and I fully support any methods a person has to go through in order to discover this kind of love and joy. It's truly other-worldly, and I firmly believe it is God's intention for everyone to experience this kind of love (no matter where it comes from.)

    I absolutely love your perspective on how God has used your past experiences to lead you to this point. Accepting the consequences of our actions, but not remaining STUCK in the consequences is a very liberating thought! I love that. So freeing.

    When it comes to donating your embryos to another couple, how does that work? Is it just a choice you make and then it's done? Or are you able to be notified if/when that ever happens? I guess that may go against the whole "letting go" thing, but I feel like I would probably want to know. Maybe I wouldn't, though ... I guess you'd have to be in that situation to really know!

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    1. We had to sign a consent before the IVF process telling the clinic where we want the embryos to go if 1- we never use them and/or 2 - we die suddenly/unexpectedly. The clinic will not donate them without letting us know but the embryos stay frozen until we say we are ready to donate them.

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  4. Love this post, and am seriously so thankful that you brought up the "what to do with the frozen embryos" topic to me- we were so thankful to have been prepared for that!

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  5. Brittnie, I love this post. I love that you are so honest and address such a personal topic, and so clearly too!! And I especially love that you and Brandon have a beautiful, wonderful little daughter - I know you are amazing parents!!

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    1. Thanks, Katie. You are sweet!

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  6. Hi Brittnie,

    I found your blog through a comment you made on simplemom. I appreciate your openess and honesty about this. I have three children (ages 7 - 2) and had no problem conceiving them. My sister has been through 7 yrs of infertility, and after 3 IUIs and 5 IVFs, one of which was successful and ended in miscarriage, I donated eggs to her. She is currently 15 wks. Our situation is a little more challenging than usual because the dr wanted her to do an IVF cycle as well to better her chances, so we're not sure of who's egg it is, although chances are pretty good that it's the one I donated. I had struggled with the decision for a couple of reasons, but I wanted more than anything else to help her, after the joy my children have brought me. I asked the Lord to guide me and to guide what happened. I loved to read your perspective about donating your embryos. There were no embryos left for the cycle we did (although they saw 5 follicles, they were only able to get 3, and in the end only two made it to transfer). I may do it again for her in order to freeze embryos for the future (I'm 43 yrs old so it has to be done quickly).

    Thanks again for writing so openly. Seeing your generosity has encouraged me a lot, as well as your view of it with the Lord.

    May God continue to bless you and your family.

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    1. Wow - what a blessing you have been to your sister!! This nearly brings tears to my eyes. It is evident that the Lord is leading your heart/decisions.

      I'm so glad you stumbled upon my blog and that is has been encouraging to you!

      Blessings!

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    2. Thanks so much Brittnie. I have thought a lot about what you said since reading your post. One of the reasons I was concerned about doing this was because my sister is not following the Lord anymore. I love how you wrote that you had to trust the Lord, and that His faithfulness wouldn't stop with you, but continue on and on. That really comforted me. For me, I gave the outcome to the Lord, and chose to trust Him. I am also so grateful to my husband for being willing to let me do it.

      Thanks again Brittnie.

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    3. You are so welcome. All we can do is continue to put our trust in Him. That is all He asks of us and HE will take care of the rest. All the best!

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  7. I loved reading this. You write so clearly and with such openness. What a gift you have! Thank you for sharing your thoughts. You and Brandon are such amazing parents and adults!

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    1. Well we have lots of good examples of experienced parents. aka you and Chris!!

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  8. Thank you for this post! Before starting infertility treatments my husband and I most definitely talked long and hard about what we were comfortable with and how far we were willing to go. We were very close to moving on to IVF--for many reasons--so we had done a lot of thinking and praying around what we would do with any leftover embryos.

    Anyway, our stance on infertility treatment: Believing that God truly is the author and creator of life, whether or not we got pregnant (and when we did) were ultimately up to him. No amount of medicine or medical intervention could change that. We were very, very blessed to be surrounded by some amazing specialists in our journey. I feel those specialists were truly gifts from God to help us in the process. And I'm so thankful for all of the resources--big and small--that God provided us during the journey.

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    1. I love love your outlook regarding fertility treatments and God's hand in it all. So true and my thoughts exactly. You worded this so well. Ive been following your blog and so excited for you as your due date continues to get closer!!

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  9. I assess your all period, I would suggest you to consult with an IVF assistant. I have one choice to show, Benenden Ivf

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  10. i love reading this ..you write very clean...nice post and informative .
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  11. Wow what an informative blog. Thank you very much for sharing. Looking forward to more!!

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