Why do I pay storage fees for embryos I have no intention of implanting?
That was the question I asked myself two years ago. For 6 years I paid annual storage fees for 12 cryopreserved embryos that were leftover from my IVF treatments. Of the embryos that my initial IVF cycle produced, 2 were transferred into the uterus of my surrogate and the remainder were preserved for future transplant.
I was lucky in that the first round of embryo implantation into my surrogate “took” and 8 months later I had twin boys added to my family. Very soon after my twins were born I realized that I no longer felt the urge or need to have more biological children, thus an international adoption was pursued to have a fourth child.
But still the question remained, what to do with the remaining embryos? Even though I knew they would not be used, I felt hesitant to let them go. I felt an emotional connection to them and imagined that they were small babies just waiting to grow. I pictured them looking like my twin boys and wondered if the embryos were male or female.
Finally, however, I made the difficult decision to stop paying the fees. I knew that I didn’t want more children after now having four. I knew that having biological children was not more special than having an adopted child. And I knew that at some point I would have to face the fact that I couldn’t be spending so much money year after year with no intentions of ever using the embryos again.
I called up the storage facility and informed them of my intention to stop paying the fees. I was asked if I wanted to donate my embryos and I said “no.” I couldn’t imagine my embryos being used for medical research or implanted into the womb of another woman. The lab next asked if I wanted to collect the embryos myself or if I wanted them to dispose of the embryos there in the lab. I paused for a moment. I wondered if I should collect the embryos and then do something with them, like bury them or somehow mark the occasion. I decided that was not in my emotional best interest to take them and authorized the lab to dispose of them themselves.
It’s been two years now since my embryos were exposed to air, thus terminating them. I don’t think about the what ifs or could have beens. I’m more upset with myself that I didn’t dispose of them earlier when my twins were born and when I knew that I would not be doing surrogacy again. I think about the money that could have been saved and donated to Smile Train, for example, or another children’s medical foundation.
The frozen embryos are gone, but I’m thankful that we had them in case the first transfer didn’t work out. I’m glad that science exists to be able to freeze embryos in the for other couples so that they don’t have to repeat the entire IVF process if the first round of transfer isn’t successful. I’m OK with having no more embryos and grateful for the two that my IVF produced.