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Good morning, my friends.
I know you may be reading this post with a little trepidation. This is definitely one of those conversations you may be avoiding in order to protect your fragile heart – and I totally get it. After having our twins in 2011, Scott and I couldn’t even approach the subject of our embryos for several years. It was incredibly difficult to face and it was easier to live our lives as if they weren’t there. We pretended life was great, but secretly, we both harbored feelings of anxiety, fear, uncertainty, and responsibility toward our cryo-preserved babies.
It was just easier not to talk about it.
However, over time, as the twins grew older, the reality of it began to weigh us down and, slowly, our thoughts and feelings started to rise to the surface. We’d just begun to bridge the conversation of what to do with our leftover embryos when the Lord surprised us in early 2014 with an all-natural pregnancy. Our third son was born that October and, although the conversation surrounding our embryos didn’t completely die, with six embryos remaining, the reality of our situation was almost too much to bear. So, we re-buried our discussions as we focused on raising our three boys.
But, inevitably, they surfaced again less than two years later.
This time the pressure was too much, and honestly, I was about to unravel. I felt hopeless. The situation seemed impossible…but I had to face it. We had to face it. We would never reach a resolution or peace in our hearts if we weren’t willing to go there. I’ll admit – it wasn’t easy. Scott was resistant at first because talking about it would open a floodgate of emotions that he wasn’t sure he was ready to deal with. I wasn’t so sure I was ready myself, but I knew I couldn’t function in denial much longer. Continually burying our worries wouldn’t solve anything, and worse, we could feel the hint of discontentment rising in our marriage and the trickles of frustration affecting our parenting because of it.
Bottom line, the benefits of talking about our embryos were greater than the risks of staying silent.
Our emotional, spiritual, and even our physical health depended on it. Our marriage, our children, our whole lives demanded that we confront it. So, slowly and gently, we entered the great unknown of our emotions, feelings, and fears. Little by little, we dissected our lives and what it would mean to discard our embryos, donate them, or have more children. We allowed the embryos, and their existence, to become fully real. The conversations were hard, but necessary to keep moving forward.
And you know what?
As we talked, we began to breathe a little easier. As we prayed, we detected a courage that hadn’t been there before. We were no longer allowing fear to paralyze us or allowing anxiety to keep us silent. Instead of letting our situation take hold of us, we took hold of our situation. We were actively addressing our circumstances. It was finally out in the open. We were in this together with God leading the way…and through our step of faith, God has taken us on an incredible journey that is still unfolding today. I think back to those conversations and, as tough and raw as they were, I’m so thankful we took the plunge and dove headfirst into the waters of uncertainty.
There are so many blessings we would have missed.
It was worth all the sadness, anger, confusion, frustration, and tears. It was worth the fighting and disagreements. And it was worth the pain.
As we continue to journey along, its still worth it today.
Friends, the benefit and importance of talking about your frozen embryos cannot be understated. Opening the lines of communication unlocks the door to possibilities that silence can never present. If this is you, struggling to face the reality of your situation, or afraid to discuss your embryos with your spouse, please know we completely understand.
We’ve been there.
However, we want to empower you and encourage you to step out in faith. There is absolutely everything to gain and nothing to lose. You cannot move forward in your lives if you are paralyzed in one position. With humility and our deepest prayers for your hearts, please read on as we share nine different reasons you may want to consider taking this important step.
(Not sure where to begin? Check out our 50 Conversation Starters for parents with leftover frozen embryos at the bottom of this post).
1) It honors your embryos.
First and foremost, this is an act of love toward your embryos. You went through A LOT to get them and they are special, important, and valuable. Just like all of your children, they are deserving of your attention. By talking about them, you affirm and recognize that they exist and are worthy of ongoing discussion.
2) It strengthens your marriage (even if it doesn’t seem like it at first).
This is also an act of love towards your spouse. It’s so easy to get caught up in your own feelings and emotions and forget your spouse may also be suffering in silence. By bringing this subject to the surface, even if you don’t want to, it demonstrates to your spouse that you are willing to put his/her needs ahead of your own. He or she may desperately want to talk about your embryos, but could be unsure how to bring it up. It provides an opportunity for your partner to process and heal. Communicating is respectful towards each other and allows for openness, honesty, and vulnerability in the marriage.
Now, I’ll be direct – not all of our conversations were pretty – and yours may not be either. Your embryos are a tough topic. We definitely had our fair share of fights and disagreements and it took some time for our hearts to align and come to a decision that brought us both peace. But as we worked through all of our concerns, listened wholeheartedly to one another, prayed, and reconciled our differences, our relationship deepened and strengthened and we were absolutely better for it.
3) It strengthens and refocuses your parenting.
Simply talking about your children and your embryos, how much it took to get where you are, how special they are, how hard you’ve worked, how precious life is, etc naturally makes you reflect on yourselves as parents and how you approach, guide, love, and discipline your kids. We noticed immediately that our hearts softened even more for our children as we discussed our embryos.
Admittedly, it’s easy to get caught up in the frustrations of toddlerhood or the rivalry of siblings. Being in the parenting trenches is hard. Try as we might, our efforts to be super awesome parents have been, at times, an epic fail. But when we started talking, we were forced to recall where it all began. After a long, hard day of parenting, we noticed were able to take difficult moments more in stride. Our approach became more gentle. Our discipline became more loving. Overall, the atmosphere around our parenting changed as we began to recall our journey and remember what special gifts our children truly are.
4) It aids in identifying unresolved feelings so you can start working through them.
Talking and communicating about your embryos simply, but profoundly, helps you identify your feelings, put words to your concerns, begins the process of working through your fears, and gives you an opportunity to heal. Getting it out in the open and sharing your thoughts with your partner makes such a difference in your emotional and spiritual health. The weight of the world can literally be lifted off your shoulders by allowing yourself to explore your emotions out loud.
(Through our conversations, Scott and I were surprised to learn we were struggling with this emotion. Maybe you are too? Also, many of the questions we discussed are in our Conversation Starters worksheet at the bottom of this post.)
5) It’s the first step towards a resolution.
This is a big one – it’s so important. Friends, what do we all really want?
We want resolution. For a choice to be made. For our pain to be resolved.
To live our lives with peace in our hearts.
Talking about your embryos is the first step towards a resolution and closure in this area of your life. It opens the door to possibilities and is the first step toward action. I wish for all of us that the decisions of what to do with our embryos were easy and uncomplicated – but they just aren’t. We have to do the emotional work of facing our circumstances and talking through each possibility. But, the more you lean in and devote yourself to these conversations, the more the missing pieces and unanswered questions will fall into place.
6) It avoids a missed opportunity.
It’s easy to go years, perhaps even a decade or longer, without discussing your embryos or making a decision. And I completely get that. It took us quite a while to plunge forward in the decision making process.
However, what if you’re missing an opportunity by delaying these conversations?
My heart hurts to think that years may pass before you realize you may have missed out on something God intended for you – with your embryos, with God Himself, with your spiritual or emotional health, or all of the above.
When we started talking about our embryos, neither of us was sure what to do or how this was going to unfold. However, slowly but surely, as the conversations continued and we humbled ourselves before God, praying for wisdom and guidance and for His will to be done, our hearts were changed and brought into alignment. We realized God was leading us to have more children and we were actually ok with it. If we had waited longer or never talked at all, our precious daughter, a child full of absolute radiant joy, may not have been here. What’s more, we had the added opportunity to see God work miracles in our lives, deepening and strengthening our faith even further. We’ve been blessed with an indescribable peace along the way.
Even now, in our late thirties, we talk about our embryos often and pray for the next steps. We know He’s leading us to have another baby, but we’re waiting on His timing. Bottom line, we don’t want to be beyond our childbearing years and miss an experience out of fear. We want to have no regrets. We’re leaning in and willing to accept what is given to us, grateful to receive any opportunities that present themselves, whatever they may be.
Although the opportunities that come your way may be different than ours, talking about your embryos early and often avoids missing out on an experience you might otherwise not have.
7) It makes sure your wishes are fulfilled.
Although it’s scary to think about, unfortunately, we don’t know the future and whether or not we will live into old age or whether life may blindside us with divorce or the death of a spouse. The last thing we want to do is leave this decision to someone else – not just because they may not understand your wishes but because it also becomes a difficult burden for them to bear. Embryos can be a huge source of legal contention and emotional distress. Taking steps to discuss your frozen embryos, and even involving them in your will, ensures your preferences are carried out on your terms, in your time frame, and is respectful to the emotional health of you, your extended family, and any other parties who could potentially be involved in the decision making process.
8) It strengthens your faith.
Although most of us would rather not walk through the valleys of life in order to have a deeper spiritual maturity, the reality is that is where major faith building occurs. We have come to know and trust the Lord more intimately as we’ve walked this complicated road. It is at our lowest moments that He has shown us His unfailing love and mighty power as never before. And it all started with that small seed of courage, that first step of faith during that first conversation, where the Lord showed us His promise to walk with us all the way through.
When we thought the impossible was before us, He showed us nothing was too difficult for Him, and He made a way. As we turned to Him in desperation and hopelessness, He restored our souls, changed our hearts to align with each other and His purposes, and He directed our path. Would we have come to these conclusions and realizations on our own? If we had avoided the hard questions, would our trust in God be as pronounced? Would our faith be as strong? Would we feel this kind of peace? I’m 110% certain we would not. We’re so grateful for the tough conversations that led us into a deeper walk with the Lord. We know we aren’t traveling this road alone.
9) Most importantly, it fills you with hope.
At the end of the day, one of the most important outcomes of talking about your frozen embryos is the reality that you slowly become filled with hope as the possibilities for your family are acknowledged, discussed, prayed about, and lived out. The silence existing between you that quietly steals your joy is replaced by the promise of hope that a resolution surrounding your embryos can be attained. When doubt clouds our minds, and fear grips our hearts, it is hope from the Lord that renews our strength. Hope brought us to where we are and hope keeps us going. Hope, my friends, can do amazing things.
Friends, our prayer is this has provided you with encouragement, empowerment, and sound reasoning to have these important discussions about your embryos. If you need additional, real-time support to help you take this important step, we would love to help. Please consider joining our private FB community, Leftover Frozen Embryos Support Group, to talk with other parents just like you.
We pray you come to realize, as we have, there is so much to gain and nothing to lose. As you move along in your journey and talk about your snow babies, remember…
…you are capable of making a good decision.
…you can sustain your marriage through the process.
…you can continue to be good parents no matter what.
…you can work through and move past your unresolved feelings.
…you will someday have a resolution.
…you won’t miss what God has in store for you.
…your desires for your embryos will come to pass.
…your faith will carry you through.
You can do this.
Grab a bottle of wine, take a step of faith, and start the conversation today.
Praying for the road ahead and for peace that surpasses all understanding.
Our 50 Conversation Starters for Parents with Leftover Frozen Embryos
Get our 50 Conversation Starters worksheet here. We hope they bless you and help you and your spouse sort out your feelings and emotions around your embryos and your lives moving forward.
P.S. If you need additional support or guidance as you consider your choices with your embryos, please join our private FB community, Leftover Frozen Embryos Support Group. Here, we talk in real time with other parents about the difficulties of living life with leftover frozen embryos and the options we have moving forward.