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Whether you’ve just recently gained an abundance of embryos or have been living with them for quite some time, there’s no question that the reality of your circumstances can be overwhelming and confusing no matter where you are in your journey. There are numerous areas of your life to consider when it comes to deciding what to do with your leftover frozen embryos.
We totally understand.
Over the course of the last eight years, Scott and I have dissected our marriage, parenting, home life, finances, and jobs more than once or twice as we’ve weighed all our options for our embryos. Our conversations continue to circle back around to the same topics every couple of years so we can re-evaluate our lives in the present time – inevitably, there is always something new and different thrown into the mix that we must reflect on.
However, although the specifics are worthy of deep discussion and have merit in our decision-making, we have found that there are a few key, over-arching principles that have remained true over the years when it comes to making well-informed choices for our snow babies. Sticking to these principles has served us well and allows us to move forward with peace in our hearts. It isn’t rocket science or a magical solution, but rather general guidelines that keep us on track and moving forward when fear and uncertainty threaten to overwhelm us. We pray these simple, yet vitally important principles help you think clearly, with a long-term perspective, and keep you balanced as you progress in your own journey.
(Are you struggling with what to do with your leftover embryos? We would love to help. Check out our free 10-Step Guide at the bottom of this post.)
1) Talk about your embryos.
This is by and large the first key principle to follow when you have leftover frozen embryos. In order to sift through all the options and keep moving forward in your lives, you have to talk about them on a regular basis with your spouse. This doesn’t mean you have to have conversations every day or even every week, but discussing them at least every few months is a good practice.
If you aren’t in the habit of making them a part of your regular conversation, this may be hard at first. It definitely puts you face-to-face with your feelings, doubts, fears, and struggles. However, there are many benefits to openly discussing your embryos (read about them here) – and the more you exercise your emotional muscle in this area, the easier it becomes to approach and discuss. We encourage you to persevere and push through, resolving to give them the attention they deserve, no matter how difficult. If you come to the conclusion that you want to expand your family, expect that you will need to revisit your discussions with a fresh perspective after the addition of each child.
2) Take your time.
This is such a tough part of your life to address that you may be tempted to make a quick decision, just so you can put it all behind you and move on. We’ve struggled with this ourselves. Fight that temptation. Don’t rush the decision-making process because you’re uncomfortable and want it to end. Give yourself plenty of time to discuss and digest all aspects of the choices before you. Time and experience can change a lot of things, including your thoughts and feelings surrounding your embryos and your family. Wisdom and discernment develop over many years.
If we had succumbed to our anxious thoughts or pressured ourselves to move on before we were truly ready, we would have missed the blessing of our daughter and we wouldn’t be currently preparing for baby #5. Your story may have a different outcome than ours, but allow yourself ample time to make a decision that brings you an unshakable peace in your hearts.
On the flip side, the topic of your embryos may be so painful for you that you may be avoiding the decision-making process all together. We certainly understand this – we were in this stage for the first few years after our twins were born. However, we strongly encourage you not to ignore or avoid the situation – it only leaves you paralyzed and unable to move forward. Do not take so much time to muster up the courage to face your reality that you never get around to making a decision at all.
This is definitely a process and you should absolutely take as much time as you need to carefully and thoughtfully work through the possibilities – but there is a difference in taking your time and being inactive – so we encourage you to start by taking small steps. Start a basic conversation. Little by little, allow your mind and heart to go there. Slowly moving forward is a much better alternative than living your life in limbo for years on end.
(Feeling a little overwhelmed? Our 10-Step Guide helps you process your thoughts and feelings around your embryos while slowly and gently helping you come to decision that will bring peace to your hearts. The guide is available in our free resource library – get the password at the bottom of this post).
3) Don’t make a decision right after having a baby.
This is another incredibly important principle to follow. If you’ve recently had a baby (within the last year or two), we encourage you to wait to make a decision regarding your embryos unless you have an unmistakable leading from the Lord to proceed forward. Otherwise, it may be too early to clearly discern the best choice for you and your family. The months following the birth of a baby are crazy busy and can easily skew your perspective. You tend to focus on the seemingly endless short-term tasks at hand rather than considering long-term outcomes. You may think you can’t handle any more children or you couldn’t possibly donate your embryos to another family, etc, etc – and you may be right. You’re currently in the parenting trenches.
But there is one thing we know very well – your heart and circumstances can change.
You will mature in a variety of ways as your baby grows and you journey along. Let the dust settle and allow time for your lives to level back out and then approach the subject of your embryos again (this has taken us anywhere from 1-2 years each time!). Clarity tends to replace confusion when the fog lifts and the chaos becomes more organized. Given time, you may be flat-out surprised by how different you feel and how much your perspective has changed (we certainly have been!).
4) Lean into the Lord.
Of everything we’ve listed, continuously leaning into the Lord is by far the greatest principle you can implement in order to make well-informed choices regarding your embryos. God is always available, ready to listen, and ready to guide you through the process. Before you go anywhere else for help, before you let any of your emotions run away with you, before you start to dissect anything about your lives, lay it all before Him and ask for his direction, discernment, and wisdom. Spend time with Him individually and as a couple. If you aren’t yet talking about your embryos with your spouse, start with the first step – maybe it’s as simple as asking God for courage to start a conversation. Once the conversations start flowing between you, in addition to your personal time with the Lord, begin praying as a couple for God to reveal His will.
And who better than the Creator of the universe, the One who knows us and our circumstances intimately, to lead us in our endeavors and decisions? God is for us, not against us 1. He works all things together for the good of those who love Him 2. He has plans to prosper us, not to harm us, and to give us hope and a future 3. His thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are higher than ours 4. Nothing is too great for Him 5. Allow the weight of the decision surrounding your embryos to lift off your shoulders as you lay it all at His feet. And then rest, knowing He can handle anything.
Although we often wonder why He chose to bless us with so many embryos, and we don’t always understand what He is doing, Scott and I trust God completely. We’ve experienced His love for us repeatedly and we’ve witnessed Him move mountains on our behalf. We posture ourselves toward Him and lean into His leadership continuously, especially during times of trial, confusion, doubt, and fear.
For us, leaning into God has been THE SOLE REASON we have been able to put one foot in front of the other and continue on our journey with our embryos. He has given us the courage and strength to say “yes” to a larger family and “yes” to adjusting so many areas of our lives to yield to His will. I’ll admit – it hasn’t always been easy and it’s not always what we would have chosen for ourselves. But we recognize that He has known best all along, even when we questioned “why?”.
To this day, we are consistently in prayer – our journey is far from over. But we have peace beyond all understanding because we’re resting in the Lord. We believe He is sovereign, He can see the entirety of our lives, and He has purposes beyond our limited understanding for us, our children, and our embryos. We highly encourage you to seek the Lord first and foremost, leaning not on your own understanding, but trusting Him with all your heart. He promises when you acknowledge Him in all your ways, He will direct your path 6.
Friends, I don’t know where this hits you today but I hope I’ve provided you with some encouragement and guidance about how to proceed forward with wisdom and discernment regarding your leftover embryos. Of course, there are so many areas to consider as you journey along this complicated road, but holding tightly to these principles will ultimately give clarity to the process and help bring you peace in your decisions. Talk about your sweet babies often, give yourselves plenty of time to make a decision, allow the chaos to settle if you have a very young family, and seek the Lord in all you do.
Praying wisdom, discernment, and peace over you.
Are You Struggling With What To Do With Your Leftover Embryos? We would love to help.
Get our free 10-Step Guide to help you take the next steps on your journey with your leftover frozen embryos and begin to live with peace in your hearts. We’ve personally followed each step in this guide on our own journey – and over time we’ve received discernment, clear direction, and hope.
Kindly fill out the form below to get the password for our Resource Library so you can access the guide. We hope you find it helpful, encouraging, thought-provoking, and full of inspiration for your journey.
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. You can also join our email list to receive support, encouragement, and updates on new content and our personal journey.