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Hello my sweet friends!
Many times when we tell our story about our journey through IVF, our embryos, and the decision to expand our family and have more children, we often get shock and surprise from the curious friend, co-worker, or family member as we explain the unique calling on our lives. We aren’t hiding the fact that we intend to use all our embryos if that is what the Lord wills. So, it doesn’t take long to do the math and for the questions to come hard and fast like arrows.
I’m one year away from entering my forties and, with four children and five frozen embryos remaining, one of the first things other people want to know is how many embryos we plan to transfer at a time. So, I thought I’d take the opportunity to discuss our position for those of you who are also curious. Maybe it will also help some of you who are currently facing the same decision.
Unless the Lord directs us otherwise, our answer is plain and simple.
With so many embryos remaining, and limited time to use them all, you may wonder why we’re taking it slowly. Yes, you’re right, that’s a lot of potential pregnancies in the next decade before menopause hits. And, yes, that means we may have to pay for five more rounds of FET. But there is a method to our madness. I invite you to read on as we share our reasoning for transferring one embryo at a time.
(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) Multiple gestation pregnancies carry risks.
Although I’m not going to go into all the medical details here, there are many risks to the mother and to the unborn babies during a multiple gestation pregnancy. I was fortunate to have a fairly uncomplicated pregnancy and delivery with our twins eight years ago. And, thankfully, the boys are very healthy, active children today. But neither of these facts are guaranteed if I were to become pregnant with twins or higher order multiples again.
My circumstances are completely different. In fact, my increasing age, prior three pregnancies, and busy home life would push a multiple pregnancy further into a high-risk category. I’m nearly 10 years older than I was when we first embarked on our journey and I’m running around after four other small children. And even though my previous experience was pretty smooth, I still had tons of extra visits to the OB, perinatologist, and even the cardiologist. I had a scare with pre-term labor that brought me to the hospital at 30 weeks. And at 31.5 weeks, I was put on complete bedrest until the delivery of the twins 6 weeks later. Luckily, they were our first so I had no other kiddos to worry about.
We count it as a major blessing that we had the flexibility to handle those circumstances with ease. I was able to carry the boys to term and avoid many of the complications that can arise during a multiple gestation pregnancy, especially those resulting from pre-term birth. We want to give each of our babies the best chance of survival with the smallest chance of complications. So, from a medical standpoint, transferring one embryo at a time is simply a smart choice.
2) Multiple gestation pregnancies are physically demanding.
From a personal standpoint, my twin pregnancy was physically very demanding on my body. And I was a young, healthy 30-year old! In many ways, my first and second trimesters were no more difficult than a standard singleton pregnancy. However, once I hit my third trimester, it was a game changer.
At 32 weeks, I was measuring what a woman would measure at 40 weeks and ready to give birth…and I still had 5 more weeks to go. I had significant pain in my hips and knees as my weight skyrocketed and my babies packed on the pounds. At night, especially near the end, it was painful to turn over in bed because my belly was so large. I could hardly sleep so I would nap whenever I could to make up for it. I’m not a very big person, and I’m naturally short-waisted, so fitting two full-term babies in there wasn’t easy.
Nine years later, our circumstances are drastically different. The demands on my body and my time have intensified with the addition of each child. With our two pregnancy successes through IVF/FET, and a natural pregnancy in the middle, purposefully transferring one embryo at a time is a wise choice. For me, using two or more embryos during a single cycle would likely result in a multiple gestation pregnancy. This would put an unbearable toll on my body as I continue to care for our home and our other children.
3) Multiples can be difficult on a marriage.
I’m going to be perfectly honest. As much as we love our boys, bringing home multiples was really hard on our marriage. It took a major physical and emotional toll on us. And it was hard for a while. The first year was a complete blur between caring for our babies, balancing our full-time work schedules, and just trying to figure out this thing called parenting. It’s already a challenge to bring home one new baby, but bringing home two or more at a time amplifies and intensifies every aspect of your life ten-fold. The normal routines of infancy become so much more complicated.
Once the twins passed their first birthday, life did begin to fall into place, but we still struggled with our relationship because it had been stressed for so long. When we became pregnant with our third, this was one major area we were concerned about. Would our marriage survive with the additional responsibility of another child? To our pleasant surprise, we found it was much more manageable to maintain a healthy marriage and a balanced life with the addition of one child at a time – his homecoming was easy and smooth in every regard. This remained true when our fourth joined the family.
So, for us, we have to be careful that we make our marriage a priority – and that means we’re transferring one embryo at a time. The last thing we want is a strained or potentially broken marriage – that’s not good for anybody, especially our children, and it misses the whole point of expanding our family in the first place.
4) Multiples take a lot of work and can impact time with other children.
We’re aware that bringing home multiples again would not only be a lot of work, but it would also greatly impact our time with our other children. Each of our children deserves our attention and needs to feel significant within our family. We believe having multiple babies at one time would negatively impact our relationships with our current children because we simply wouldn’t have enough time to spend with them – and that’s a really big deal!
Life with multiples is downright demanding.
When we brought home our twins, we were stretched for time and energy from day one. Overall, they were very healthy, but there were still a few minor medical problems we had to follow up on – so we still had multiple appointments with specialists during the first six months in addition to our regular pediatrician visits. We did a great job getting the babies on the same schedule – but feedings, naptimes, and regular everyday chores were never-ending and completely overwhelming. My mom was my constant companion in those early months while Scott continued to work. She stayed with us as much as possible to help us manage until the babies were sleeping longer intervals at night and the appointments died down. But once this happened, other new challenges would pop up.
The days were very long and it took a lot of help from outside sources to get us through, especially when I returned to my full-time job when the twins were 3 months old. (Although I’m a SAHM now, I still have a full-time job. Juggling the roles of wife, mom-of-four, and homemaker keeps me busier than when I was a full-time nurse working in the hospitals after my twins were born.)
Once the twins hit their first birthday, we assumed it would be easier – and it was in some ways – but it became more difficult in others. If one baby got sick, they both got sick. When one baby wrapped up a developmental stage, the next baby started it. Even as I write this, I simply can’t express in words how physically and emotionally exhausting those early years were.
Can you imagine if we repeated that process, but with four other young children at home? It certainly happens – many, many people (and some we know) have several sets of multiples in their families, some intentionally planned, and some not. However, although anything can happen, it’s not something Scott and I would necessarily choose to do again. We’re transferring one embryo at a time because we simply feel that bringing home multiples at this point would throw our home life so completely out of balance that we would end up neglecting our four beautiful babies that are already here.
5) We trust God.
Most importantly, we know without a doubt that God has a specific plan for our lives and for our embryos. We’re transferring one embryo at a time because we trust Him completely. He plainly says He is for us, not against us, and works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purposes 1. We believe this with our whole hearts. We lean heavily on His many promises throughout Scripture.
Two of our favorite verses are well-known – and for good reason. Proverbs 3:5-6 says “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” 2. Jeremiah 29:11 says “For I know the plans I have for you” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” 3.
We take Him at His word. We have no idea why He gave us so many embryos or how He is ultimately going to work this out. We’re putting one foot in front of the other, submitting to His leadership and guidance, with absolutely no concept of where He is taking us. We’re definitely not leaning on our own understanding, or the norms of society, or what the world says is wise, smart, acceptable, right, or just. He is our foundation and the rock on which we stand. We’ve experienced His provision every step of the way, in one way or another.
This is not to say that we don’t let our thoughts get the better of us – we do. We wouldn’t be human otherwise. But our faith in the Lord keeps us from being paralyzed by fear. We can keep going because, when we step in faith, God promises to make a way.
Bottom line, we do not feel as if we have to push harder and transfer multiple embryos in order to try to solve this on our own. We feel the Lord around us, urging us towards peace, reassuring us that He already has it all figured out. We have hope and our future is in His hands. Our job is just to follow where He leads – and at this time, we do not sense Him directing us to move any faster than one baby at a time.
Friends, I want to be perfectly clear – I’m not at ALL saying that multiples are bad, or multiples are wrong, or multiples aren’t blessings – we love our twins and wouldn’t trade them for the world! But we’ve been down this road before and it was very hard for us. We know how demanding the pregnancy can be and how difficult it is to bring home more than one baby at a time. We know how much work the first few years are when you’re parenting multiple children of the same age. It’s intense.
And now that we have four other children at home that also need our time and attention, we believe the best choice for us is to take it slow and allow the integration of each additional child to happen gradually. Now, if God has other plans, then so be it! We have no grounds to tell Him “no”. However, barring any unforeseen direction from the Lord, transferring one embryo at a time is our plan moving forward.
That being said, if you’re considering a different route with your embryos and choose to transfer several at a time, we’re so happy and excited for you!! That’s wonderful!! Your choice is unique to you, your situation, and your family. Your experiences will be yours alone and may not look anything like ours. We hope you’re blessed beyond measure!!! We pray for you often and want God’s best for you and your precious babies.
If you have any additional questions, please comment below or contact me! I’ll be happy to answer you as best I can. Hopefully, you’ve learned a little something through our experiences and I’ve satisfied your curiosity!
As always, we are praying for your decisions with your embryos!
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. We pray you find it helpful, encouraging, thought-provoking, and full of inspiration for your journey. Access the guide here.
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.
- See Romans 8:28-31.
- The Bible. New International Version. Bible Gateway/Biblica, 2011. BibleGateway.com, www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Proverbs+3%3A5-6&version=NIV. Accessed 24 Apr. 2019.
- The Bible. New International Version. Bible Gateway/Biblica, 2011. BibleGateway.com, www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=jeremiah+29%3A11&version=NIV. Accessed 24 Apr. 2019.