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Hey there dear friends,
I hope this finds you well and we can speak some peace and comfort into your hearts today.
If you’re anything like us, when you think about your embryos, you can’t stop the emotional tidal wave that immediately comes flooding through the gates of your soul. It’s strong and powerful and immensely overwhelming.
(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.)
And, honestly, it’s hard to pick apart exactly what you’re feeling at any given time. Your emotions are all jumbled together with no sense of orderliness, like splattering paint on a canvas. You don’t know which one will be the most prominent, the most colorful, the one that stands out above the rest. Each day is a little different from the last, which makes it hard to pinpoint exactly what lies deep beneath the surface.
It’s taken time, but over the course of several years, we’ve learned how to approach this area of our lives and separate and process our individual thoughts and feelings around our embryos. There have been a lot of tough conversations, reflection, soul-searching, and prayer. Most of the feelings we identified came as no surprise to us, like sadness, anxiety, confusion, and fear.
But one in particular caught us off guard.
It was quietly hiding in the background and we almost missed it. We realized it was one of the main reasons that we had such a hard time moving forward for so long. We paid it no attention and ignored its presence even though it would frequently make subtle guest appearances in our everyday lives. Lurking silently in the corner of our hearts was…
We didn’t even realize it was there, affecting our thoughts and permeating our hearts. It had masqueraded around in understated ways like disappointment, regret, discontent, irritation, restlessness, frustration, dissatisfaction, or unhappiness. We’d failed to understand that we were, in fact, experiencing a deep loss. We were unaware we were entrenched in grief, beyond the stage of denial, but stuck in our anger without even knowing we were stuck in the first place.
Worst of all, we couldn’t see what God was trying to do. Unbeknownst to us, our anger had hindered us from hearing His voice, moving forward in our decision, and walking out His purposes for us and for our embryos. Once we figured it out, we went on a rollercoaster ride as we learned how to accept it, embrace it, and own it. It wasn’t until we allowed ourselves to fully experience this emotion that we were able to start healing, see clearly, and take our first steps toward a resolution.
Friends, maybe you’ve been feeling the same way but haven’t wanted to admit it to yourselves. Or maybe you can admit that you’re angry, but you feel guilty or shameful because you think you shouldn’t feel this way. Or maybe a lightbulb just clicked on and these words are jumping off the page and into your heart. You’re realizing for the first time that you’re harboring anger you didn’t know you had. Whichever way this hits you, I want to take a moment and cover you with grace.
If this is you, we want you to know – it’s OK to feel angry when you think about the position you’re in with your embryos.
Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Here’s why…
1) You didn’t ask for this.
Let’s be completely real and honest. This is the LAST thing you ever thought would happen when you embarked on your journey of infertility. You had no way of knowing. Period. You were hoping to have one child of your own, maybe two, if you were lucky. You may have expected that IVF would fail completely, like it did for so many of our friends that went before us.
So, it comes as a complete shock and surprise to find out that you’ve been blessed with not one or two or three embryos but six, eight, ten or more. It’s another shock when IVF works the first or second time and all of a sudden those beautiful embryos are “leftover”.
Never in a million years did you forsee that you would be in this situation, making incredibly tough moral and ethical choices. No one in their right mind asks for this, so when it’s handed to you, its normal to experience difficult and strong emotions in response to such a gift. It’s ok to feel angry when you’re put in this position.
One of the hardest comments we’ve ever gotten is “Well, you went through IVF. You kind of asked for this”. Not only is this highly offensive and insensitive, it’s a COMPLETE lie. But, unfortunately, for a long time, we believed it.
Although we made a conscious choice to use assisted reproductive technology, we wrongly chastened ourselves that we should’ve known better and been prepared to accept this outcome beforehand. And what’s more, the IVF process had given us two beautiful children, so how could we possibly be angry? We began to feel guilt and shame about our conflicting emotions, like we didn’t have the right to be upset. To our own detriment, we buried our anger deep inside and refused to acknowledge it. It took a long time for us to understand and accept the truth that our anger was normal and reasonable and what we were feeling was not wrong.
2) Whether you realize it or not, this is a loss and you’re grieving.
You may be wondering how exactly your leftover frozen embryos equate to a loss in your life – dear friend, you’re grieving the loss of a dream.
You’re grieving that your reality is completely different from the expectations you had at the beginning of your journey. You’re grieving the fact that you’re living in limbo when everyone else is moving on. You’re grieving that you may have to say goodbye to the children you prayed so hard for. You’re grieving because your life may have to change drastically in order to come to a resolution. You’re grieving because you have an incredibly difficult decision to make that no one else can understand.
Coping with the reality of having leftover frozen embryos is far from easy and absolutely translates into real, felt losses in several areas of your life. Losing something dear to us often results in feelings of anger as we desperately grasp for what was or what could have been.
(Sorting out your emotions is hard. 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 at the bottom of this post).
3) Anger is a normal part of the process.
Do you remember learning about the five stages of grief and loss in psychology (Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance)? Although it was taught as a framework to explain and identify emotions and feelings around the death of a loved one, it applies profoundly to your position with your embryos (side note: A sixth stage has since been identified – meaning – read more here) 1.
Although you may not be living in denial – after all, you’re reading this blog – it’s possible you are living in anger, maybe without even knowing it. Everyone processes their grief differently, and not all people will experience the same emotions in the same order or at the same time, but if you’re experiencing anger, you must understand that this is a normal part of the process and its ok to feel angry – and I would go so far as to say it’s even good because it’s a step toward restoration in your heart.
If you’ve been fighting it, stop.
Allowing yourself to fully experience your anger and your pain is necessary in order to move on and heal. If you suppress it or ignore it, you’ll never be able to proceed forward towards acceptance and, ultimately, a resolution.
4) God expects your anger and can handle how you feel.
Friends, your anger, and all of your feelings surrounding your embryos, are no surprise to God. He knew this was going to come as a shock to you. He knew you were going to feel disappointed and let down when He handed you His plan for your life instead of giving you the life you expected. When we can’t see what God’s doing, or we don’t understand His choices – when we’re left wondering “why?” – it’s a perfectly natural and normal response to feel angry as we digest a reality we weren’t prepared for.
And guess what? It’s ok to question God, be angry with Him, and tell Him how you feel. Not only does He expect it, but He can handle your raw emotions and love you just the same in spite of them. He knows it’s going to take you time to process your position with your embryos and come to terms with your circumstances.
Although it doesn’t erase our anger, it does help to remember that we have a parent-child relationship with God that is full of love and grace. There is no need to feel guilty or shameful for feeling the way we do. Do we love our children all the same even when they’re angry with us? Do we expect they will be mad when things don’t go their way? Are we prepared to handle those reactions? Do we still do what is right for our kids even though we know we will be the recipients of their frustrations? Do we give them grace as they work it out and come to terms with their situation, thoughts, or feelings? The answer to all of these questions is a resounding YES.
God will not only allow you the space to process, but He will faithfully love you and uphold you as you grieve. Talk to Him and tell Him honestly how you feel. Be vulnerable and put words to your pain. Open up the gates and let the flood pour out before Him. Shake your fists, yell, scream, cry. Give it all to Him and lay it at His feet. Its ok to feel angry. He can handle it. God loves you, He isn’t going anywhere, and He isn’t disappointed or surprised that you’re struggling with accepting His plan for your life.
Friends, I hope this helps you to pinpoint, recognize, and name some of the feelings you’re having around your embryos. If you discover that you’re struggling with anger, please know that it’s perfectly ok to feel this way. Remember that you didn’t ask for this, you’re grieving a loss, anger is a normal part of the process, and God expects it and can handle it. In fact, acknowledging, accepting, and working through your anger is a vital part of the healing process. Although painful and challenging, we highly encourage you to allow yourself to fully experience this difficult emotion so you can keep taking steps towards a resolution.
Praying courage and peace over your hearts.
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.
- Grief.com, www.Grief.com, grief.com/the-five-stages-of-grief/.