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When you’re trying to decide what to do with your leftover frozen embryos, one of the toughest options to consider is using your embryos in an attempt to expand your family further than you originally intended. What makes this choice so challenging is that it has the potential to stretch you in uncomfortable ways in so many areas of your life. This is especially true if you have multiple embryos remaining and your success with pregnancy has been high. However, it’s equally as challenging if you struggled significantly with the IVF process, your marriage, your finances, your career, etc no matter how many embryos you have leftover.
(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.)
When you get down to it. using your leftover embryos and going back through FET is a giant leap of faith no matter how you cut it. Your life might change in various ways, regardless of your circumstances, so this is a difficult choice all around. Going down this road forces you to rethink how you’re living. It forces you to consider out-of-the-box ideas and possibilities. It may even force you to do some things you never wanted or intended to do.
Bottom line, assuming FET is successful for you, adding more kiddos to your family will inevitably bring about several other changes in your life. These adjustments will be more pronounced if you already have several children and continue to add to your brood (this is us – read our story here). There’s definitely a sacrifice in having more.
However, that being said, we’ve found all of the sacrifice and change to be worth it for gaining the children we love. We’ve found that we’re capable and able to live successfully and happily with more kids. Yes, our lives have changed in a myriad of ways, and it’s not how we envisioned it years ago, but our decision has brought more love to our home and peace in our hearts – and we can’t put a price on that.
So, from our experience, we’ve identified several key areas of life that have been affected by our choice to expand our family with our embryos. For us, we maintained a fairly good balance until our fourth came along. After that, the scales tipped, the changes came rapidly, and we were forced to readjust our lives. If you’re considering the same option and want to be more informed about the potential impact it will have, here’s some ways your life might change as you add more children to your family.
1) Your Priorities/Time.
One of the hardest adjustments to make as you continue to grow your family will revolve around redirecting your priorities and your time. This may be especially hard if you’re used to having a very active social life or you have a very demanding work life. Children require a lot of attention so, naturally, your priorities will continue to shift to meet the increase in demand as you continue to expand your family. Each additional child is a wonderful blessing, but you should be prepared to give a little more of yourself each time you add a new member to your nest. This is true for both mom and dad.
Plus, managing a large family takes a lot of time, energy, and planning to run smoothly. There are fewer opportunities to fly by the seat of your pants and be spontaneous. Your time becomes more precious and more intentional.
In general, your family takes precedence over other aspects of your life. At the same time, your work life and social life shouldn’t completely fall apart and go out the window either. Your livelihood is vital to the success of your family and it’s very important that you find time to be socially active as individuals and as a couple. However, overall, expect that how you go about your day might look a little different than it used to and social outings (without kids) will likely exist in a smaller capacity. Creativity, flexibility, and working together as a team are key.
2) Your Expectations.
Another way your life might change is with your expectations for your life and for your family going forward. By now, you’ve realized that the ideas you formulated in your mind years ago are actually very different from your present reality. If you choose to expand your family with your leftover frozen embryos, anticipate that trend to continue. What you think your life will be like 5, 10, or 15 years from now is probably going to be very different than what you’re imagining today.
As a general rule, we’ve found that the best approach is to completely let go of your expectations and be willing to go along for the ride. For some reason, so many of us think that if life doesn’t line up with our expectations, we’ve failed in some way, or we made a mistake, or God made a mistake, or we’re missing out, or it could have been better, etc. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. We really have such a limited perspective in the grand scheme of things. As with anything and everything in life, if you’re willing to give up some of the control and see your unmet expectations through a different lens, you’ll find a multitude of wonderful blessings and surprises rather than perceived disappointments and failures.
3) Your Career.
Unless you have the financial means to hire a nanny or afford daycare for many kids, this is an area that may take a direct hit if you’re the primary caretaker in your family. If your career takes you away from the house on a part-time or full-time basis, you may have to consider pulling back your hours or quitting altogether to become a stay at home mom or dad.
Now, you can certainly still work from home in a variety of ways, if needed. There’s a lot of opportunity to get creative in this area. Or, if your current position has some flexibility, perhaps you can talk to your boss about telecommuting, part-time/per diem hours, or weekend options.
Either way, expect that your life might change in some capacity when it comes to your career. You may need to approach this area of your life with innovation and imagination in order to handle the demands that come with more children. You will likely need a fresh perspective and a different outlook moving forward. What you do and how you carry it out may look slightly different or may change drastically (case in point – I was a RN for years and now I’m a SAHM and online blogger!).
4) Your Marriage.
There’s no easy way around it – another way your life might change when you expand your family is in your marriage. Your time together will dwindle as the number of children you have rises. It’s a simple fact.
However, this doesn’t have to be scary or disheartening. It doesn’t mean you’ll never see your spouse. Actually, right behind God, your spouse still needs to come first! It just means the time you do spend together has to be even more intentional, meaningful, and filled with quality moments. You have to get creative and make the most of the time you have – you may even find that your marriage improves! Overall, this adjustment may be seamless or challenging depending on what your marriage looks like as a whole when you embark on the next part of your journey with your embryos.
(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 at the bottom of this post).
5) Your Parenting.
When you add more children to your family, the way you parent will change because the dynamics of the family will change. Logistics become a little more complicated, especially as your older children become involved in extracurricular activities and your younger children still require naps, a fairly tight schedule, and a lot of one-on-one attention. Meeting the needs of all your kids turns into a bit more of a balancing act. Again, you’ll have to be more intentional and creative with your schedule and your time. In many instances, the whole family will have to function as a team to get it all done (but this is a great way to teach life skills early on!).
In general, this is an area where you may have difficulty until you get the hang of it and get into a groove. It takes a lot of teamwork and imagination. But, take heart! Once you get into the swing of things, you’ll find ways to pour into each child individually to meet their needs. Larger families may mean more work, but they also mean more playmates and more fun. Granted, some days will be smooth and painless where others will challenge and stretch you. But, through it all, you have to keep the big picture in mind. This is a just a season of life like everything else and your children are worth all the hard work and sacrifice. Your time in the parenting trenches may be longer than some, but like anything, it won’t last forever.
6) Your Finances/Spending Habits
Another way your life might change when you attempt to expand your family with your embryos is with your finances and spending habits. If you’re very well off and have the means to raise a large family without difficulty, this area of your life may not need to adjust quite as much as it will for others. However, for the most part, when you add more children to your family, you’ll likely have to reconsider where you’re spending your dollars and how effective you are at saving and managing a long-term financial plan.
You may have to give up some “wants” to take care of your “needs”. In some cases, you may have to use your imagination in order to be resourceful and steward your money well. You may even have to hire help to get a grasp on the current state of your finances and put an effective plan in place moving forward.
It’s important to review these areas frequently anyways, no matter how many children you have, but it becomes more significant as your family grows and your overall budget becomes tighter. If this area is one that gives you significant anxiety, feel free to read our blog post on financial peace.
7) Your Downtime/Vacations.
You may be asking why we’ve included downtime and vacations in this list. It’s because having time to rest, relax, and reconnect is vital to the health of a family and to each person individually. Plus, downtime and vacationing are high on the priority list for many people and can have a strong bearing on quality of life. There are two aspects of downtime to consider – your downtime as a family and your downtime as individuals.
From a family perspective, if you love “stay-cations”, visiting places fairly close to home, short weekend trips, or laid-back escapes like the beach or camping for example, having more children and planning vacations may not be a big deal to you. Perhaps you even love to challenge yourself through budgeting and being frugal. If this is you, this area of your life may not change significantly at all.
However, if you love taking long, extended trips, traveling frequently with your kids, having a lot of extras etc, you may find it more difficult to maintain this lifestyle long-term when you add more children to your family. Now, there’s no saying that you can’t keep this up and have a great time with it. If you can swing it and manage your growing family at the same time, go for it! More power to you! But, in general, you should expect your family downtime and vacations to shift towards activities that are budget-friendly, family friendly, and make sense for a variety of ages.
From an individual/couples perspective, depending on how you currently view and live out your downtime and vacations, this is an area where your life might change minimally or dramatically. The more children you have the more likely your personal time away will decrease. Finding childcare for several children is usually the most challenging factor when you want to go away as a couple. And in many cases, your finances may be a bit more stretched, limiting your options further.
Individually, you should still allow your significant other to get away with friends when you can – but they may be shorter and less extravagant trips. Bottom line, it’s still vitally important that you plan time away from the kids, for your personal health and the health of your marriage. But again, it may look different than it used to look when you had no kids or fewer kids. You may have to accept that your vacations will be fewer and far between during the years when your children are young. You may have to redefine what counts as downtime. As previously said, creativity and flexibility are key.
8) Your Outlook.
Another way your life might change is in your outlook going forward. As you move along on your journey with your family and your embryos, you may find that you’re able to handle more than you ever thought you could. You’ll discover that you’re more capable and able than you’ve given yourself credit for. You may realize that you enjoy a larger family, you’re actually able to make ends much easier than you anticipated, or your overall level of joy has increased. If you decide to take a step of faith and attempt to expand your family through FET, chances are you’ll experience greater hope for the road ahead as you gain confidence and courage in your abilities.
9) Your Faith.
Last, one of the most pronounced ways your life might change when you attempt to expand your family through FET surrounds your faith. As you venture into the great unknown, you’ll come face-to-face with your own values, beliefs, and limitations. You’ll be tested in every way as you put it all on the line – but this is where major faith building occurs. Although it can be downright terrifying, when we give up control and take a leap of faith, it allows God to move and work in ways that we can’t even imagine.
In general, whether you’re a Christian or not, expect your faith and beliefs to be heavily challenged as you journey along. It’s highly likely the person you were at the beginning of this adventure with your embryos won’t be the person you are when your journey finally comes to a close.
Friends, there’s no doubt that attempting to expand your family with your embryos is a giant leap of faith. It takes sacrifice, commitment, and a willingness to look towards your future with a completely different perspective. There’s quite a bit to think about. Your life might change in a variety of ways concerning your priorities/time, expectations, career, marriage, parenting, finances, downtime, outlook, and faith. In fact, many of these areas will be affected regardless of the outcome of your FETs simply because you’re taking a step forward in your journey.
However, we hope you’ve discovered there’s hope, joy, and exponential love to be found here, despite the hard work and sacrifices. We pray you realize that many of the changes that can occur as a result of a larger family are actually positive ones, even if life plays out differently than what you’ve imagined. If you’re seriously considering this option, we pray you won’t let fear of the unknown rob you of the opportunity to experience your life and your family in a whole new, wonderful way. In the end, despite the hardships, we’ve found that it’s all been completely worth it.
Praying for guidance and discernment in your decision 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.