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It had been 10 years since our two frozen embryos were stored in a Vat of liquid nitrogen in a clinic in Dublin while we raised our miracle daughter Ella. Mark my husband and I were paralysed with the decision of what to do. Weeks had turned to months which then turned to years. We had no clue how to move forward, or if we even wanted to.

These embryos- created from my eggs and Marks sperm and a lot of money, represent a tiny fraction of the millions of embryos frozen across the world. Many of these will be implanted in the hope of making more babies. But for others they are stuck in limbo (like we were), dependent on people who are complete making their family and now have an agonising decision to make.

But we were we done? What were the options available to us?

  • Thaw and discard them
  • Donate them to another infertile couple
  • Donate for scientific research
  • Have a ‘Compassionate transfer’
  • Move forward and do our final Frozen Embryo Transfer (I am superstitious as we transferred two on our only successful cycle)

Thaw & Discard them.

In this disposition choice, the fertility lab removes the embryos from liquid nitrogen and allows the embryos to come to room temperature without a period of culture or any attempt to retain viability. The embryos are then discarded as medical waste.

For many people they find relief and closure this way, but we knew we couldn’t bring ourselves to destroy the embryos.

Donate to another couple

Embryo donation is a way to donate fertilised embryos to couples who are unable to produce viable embryos on their own (those who need both an egg and sperm donation). Although donating to another couple is such a gift, but Mark and I talked about this and we can’t imagine giving up embryos that are Ella’s siblings and my children, to someone else to raise. I can’t imagine another replica of Ella in the world.

Donate to scientific research

Donating embryos to scientific research is an option that puts the otherwise unused embryos to good use and contributes to scientific study. Donating the embryos to scientific research somehow felt wrong too. Although intellectually I understood that the studies designed to learn more about embryo development are important, even necessary, to improve future IVF outcomes for other couples, we didn’t like the thought of experiments being conducted on a little piece of us. My husband Mark agreed.

Compassionate Transfer

During a compassionate transfer, the embryos are implanted back into my uterus in the time during my cycle when it’s the least likely to cause a pregnancy. The embryo is then disposed naturally through my next menstrual cycle. Not all fertility specialists will perform a compassionate transfer, but we discussed this with our Dr and this option was available to us.

All of these options are presented in a straightforward manner on paper, but actually making a decision and moving forward was ultimately the hardest decision ever. Weeks and then months and then years passed, and no decision made, but never forgotten.

Move Forward with our Final Frozen Embryo Transfer

We had to unpack this mentally and figure out why we were so paralysed and couldn’t move forward. We were ready to shut the door on the possibility of having more children? Was I willing to let fear hold me back?

After reviewing all of the options above we both knew in our hearts that we wanted to at least try one last time to give Ella a sibling. I have always believed we would have another child.

There are numerous options and considerations, and every couple’s or individual’s decision will vary according to personal beliefs and financial considerations. For us the right decision is to move forward with no regrets.

So, fingers crossed for May transfer.


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