After IVF is Over: The Decision No One Prepares You For

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Please Note: This is one mom’s experience of a very difficult situation many women will face as they go through their IVF journey. As always, negative comments that do not represent the supportive community of Fargo Mom will be removed. 

It was the summer of 2017. I was in Virginia completing my first clinical practicum, away from Fargo, my family, and my 15-month-old twins, for six weeks.

It had been almost two years since a successful round of IVF gave me those twins, and I was moving forward with my life.

Then, my husband called about a bill for over $1,000 to pay for our yearly embryo storage. I started spiraling backwards.

What people may not know is that during the IVF process, you hope and pray for as many viable embryos as possible. This allows for more opportunities that one will “take” during the transfer and end up your baby.

If you’re lucky enough like we were, you get your baby or babies on the first try. Our family was complete. And we had no need for the other embryos that had already been frozen and shipped to Minneapolis for storage.

With me in full-time graduate school and living away from home for the summer, we were in no position to pay that bill. After my husband’s logical reasoning, I agreed to sign off on the embryos being thawed out during the next cycle.

What followed that decision?

I had a full blown meltdown.

Nothing about that decision felt right. It gnawed away at me for days until I finally called a reproductive clinic in Fargo. I wanted to hear them say, “Even if these embryos were thawed and transferred, they’d never make it.”

I needed to know that my decision wasn’t the reason they didn’t become babies. After all, I picked the “best two” at the time of transfer. Instead, the clinic was super positive, as they typically are, and insisted that these were viable and if I wanted more babies I had a good chance. It’s unusual for someone to call “hoping” their embryos aren’t good.

I moved on to the storage bank in Minneapolis. Surely, they would have some good (bad) news for me. They offered some realistic stats about the thawing out process and said maybe one would take. I then asked them about my options, because I clearly wasn’t ready to thaw them out.

I had friends who were able to donate their embryos to stem-cell research, which I found to be a poetic full circle moment. Since science helped us, it would make sense to help science in return.

However, that was not an option at the time. My options were to either have them shipped to me in a biohazard bag for burial (certainly not the path of least emotional destruction), or I could have them transferred at an “inopportune” time. Meaning, I’d be paying for a miscarriage or rolling the dice and risk getting pregnant. Also not something I was willing to put myself through.

I was stuck between a rock, a hard place, and hell.

I found out the storage bank offers quarterly payments and called my husband to renegotiate. We figured out a way to make the three month payment. Then we had to go through the entire paperwork process of storing embryos again. This meant me sitting at the Wells Fargo in Virginia while he sat in the Wells Fargo in North Dakota, having the documents notarized and faxed over for signatures. It was a hassle, but worth every effort to put my mind at ease.

As of today, those embryos are still frozen. I pay every three months for storage to avoid making a decision.

Talking about IVF has become more common, but no one talks about what the end of IVF looks like. And although it’s your choice what you decide to do with your embryos, I wish I had been more prepared for how to handle this last step.

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Katina Behm
Katina grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia and played field hockey at the University of Connecticut, and has never been in as good of shape since. She met her husband, Justin, at a bar in Pittsburgh and, despite many romantic Skype dates, found a long-distance relationship to be a drag and moved to Fargo in 2010. She's a bonus mom to Justin's son, Owen (2005), and they have twins Augie and Delphi (2016) and two Great Danes, Rainy and Moose. She's a Speech-Language Pathologist & Certified Brain Injury Specialist who enjoys helping her patients improve their quality of life. She is also a Certified Sculpt Instructor at Mojo Fit Studios. Katina loves showing the world to her kids (but also seeing the world through their eyes), trying new foods, listening to live music and publicly mocking her little brother on Instagram. On most weekends, you can find her at one of her kids' many activities by day, and by night on the couch in sweats, eating a homemade charcuterie board and drinking cheap wine she bought at Costco. She still has Skype dates, but now they're with friends and family who live all over the place.


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