Yesterday, we reached the end of our long, strange journey with ART (assisted reproductive technology). Although my hysterectomy ostensibly signaled the end of our journey having children, there remained two embryos at our fertility center that needed to be taken care of and, yesterday, we finally made our decisions.
Back when we began this journey, we originally intended to donate our embryos to other infertile couples. Having made 11 of them back in March 2010, we were sure there would be plenty left over to share with couples who needed them. Then Mira was diagnosed with CHD, and then we had a miscarriage, and then a failed cycle, and then Patrick was born with an even more serious CHD and died. Of the nine embryos we had used, only three ever implanted, only two ever became birthed children, and only one lives today. We decided that we could not in good conscience donate our embryos to a couple in need knowing there was little chance either embryo would ever become a child and, even if it did, would, in all likelihood, have a complex CHD. The infertility journey is so hard, so punishing on a couple, we simply could not put another couple through what we have. You may think us selfish, but we think we were being kind.
The two remaining options were to donate the embryos to research and to simply take them ourselves. We decided that we could not give them to research. We have nothing against that option but found it was not something we could choose ourselves. Whether it was because we had seen them as our potential children, or our concerns about the CHD aspects and whether the would be useful to research, it makes no real difference. The result is the same. We did not donate them. Instead, we elected to pick them up (which makes them unviable almost immediately upon removal from the freezing process) and lay them to rest near Patrick.
I also decided that I needed to name them. Had they been a failed cycle, I would not. However, because I removed that choice, that opportunity, I feel like I owe them something. And that something is a name. As they were conceived together, and lost their life potential together, I think of them as twins--one boy and one girl: Brent and Rain.
So we have reached the end of this journey. Although others continue--parenting Mira and her CHD issues--this is the one that brought me here, to these pages. It got me writing, thinking, sharing. But I am glad to see it end. I am ready. It's time to move forward. As I continue to recover from the loss of Patrick, I am healed by the end of this spectacularly long and difficult road. There are fewer unknowns. Fewer questions. No regrets. No what-ifs. I am content with the choices we made--both for ourselves and our family. I have a beautiful daughter who, at this very moment, is alternately yelling in frustration and hollering with joyful success at her Disney Princess Wii game in a style worthy of her father. I have the memories of my beautiful son, who lives on through the smiles he shared with so many. My heart is full. Our journey a success. It's time to leave the roller coaster. Time for other rides. We'll see you around the park.
[Note: We have used this blog to share our journey and, as such, I feel that sharing these events is important. I think people need to talk about these things and not hide them in the shadows. I think having a dialog is important in all areas of life. That said, this is a very personal and emotional issue. This post is not an opportunity for debate or to attack our decisions. We offer nothing more or less than an explanation for the choices we made.]