I posted last week about my chat with our embryologist about being able to pick the sex for our third child if we have a male-female mix of normal embryos. Honestly, I’m hoping that the normal ones all come back the same sex so that there’s no wondering what was left unused. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
I looked into it quickly and PGD testing is covered by our insurance, so I’m assuming they’ll cover PGS as well. If it’s not covered, I’ll see if they can just do PGD testing on them, but I’m not sure they do that. But I bet they do. But I don’t really know. Anyway, because it’s looking like this testing is covered by our insurance, and we’re quickly burning through our deductible and OOP max with Matthew’s weekly speech therapy appointments, we’ll for sure do the testing.
There are a few things to really, really think about here:
- Do we really want to know what the sexes are of the normal embryos?
- Do we want to pick which sex to transfer first, second, and so on until we’re successfully pregnant or out of embryos?
- If we choose the sex at time of transfer, do we want to tell anyone that we did so?
- If we choose not to select sex, when do we want to find out what the sex is of the one they transferred?
- If we hit the jackpot again on the first transfer, and there are more normal embryos remaining, do we want to know their sexes?
- When would we tell people the sex of the baby?
So starting at the top (Do we really want to know what the sexes are of the normal embryos?), we don’t think we want to know the sexes of the normal embryos unless they’re all the same sex. We just don’t want to go in knowing that, say, there are two girls and a boy, and then start thinking about them as little people who may, or may not, be lost in the whole game of implantation, embryo development, miscarriage, etc. Like I said, if all of the normal embryos (and I use “all” loosely because we could have none, we could have one, we could have a few, but we won’t have 5!) are the same sex, sure, tell us ahead of time. But if they’re not all the same sex, I don’t want to think about the ones that may be left in the freezer or wonder if we should have chosen which sex to transfer. In this situation, I don’t want choices. I don’t know why I would want to know if they’re all the same sex, but I do. I think when they’re all the same, it’s not as easy to view them individually. I’m not sure that makes sense.
Do we want to pick which sex to transfer first, second, and so on until we’re successfully pregnant or out of embryos? I guess the answer to the first question answers this question. We knew, from the beginning of this discussion hours before I blogged about it, that we would NOT choose the sex of the embryo to transfer. There are MANY reasons for this.
First and foremost, had we had the option with Matthew, we probably would have chosen to transfer a girl – and look at what a mistake that would have been! I mean, yes, we would have loved that girl as much as we love our boys, but I believe I was truly destined to be the mother of one, then two boys. Fate knows me better than I know myself, and she knew that boys were right for me. If we’re meant to have another boy, then fate will tell us that. If it’s our turn to have a girl, she’ll tell us that instead. I believe we truly get what we’re supposed to have, so we’re leaving this up to a higher power (including the embryologists!).
Another reason we’re not selecting the sex is because we just want them to transfer the best embryo on transfer day. I am sort of over this whole IVF bullshit, in all honesty, and the idea of the anxiety of it just rattles my brain and my heart. I say, give us the best one from the get-go so hopefully I can be done with this process. I’m getting too old, and too hardened, to keep going through it (but I will keep going until the normal ones are used up in our quest for Baby #3). Now, there is a flip-side to this working the first time and that’s having normal embryos left over. Without PGS, I could have convinced myself that the remaining embryos probably weren’t viable anyway, but with PGS, we’ll know if we have normal, viable embryos left. So maybe I don’t want it to work the first time. I don’t know. My feelings on that will change, I’m sure, once we know how many normals we have.
If we choose the sex at time of transfer, do we want to tell anyone that we did so? Hell no! Well, maybe we’d tell someone, but definitely not many people. We for sure would not tell my family, or B’s family, or friends who have already expressed their opinions that choosing the sex is a bad idea. I’ve actually felt out a few people on this topic just to see what they would say, knowing full well that we weren’t going to pick the sex, and the responses have been dramatically different from person to person. I still stand by my thought that, ‘hey, someone is picking the sex (the embryologist) so why shouldn’t it be us if we want to?’ – but we don’t want to. Not everyone sees it the way we see it, and that’s OK. But knowing that, there’s no way we’d tell most people that we did pick the sex if we decided to (which we decided not to do).
Now for the questions that do apply to us since we won’t be picking the sex on transfer day.
If we choose not to select sex, when do we want to find out what the sex is of the one they transferred? This is tough. Really, really tough. Part of me thinks I won’t be able to control myself and will ask right after transfer – like seconds after they put him or her in (see what just happened there – it’s no longer an “it” and now is a “him or her”). The logical me says to wait until we see a strong, solid heartbeat at the 6 week scan. Then the crazy me pipes in and says, “at transfer, and no later than at the rising beta.” B would like to wait until the ultrasound, and I think he’s being sound and logical. Therefore, our goal is to wait until the first or second ultrasound. I can’t stand the thought of knowing what was transferred, and thinking of it as “him or her,” and then getting a BFN. I think the loss would feel compounded if I knew I lost a boy or girl, rather than a mass of cells. Those blasts are so full of hope, but to view them as pink or blue just adds even more hope to them, and consequently more disappointment if they don’t implant. So yes, at the 6 week scan. Please remind me of that in November.
If we hit the jackpot again on the first transfer, and there are more normal embryos remaining, do we want to know their sexes? No. No, no, no. We already view those embryos as babies, even though we know that statistically, only 40-50% of them are even normal (so 2-3 of our 5, if we’re lucky). Here’s the thing that gets me. Bryson was frozen – he was in the freezer for exactly 2 years to the day. Gazing at him, I know what that freezer may be holding. I know the babies that they could become. Because this will be our last baby for good medical safety reasons, I can’t know what we won’t be using. I can’t view them as boys or girls. I can only view them as the gifts they are to us in the state they’re in. They are the potential for life, and if they remain after we successfully deliver our third child, they will be transferred into me, off-cycle, where they can live out their remaining time where they truly belong. I can’t spend those hours and days thinking of them as more than the gift of hope and promise that they were and will always be to us. (Just writing this makes me tear up.)
When would we tell people the sex of the baby? Well, this one is easy. Because I can’t keep my mouth shut, as soon as we know, we’ll tell people. It will actually be fun to be able to tell people at 6 weeks what we’re having. I’ll even tell people that we had the option of selecting gender, but that we didn’t do it for the reasons above. I’m an open book, and I have no problems sharing how this whole IVF thing works.
Honestly, if I could pick the perfect situation for us, I’d hope for just one normal embryo that will transfer well, implant nicely, and develop into a perfect, healthy baby. But we all know how IVF works – there are no guarantees even when the embryos are perfect (we’ve now lost 6 “perfect” embryos) and having embryos in reserve is the insurance policy we all want. Because we’ll be done building our family with Baby #3, I truly hope we have no embryos left when we’re all done with this. If we have more than one normal embryo when we start, I almost hope we fail the first time so that we can get to the one(s) that remain. I truly believe that things happen for a reason, and if we would fail with all of them, as much as that would break my heart, at least I’d know we gave them all a chance. Not giving a perfect, normal embryo a fighting chance has to be an awful feeling that I ‘m not interested in feeling. But I may have to. But I may not.
So there you go. The answers to many complicated questions that surround this whole thing. It’s wild to think about. But fun too. But scary at the same time.