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Ethical decisions in IVFHi and Happy Fertile Friday!!  So we did it, we decided to go ahead and do IVF! All the smaller steps we were taking to try to create a baby – such as IUI and mini-IVF – simply haven’t worked. So I’m putting on my big girl panties and taking the plunge. It’s really scary, getting even more emotionally invested, spending thousands and thousands of dollars, putting my body through a hormonal roller coaster, with no guarantee of a positive outcome. But this is our best chance so we’re going for it!  In amongst the excitement and sense of new hope, there are some ethical decisions in IVF that can be challenging, and we’re navigating all of that too.

I have always been interested in hearing people’s perspectives about various moral and ethical elements of IVF. And when I say interested, I mean non-judgementally, open-mindedly, genuinely interested. Far be it for me to know what’s best for other people, but now we’re in this situation ourselves, we’ve had to think long and hard about a few things.

I’m of the opinion that life is created at conception – so for us, we’re rolling the dice trying to have one more successful pregnancy, without creating too many more embryos. We don’t particularly want twins (we wouldn’t implant more than two embryos), and I’m not that interested in having more than one more pregnancy. We would love one more child and then our family would feel complete.

So what happens if we end up with two embryos? Or three? We want to optimize our chances, and the chances of genetic issues at my age (statistically) are way higher, so it makes sense to try to harvest as many eggs as possible. We’ll be happy and grateful is we do get one good one, and that may be all we can expect at this stage if the statistics on age and success rates really apply. If we get more, what would we do?

The answer is that we would try to bring them all to life in our family. If it came to that, we’d have more kids and love them all. It wasn’t our initial plan, but since when do initial plans end up the way we expect them to in life? We wouldn’t leave behind any viable embryos and we’d welcome each and every child with gratitude and excitement.

The other question in IVF is to do genetic testing or not. We are opting to do it, mostly because of my age. Dave and I have always said that if we were to have a child with Down’s Syndrome or something that has a chromosomal basis, but is not life threatening, we would be open to that and feel somewhat honored that God chose us to raise and nurture a special-needs child. In our first pregnancy we actually opted out of most of the genetic testing because it wouldn’t have changed any of our decisions to have that baby – we were already pregnant and absolutely nothing would have made us terminate. However, I do see that genetic testing can help to identify embryos that have such severe chromosomal abnormalities that they wouldn’t survive life, or wouldn’t survive beyond their first year, for example. Knowing now the love I have for Valentina, I don’t think I am strong enough to endure that kind of heartbreak.

As if that’s not enough to ponder, we also just filled out our consent forms, which dictate what we want done with embryos were the two of us to die before they were implanted. Yikes, that’s pretty heavy, this definitely goes in the ‘adulting’ category. Luckily, Dave and I are pretty confident that we’re going to see the year through, but we still had to decide for the consent forms. What if the worst of the worst happens and we have embryos in the freezer – the options were to (a) discard them, (b) adopt them out anonymously, (c) donate them to science, or (d) other choice. We talked it through and would have them donated to another family, although I thought afterwards, would I want to give my sister the first option to adopt them? That would mean that she (or someone) would have to be a surrogate and carry the baby. Is it even fair to her to ask that given there might be a good whack of guilt involved if she said no, but then she’s two years older than me, has a career and a family of her own (and is slated to raise Valentina if anything happens to the two of us anyway).

Not easy questions – this has been our conversation over coffee this week!! To me it’s fascinating what science allows us to do these days, but that also brings moral and ethical questions that can’t be taken lightly. It’s very personal, very individual and I’m sure raises quite sensitive issues for many. Our prayer is that this process takes us to our next baby, and … well … If that turns into two or three babies – then so be it!  For now I’m pumping myself full of hormones and apologizing in advance to my husband for any “hot messed-ness” that might occur!!