Patient Odyssey - Frozen Embryos: My Journey
My infertility journey started when I was only 17. I was diagnosed with endometriosis and underwent my first laparoscopy. I had temporarily relief and then my symptoms returned. I tried various alternative treatments but they too offered only temporarily relief. This was not the life that I wanted to have as a young adult who wanted to have children more than anything in the world.
Surgery after surgery, specialist after specialist, my quality of life was slowly going down the drain. Initially, I told doctors that I didn't want to have a hysterectomy but later, something had changed. I was eight surgeries into my journey and I asked my doctor if I could have just my uterus removed so I could still try and have a biological child. He said yes and I was quite relieved. After the surgery, I felt better for a while, but the pain still continued. I had to evaluate my life and decide what was important to me. I knew I wanted to live, but the pain had me in and out of the hospital and often times feeling suicidal. I had no other choice but to have my ovaries removed.
Luckily, I thought about freezing embryos and called Pacific Fertility Center. I met with Dr. Isabelle Ryan and she changed my life. My boyfriend and I knew we wanted to get married and I was on a limited time line until I had my ovaries removed. We only had one chance to do this and we were determined to do it right. We underwent one cycle of In Vitro Fertilization and froze all of our embryos. We decided to freeze our embryos at a 2PN stage* per Dr. Conaghan and Dr. Ryan's request. This would help our chances of having them thaw better but we don't know how they will turn out. We were willing to take that chance.
Two weeks later, I had my ovaries removed and then felt I was ready to move on with my life. My boyfriend and I got engaged and together dealt with the loss of having me carry our child. In our counseling session with Peggy Orlin, MFT at Pacific Fertility Center, we talked about what if a gestational cycle didn't work. We knew that we would be parents no matter what and if it wasn't our biological child we could be ok with that.
From time to time, I still grieve the loss of being pregnant, but know that I did everything that I could. Since then we have gotten married and have been offered the opportunity of a lifetime. A dear friend has said that she would like to carry our child. She has restored our faith in humanity. What an offer!
As we are working out the details, we are thankful for her commitment to us and our journey. We will transfer some of our embryos into our gestational carrier and hope for the best. Dr. Ryan and all of the staff at Pacific Fertility Center have been so supportive of us that we can't wait to come back when we are ready to do our transfer.
Anonymous, San Francisco
* A note from Laboratory Director Joe Conaghan, PhD: Embryos can be frozen at different stages of development, usually 1, 3 or 5 days after oocyte retrieval. In general, the earlier they are frozen, the better they tolerate the freezing process. Embryos frozen on day 1, or at the 2 pro-nuclei stage, survive freezing and thawing at a rate over 95%.