Formal decisions

Categories: to-be-categorised

Tags: explanations, decisions, IVF

Date: 01 November 2009 08:00:10

*Disclaimer - this post was not written this morning, I am deliberately posting these entries on different dates so that I can be fully open about this IVF stuff without people knowing exactly what is happening when. It's a self preservation thing, with all of the injected hormones I become a bit of an emotional wreck, and am saving myself the pressure of people curious to know outcomes before I'm ready to tell.

There are many added complications to the process of conception when that process is assisted by medical professionals. Most of these complications are best not thought about, or got out of the way as quickly as possible, but today we've had the dreaded consent forms. We get one each, and have to fill them in and sign them before treatment can continue. The questions start off fairly basically, the first page needs your name, address, passport or NHS number, and those of your partner, and the next page moves on to a basic consent to treatment and the use of our embryos to that end (well, duh). The later questions become more impossible to answer...

...How many embryos would you like to be transferred? More than one carries a higher likelihood of at least one surviving, but also means a higher risk of complications including miscarriage and threats to my health. There are pressure groups that advise just the one embryo each time, but the thousands of pounds we spend on each round of treatment makes it tempting to go up to the maximum of three...

...Would you like any unused embryos to be stored, if so how long for (up to a maximum of 55 years)? The top end of that is easily dismissed, in 55 years, plus 9 months for a pregnancy I'll be 89. But when will be too late? We don't have to use them of course, and we increasingly see this question as academic, as the quality of my eggs means that there are never any embryos of a high enough resilience to survive the freezing and defrosting process, but if this time is different, and they do seem more hopeful this time, how long?..

...In the event of your, or your partner's death/mental incapacity, do you consent to your embryos being used in your own treatment? Others' treatment? For research? For training purposes? How are you ever supposed to be able to answer that? It's been such a long journey (so far) to this point, what if we both were to die suddenly, and we had said yes to our embryos being used for the treatment of someone else? Clearly it would make no difference to us, we'd be dead, but our family? For our parents to be aware that their grandchildren could be walking around somewhere, when their own children had never seen them, but then to deny someone else the happiness we seek...

...I'm not going to tell you the contents of the later pages of that form any more than I will tell you my identifying details on the first page. I'm not sure any of those questions should be given an answer, but of course, we had to put something down to be allowed to continue with the treatment. In contrast to the hope I spoke of yesterday these decisions mean that we start to think of the worst that can happen, as it turns out I'm not all that comfortable with that side of it either.