« Scopes | Main | Jaded »


If I should die before they take

This upcoming cycle marks a milestone.  It is the first time since my first IVF that I've signed the cryopreservation consent forms without hooting in disbelief.  I got a little rude there towards the end, knowing how unlikely it was that we'd even get to retrieval much less have good-looking embryos to spare.  Given our past performance, I wasn't exactly expecting to have to clear out space in the freezer next to the Grey Goose. 

But it was the same every time: a doctor would apologetically pass me the papers, and then  to cloak my sense of spiraling despair I'd make a joke and laugh without a hint of real humor, and then the doctor would look terribly uncomfortable, and, God, was there ever a more awkward patient in the history of ART?  No.  No, there was not, but please feel free to persuade me otherwise, because, lordy, do I cringe to think of it.

This cycle is different in every way, a fact that surprises me anew every time I trip over it.  Upwards of 60% of our clinic's donor cycles result in embryos suitable for freezing.  It is by no means a sure thing that ours will, but this time I found myself taking the consent forms much more seriously than I'd done in years.  Before this, I'd initial almost anything: "Blah blah blah, all surplus embryos will become the property of Vice President Richard Bruce Cheney...unholy army of darkness...brigade of embryonic cannon fodder...eternal unbreakable dominion...sure, whatever, this all seems to be in order."

This time I actually read the form.  And it said all the usual things, requiring that we make all the expected provisions for the disposition of any frozen embryos should various unthinkables occur.  In the event of divorce.  In the event of the male partner's death.  In the event of the female partner's death.  In the event of the male and female partners' simultaneous death.

I first read it carefully myself, then I took it into Paul's office so that we could discuss it.  More accurately, I stood next to his desk and barked out our options as I saw them.  "I die, they're yours.  You die, they're mine.  We both die, donation.  Divorce, ditto.  Sign here, here, and here."

But slightly more thought went into it than I make it sound.  That any of our embryos would include Paul's genetic material but not mine was the primary consideration in case of spousal death, and a matter of some weight.  On the other hand, regardless of whose gametes did what, the understanding that the embryos would be something we'd created together, with specific intentions, informed what we'd want in case of divorce, which was therefore an easy decision.  (In this sense the use of donor eggs confers a certain luxury: Unlike poor Augusta Roman, whose only remaining embryos are now destined for destruction, a divorce would not mean losing a chance at children who carried my genes.)

Those issues, however, were not the ones that gave me greatest pause.  It was this provision:


"A woman with whom he is sexually intimate."  What, it's not enough that I have to imagine my own eventual demise?  It's not enough that I have to imagine my husband raising alone the children we'd wanted together?  Now thanks to a legal document I have to imagine him performing penile intromission, too?  With someone who has a uterus?  Jesus gay.  I found Dick Cheney's 8-Celled Arctic Infantry of Everlasting Triumph less horrifying.

What about you?  What factors did you consider when filling out your own forms?  What's in store for what's in storage?