Cancer Diaries, Recommended
Comments 12

Happy Birthday Snow Babies

I have five children, a beautiful thirteen-year-old daughter [my teenager], a cheeky and gorgeous three-year-old son [my ‘threenager’] and three ‘snow babies.’

Today, my snow babies turned two. Snow babies? You’re wondering!? Yes… my beautiful babies, or to be more scientific, they are our five-day-old embryos that are currently on ice (in Sydney).

Two years ago my husband and I walked through the doors of IVF Australia bright and early in the morning. We had just one chance to create embryos if we wanted a chance to have any more children in the future. Why? My fertility was about to be severely compromised by chemotherapy.

When I was diagnosed with cancer, the initial shock rocked my entire family to the core – Life had dramatically changed for all of us. After processing the initial diagnosis and comprehending the numerous further testing that would be carried out in subsequent days… It was then… that we faced the harsh and cruel reality… we may never be able to conceive a baby again. We were trying for our third child at the time of my diagnosis, I was heartbroken and we had to kiss that excitement goodbye. Instead, we had to focus on fighting cancer.

I would like to take a moment to give a huge shout out to any woman or couple who are reproductively challenged. After completing a cycle of IVF [minus the embryo transfer], I would like to acknowledge, it’s no easy feat. I had very limited time to successfully grow embryos for egg retrieval. So limited, that the day I came out of surgery from having cancer removed from my breast, my husband had to start injecting hormones into my stomach. I wasn’t in good shape emotionally after my surgery, as I’d learnt that the cancer had spread to my lymph nodes. Receiving the IVF injections every night was surreal… why was I doing this? I had successfully and naturally conceived my two beautiful children: this was so foreign to me and I was struggling to comprehend the amount of things going on in my life. [I yearned for simplicity, however, our lives were anything but simple].

The difference between myself and the other woman in the IVF clinic was that they were completing the full cycle in anticipation of a successful pregnancy. I was simply going through the motions [blood tests and internal ultrasounds every third day… yay… not to mention carrying my not so attractive drain which was attached internally and came out from my armpit to drain fluid from surgery] to get one shot at creating fertility insurance (embryos). If it failed, then that was that, we’d have to hope that by some miracle, my fertility might survive the chemo. It was an uncomforting and stressful time.

When you wake from your light anesthetic after egg retrieval you are advised to check your arm for how many eggs they were able to retrieve. I woke frantically checking for a number on my hand… there was nothing. I was distressed and starting to cry when a nurse came over to me and realised she’d forgotten to write my ‘magic’ number. Eight…. Eight potential babies! We’d done it (the first stage anyway). Here is my worn out self after too many procedures and surgeries to count… I was proud of my eight eggs, yayyyyy!

Bec IVF

The normal process after any anesthetic is listening to the routine instructions… take it easy for the rest of the day, don’t drink alcohol etc, etc…. blah blah… so, what did we do? What else do you do when your whole life is currently a shit sandwich…. You pop the bubbles and drink champagne…. Hell, we deserved it! This is me and hubby before going to enjoy the champagne and before our journey back to Wagga the next day to prepare our schedules and children for the beginning of chemotherapy and how that would impact our lives.

IVF day

The next few days are nerve racking. The IVF clinic calls you every second day to inform you how many embryos survived the night… so no, not all eight of our embryos made it. In fact, sometimes for some couples or women, they can get zero embryos, which would be so disheartening. For us, three out of the eight survived [a good result for one cycle we were told].

Three snow babies it was… and is! I want to express how grateful I am for modern medical technology, which allowed us this choice. Although, a very difficult decision to make during a torturous and uncertain time in our lives, we DID have the choice. We referred to the process as taking out ‘fertility insurance’.

Whether or not we use our snow babies carried by myself, choose surrogacy or remain with the two beautiful children we’ve already been blessed with, it’s not something that needs to be decided right now. The benefit is that we now have the flexibility to decide, if and when that time comes.

In the mean time… a big Happy Birthday to my beautiful snow babies. You are so incredibly special to our family and we all love you very much… maybe I’ll meet you one day, maybe I won’t… but one thing is for certain, my love and appreciation for the three of you is unsurpassable. I’m extremely blessed.

Bec x

P.S. Every time our storage fee/bill arrives in the mail from IVF Australia, I pass it to my husband and say, “The babies rent is due”! 

 

© Copyright 2016 becbraid

 

12 Comments

  1. Emma McLachlan says

    I have 4 “Frozen babies,” when my bill comes I call it paying the babysitters. xo

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  2. Lycinda says

    Such an amazing, beautifully written snippet of your life. You’re a true inspirtation to me and what my family is currently going through. You put things into perspective and for this I truly thank you!

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    • Thank you for your kind words Lycinda… sending you strength for what your family is going through. I appreciate you taking the time to comment and I’m so happy that the words resonated and helped you gain a perspective that keeps you going. x

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  3. Alicia says

    I have one snow baby! I always just said frozen but I love snow so much more! I hope it’s now ok to copy! It also feels good after you pay the “rent” knowing there safe for another year X

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  4. Michelle Taylor says

    Such beautiful words Bec I hope one day you get to meet your beautiful snow babies , I hope your well .Sending love to you beautiful lady 💖💞

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  5. Katie Pisciotta says

    Hi Bec, I have just found your blog and am sifting through some of what you have written. I too was diagnosed when I was 28 and unfortunately couldn’t do an Ivf cycle before all my treatment started. Thankfully my fertility wasn’t entirely ruined by all my treatment, but it was severely diminished. We did 2 full cycles, the first time receiving no embryos and the second time we had 3. Our little girl was born in April this year and has just turned 6 months old. She was our last embryo and our last chance and we are ever so grateful for our beautiful little Poppy. Thanks to modern medicine and our wonderful doctors – and a little bit of luck, she is fast asleep in her bed and we got what we always wanted. Miracles do happen! Thank god for snow babies xx

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    • Hi Katie, Congratulations on your precious little girl Poppy. It’s such an adventure going through it all isn’t it? Up and down with emotions. How are you doing with your health now? Were your doctors happy for you to carry a baby? Yes…. thank god for Snow babes xx
      P.S. I’m glad you found my blog 🙂

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  6. Katie Pisciotta says

    Thanks for your reply Bec!
    It is an adventure to say the least. Ivf was a whole new ball game too. I feel so deeply for those who do cycles and cycles with no results. It’s emotionally so draining more than anything else. I’m doing well thanks. Will be 4 years cancer free in November. I have had bilateral mastectomy and will be having be ovaries removed before I’m 35. I haven’t read all of your story, but I carry the BRCA1 gene, so my cancer is genetic. We are hoping that Poppy does not end up being a carrier. Yes my doctors were happy for me to carry, being that my cancer was hormone negative. There are different precautions though for Ivf and pregnancy and I was very closely monitored. Would you be able to carry another pregnancy yourself? Or would you need a surrogate? My husband and I are trying to decide if we should try for a second. We would need to do more Ivf and time is against us. We actually didn’t even think we would be able to have Poppy, so we feel very lucky for that. I think anything else would be a massive bonus. But we shall see xxx thanks again for your response!!

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  7. Hi again Katie,
    Congratulations on your upcoming four years…. yayyyyy for you.
    So I am BRCA negative and my cancer was hormone sensitive (oestrogen and Progesterone), hence it being a bit risky for me to carry another baby. We would be looking at surrogacy.
    We like you are deciding whether to try for one more baby. I’m so fortunate for the two beautiful children we already have. I’m a little daunted by the idea of surrogacy, so we will see.
    You stay well and keep celebrating those anniversaries. xxx

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