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Happy Birthday Snow Babies

Bec Braid

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 learned that 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. 8…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.

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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.

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The next few days are nerve racking. The IVF clinic call 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.

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”!

This article originally appeared on www.becbraid.com was republished with the author’s permission. 

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Bec Braid

Bec is a lover of life and words… She is passionate about sharing expression through writing. Her words aim to deliver a healthy perspective on life, empower gratitude, raise awareness for young breast cancer and provoke thoughts of positive change. Bec was just thirty years young when diagnosed with breast cancer; overhauling her life, it begged the question of what she really wanted with regard to creative ambition. “We have just one life,” Bec says. Recently launching a career as a Copywriter, she continues to blog, which is her cathartic outlet and one day, would love to have her own column.

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