Birth Is Not the Finish Line

The Atlantic - 06-18


Somewhere inside my fertility clinic’s laboratory, in a tank of liquid nitrogen, there are several vials with my name on them. The vials contain five embryos, frozen at the blastocyst stage since early 2013, when they were created from a single round of in vitro fertilization, or IVF, using my eggs and my husband’s sperm. I have never seen the vials, but my husband and I pay a storage fee—currently $45 a month—to keep them preserved. In the six-plus years we’ve had them in storage, we’ve paid more than $3,000 to the third-party company in charge of billing, administration, and what the company calls “disposition”: that is, what happens to the embryos when they are no longer part of our family-building plan.