As I am sure you know by now, if you have not been living under a rock, the Alabama Supreme Court put the future of IVF in danger by labeling embryos as people. This slippery slope was just one of the many reasons why I and so many others were furious at the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to end the rights and protections provided by the landmark case of Roe v. Wade.

Attack on IVF Complicates Life after Pregnancy and Infant Loss

Shutterstock/OneSideProFoto

I am a mom of three—Sweet Pea, who I lost to miscarriage in May 2017; Colette, who I lost at nine days old in May 2018; and Elliott, who will be four in July. These three are the only kids I have and all three of them started as an embryo in a lab. I am an IVF mom, a loss mom, and a rainbow mom. I am a girl mom and a boy mom. I also have about a dozen embryos sitting in a freezer that, while I have emotional connections to and while they carry part of my DNA, are not my children.

Ultrasound image of Sweet Pea - Attack on IVF Complicates Life after Pregnancy and Infant Loss

Author’s Personal Collection/Michelle Valiukenas

Over the years, I have struggled to say whether I am a mom of three or of two or if I even mention my angel babies. I have brought conversations and rooms to a halt by sharing the information, I have been hurt time and again by people’s reactions, and while I now comfortably say I am a mom of three, it has not come easily.

Colette - Attack on IVF Complicates Life after Pregnancy and Infant Loss

Author’s Personal Collection/Michelle Valiukenas

I have used IVF to bring my three children into the world because I have not been able to conceive any other way.

Elliott - Attack on IVF Complicates Life after Pregnancy and Infant Loss

Author’s Personal Collection/Michelle Valiukenas

It took me some time and several other procedures before I said yes to IVF, almost entirely because the Catholic faith I had been raised in and believed in told me that it was a sin to do it, and I took that to heart. When I finally got tired enough of having my body put through the wringer with no results to show for it, I decided I had to go forward and do IVF. I also largely credit my good friend Megan, herself an IVF mom also raised Catholic, who told me about the story of the man who drowns in a flood despite several offers of help and his words, “My God will save me.” When he gets to heaven, he asks God why he wasn’t saved, and God tells him that he had sent all the people who attempted to rescue him. Her take on the moral debate was that perhaps it was God who informed and helped the scientists, the medical professionals to do this work.

Doing IVF was a godsend for our family. It brought us three children, and even though two of them did not get to stay, we are grateful for each and every day we had and have with them. IVF made me a mom three times over, and I am proud to be an IVF mom of all three of my kids.

So where does this leave us now?

We are grieving our kids, raising a child after loss, striking a balance between including all of our children in our family while not putting them on an unattainable platform, and parenting after loss.

But now, with this decision out of Alabama, we have more questions, more worry, and more grief. Life after losing a baby is difficult, like you are constantly on a rollercoaster, but adding in these difficult decisions and triggering rhetoric makes it so much more complicated.

We made a decision in 2022 that we were done with kids.

We had been through years of what ifs, of planning and then revising our plans, and then again and again, we had immense amounts of grief that we dealt with and were dealing with, and we were exhausted. We knew we had about a dozen embryos left and were not ready to make a decision about those, so we paid for them to be frozen. We even went so far post-Dobbs to pay about quadruple the rates we had previously paid in order to keep them in Illinois with its legal protections on choice.

Today, we still have not made decisions regarding the embryos, but we have felt like there was no real rush to make a decision as long as we are okay with continuing to pay the storage fees. But, now with the decision in Alabama, it feels like we may have to rush to a decision that we are not ready to make and one that is not going to be decided in the best interests of our family, but out of fear and panic.

It also once again puts me on the defense to defend our embryos.

I have dealt with the last years of constantly having to defend my angel babies, of having to speak up and against to say all of my children matter and that their deaths did not sever my relationship as their mother. But, now, to have to defend all of my children’s existence and to say that the story of how they came to be is wrong, or to say that the dozen or so embryos we have frozen are meaningful but not our children, feels absolutely exhausting.

Elliott - Attack on IVF Complicates Life after Pregnancy and Infant Loss

Author’s Personal Collection/Michelle Valiukenas

The whole path to parenthood has been fraught with obstacles and loss—from the loss of a normal conception to miscarriage to losing Colette to losing the ability to carry our son and so much more. But, now, the losses pile up as I have lost the feeling of safety in the processes that we are so grateful to have used to grow our family and as we fear our embryos’ future.

More on this topic:

Share this story!