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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Fort Thomas Couple's In Vitro Gift Helps Create a New and Loving Family

The Haffey family at the beach. 
Beginning in kindergarten, teachers reinforce the theme that we must share what we have with others who do not have and how that creates joy for the receiver and giver.  Really, what good is something unless you share it? It doesn’t matter if it is a sandwich, a story, a smile, money, time —  or frozen embryos that could make a couple a family.

Emily Haffey, Highlands High School Spanish teacher,  and her husband, Brandon, a Newport Police officer, exemplify this lesson.

Roughly 12 percent of the population experiences infertility. For the most part, traditional medicine can address those issues, leaving about 3 percent to use in vitro fertilization. The Haffey’s first doctor recommended IUI, intra-uterine insemination and as Emily says, “It worked the first time!”

And Mason was born. This was nice years ago.

Try an Orangetheory class on FTM. Just mention FTM at the front desk. *First time members only. 
So when they wanted to have another child they thought the process would be just as easy. Emily says, “Two years later, we were going to try again…. So we went to get another one but nothing worked. We did seven IUIs but none worked.”

Brandon added, “And they are not cheap.”

She says, “We found another doctor, got a second opinion, and he told us what was wrong but our only option was in vitro fertilization. So we started that in September 2012. That was involved. I had to go to the doctor almost every day.” Brandon had to administer shots at home that would help Emily’s body produce more eggs. There were almost daily ultrasounds to check on the progress of the eggs.

Emily says, “When it was Retrieval Day, I had 42 eggs.” Normally, a woman might have seven or ten.

Brandon quickly chimes in, “She was off the charts!”

“Nobody had ever seen anything like this,” she recalls.

“I was swollen up like a balloon. I could barely walk,” Emily says.  “They took 42. Then they fertilized each one. When it was all done we ended up with seven embryos that were super good quality. So they put two in around Thanksgiving of 2012. Two weeks later we were pregnant with twins! Baby A was stronger than Baby B, but I had a feeling around Christmas that I lost one.” 

And she did. Baby A did not make it.  Baby B became Harper. “I remember sitting on my parents' couch and thinking that were not having twins.“ Four days later her doctor verified it. But then Harper was born in August 2013.

"Snowflake" baby, Harper. 

They were lucky in some regards. Emily responded quickly to the treatments and now they are a happy, healthy family of four. But what about the other frozen embryos? The “snowflake” babies as they are often called because they are frozen and then thawed. Their leftover frozen embryos joined the roughly 600,000 other frozen embryos. The question is obvious, what to do with the embryos that you don’t want or need?

There are three options: dispose of the embryos, donate them to science, or adopt them out to another family. Now this might raise some thorny ethical, moral, religious, or legal issues for some people.

There was not much of a discussion. The Haffeys would allow their “snowflakes” to be adopted.

There are groups out there that connect families. Emily says, “It’s kind of like a dating site, you see profiles, photos, and their back stories. There are so many people on this website.”  There are a lot of people seeking frozen embryos to implant which says something about the infertility problem in the country.  The Haffeys had to select someone. They chose to give their five frozen embryos to a couple from North Carolina in an open adoption.

After using all five embryos, one took, and the couple’s baby will arrive in February 2018.  They are beyond exited. Emily says that “Brandon wanted an open adoption and I didn’t because I thought it would be kind of strange to know that they are raising my genetic child. But the more I thought about it, I thought it would be kind of cool. I never envisioned the relationship that I have with her (the mother) now.”

Emily says that they chat frequently and she has even sent some baby gifts. The baby will be born into a loving home and the Haffeys have expanded their definition of family.

So what does all of this mean?

All of these swirling questions don’t matter much. Only this does. The Haffeys believe that they are a conduit to provide a family to someone else.  Emily says, “We couldn’t see our genetic child sitting in a freezer. We gave the ultimate gift to someone who will be great parents.” 

Emily says, “It’s such a cliche, but things happen for a reason. I see how everything just makes so much sense now to me - the struggles that we had, that everything lead up to this moment." Once they saw that adoption was where they were headed, then the hardships made sense.  They were helping someone else create a family. “If you can give someone that gift - why not?”

Mark Twain wrote that “To get the full value of joy, you must have someone to divide it with.” And what better way to share than to give a life for a lifetime of joy. And that is something to be thankful for as we enter the holiday season.

Emily, Harper, Mason, and Brandon Haffey.

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