I had to be a little bit sneaky today.
In the past week, three couples returned for a second baby. These three had similar stories in that all of them conceived with IVF within the past few years and were now back for another baby using their frozen embryos. Two of these couples came back for their re-consultation as a family (husband + wife + baby/babies). One of the big perks of this job is the opportunity to actually see, hear and touch (sometimes even smell, ugh) the babies we helped conceive and to learn that they are happy and healthy and that the parents are glad they did the treatment. I have yet to encounter a couple who tell me “You know? It’s really a lot of hard work to raise a baby. I don’t know what we were thinking and now we wish we hadn’t done it.” Perhaps there ARE couples out there who feel that way, but they just are so mad at me for getting them pregnant that they don’t wish to ever speak to me again. Who knows?
Anyway, two of these couples came back all together with a whole family, but the third one came back as wife and baby alone. She said that her husband was too busy at work to make it. This created a problem for me – not a medical problem but more of a legal one. Hypothetically, how was I to know 100% for sure that this couple was still married since the time of the original IVF? How was I to know for sure that this was not a case of an ex-wife wanting to get pregnant again WITHOUT the blessings of the ex-husband? How was I to know that a disgruntled estranged husband, who is now on the hook for child support payments for a child that he did not wish to have conceived, won’t get mad at me for helping this to happen? Sure the scenario sounds far-fetched, but there have been lawsuits reported in just such a case.
I have to confess I may not have been as diligent about this ten years ago, but over the years, especially with this recent octuplets case, it has come to our attention that we, as RE’s can stand to be a little more aware of the overall picture of future social implications, rather than just be embryo-placement technicians. Even though there are consent forms required for the FET, which require signatures from both partners, it’s fairly easy to fake a signature. We don’t require notarization on our consent forms.
So I picked up the phone and played detective. I called her husband on the pretext of just saying hi. Then I subtly said, “Hi ‘John’, this is Dr. Lee. How are you? I just met with ‘Jane’ and we discussed the upcoming embryo transfer. I was wondering if you had any questions for me.”
He acknowledged that he had no questions. I then asked him if he was in agreement with our future strategy on how many embryos to transfer. He replied that he would not mind twins this time, but was really hoping for just one. We then exchanged a few friendly words regarding basketball and then ended our conversation. It took all of three minutes, but I was then able to document in the chart that I spoke with the husband and I am assured that he is on board with our upcoming baby-making project. Notice I didn’t overtly call him and say, “Hey John. I see your signature on the consent form here in front of me, but I need to hear from you explicitly that you are aware and in favor of Jane doing a frozen embryo cycle. You ARE, aren’t you?”
That would just sound too untrusting of me.