Embryos…tiny babies…or…what are they?

The journey towards building a family has many milestones. Getting pregnant is the big goal. When having to use IVF to achieve that, questions and uncertainty  influence the emotional journey. Is this the way I take this medication? Or, was our egg donor as healthy as she could be? How many eggs will be available for fertilization? Fears and hopes abound in equal measure. By the time you arrive at the step of knowing how many eggs are available for fertilization in IVF, you likely are only thinking about the outcome…how many embryos will there be? I know that’s what I was thinking! High quality embryos become the immediate goal (all on the journey towards a healthy pregnancy and birth of a child).

So much time, energy, and money is spent towards achieving the next goal that tunnel vision often keeps our focus there. We don’t often step back and analyze how we are thinking about embryos. Do you think about them as “my babies” as Dr. Anna Flores Locke did (Drane & Locke, 2022)? Do you think about them as a grouping of 100 to 150 cells (Hardy, Handyside, Winston, 1989) with the potential to turn into life? Do you name each embryo after you know the results of genetic testing and the sex of each one? As you can imagine, each of these scenarios would result in a vastly different relationship to your embryos.

Being intentional with how you are thinking about embryos, before you even have them, can save you significant heartache and anguish farther down the road. Although it’s hard to fathom having too many unused embryos when you don’t even have a child, that can often be the fate of families. This has resulted in over 1.5 million embryos being in storage (Gutmann, Desai, Mikkelsen, & Braverman, 2023). Talking over how you want to think about embryos with your family, trusted friends, or therapist is an important step in your journey towards building a family. And once your family building is complete, you might even contribute genetic material (aka embryos) so another family can be offered another chance at family building. 

Sweet Springs Consultation and Assessment can help you navigate through the steps of third party production, considerations around donating your embryos, egg donor evaluations, and even questions you may have about how to form a relationship that you want with your donors or donor recipients! Whether you are in New York, Pennsylvania or in one of the other 38 other states that Dr. Diederich can practice in virtually, she can help you along your journey.


Drane, E. (Host) & Locke, A. F. (Guest Speaker). (2022, January 14). From the Donor Perspective with Anna Flores Locke [Audio podcast episode]. In Fertility Cafe. Family Inceptions. https://familyinceptions.com/fertility-cafe/ep-58-embryo-donation-from-the-donor-perspective-with-anna-flores-locke  

Gutmann, J., Desai, N., Mikkelsen, M., & Braverman, A. M. (2023, April 26-28). Interprofessional Collaboration and Viewpoints Regarding Embryo Donation: A Panel Discussion [Conference presentation]. Jefferson Infertility Counseling Conference, Philadelphia, PA, United States.

Hardy, K., Handyside, A. H., & Winston, R. M. L. (1989). The human blastocyst: cell number, death and allocation during late preimplantation development in vitro. Development, 107 (3), 597–604. https://doi.org/10.1242/dev.107.3.597

Embryos, Mental Health, Third Party Reproduction




Embryos…tiny babies…or…what are they?