Monday, January 19, 2009

Answers to questions about using donor eggs

Thanks to everyone who delurked and/or asked questions. It is nice to see. Please feel free to continue to delurk or pose a question.

It has taken me a bit to post because it is hard to articulate the whole of what it has been like. I have been thinking about what to say in terms of how I feel about using donor eggs ever since Mrs. Spock asked if I still feel how I felt when I wrote about using DE before we conceived. It's a tough question to answer and even harder to explain. I hoping by answering individual questions I will be able to better focus my thoughts.

Before I do my best to address the questions I want to make a few things clear:

  • I am completely in love with LB. She is all things wonderful.
  • My unresolved issues around using DE are about me, not about her.
  • It is possible to hold two different, conflicting feelings about something simultaneously. Kids are good at this - they can hate someone and love her at the same time. As adults, we think it can only be one or the other.
  • If at some point while reading this you think I am saying that LB is anything but perfect, please revisit the above statements.
Ryan's Mommy asks:
My question for you is this: how often, if ever, do you think about LB coming from a donor egg? Do you still mourn that loss, or does it not matter anymore? I remember it took you a long time to get used to the idea, even while you were PG.

I ask because these are the kinds of things I'm thinking/worrying about now, going into this DE process. I know I'll love my kid 100%, but I have one (hard-earned) bio kid and I sometimes wonder if my DE child will be as smart, gorgeous, etc., and if it will matter to me if he/she isn't. Or will I be blind to his/her faults entirely, because he/she is mine. I'd like to think these things won't matter, but some small part of me is sad that I'll never know what a second bio kid might have been like.
Of course everyone is different and I don't think you can know for sure how you feel until you get there. I had (have) similar fears and the thought that gives me peace is that I believe I have some choice in how I feel. I have a choice in which emotions and thoughts I dwell on.

I still think about LB coming from a donor egg nearly every day, sometimes many times a day. (Please note that just because I think about it doesn't mean that it makes me sad.) I think in this I may be unusual, but it is the way I am. When I look at her I see this beautiful baby that I love, but I also see eyes (eyes that I adore) that are clearly not from Brad nor I nor anyone in our families. Because LB has a known donor, I know exactly where her eyes come from. If seeing Belinda wasn't proof enough, Belinda's mom showed me a picture of LB's 'cousin' who was about the same age - same eyes. Besides something so obvious, she just doesn't look like me. I know genetic parents who have said the same thing, but I wonder if there are similarities that hit at the subconscious level. Or maybe it is just my baggage that makes me see it differently.

I remember the first time I saw the picture in this post. I was holding LB at the time. I remember thinking that she just didn't seem like my baby - the one in the picture. The one I was holding I was madly in love with and was most certainly mine, but the one in the picture seemed like someone else's kid. Maybe this is not unique to DE parents, maybe it is just that after 6 years I still can't get my mind around the fact that we have a baby.

I also worry about her being bright enough. I take that back. I think Belinda is very bright. I guess I want LB to be bright they way I am bright, if that makes sense. I was one of the few kids who liked geometry in high school. Will LB be good at geometry?

Yes, I still mourn that loss. Not every day, but often enough. I ache to have my genetic child (my child) and I still fantasize about a miracle pregnancy (one that doesn't end in a miracle death) or winning the lottery and trying one more time with my eggs. I didn't think I would feel this way. I thought the feeling would evaporate as soon as LB was born (to answer Sky's question), but it didn't. I don't think my longing for a genetic baby changed much at all. I think my acceptance of the situation will grow, but I think it is something that will always be with me.


I delight in nearly every moment with LB. ("Nearly" because sometimes she is not entirely pleasant and I'm not entirely up to the task.) I want to give her the world. I will spend 20 minutes trying to get a smile and find even a fleeting one more than worth the effort. I will wake up in the morning after 10 hours in bed, still tired, look over at the one responsible for waking me up every 1.5 hours (we are working to break that habit) and not only be ready to do it all over again; but eager and excited to do it all over again. There have probably been over 10 billion babies born on this planet and when LB learns something new it is like the first time it has happened in the universe. I absolutely love her. I think she is bright and beautiful and a joy to have in our lives.

Furthermore, I no longer ache to parent. I have a lightness in my spirit I haven't experienced since before Ernest died. I have often said that the longing for a child is innate - a longing that is not logical, but is closer to an instinct. I no longer have that longing and the lack of it is incredibly freeing.

My goal now is to make sure my issues do not become LB's issues. One day not too long ago, I was putting her to bed after a particularly bad 'poor me' moment in terms of never having a genetic baby. I was physically afraid of her. The responsibility of helping this little grub of a human to grow up happy and healthy felt so enormous. How can I make sure my sense of loss never negatively effects her? I don't think a five year old could ever see me sad about that loss and not assume she wasn't enough. I don't want to be dishonest with her, but I see no other way at this point. If you have some thoughts on this subject, please share them.

There were other questions. I will try to answer them as soon as possible.


Leah Maya Benjamin said...

I don't know how you you could ever even try and answer or explain how you feel, I htink only someone who has never had there own bio child and yet has the most fantastic child alive could explain. WE mourn for the natural process, or mourn for the idea in our heads of making a child with our spouse and after that everyone mourns for something differnt, me for not being pregnant or breastfeeding and having my daughter from birth etc, others something else. Great job on answering, there's not an easy way on describing the loss but also on our most perfect little girls.

Lori Lavender Luz said...

Thank you for this very honest post. It mirrors some of the feelings I have experienced as well.

DE Mommy said...

Have you read the NY Times article on the genome project? You can find it by searching the NY Times website for the article My genome, myself.

Within it, it discusses the most objectively inheritable trait: height. they have found the 12 (13?) genes more responsible for height and have also found that they predict 2% of the variance on height. TWO percent. That means that 98% of someone's height influenced by something other than these genes.

They are not arguing that it's environment that causes these traits, but inheritance may be much more complicated than just genes.

The article is long, but really good at bringing up the current issues of the nature vs. nurture debate highlighted by the most recent genome research.

Sky said...

Thank you for sharing in such intimate details. It's especially helpful for those of us with donor egg in our future.

Ryan's Mommy said...

Thank you. :-)

We remain undecided about DE. I'm seriously considering adoption, too. Hard choices.

Geohde said...


This is a great post. Thank you for writing it.


MrsSpock said...

I appreciate this post, especially because we are seriously considering adoption (my body has firmer limits that we thought it had before becoming pregnant) and have similar feelings. How rotten of us, I know, but we wonder if we would feel the same way about another woman's child as we do about our son. We both are very bright and hope our children mirror that. I know we have the ability to love any child, but we also have this fear that there would be a favoritism for our son that we couldn't help but betray.

Lorraine said...

I am really impressed by the genuine honesty you are willing to share with us as you answer these questions. It seems like there must be at least some pressure to just love your child and claim that you don't even think about the donor issue anymore. That kind of neatly tied-up happy ending is so much what we are all led to expect will be at the end of the story (and maybe it is, but you are not exactly at the end yet).

Thanks for continuing to reflect on the process, and sharing your experience so openly.

B said...

It'd interesting and encouraging that you find the need to "parent" and to "parent your biological child" different.

The lightness you feel has come through so strongly in your blog now. It is a marked change. It makes me hopeful that I will feel that lightness too oneday.

Thanks for the honest post.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your openness and honesty. Like I've said before, your feelings mirror mine in absolutely every way. It's comforting to see that I am not the only one that has all of these feelings as often I am wracked with guilt that I still long to have MY child. As for the longing and pain. I think that as time goes by things get easier although I don't think it ever completely goes away. I spoke to my therapist about this once and she said that after time people are often more wistful.

Anonymous said...

very moved by your story and I so understand it all! the sadness in to-day's society is people dont share enough of their emotions with eachother for fear of condemnation, so its considered 'wrong' to have these feelings.I read somewhere about 'the new language of family' and this is what is emerging in to-day's new needs to be accepted and understood and for society to open up their humility and empathy centre!!

MaryTJ said...

It's been a while since this post has been commented on. I went into DE without counselling and now pregnant with twins. My partner and I are now wracked with guilt at all the second thoughts we are having in line with all the emotions you expressed. Have the feelings of not conceiving and having your biological child faded overtime?

MaryTJ said...

I went through DE without counselling and am now pregnant but wracked with guilt as my partner and I are experiencing feelings of doubt. It has been a while since this blog was created; has time made a difference to how you feel about not having your own biological child and do you still think about the fact that you used a donor on a daily basis? I am worried that these feelings we have will not go away and have an impact on our babies when they are born because of how we will behave!