Your Baby Is Not A Compromise
Note from PVED Founder, Marna Gatlin: “What I love about the women of our community is they are strong, passionate — and point on in regards to their thoughts.”
There is clearly a necessary grief stage in the road to DE parenthood, a getting past the old idea of parenthood (with one’s own genetics) and embracing a new scenario.
I recently read an article in which the writer equated having a DE baby with ordering from Nordstrom’s, only to have a package arrive from the Home Depot. She went on to say that although she really liked the HD delivery, she was having some trouble adjusting to just not getting what she’d told herself all along that she wanted. She really liked what she received…it just wasn’t what she’d originally ordered.
Any of us anticipating or currently enjoying the arrival of a DE baby can understand what she’s going through. No one starts out the road to parenthood saying “Hey, maybe I’ll forgo my genetics in favor of carrying someone else’s.” It’s natural to have some grief to process around the loss of our genetic lineage. Unfortunately, because a lot of us have left parenthood to the very last minute, only to find out that the clock has run out on our own eggs, we then put undue pressure on ourselves to not waste any MORE time, and make the decision to move forward to using donor eggs perhaps before we’re really emotionally ready.
I’ve come to believe that it’s probably necessary for most of us to take time to grieve and to get past the sense of loss and failure of infertility in order to move forward with an open heart towards DE parenthood. Part of the way I get ready and open myself up to it is to be very conscious of what I reinforce in my own thinking and language. There’s an old saying that I can’t control my first thought, but I CAN control my second thought and my first action. I believe it’s patently inaccurate to conclude that I can’t help what I think and feel…not when what I’m feeling doesn’t make me or anyone attached to me happy.
The concept of “reframing” was not on the horizon when I was a graduate student in Psychology 25 years ago, and I wish had been, because it would have saved me a lot of grief. According to this doctrine, how I feel about a person or situation has everything to do with what I tell myself about it.
There’re two very different ways to look at my situation. In one scenario, I tried for 4 years, through more than 10 IUIs and 7 OE IVFs (not to mention countless herbal, pharmaceutical, and therapeutic methods) to get a baby, only to fail and accept the compromise of having my baby via the genetics of a younger, unrelated woman. A runner-up prize, if you will.
In the other, I moved heaven and earth to have a baby, exhausted all of my resources, and had pretty much given up my hope to ever have another baby…only to be rescued at the 11th hour and to have a baby delivered who was beyond my wildest hopes. I’m Under Dog! I’m that 10th-inning come-from-behind rush to ultimate victory! My baby is a MIRACLE!
Now, which story is “true”? There’s another old saw that “fear” and “faith” are two wolves fighting within me, and the one that wins is the one I feed. I’d like to reframe that paradigm as “compromise” and “miracle.” I don’t tell myself that I failed at getting another OE baby; what I remind myself every day is that I should not have ANY children. If this were 50 years ago, DH and I would be that nice couple you know at church, or who live on your block, who never had any kids of their own. I’d volunteer a lot and he’d be out there with the nail clippers every morning nipping at the lawn, and we’d have that giant, baby-shaped hole in our lives.
It’s a miracle that I got even one baby (at age 40), let alone two. This DE daughter that I have the honor and privilege to raise is an absolute joy and a gift. There’s nothing about her that’s a compromise; I didn’t “settle” for her.
I have a friend who likes to say “of course I’m scared; I tell myself scary stuff all the time.” My message to you is to stop telling yourself scary stuff. If you’re still really conflicted, see a therapist, start a journal, talk to a friend, do SOMETHING other than rush into conceiving a DE baby for the simple fact that it’s not just you involved anymore. There’s another little life (or lives) dependent on you, and you owe it to him or her or them to get your act together before you move forward into parenthood.
And if you’re already a DE parent, I believe you have an obligation (to yourself and to your child) to exercise some discipline in what you’re reinforcing in your own thinking. What you give energy to grows. Sure, you have no control what thoughts pop into your head, but you DO have a say in what thoughts you indulge. I can choose to lament what I didn’t get and miss the joy and the gift of what’ right before me.