What is it like to be a parent of a donor egg child? Taking the fear out of the experience.
I was recently asked to write an article about what it means to be a parent via donor eggs and to specifically address the fear that can and does often occur during the experience. I found this request relatable as I will admit, I did experience fear. But, what I have learned is that my “fear” was only of the unknown and with all “unknowns” in my life, my desires always overcame.
At first, it is the inability to know what people will do, think and say. Then, it is more about what the child will think, feel and say. Finally, it is how you the parent will feel when impacted by all of these unknowns. While these are certainly valid “fears” or thoughts, what I have learned is that it was my first real experiences of being a mother. And honestly, these are only the beginning. Once you feel that baby kick – the fears quadruple as does the excitement. But most importantly – the “fear” of what will my child think is long past.
What this all boils down to in the end is our own insecurities. Let us think about the logic behind it. At first, we as women are devastated that we have been told we have bad/old eggs. As a young girl, it is just a given that most of us want to grow up to be a mother one day. This in itself is a lot to process. So we learn that we can in fact carry a child and all that we need to do is accept the fact that we will need to use a donor egg.
Listen ladies, this is an absolute gift that we have this opportunity. Do you realize what all must happened for us to even get pregnant with donor eggs? Our bodies must be in the perfect condition with our fluffy uterine lining and healthy hormones. Arguably, we play the biggest role in the whole event! We are the mothers to these babies from the very first heartbeat and I have learned that I must not think too much into the details other than the genetic makeup is not my own. But the personal, the memories, the milestones, the disciplines, the staying up all night worrying about their grades….that’s all mine.
Trust me, you are the only mother that exists for these little ones. I am always being asked the question “should I tell my child that I used a donor egg?” Answer: This is ultimately your decision but in this day and age, if you do not tell, be prepared to lie to them because the questions about genetics and heritage will without a doubt come up and earlier than you think. Be confident in your approach about it to your children. My advice is to introduce very small pieces to the puzzle at age appropriate times. As a mother of donor twins, my main concern was that it was not a “big deal” to them. If I wait until they are teenagers and then spill the beans, this could turn into a very big deal to them. Instead, at a very early age, I would allow them to hear my conversations with others about having a very hard time getting pregnant. Then a few years later, I talked in more detail about IVF in general. Then finally at around nine, I mentioned the eggs and needing to find a donor egg because mine would not work. I have always kept the conversation very matter of fact and with without a lot of emotions. I almost laughed to myself as I was being asked to draft this, only because I really love my story with my boys and it is almost hard to remember the fear. Now, my only fear is NOT having them.
So it starts like everyone in this position of needing donor eggs but ends a little unique. After 8 IUI’s, 1 ZIFT, and 2 IVF’s with my own eggs, I finally achieved pregnancy with my first try at donor eggs. We transferred 2 embryos and they both took resulting in my perfect little twin boys. I could not be happier or more content with my life. With the exception of not really getting much sleep, things were pretty perfect for this new mommy of two. When the twins were just five months old, I turned up pregnant with my third little boy all on my own (well I suppose my husband had a little something to do with it). Who would have thought? At first, I simply did not know how I was going to do it. Three babies in fourteen months, somebody thought it was pretty entertaining I am certain. We never quite know how everything will turn out for us but I do know that my third little boy just completed my family. I tease with my family, and friends that I bought TWO and got ONE free!
So back to the question at hand, “What is it like to be the parent of a donor egg child?” The honest answer from someone who really understands is “Exactly the same as being a parent of a biological child, there is simply no difference.” Be confident in your decision with your friends, family, and most importantly, your child.
These experiences are a huge part of who I am and I take joy in sharing my story with others. This is one of the best parts to my role at The World Egg Bank (www.theworldeggbank.com) as the Recipient Coordinator. It allows me to help families in ways that others may not be able to. I can understand from a firsthand perspective and I can articulate the rewards.
I hope this sharing of my experience can help even one person. The gift of life is absolutely amazing and I am thankful every day for the gift. And, at the end of the day – I really wouldn’t have had it any other way.