How I came to terms with using an egg donor
Giving up on your own biological genes to have a baby using egg donation can be a huge step. It can feel overwhelming and downright tragic. Here are some of the ways how I came to terms with using an egg donor.
From my experience, I truly believe that once you give birth to a baby via egg donation, all of that tragedy and grief fades into the background. But it’s still not easy and it can be something you can’t take action on for years.
In talking to many women about my process of grieving the loss of my own genetics, I realized there were several key moments that helped me move forward and helped me slowly let go of the genetic connection to my child.
So here are those key moments that helped me come to terms with using an egg donor, in no particular order.
I realized how much I loved my adopted dogs
It may sound absurd, but truly, I loved my dogs so much and they had no genetic connection to me. It made me realize my capacity for love and my ability to love something I wasn’t genetically related to.
2. I wanted to maximize finances
When I set out to get pregnant, I set a financial limit on what I was willing to spend to get pregnant. I hit that and kept going for a bit. But the bottom line was that I didn’t want to go too far over that limit. Instead, I wanted to be wise about saving as much money as possible to raise a child. I had to take a hard look at my chances and make a sound financial choice. I think setting a limit ahead of time, kept me from getting sucked down a never-ending path of trying.
3. I didn’t want to be any older when I gave birth
Once I decided I wanted to be a mom, I was eager to get started. I was over 40 and ready to meet my baby. Now, in hindsight, I can say that I’m so glad I felt this urgency, as every day with my child feels precious.
4. I was introduced to the concept of epigenetics
Epigenetics refers to the information that sits on top of the genetic code and sends messages about which genes should turn on or off. And the epigenome is most influenced by the in utero experience and first year of life. So, 9 months of being inside my body, bathing in my nutrients, and biochemistry would have a huge impact on the development of my child and the expression of their genes.
And, my cursory knowledge got a boost of enthusiasm when a friend who is a neuroscientist, told me he thinks that within 10 years, we will discover that the epigenome is responsible for 90% of what we consider important genetic information and makes us who we are genetically. He basically predicted that what we learn in high school genetics class, will focus almost entirely on the epigenome and our idea of genetics will be completely rewritten.
5. A spirit makes up 90% of a child
From the other end of the spectrum, my mentor and Qigong master suggested that the spirit of a particular child accounts for about 90% of who we are, and only 10% is genetic or other information.
Obviously not a scientifically provable theory, but it made sense to me and yet again, helped me let go of my reliance on genes.
6. I instantly fell in love with a friend’s baby
I went to a friend’s house to meet her newborn daughter and was instantly captivated and in love. When my friend got up to go to the bathroom, I gazed down at this gorgeous, perfect baby and realized that if for some reason a need arose for me to care for this baby, I would do so with zero hesitation. After 5 minutes I was already completely smitten with this baby. I did not need to give birth to a child or have a genetic connection to feel instantly bonded and in love.
7. A doctor questioned whether I’d ever be able to carry a child
In the midst of fertility treatments, I was having to call off cycles because my uterine lining wasn’t thickening. One of the doctors mentioned that it might be an issue with my uterus that would prevent me from ever carrying a child.
Instantly, I felt the chance to be pregnant and give birth slipping away. And, suddenly realized how badly I just wanted to be pregnant and have a baby.
Instead of pushing away the idea of using an egg donor, I felt instantly grateful for the possibility of using an egg donor, as I recognized how lucky I would be to be pregnant and give birth. I wanted any baby and wasn’t feeling picky anymore, though I knew that being pregnant was very important to me.
8. I was so exhausted and beaten down, I could no longer fight
The emotional toll of trying with no success can’t be minimized. And I found myself saying, “Just give me a baby.”
I was done with the emotional roller coaster of hope and despair for over 18 months. I was ready to surrender to whatever path would lead to a baby as fast as possible. I just didn’t have the fight in me.
To me, using an egg donor meant I could switch from saying, “if I get pregnant,” to “when I get pregnant.” And the prospect of that shift was undeniably compelling.
I ended up moving to donor eggs about 18 months after I started trying. It wasn’t easy, but each of these made me inch closer to acceptance and allowed me to come to terms with using an egg donor. Thankfully, I got pregnant on my first try with donor eggs. And once I held my baby in my arms, all concerns and regrets faded into the background forever.
When to give up on using your own eggs is so incredibly personal. You have to feel like you did your best and have some peace around your choice. But in coming to that resolution, it’s ok to factor in your emotional stamina, finances, and desire to have that baby in your arms as soon as possible.
If you are in the middle of this choice, I hope this has helped you organize your own thinking and get more comfortable with the decision. If you want to talk through your options, reach out to schedule a free 30 minute consult.