Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Old Demons

Today was the first day, since my pregnancy began, that I thought about the fact that my baby was conceived via use of an egg donor.  I was preparing for next Monday’s OBGYN appointment (my first), writing out questions and important things I don’t want to forget to tell the doctor, and I filling out the “new patient paperwork.”  I was filling out the section of the paperwork that involves my genetic history when it occurred to me…my genetic history doesn’t matter.  We have certain information about the donor’s genetic history, and I think that is what the doctor will want me to put down on our paperwork…not my history.  That got me thinking about Rh compatibility…and how we won’t know the baby’s Rh type without having an amniocentesis, as we don’t know whether the egg donor was Rh positive.  We don’t even know her blood type, just that she has no reported genetic problems in her family history.

Suddenly, my mind was barreling into that negative place it likes to go.  I pictured myself as a house for the baby to develop in…instead of “the mommy.”  I remembered that at our last ultrasound, when the nurse said “Your baby is cute as a button…Look how cute it is,” I had joked that “Of course it is.  It has such an attractive mother.”  I meant me.  It hadn’t even occurred to me at the time that, oh yeah, the baby isn’t going to look like me. 

So then, in addition to feeling marginalized in my role (which is OBVIOUSLY a very active role…but I couldn’t see that today), I started thinking about our donor and feeling guilty again.  I hadn’t mentioned this earlier, because I’ve tried not to think about it.  But, as soon as the donor finished our cycle, she withdrew from the program.  I cried when I found out…even though there is no way for me to know why she withdrew.  All I could think was that our cycle was so hard on her that she couldn’t take anymore punishment.  I mean…she produced 32 eggs!!!  That can’t be comfortable.   Or, if not that, I thought maybe she stopped donating because I said something wrong in our letter to her…or made her uncomfortable with the gift we got her.  (I know…it’s not all about me and it is self-centered for me to project this stuff on the situation.  But I’m being honest about how I felt/feel…no matter how ugly it makes me look).   I try to think of the possible positive explanations for her choice.  Maybe the donor is ready to start a family of her own.  Maybe she wants to limit the number of genetic offspring she has.  Maybe she started dating someone who would rather that she no longer donate.  There are a million possible reasons why she may have withdrawn as a donor, but I can’t help but feel guilty about it... guilty that she blessed us with so many fabulous eggs to start our family with.

I know these feelings will pass.  I’ll stop thinking about our donor and will start feeling like “the mommy” again… probably around the same time as my next ultrasound…hopefully sooner.   It is impossible for me to see the baby growing inside of me and not feel like I am 100% its mother.  It is just frustrating that I am having these feelings at all.  I thought that I had left them behind and that my biggest worry from here on out would be how other people would feel about us having used an egg donor.  I fear that, like everything else infertility-related, my feelings and concerns about having used an egg donor will never really go away completely…even when I think I’ve processed them and rid myself of them.  I hope that I am wrong about that.


S said...

Are you a member of Parents Via Egg Donation (PVED)? It is open to anyone who is considering DE or has used DE to achieve pregnancy and to parents of DE-conceived children. I have found the PVED forums an invaluable source of information and support, and I didn't know if you'd heard of them.

Anyway, long comment to say: based on what I've read from people who've "been there, done that," the feelings you describe are very common. . . and they will continue to crop up in some way throughout your pregnancy, maybe even after your baby is born. Completely normal.

Oh, and regarding your donor's decision to stop being a donor. . . I think you're right when you say it could be for any of several reasons, most of which have nothing to do with your cycle. Maybe she had a change in work situation and no longer needs the money or can no longer get the time off necessary for the (many) monitoring appointments. Who knows? If I were you, I wouldn't blame myself; it was her decision to make, whatever her reasons.

S said...

P.S. Donor or no, you are "The Mom."

China Doll said...

To me (having not been in the same situation) these feelings sound completely normal - Most of the time, that baby is only ever YOUR baby and occasionally, for whatever reason, you question that.
But you are THE Mom! Whatever genetic material is in there, that precious life is being nourished, loved and protected by your body - as he/she will be for the rest of your life. :)

As for the donor deciding to stop, I agree that there are a million reasons why she may have made that decision. Maybe she wanted to 'go out on a high' after the success of your cycle?! :) xx

Anonymous said...

As a donor egg mother myself (my wonderful son is almost three!), my experience has been that yes, these feelings do continue to crop up, but they become really not a big deal at all. The hardest part for me was when he was an infant and people always said "who does he look like? Mom or Dad?" It's just what people say about babies. And although we are open about his origins, it's not exactly something I want to bring up with a random person on the street, so it left me feeling "false," like I was misleading people or something. But you know what? I am his mom, genetic connection or not. I have decided to "own" him, and just take those comments in stride, and respond, where appropriate, as if we were completely "normal." Plus, although I did not provide his DNA, he *does* look like me because he's already imitating some of my mannerisms! Additionally, you do in fact have some biological influence as well--there is research that shows that the uterine environment affects which genes get turned on. The field is called epigenetics, and it's a real effect. AND you are providing ALL of the baby's building blocks--blood, cells, etc. Your baby is made from your body. The only thing you didn't provide are the blueprints. So you are, scientifically as well as emotionally speaking, way way WAY more than the house for the baby.

Our donor also withdrew from the program after our cycle, and I had similar feelings about it, but it turned out that it was so she could have her own baby! Since you have no control over it, I'd just assume that and try not to worry about it. She's making the best decisions she can for herself, both in doing the cycle and in withdrawing from the program.

Sorry for the long comment, but this post really resonated with me, and I want you to know that even issues that stick around don't continue to have the power they have now. Mostly? It's just amazing to be a mom. ;)

Natasha said...

Sounds like very normal feelings to me- this is a lot to process in addition to carrying a little life.

You're definitely the mama and that's all your baby will know. And they'll love you no matter what!


Princess Wahna Bea Mama said...

Thank you so much for all of your kind and supportive comments. It is so nice hearing that I am not a bad person for having these thoughts...and that they will become less of an issue as things progress. It was just such a shock to me that they would creep up when I have been so blissfully happy about the pregnancy. I am already feeling better today, and your comments were certainly a part of that. Thanks again.

Elaine said...

I can't relate to having to use donor eggs but I can only imagine that was the hardest choice and causes a lot of questions for you.

However we used donor sperm (DW didn't have and so it's makes it very hard to imagine what our baby will look like since we don't know what the donor looked like. I often think about DW and how she will feel when people say the baby looks just like me or if she's our alone with the baby and someone tells her the baby looks like her. I know she loves that I am carrying but I know these are things that would have made me sad if the role was reversed. But then again she's a better person than me. I try to tell her how I think that the baby will look like her when she's born since she has small features.

But the way I look at it is donor eggs, donor sperm adoption it doesn't matter parents are created through love and caring not DNA. I see people everyday with the same DNA that aren't good parents and I know you will be a FABULOUS mommy.

I'm very happy for you and I hope all your worries leave you so you can just relax and enjoy. Easier said then done I know! With the Rh factor issue you can just take the rhogam shot at 28 weeks and then they will test the baby at birth to see if you need it again. I had it since I am 0neg.