While jack and Fiona were in gymnastics class yesterday, I sat and read some articles about egg donation and surrogacy. Coincidentally, I also had a brief texting conversation with my good friend who is going through infertility currently, wanting to have a baby of her own. She is at a crossroads entering the next phase of infertility treatments. The first is IVF, invitro-fertilization. To do IVF you have to first have an embryo to transfer. An embryo is created from sperm from a man and ovum from a woman. The sperm or ovum can be retrieved from the couple trying to get pregnant, or from a combination of donated sperm and or ovum. In my case I ended up needed to use a donated ovum and my husband’s sperm. This was after years of trying with my own eggs- my own genetic material. In one of the articles, there was an account of a young lady who thought her mom was brave for doing what she did to have kids. For using a donated egg to have her daughter, and this daughter wanted to donate her own eggs to another family, so they could have kids. There are many negative stories out there about egg donation and surrogacy. It makes the conversation I will soon have with Jack and Fiona about their birth story that much harder and scarier. I would be devastated if my kids were mad at me for all the things, I did in order for them to be alive. I love them so much and I can’t imagine our relationship being any better or us being any closer. There was one article I read about a study that was done that said moms who used donated eggs lack confidence in parenting ability. I have many questions about the study- how many people did they study, were these first-time moms or was this their second child, is there a standard of parenting that they graded these women on? It doesn’t make much sense that just because a woman uses a donated egg, she’s different as a mother than someone who used her own egg. Egg donation is a gift- it is the gift of life. I think that parents who struggle to have a family might be more attentive to their children because they really wanted their kids.
Yesterday, when we got home from gymnastics, I listened to Jack and Fiona talking and playing. I looked into their eyes and wondered if they ever wonder if I’m really their biological mom. I observed myself, how I interact with them. I saw how patient I am with them. It was like I was looking in a window at myself as a mom. I could see how much I cared about my children. How much time and energy I give them. Looking back, to when they were babies, I gave it my all. I don’t think there’s any way that by telling them their whole birth story could put a dent in our relationship. But you never know and that’s a chance I have to take to be completely honest and open with my children. They deserve to know the whole story.
They are turning five next month. I decided last night a perfect way to tell them their birth story is to make a book. Something they can keep in their rooms and we can refer to it as they learn more about science and know what sperm and eggs really are. When they are old enough to understand what a uterus is. This will be years away, but the professionals say age five is the best age to start the conversation.
I think when I realized I was going to need IVF, then an egg donor, then a surrogate, my biggest fears were what will people think? And what will my kids think? I was insecure about these things and I’m still insecure. But the more I write about it, the more I face the facts of what I have done to become a parent, the easier it seems to have the conversation. The more I feel like I can let go- I can’t change anything now, and I don’t want to live a lie. That seems to be the biggest complaint from adults who find out their parents used egg/sperm donors, that their parents never told them until they were older. Or never told them and they just found out through coincidence, like a DNA test.
I read that in the 60’s and 70’s when parents had to use sperm donors, they were told to have sex with their partner at the same time as the fertility treatments. That way they could always think that maybe the child was theirs genetically. It was never talked about and the children were never told. I think that’s so crazy. But I fantasized about that same thing myself for a while. Fiona and I look very much alike. We have the same color eyes, and everyone always says we look so much alike. I thought maybe they had an old embryo with my egg and transferred that on accident. But why would I fantasize about that? Why would that come in my mind and why would that be “better”? My own genetics are nothing to be proud of. Mental illness plagues both sides of my lineage. It’s shocking how many of us have depression, anxiety, my uncle is schizophrenic. I told this to my therapist one day, but she didn’t like that I said that stuff.