My Dear Past Self Here Is What I Need You To Know About Our Fertility Journey
I needed a donor egg to have our child, I tried with our own eggs, I really did give it my all.
I produced six during the IVF cycle; they all fertilised with our husband’s sperm, (yes we land a gorgeous husband! he is so wonderful, I would love to go back and live our first moments again but you have that all to come, our future is not all stress.)
When we had our first IVF I was like a school kid, proud of my results.
All six embryo’s, our future children, were tested to check if they were chromosomally normal. Only one was normal. But our child sadly didn’t make it past two weeks.
The clinic suggested we consider using eggs from another woman if we wanted to be parents. An egg donor. We really did want to be parents so badly. But we weren’t that keen on using another woman’s eggs to make me a Mum, and my husband a Dad.
This is not on most people’s wish list, to be honest, their reasons are varied, but there are probably a handful of common concerns, some being more important than others. If I could have seen into the future when we were told we would only have a child using donor eggs, I wouldn’t have worried as much, or had sleepless nights, or had weird conversations with myself (and sometimes with my husband). And I’d definitely not have thought about it for nearly three years before making the best decision of my life. And here’s why…
My Worries As I Became Pregnant With A Donor Egg: will my child look like me? Funnily enough, I did always think of any child we might have via egg donation as ‘my child’ – after all, I’d be pregnant with him or her, I’d grow them, I’d feel them wriggle and hiccup and I’d experience morning sickness, heartburn, swollen ankles – all those memories of being pregnant.
People would see me as the Mum-to-Be and I’d be asked at ante-natal clinics ‘And how’s Mum doing?’ I would be the one to give birth, I’d be able to regale our child with their birth story, I’d have the stretch marks and the huge boobs – hopefully! But what I couldn’t be certain about was will my child look like me? And will people say ‘S/he doesn’t look like you!’ Hang on a minute, I know lots of children who were conceived using their mother’s egg who don’t look anything like their Mum, they look totally like their Dad, or their Grandad/Grandma/Uncle/Aunt. And people probably say those same words to them.
People see what they want to see don’t they? So, why am I even thinking about this and worrying more than that Mum?
For me, it was because my child wouldn’t share my DNA and this was me grieving. And you will grieve and that’s OK. You didn’t choose to have infertility and it’s definitely not your fault.
Me As A Donor Egg Mum: ‘She looks like you’. I’ve been told that so many times by complete strangers! ‘Do you think so?’ I reply, and inside I chuckle. People see what they want to see. Other people have said she looks like my husband. And she does. But she also looks like the unique, beautiful, blond-haired girl she is.
I know now that because she lived for nine months in my womb, and it was my blood and my womb environment that decided that her eyes are blue, her hair is blond and straight, her legs are long, her nose is cute and every single cell makes her, her. It doesn’t matter to me, her Dad, her family or her friends who she looks like. And it doesn’t matter to her either.
She knows she was conceived using another woman’s egg, she sort of understands some of what that means, and there are times when she compares herself to me; finding likenesses and differences – like all children. It doesn’t bother her and it never bothered me once I held her in my arms. I know now that she does and she doesn’t look like me, and that is of no importance where love and family are concerned. I hope this reassures you.
The Big Egg Donor Baby Questions! Will I love my child? This is a huge, emotional question isn’t it? My thoughts would ricochet around my brain on a regular basis – will my head rule my heart?
Will I see a stranger in my child? Why am I even questioning this? Do women who fall pregnant without even trying (I’m not really typing this with gritted teeth!), or even if it’s taken all of three months, does she wonder if she’ll love the child she’s pregnant with? I can’t answer for sure because that was never me, but I think it’s unlikely.
When we are dealt the hand of infertility, regardless of how long our journey is, and we’re told we may need donor eggs, we’ve likely been through a mountain of injections, a truckload of medications and a sea of emotions:
We’ve thought about the baby we want so desperately hundreds of times every day.
We’ve already chosen their name, where the nursery will be and the colour scheme.
We’ve dreamed of what labour and their birth will be like, what sort of a Mum we’ll be and what book we’ll read them at bedtime.
With all of this love floating around my body, why wouldn’t I love my baby, who I’ll first see as an embryo? The baby I’ve dreamt of and wished for and worked so damn hard for.
Here’s What I Want You To Know About those Worries: do I love our daughter? Absolutely.
From the moment I saw her as a four-cell, two-day-old embryo, I was head over heels in love. Seeing that blip on the ultrasound screen only made my heart more full of love. And don’t get me started on the first time I saw her!
My first thought wasn’t, does she look like me? It was I love you to the moon and back and then some more.
Even though it’s now ten years later, I still feel such gratitude that I am the one who gets to love her as her Mum. I don’t know what it feels like to love a child born from my eggs, and I don’t need to know. I know in my heart that I love my daughter exactly the way a Mum loves her child however this happens, and that is all that matters.
I wish I could’ve told my younger self this, if this letter could reach you in the past I want you to know in those times that we let no one else see when it felt like we did not know up from down or left from right it turns out ok.
To anyone reading this who is going through what I went through wondering all the what if’s and buts and trying to take that next brave but desperately hard step in your fertility journey, know that I see you, all the women who have been here before see you, even though it can be a lonely road, we walked it too and we are with you, reach out to those around you support can be found in the most surprising places.
Infertility sucks and it hijacks your thoughts day and night. it feels like no one understands what you’re going through, you feel alone, your emotions are every which way and you struggle with the constant pregnancy announcements, although my infertility journey ended some years ago, it was an important part of my life.
I didn’t do so well at looking after my mental health through the six years and this is why I’m passionate about helping others going through infertility now, I write books about trying to conceive and the fertility journey, through my books, it’s given me an opportunity to raise awareness.
The Big Worries I Had As Donor Egg Mum: Will my child say ‘you’re not my Mum’.
When you’re knee-deep in infertility, one thing that keeps you going is that you will be a Mum one day and that you’ll hear your child look at you and say “Mummy”.
But when you’re thinking of using donor eggs to build your family, there’s this niggle that taps away at you that your child might one day say “You’re not my Mum,” or they may think it, and if they do, it’ll break your heart.
Why did I think my child would say this?
Was it because deep down I wasn’t sure I was their Mum because we used an egg donor?
Was it because I was worried other people thought this?
Of course, this was a thought I had before I got pregnant and before I had my daughter.
The unknown future can be scary and our imagination can be very creative if we let it.
And it was my thought, not my child’s.
How To Have The Donor Egg Conception Conversation: from when my daughter was a baby, I used to tell her that Mummy’s eggs were old and didn’t work very well, and that Mummy and Daddy really wanted her to be our daughter, so a very clever doctor who knew a lot about science, and a very kind lady who didn’t need all of her eggs, helped us.
She was too young to understand of course but it got me used to talking about how she was conceived and I quite liked telling her. And we were always going to tell her when she was older.
I doubt she remembers me telling her this little story, and she knows she came from an egg from another lady and so far, she hasn’t said to me “you’re not my Mum”. She’s only ten so she still may say it to me especially now the teenage years are looming!
But I can honestly say I don’t think about it ever; if it happens, we’ll deal with it the best way we can for her. And if this is one of your worries, remember, it’s YOUR worry about what MIGHT happen, not your child’s worry, because they know you as their Mum. Because that’s what you are.
There are also loads of fantastic children’s books about donor conception, and I really recommend you finding one you like.
If any of this resonates with you, and you don’t personally know anyone else who has a donor-conceived child, please find the many people who are sharing and being supportive on social media or a therapist, it will help and you won’t feel alone, because you’re not.
Wishing you all the best
Love, donor egg Mama Sheila xx