Dealing with the emotional side of using donor eggs
July 17, 2017 1:57 PM   Subscribe

Five rounds of IVF with my own eggs have been a bust, so now it's time to move onto donor eggs. I've got the information on the legal, medical and financial aspects, but would like advice on coping with the emotional implications.

I'm a 38 year old single lady in Australia who is moving to using donor eggs. I'd love to hear from anyone who's been through the process. How did you adjust to accepting you wouldn't have a genetic connection to your potential child? How did you deal with the grief of treatment with your own eggs not working?

(Just a heads-up: Adoption is not an option for me, so please don't suggest it as an alternative. Assume I have tried a variety of different treatment options and specialists.)
posted by daybeforetheday to Health & Fitness (5 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I have been pondering the same questions as you, and I have found this blog to be very helpful. She is honest, open, and funny, and went through infertility and failed IVF cycles with her own eggs before finally choosing egg donation. (She now has a healthy baby and has written about her feelings post-baby as well, so it is not just conjecture on her part.)
posted by Secret Sockdentity at 2:10 PM on July 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

Is there a chapter of RESOLVE near you? We found a lot of support in their meetings and this topic was discussed extensively. Out of eight or nine families that we are still close to (several years later) I think we are the only one that have 100% biological children.

After our first was born, we used our remaining embryos but lost those pregnancies. We were nearly at the end of negotiating a contract with a donor when we found out we were pregnant again, and ultimately that pregnancy was viable. But in terms of getting past the mental part of the idea of having one biological child and one not (though we would have used hubby's contribution so the kids would have been half siblings) I went back to the reasons why I wanted a(nother) child to begin with. Those reasons were solid for me and my conclusion was that I had already tried many times and if this was the way to accomplish my goals for our family then this was what I had to do. I knew that carrying the child and nursing the child would help me bond, and after that just being the parent creates that bond too. Maybe it helped that we know so many people in this same situation and I've witnessed the bonds of their families so much that most of the time I even forget that they aren't biologically related, even though I'm intimately aware of the truth.
posted by vignettist at 2:45 PM on July 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

I have no personal experience with this but I do have the opinion of a very good friend who was forced down the same route. She and her husband started trying at 41 for children. She had no issues getting pregnant but couldn't sustain one and over the next five years went through many many rounds of ivf and heartbreaking miscarriages.

At 46, she finally decided to fly to South Africa and use donor eggs along with her husband's genetic contribution. (If you're Australian, you'll understand why adoption was out and donor donation in another country was the route she had to go.) She fell pregnant first go with twins and while there were major unrelated health dramas (cancer diagnosis for her mid pregnancy ) her twins are fine!

Anyway, I asked her (because we were good enough friends) how she felt about using donor eggs. She told me she had no disappointment whatsoever, in fact she wished that knowing how it was going to turn out, that she'd gone straight to that option instead of wasting years, thousands of dollars and going through such gruelling invasive procedures for nothing. She told me that she carried, birthed and would raise these children and never for a second felt like they were any less hers. I absolutely believe her, you could tell by her relief at finally finding an option that would allow her to have a child was such a joy that it forced out whatever other concerns she might have had.

I am not saying this to dismiss your concerns or say that it's petty to want a child genetically related to you- it's absolutely valid. I'm saying that you can feel all these things but ultimately when you hold this child in your arms, well, love is love. But I think if these feelings persist you should absolutely talk to someone about this and I'd be surprised if counselling wasn't a mandatory part of the process anyway for just this reason. Best of luck and I hope you get everything you want.
posted by Jubey at 5:12 PM on July 17, 2017 [2 favorites]

I don't have any personal experience with donor eggs, but have found the ladies (and gents) at r/infertility to be a great place to vent feelings related to the struggle to conceive as well as find information. There have been several posts about coming to terms with donor eggs or sperm. One person posted about egg donation babies having three parents and how the woman giving birth will have a biological tie even if the genes are not hers.

Not sure if that helps you. Best wishes whatever you decide.
posted by weathergal at 6:35 PM on July 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

We had to use donor sperm, so I have no genetic connection to my daughters. It was a hard mental adjustment to make at first, mostly just because it wasn't how I had always envisioned things going.

I was sad for a little while, and I let myself be sad. Then I thought through it, and decided that while I was a little nervous about it, it was something I could deal with. I was still a bit worried about having "You're not my real dad!" thrown at me when they got older, worried about unknowable effects of their genetic heritage, etc. Once my wife actually got pregant, those little nagging worries kind of receded away.

It did really help knowing people who had adopted children, seeing their relationship, and seeing how the lack of genetic connection had no impact on their families.

It's been nine years, and I only think about it when giving medical history or when I'm told how much one of my daughters looks like me (she doesn't). I've come to see just how heavy the nurture side is on the nature vs. nature debate- my daughters are VERY much my daughters in personality, interests, and sense of humor.

We were very careful to make the donor a part of their 'origin story'- there are lots of children's book that help with this. They have been aware from a very early age that we are their Mama and Papa, and we had help from a donor.

Best wishes to you... I know it's a hard thing to accept and deal with.
posted by uberfunk at 11:19 AM on July 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

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