Grieving Your Genetics - Does It End?

May 21st, 2014
Grieving Your Genetics

Most of us who need a donor egg go through a grieving process. The baby we envisioned having since we were young may never come to be. Our ability to stand on our toes, twirl our R’s or sing on tune may never be passed on to the next generation. There were times when I was grieving the loss of my own genetics that I wondered if I was being overdramatic. Is all that really important?

It is very sad to give up the dream of using your own eggs. If you’re a woman going through the process of using a donor egg, perhaps you understand what I mean. If you are using a gestational carrier, you have given up even more and perhaps have had to grieve the loss of the ability to carry a pregnancy too. 

Grieving the use of one’s own gametes is a normal part of the process. Most women take a few months after their doctor tells them they need donor egg to become comfortable with moving on. Once they feel ready, they want to move forward with treatment quickly.

It took me nearly a year to want to move forward with donor egg. I had already completed an adoption, so I didn’t expect to grieve the loss of my own genetic connection. I thought to myself, “I have already done this, right?”

Nonetheless, from time to time, I have a sense of loss of what could have been. What if I had tried using my own eggs one more time? What if I had understood my loss of fertility earlier in life? What if?

I have two children through donor egg who are the world to me. I can’t imagine my life without them. They have unique personalities and are such a joy. Nearly every day, I can see parts of me in them. There are also days I can’t see me at all. Then again, at times I can’t see my husband either, and he has a genetic connection. And to be honest, I’ve had a day or two – such as the time my daughter pointed to a man who had a rather large belly and asked “When will your baby come?” – that maybe I’m grateful it wasn’t my genes after all.

I’ve been asked how it feels not to have my own biological children and when the question is raised, I enjoy the opportunity to educate. I was privileged to be able to be pregnant with my children conceived with donor egg. I am their biological mother because it was my uterus, my blood, my body which developed and weaved that itty bitty embryo into a baby. I am not their genetic mom, but neither is the donor. The donor was the genetic DNA source, but she didn’t choose to be a mom.

I am the mother of my adopted son in the same way I am the mother of my biological children. I chose to be a parent. I chose to get up in the middle of the night with sick children, change diapers, help with homework, read stories, wipe noses, pack lunches, scramble for day care and sock money away for college funds. I am not the genetic source for any of my children, but I’m certainly their mom.

I decided to write this blog after attending a conference on ethics in egg donation, in which several counselors stated that grieving in the process never really ends. That statement alone gave me an incredible sense of relief. 

None of us would choose to use a donor egg if our own eggs worked well. However, donor eggs give us an opportunity to be pregnant, to have a baby and experience a birth, to have a male partner genetic connection and to be in control and choose the donor. While it would be ideal to use our own eggs, we each choose this path for a reason. How well-adjusted we are with our decision before going down this path will likely equate to the emotions we will experience for years to come, if the treatment is successful.

Choosing donor egg treatment or adoption is really just an avenue to being a mom. In either path taken, grieving the “what ifs” is par for the course. While it is largely put aside, the occasional “what ifs” will still pop up even in the everyday frenzy of being a parent. While I wouldn’t have life any other way, it is comforting to know that my once-in-a-blue-moon sadness over what could have been is normal after all.

About The Author

Heidi Hayes

Heidi Hayes is the CEO of Donor Egg Bank, USA. She has more than 20 years of healthcare experience, having worked in the fields of pain management, physical therapy, dialysis and reproductive endocrinology. In addition to her understanding of the business of assisted reproductive therapies, she has personally experienced it. Heidi and her husband are the parents of three children and have built their family through adoption and donor egg treatment.

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Thank tou for being open and brave and sharing your story :)

Submitted by Juvarya 5 years, 10 months ago

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