Navigating the Emotions Behind Using Donor Egg

November 8th, 2013
Family Donor Egg

I will be honest. It took a long time for me to get comfortable with using a donor egg. 

If you knew my story, you would know about our long journey of infertility, years of infertility treatment and our two adoptions. One of those adoptions was unsuccessful after nearly six years in process and multiple visits to Guatemala.

Donor egg was always a good option for us, but for some reason I wasn’t ready to move forward right away. I needed some time to come to terms with my loss. The loss of my adoption, which was supposed to be the “sure thing,” my doctor had promised. The loss of my genetics, the baby who would never look quite like me. 

When at last I was ready to pick a donor, I found out how ill-equipped I was for the process. Many women using donor egg don’t discuss it, so where was I supposed to go for support? Navigating the unknown is much more difficult alone.

After my husband and I were successful with donor egg, I wanted to help fill the need for information and support. After thinking about the information I had wanted and needed the most, I wrote a short document on How to Choose a Donor. Here at Donor Egg Bank USA, we provide a copy to each client.

What’s important to remember is that there isn’t a right or wrong way to choose a donor - just like there isn’t a right or wrong way to choose a spouse. There are only factors to consider that will help you make the best choice for you.

One of our potential clients sent me her response to what I had written. It moved me so much and was so insightful, I wanted to share it since most of us walk this journey alone. And if you are like me, this client’s thoughts summed up some of my journey as well. 

“I liked the donor selection tips, and that too is another topic that would have been nice to understand more about early on. I live in a remote area and no support groups or therapist specialize in IVF issues here. I rely upon the internet and what I can find out from my own research.

Only my mom and husband know (and my Ob/Gyn). If I may share about my own experience... It was a shock that suddenly I needed to face internal conflicts about doing my pregnancy "a la carte" (my way of describing the excruciating nature of having to examine a myriad of details and try to choose based on so many variables of money, DNA, clinics, FSH levels, ICSI, travel, fresh vs. frozen, etc). For example, being asked what's more important to me, to "have" a child in my arms, "have" it share my DNA, or "have" it come through my body. Having to choose, points to the selfish nature of even pressing to have a child that doesn't come easily. In examining the millions of details, I sometimes get exasperated and blame myself that it would be so much easier not to want something and just go away quietly, empty-handed.

Nevertheless, I am continuing to wade through faces and seeing the potential for getting on with things at least once to give IVF a chance. It is also likely the most insane financial gamble of my life, and I'm not even prone to buying $1 lottery tickets. Opening my mind to such outrageous risks has even made me consider doing IVF in the Czech Republic; however their donor photos are not available. My point is, thank you for writing the donor tips and getting some ideas out in the open.

The "mini-me" concept is poignant and a definite first cognitive hurdle when looking at a donor list for the first time. Before I could even get to looking at a list, I had to reconcile not being able to look into my own eyes one day (which is part of what I wanted to "have", but may have to order from the a la carte menu in order to still "have" the experience and the child to hold and raise.) I appreciate what you said about honoring this donor selection process in order to be able to share a positive narrative with any future child. I hadn't gotten that far yet to decide how it all should be, especially considering there really is so very little in my control at the moment. I can appreciate many people cannot filter their projected fears and values by making comments that hurt, and that is largely why we have even conquered so much of this on our own privately.”

When my partners and I decided to launch Donor Egg Bank USA, it was my personal heart’s desire to create a company that would be a support to this community of men and women choosing donor egg. 

So many of us are private about our choice – trust me, I’m not announcing that my children are the product of donor egg during the local PTA meeting or filling it out on any forms to clarify ethnicity. While we are private about the conception of our children, we are not secret and there is a difference. I’m always truthful, but vague when it is appropriate to the situation. For example, when someone tells me that my daughter’s hair color is just like mine, I politely say thank you. And when a good friend asked me if we did donor egg, I said yes.

I’m glad I finally let go of my anxieties and tried donor egg. I have a lovely daughter and son as a result. We each have our own journey, but what binds us together is the deep desire to be a parent and our willingness to persevere to make our dreams come true.

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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