Monday, March 18, 2013

What's In a Gene?


Long before we stepped foot back into our RE's office this last week, I had explored several other methods of building our family beyond IVF with my eggs, including adoption, embryo adoption and egg donation. In fact, I had been turning each over in my head slowly throughout the months that passed by, despite the fact that we had all but signed on the dotted line for a fresh IVF with my eggs (obviously this was before we found out I am nearly peri-menipausal). So, when we began discussing options in our RE's office, it might have seemed premature for me to announce that I wanted to go with donor egg, but at that point it had seemed like I had processed it from every angle possible. Except now I know that hypothetical considerations are far different than when you're facing it as your reality. 

Because nothing is more sobering (and bizarre) than staring into the face of your potential child's genetic mother and realizing that you're not looking into a mirror but instead at what looks like a glorified dating profile. And at some point you also realize that the face you are looking at is not one you may recognize now, but may grow to know well later on in the face of your child.  In fact, if we do go this route (and my money is on it that we will), I will never look into her face in person and this alone is one of my biggest hesitations in going forward. Why? Because I want my child to know where they come from (genetically speaking). In a perfect world, I would hope that each and every strand and fiber of their genetic link would be at their fingertips. It is part of who we are and to deny that reality would be negligent.

So, why is it, in 2013, that egg donation is usually ANONYMOUS? (caps used very explicitly by my clinic in their paperwork to really drive the point home) It begs me to ask, what year is this exactly? 1970? Have we learned nothing about the psychological health and well being of our children at this point?  And should I participate knowing that this may actually be creating future grief? Should I embark on this endeavor knowing full well that my child may never have access to half of their genetics? (btw, these are hypothetical questions for DH and I, no one else)

As a parent, I feel that it is my responsibility to minimize any foreseeable and preventable suffering or in the very least, provide my child with the tools to learn themselves and to navigate their world. A key part of this feels linked to genetics.  For folks like me, those thoughts (predictions about how my movements now will effect them later) must happen long before conception. I don't take this on lightly. I realize that the grief resulting from egg donation is very different than that in adoption, but there must be some common elements, especially at the heart of each being the process of identity. It's hard enough knowing who we are and where we belong without removing a significant part of that equation.

Or is it significant? Yes. Of course it is, but it is not the most significant. A child born to us by way of egg donation will be loved beyond measure.  We will surround them with family and opportunities and (if I hadn't mentioned this before) will disclose as early as possible how they came to be and will celebrate this. We will celebrate that every roadblock was perfect because we were led to them in exactly the way was meant to be and that their biological mother was obviously a pretty outstanding lady to help make it happen. I do hope we know more about her than just that, but until we can utter those words, we must find a way to make peace with this. Or go a different direction...

PS. We will be going to our first infertility therapist soon to hash this all out. I can't believe it's taken me 8 years of this ridiculous carnival ride called infertility to get my head adjusted...
PPS. I'm aware of donor/sibling registry and hoping that even if our donor does not register, that our kid's siblings might.
PPPS. Donor egg has a 75% success rate. Each. Cycle.






6 comments:

AnotherDreamer said...

It is definitely a lot to consider and process, but it's also such a great option. I'm glad you're going to see the therapist and work through your feelings, and I hope you can make peace with whatever decision you come to!

S said...

While you are exploring this option, I cannot recommend Parents Via Egg Donation more highly. Their forums are a GREAT resource for connecting with others who are considering or pursuing egg donation, or who have used donated ova to become parents.

As you know from visiting my blog, we used donor eggs to conceive, and I'd also be happy to answer any questions you might have.

Shelby said...

Thank you, S! I checked out their website in great detail when I saw it on your sidebar. I was so disappointed when I couldn't get onto the forums (there was an error message), but I think that was my old janky work computer stopping me and I just registered from home. I'm looking forward to heading there once approved. Thank you!

Alexicographer said...

I'm here from LFCA having seen your comment on DOR. I'm a high FSHer from back in the days before AMH was what got tested, a mom through IVF (after my DOR dx) and wanted to mention two things that might be relevant to you. One is, reading the post below this and a quick scan of your history, one thing it occurs to me might affect you (because it affected me and went undiagnosed for some time) is subclinical hypothyroidism. This is often an autoimmune disease, as many causes of DOR are thought to be, and they tend to run in packs, so ...

If you do have subclinical hypothyroidism, elevated estrogen (the kind that treatment cycles, including DE cycles, can cause) can exacerbate that. Estrogen binds with thyroid hormones, and maternal thyroid hormones are essential to fetal development, so if there's any chance this affects you it's worth getting diagnosed and treated (fortunately treatment is usually easy and affordable, and it is safe during ttc/PG. Indeed, not getting it (if it's needed) is dangerous.).

If you'd like more information about that, please email me.

Item 2, I know a DE mom who had the same concerns you do about anonymity (which I would too, honestly) and who literally found her own donor (not a previously "known donor," she advertised) to avoid that problem. I completely agree with you -- it's astonishing that clinics aren't making known best practices available to patients and their planned children -- but there can be workarounds.

Best of luck to you.

nogoodeggs said...

First, I am so sorry you are ealing with this.

Second, there are people out there who have been where you are and want to help! PVED forum is amazing!!! I go there everday. I have also blogged for pages and pages about choosing egg donation and our particular donor, so please check out my posts if you are looking for some of teh 'particulars'

Shelby said...

NoGoodEggs--Thank you! I am on PVED forums as of today and will check out your blog. This community is the absolute best. :)