Thursday, August 15, 2013

Support Group Meeting and Why We Are Choosing Egg Donation...for Now

Last night I attended my first RESOLVE meeting in many years. (actually, technically, I have never been to a RESOLVE meeting as the support group I attended previously was an 'offshoot' of RESOLVE, but I digress...) Anyhow, this one was specifically for adoption. They had emphasized in a previous email that those considering treatment with donor gametes were also welcome, hence why I showed up, though I have to admit it was apprehensively. Even with the stated open door policy, I really don't feel like I fit in many places in the IF world, at least not with regard to support groups. The general group doesn't feel quite right with the alternative methods of family building I'm exploring, but we're not pursuing adoption, either (at least at this time). And as far as I know, there is no Secondary Infertility group and probably not a lot of people jumping to attend. Square peg, meet round hole. So, despite my self-proclaimed ease with all things IF and an (albeit odd) enjoyment of these types of groups, it was a leap of faith to show up.

What I found, though, was that despite my differences, (being the only person still considering treatment and not adopting and also, having a bio kid) the group did not make me feel like a freak.  They were so warm and open that it made me question whether I've ever met an infertile person I don't like (OK, I have, but only once!). Seriously, what is it about IFers? Does the struggle strip them of BS? Does it humanize them to such a degree that your exchanges can from then on be nothing but authentic? Certainly the very topic you're there for makes you get down to brass tax right away and get past the formalities. I know there is no way to label any group with an adjective, but if you could, IFers always seem to be generally likeable and welcoming. Or maybe I've just been really, really lucky.  I truly enjoy discussing adoption issues at an intellectual level (and possibly personal, should it ever be back on the table for us), and for that I loved it, but I still didn't quite 'fit'. However, I feel certain I fit better there than a general group. Anyhow, the topic of why Mr. S was hoping to maintain that genetic link came up and the ladies there were interested in why that is. I mean, most of us, at some level, do desire that genetic link for reasons that can't be fully explained, but it seems that it can be described for men in particular.

I think loss of the genetic link is sometimes harder for men, especially when the female partner is actually carrying the child. Recipient mothers going through egg or embryo donation still have the biological (though not genetic) connection through pregnancy/childbirth.  And I think most people would agree that maternal instincts come naturally to many women and do not require giving birth, but for men, those instincts may be harder to come by. While I know many men who are just as maternal as any woman I've met, in general I don't think that's the rule. Even genetic fathers, whose physical role in reproduction ends at conception, can often have a normal insecurity about bonding. But with embryo donation, even that physical role is removed and yet, maintained by the mother.  I can see how it can feel unbalanced. So, when Mr. S determined that he wanted to keep that genetic link, I wasn't surprised. It's his part and his choice.

We have to be honest with ourselves here-everyone does, especially when you're exploring third party reproduction. Once upon a time, a celebrity had said (I'm loosely paraphrasing here) something along the lines of people who seek out genetic kids are being vain. And then, said celebrity went on many years after that quote to have two bio kids of their own. Personally (and very unlike the empty-headed commenters on articles), I feel that if having a bio kid is that important to you and you are able to do so, then have at it. Don't deny what's important to you. But leave room for changing your mind, too, because you never know how the tides may turn later on.


It Is What It Is said...

I'm curious why, since adoption is not on the table, you elected to go to an adoption support group? That's curious to me.

I'm inferring that because your husband feels strongly about maintaining his genetic link that that is why you've decided to go the egg donor route. I'm not trying to be dense, but given the title of the post, you didn't really spell it out.

And, interestingly, my husband had a harder and longer time bonding with our OE/OS son than he did with our donated embryo son. Perhaps because the love of/for a child was already there, it just expanded.

Ann said...

Glad you didn't feel completely like the odd woman out. IFers really are the best.

I went to one IF group maybe a year after our final IVF failed. I was so over treatment of any kind by that stage, but was a mess coming to terms with what was next. The group was great, but it just was not the right fit for me at all. A few months after that meeting, one of the ladies sent out an email asking if anyone wanted to be in a spinoff group for adoption support. Nobody had adopted and most of us weren't sure it was our next step, BUT we all knew we were done with treatments. They saved my sanity and continue to save it at our 4-hour long brunch sessions. Maybe something along those lines could happen with your group too. Seriously, nobody really mentioned too much about adoption at the IF group, but turns out there were a whole slew of us looking for one another.

Every path is as unique as we are. Nothing is right for all of us. I look at just you m-sisters and all your different paths and love how you all still connect. ;)

hope said...

I just found your blog but wanted to add that you are not alone. I am 37, have a 2.5 year old OE DD and am newly pregnant with DE. I too used to attend my local Resolve group. The ladies were wonderful but I always felt awkward about the fact that I had a child. Also, the rest of the group was so hopeful about OE IVF/IUI... I was an outlier with severe DOR and no response to drugs. So, we ended up having surprisingly little in common regarding IF. But, they were so supportive of me. I told them about my DOR, how I expected to complete menopause before 40 and no one judged me. I needed this so badly at the time. I am so greatful to the group.

Good luck with your path to a 2nd child, if it is via ED or some other plan.

Shelby said...

I wanted to follow up and say that I chose to attend this meeting as they had stated in multiple emails (without my asking) that people seeking treatment using donor gametes were welcome. I took that to mean that it was not exclusively an adoption group, but figured that adoption would probably be the primary focus as that was the name of the group.

Shelby said...

Oh, and long after I published this post, I reread the title and was a second away from changing it as it didn't seem to fit with the content. I should have followed that impulse. It's not too late!

Sara said...

I am in a similar situation (one mutually genetic child via IVF, choosing egg donation for the second) for the same reason (he wants a genetic connection, and it's an option to give that to him). A lot of what you wrote really resonated with me. It's hard for people to understand, so I'm glad you found a supportive group of women, even if their situations were a little different

Sarang said...

Shelby, I know I sure *feel lucky* we found our IF Sistas group. That 1st offshoot Resolve group where I met you...well, it was a lifesaver.

Like you, I find myself drawn back to Resolve after a long, long hiatus. I'd love to meet up with other post-IVF hopeful adoption mamas.

I'm glad you and Mr. S are talking and exploring...I know you guys will make the right decision for you guys.

Much love & ((hugs)).

Karam said...

Egg donation has been a God's gift for those who seek it and are infertile. I support the cause.