For Sugar and the rest of us- Emotional Aspects of Having a Child through Donor Eggs
DeeinNYC (no login) Posted Jul 2, 2012 10:43 PM
I saw this posted on another website today and thought that it described very well the process of coming to DE's. Sugar,I thought of you when I read this. Forgive me if this has already been posted elsewhere:
Infertility and the Emotional Aspects of Having a Child Through Donor Eggs
By: Laurel T. Kline, Psy.D.
From my experience working with couples who are struggling with infertility, I have come to understand the painful transition a couple must go through in order to make a decision to use donor eggs. This is a difficult process, often plagued with anger, resentment, fear and loss. However, there is a basic pattern that this transition seems to follow. The purpose of this article is to provide couples considering egg donation with an emotional roadmap to assist them in the process. By no means comprehensive, it is intended as an introduction so that couples may begin discussing the potential implications of their decision.
The following is a series of steps that most women and/or couples go through as they begin to consider egg donation. (Note: An assumption made in this article is that the womans egg quality and/or egg production is a contributing factor in the couples infertility.) Your transition may not parallel these steps exactly, but you will likely travel through most, if not all, of these stages, and experience many of these feelings somewhere along the road.
Stage 1: The Hope of Success in Producing a Genetic Child Begins to Wane
After each failed cycle, the fear that you may not be able to bear a genetic child understandably increases. You may begin to ask yourself, What if this doesnt work? However, alongside your fear exists a continued hope and a strong desire to continue your pursuit to have a genetic child. Having a genetic child still seems possible and you continue on your course towards achieving that goal. You may vacillate between periods of optimism and periods of depression as you proceed through each cycle. Egg donation and adoption are not something that you consider during this phase.
Stage 2: Anger and Frustration Build Over Continued Failed Cycles
During this phase, you intensify your efforts and begin to pursue more and more aggressive medical treatments. Infertility now becomes the focus of your life. All of your decisions and plans are made within the framework of your monthly cycle and when you need to be available for procedures, inseminations, and transfers. There is mounting frustration over the large cost of continuing to make more attempts and resentment that the amount of investment has not produced results.
During this stage, it is not uncommon for conflicts to arise within the couple over how much more each of you are willing (or able) to invest, emotionally and financially, in the pursuit of having a genetic child. The anger you have towards yourself (and your body) may increase, as well as the anger towards other women who seem to get pregnant so easily. You may no longer view yourself as a complete woman, and despair may creep in as the fear that you will never be able to have your own child rises.
Stage 3: Initial Thoughts About Egg Donation Arise But Are Quickly Rejected
At this stage in the process, you feel that egg donation is synonymous with failure. Although you may recognize that other women are able to choose egg donation as a solution, you still view the process with skepticism and cannot accept it for yourself. You may fear that your family and friends will judge you negatively if you use an egg donor. You may also question the motivations of egg donors, suspecting that they are all financially desperate, unstable women who are donating just to make a buck.
Although egg donation is contemplated during this phase, the idea is rejected. The basis for this rejection typically stems from a core fear that you will not be able to fully embrace and love an egg donor child as your own. You may also consider adoption during this phase, but, again, adoption feels like an option that will not work for you. Having dismissed the alternative options of egg donation and adoption, you continue with your full-force efforts to produce a genetic child. Levels of frustration, depression and despair rise as your attempts fail and your chances of success lessen.
Stage 4: Viewing Egg Donation as a Second-Choice Option
The ability to view egg donation as a second-choice option may offer you some relief, as it allows some hope that you will become a parent, even if you are not able to produce a child genetically. Since egg donation enables you to become pregnant (and gives you control over prenatal care and custody), you begin to view egg donation as a better option (for you) than adoption. The knowledge that your child will have ½ of a genetic link with its parents (if you are using the husbands sperm) may also be comforting to you.
As you begin to research egg donation, the information you uncover may help you to develop some confidence in the process. Your fear about the motivation and character of the women who donate their eggs begins to subside as you speak to others who have turned to egg donors for help. Seeing the donor as someone who is giving a gift becomes easier. However, new concerns may surface such as the fear that the egg donor will become emotionally attached to your child or that your husband (if you are married) will not view you as the childs mother.
You may wish that you could feel as positively about a donor child as you do a genetic child, but you do not. You still view egg donation as a second choice, a choice that will bring you less happiness. In this stage, it is difficult to imagine that a donor child will feel like your child.
Stage 5: Giving Up
This is usually the most painful step in the process. In giving up, there is a sense of failure, loss and despair. It seems that nothing will ever come close to being able to replace your genetic child. As you mourn the loss of your genetic child, you may view your future with bleakness and negativity, and you may wonder if you will ever recover from this loss.
It is common, during this phase, to reflect on your own genetic strengths and to despair over the fact that these traits will not be passed down to your children. Without a genetic link to the future, you may feel a sense of disconnection. You may fear that your uniqueness in this world will die out, and that nothing of your existence will last into the future. Subsequently, you may experience your current existence in the world as less significant. In addition to the loss of your genetic child, you may feel a loss of the opportunity to love the baby you. The loss of the opportunity to love a part of you (your genetic child) in the way that you wish you would had been loved as a child, is very painful.
Stage 6: Letting Go
This is the time where the couple says goodbye to the genetic child. Much of the mourning has occurred prior to this phase, and there is a sense of being able to move on and let go. Letting go brings relief. Although the goodbye is painful, it opens up a space for hopefulness. It opens up a space to welcome in the non-genetic child.
Stage 7: Welcoming the Egg Donor Child
As you search for the appropriate donor candidate and begin to identify donors with whom you are comfortable, you will likely feel a welcomed sense of renewed optimism. Your fears that you will not fully attach to the donor child (as well as your concerns about the egg donor possibly attaching to the child) fully abate as you develop a sincere appreciation for the donor and the gift she is giving you. As you reflect on some of the donors characteristics, you may come to value many of her unique strengths, strengths that are not necessarily a part of your own genetic make-up (i.e. less heart disease in the family, more musical ability). As you near the end of your journey, you come to realize that egg donation is a good choice for you. You no longer feel that a donor child is inferior to having a genetic child, nor do you feel that it will bring you less happiness. You can acknowledge that you want this child (the donor child) as much as you wanted a genetic child.
Stage 8: Embracing the Donor Child As Your Own
From the very first sight of your newborn baby, you melt into the joy that is your child. As you hold your precious, fragile little miracle and take inventory of all her fingers and toes, you realize this child is yours: yours to love and guide; yours to hold and comfort through the laughter, tears, joys and sorrows; yours to impart your insights and wisdom; yours to prepare for the world in which she will live. This child is yours forever and always. The knowledge of her genetic origin serves only as a testimony to the wonders this life has to offer, and to the extraordinary kindness of one very special woman who helped make your dreams come true.
About Dr. Laurel T. Kline...
Laurel T. Kline, Psy.D. is a therapist based in Beverly Hills, CA, specializing in infertility issues, marriage/couples issues, addiction issues, depression issues and more.