Upon entering into our third in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle, my husband and I knew this was the last time trying for a baby with my own eggs. We had months to discuss it beforehand, weighing our options, and finally came to the conclusion that if that final cycle failed, donor eggs would be our next step. However, it would seem that talking about the possibility of donor eggs and actually going through with it are two different things. The truth is, facing a cycle using another woman’s eggs is wrought with emotions - some good and some ugly. Here are five emotions I had to work through before I popped that first fertility pill for my donor egg cycle, and if you feel these too, you are not alone.
1. Sadness That I Need to Consider Donor Eggs
There is a unique grief that comes when a woman is unable to have a child that is biologically related to her. It’s a type of loss that is hard to understand until you yourself have experienced it. Looking back, I realized it was the grief that hit me first, and the emotion I lived with the longest. This baby wouldn’t share my genetics. He or she probably wasn’t going to look like me. Not recognizing myself in my future child was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to face, and the only thing that scared me more was not having a child at all.
2. Intense Outrage Toward My "Failing" Body
After the shock of the initial grief wore off, I was left with an intense outrage at my body, for failing to do something that seemed like every other woman was capable of - getting pregnant with her own eggs. Even after hearing the gentle words of comfort from my fertility doctor that this was nothing I could have prevented, that my eggs were bad long before I could bear children, I was still mad. After everything I had to go through with fertility treatments, it still wasn’t enough to get me pregnant. Not only was I feeling bitter about women who didn’t have to struggle to get pregnant, but now I was resentful toward my own sisters in infertility, the ones who still had to endure IVF, but could still have a baby who shared their DNA. It was a lonely feeling.
3. Relief That Donor Eggs Could Increase Our Odds
I know what you’re thinking. Relief? After feeling so much grief and anger? Yes, it’s hard to believe, but eventually, when the decision was made, and the donor egg process started, there was some consolation in all this: That we could essentially “start from scratch” in our infertility journey, only with much better odds. There were still no guarantees, but using donor eggs granted us a greater chance of having a baby. And I wanted a baby more than I wanted a baby from my own eggs. There was something almost healing about the decision being made to move on to a donor.
4. Hopeful That We Might Achieve Our Dream of a Baby
No matter where you fall on the spectrum of infertility and donor eggs, you can’t help but feel hopeful eventually. Otherwise, you would never pursue that avenue. After all, your own eggs didn’t work out, but maybe this way will. Maybe that child you have prayed for, wished for and pined for, will finally come, just not in the way you always planned. Amidst the grief, the frustrations, and the tears, there was that tiny pinpoint of hope that started growing as we delved into the world of donor eggs. We filled out the forms, studied pictures of donors, and discussed what qualities were important to us in her. Through it all, we hoped. We hoped one cycle was all it would take. We hoped higher-quality eggs would help me keep a pregnancy. We hoped this worked so that we could finally grow our family and not go broke doing it.
5. Anxious of the Complexity of Using Donor Eggs
That wasn’t to say we were so full of promise that we became disillusioned. The anxiety was still there. There was the anxiety typical of our former infertility treatments: What if this doesn’t work? What if I miscarry again? How are we going to pay for this? But as we immersed ourselves in paperwork, medications, and procedures, my husband and I discovered all sorts of new things to freak us out: How would we explain this to our families so they wouldn’t judge us? How would we react to inappropriate comments? When and how do we share this information with our future children? Yes, the anxiety was overwhelming at times.
During the whole donor egg process there are many emotions that come into play, and most of the time, it feels like they are experienced simultaneously. Despite what some may have you believe, you are capable of experiencing blinding rage at the entire situation while simultaneously feeling an intense love for this child who will come from another woman’s eggs. The most important thing to remember is that you don’t need to be one hundred percent ready before you start on this path. I struggled with my grief and anger even through my pregnancy. As long as you are willing to work through the complex range of emotions and feel this is the path you need to take, acceptance will come. If it doesn’t work, you know you gave it a chance, and if it does, the reward will be incredible.