What are you concerned about?

Fertility Seminars

If you consider becoming a mother via egg donation, you will look for answers to many of your questions and concerns. The experiences of professionals and of other people who are several steps ahead of you in their egg donation process can be very helpful to you. 

Planning a child and becoming pregnant after egg donation are times when any woman has concerns, expectations and hopes. Some of them are all the same for any mother-to-be, and some of them are more specific for women pregnant after egg donation.

What concerns do you have?

Will the baby look like you and/or your partner?

You may worry about what remarks people will make about the child’s appearance. It is worth remembering that even with people who can conceive a child naturally, looks and character do not always flow into the next generation. There are children who look like both parents, children who resemble one parent and children who do not look like either of their parents! The majority of my ex-patients report that their children look very much like their fathers. This is no wonder, because their fathers have contributed half of the genetic background of their children. I always propose a donor who resembles the wife but also explain to my patient that the physical characteristics of the donor should be optically less dominant than those of the husband, to provide a good basis for the husband’s looks to dominate. In such cases, there is a big chance that the child will look like the father. Considering the fact that children often resemble one of the parents more than the other, the egg donation children of my patients fit as well in their family as any other child. But most remarkable is the fact that many women report that their children look and behave also like them in their childhood! One reason for this is that children tend to pick up their parent’s mannerisms, such as their facial expressions (e.g. how they smile) or their characteristic way of doing things. It is therefore perfectly possible for you to pass on this kind of physical resemblance to your children.

If you have particular talents (for music or science, for example), you may be upset that these will not genetically be passed on to your child.

Will my child be as good as me in music, maths or sport? In people who conceive their genetic child naturally, skills do not always flow into the next generation. Just think of all the families you know in which the children somehow insist on being individuals rather than being as good (or bad!) at something as their parents. The love and stimulation with which you will surround your child will enable it to develop its true potential, in whichever direction this lies.

You may feel guilty about “stealing” an egg from another woman.

In every menstrual cycle of a fertile woman, a whole group of immature eggs grows and competes to become the only mature dominant egg. Only one of these eggs usually reaches maturity and the rest of them die. If a fertile woman does not conceive in this cycle, the only mature egg dies too within several hours after ovulation and becomes completely useless. So every cycle in which a woman does not conceive results in the waste of several eggs. When an egg donor undergoes IVF on your behalf, all this pool of several eggs (rather than just one) of the same cycle are stimulated by drugs to become mature. That is why more than one egg is available to donate each time, but only the eggs produced in a single menstrual cycle are used. By donating them to a childless woman, a young woman donor does not herself risk suffering any lack of eggs in the future. They were only the same eggs that would have grown and died during one month of the donor’s life, not eggs that belonged to any future months. So you are not reducing the egg donor’s own chances of having more children.

Will I have enough energy/health for the sleepless nights in my late forties?

I am surprised to see that my successful egg donation patients, who often become mothers in their late forties, seem to be more morally, socially and even physically prepared for taking care of the newborn baby around the clock than many young women in their mid-twenties, even for example their own donors. Egg recipients have been looking forward to these moments for so long, they have had to go through so many barriers and spent so many years trying that they have already had enough time to evaluate what is most important and less important for them in life. They are therefore very happy to devote lots of their time and attention to the first years of raising their children.

Will I be able to breastfeed?

During your pregnancy, your breasts undergo the same changes as in any other pregnancy and are equally well prepared for lactation. You will have the same chance to breastfeed your baby as well as any other woman. Many of my patients report that breastfeeding is a wonderful bonus to the whole experience of finally having a child.

Will the whole experience be as wonderful as it would have been if I had been able to conceive the baby without egg donation?

The decision of whether to try for a child via egg donation is up to you. I find that once my patients succeed in getting pregnant, the rush of love they feel for their future child tends to supersede all other concerns. The mother-child bond develops as the baby grows within you, and the excitement of feeling your child kick in your womb is just like that of any other mother. You nurture your baby with your body throughout all the weeks and months of pregnancy, and it is your womb that keeps it safe. Once the baby is ready, you go through the unforgettable experience of giving birth too. If you choose and are able to breastfeed, this can strengthen the emotional bond. As far as the baby is concerned, you are its mother and the person whom it will grow to love. As the gestational mother (the person who carries the baby), you interact with your baby both before and after the birth. There is an enormous amount of physical and social contact involved in caring for a child. All aspects of day-to-day communication strengthen the bond. It is no wonder that egg recipients regard themselves as the baby’s “true” mother, because they have mothered their child since it was too tiny to be seen with the naked eye. Furthermore, each individual is formed not only through biological links to his or her parents but also by the time, environment and relationships in which he or she grows up.    

But the major concern of all the egg donation patients is the same as for any woman:
Will my child be healthy, strong, happy?

That is what any mother so strongly wishes for her child and what is the most important concern and wish of all my patients. In fact, I find that people who become parents via egg donation are even more aware of their child’s needs and do their best to fulfill them, precisely because it was so difficult for them to have the child in the first place.

What do my patients tell about their concerns and worries?

Here are some accounts from patients who explain in their own words what they were worried and concerned about when looking into the egg donation option.

 

The idea that an “egg donation” might be an option was at the back of our minds…

But all of that is done abroad, in a foreign country??? It’s really expensive!! The success rate of this type of treatment is nothing but statistics! And you also need to “reconcile your conscience” with an egg donation. Would it be my child? Would a “foreign body” be growing inside me? Where does the egg come from?  

What were we afraid of? Spending some time in a foreign country?  The foreign language itself? The costs? What about emotional or ethical issues? Would I be depriving another woman of the chance of having a baby? Would I find myself in the hands of a quack?

All of these questions are perfectly legitimate BUT one can answer them oneself or find someone to answer them. So, here we go again, another appointment at the fertility clinic… 

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I struggled with my conscience, wasn’t it selfish to buy another woman’s egg cells and pass them off as my own? What would my future child say if he or she was told later on? I kept on wrestling for a long time with my feelings, but we decided to explore this path nonetheless.

…My husband was sad that our baby wouldn’t have any of my genetic traits. No big blue eyes, no cheeky grin, no prominent nose, no cute earlobes etc. 

But let me tell you right from the start, our son does have beautiful big blue eyes and his grin is even cheekier than mine.

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…the fact that i'd never have biological children of my own broke my heart, being only 31 at the time I felt robbed.  Moving onto Egg Donation seemed the next obvious choice but for me this was something that i'd always had reservations about, i'd convinced myself over the years that somehow maybe I just wasn't supposed to be a mother and that perhaps the child would resent me in some way or what if I couldn't love the child back and so it goes on…

Once we'd got to Russia the reality of everything hit me hard and as much as i'd wanted us to have a baby i'd always hoped that it wouldn't come to this. 

Maybe it was the last chapter of mourning and something that I just needed to get through but once the Embryo transfer took place I felt incredibly hopeful and prayed that we'd become pregnant this time…  I feel the proudest Mummy in the park as I push him around and when people stop and say what a beautiful little boy he is and how much he looks like me, I smile and secretly laugh.  

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We have only one thing to regret — we should have started egg donation treatment immediately when we were 42 years old — and should  not have tried with my own eggs in DK — Eggs are too old when you have reached this age, the chances are much too small. 

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“What will it feel like if you aren’t the genetic mother? Will you always be reminded of the egg donor when you look at the child? Will you be bothered by questions about the baby resembling you once it is born?”    

…There is this cute little baby with big wide eyes and a button nose lying right beside me and beaming at me. At moments like these I forget all the times I tried in vain to have a baby. All the questions I wrestled with before actually daring to try an egg donation are forgotten. 

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When I got pregnant I was thinking what my child would look like, would he look like me?  Our son looks just like his dad J  and people that don`t know that we used an egg donor, even think that he looks like me. If people think that he looks like me, I just smile and say thank you.

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I was then told about egg donation, which sounded fantastic. All of a sudden the percentage success went up enormously, although there was the slight concern that it isn't “your” egg.

…However, in the UK there was at least a year's waiting list at my fertility hospital and it would be very hit and miss as to whether the first donor's egg matched your attributes.

In the UK egg sharing reduces the number of embryos available to you, so you are less likely to be able to freeze embryos for future siblings, increasing the expense. The donor would always get the embryos if there were only a small number. There is also the possibility of a half sibling living in your local area, which may cause concern. 

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I was pretty skeptical at first. Would that still be my child? Would I be able to accept it?

…In the meantime, we’re into the 27th week of pregnancy and I don’t think I could possibly love my child even more than I do.

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I gave it a lot of thought how it would feel to carry a child who genetically wasn’t ours. Would it feel like ”my own”? How would it look like, and how would the child feel about it when it got older… The pregnancy went well, although we were worried that something could go wrong.

We love our children above all. And we like to think there was a reason that these two beautiful children came to us.

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Before I got pregnant, I was afraid that if we succeeded, I would feel that the baby inside of me was not mine. But I did not have to worry, I can honestly assure that all the time I felt that the growing baby was, and would become, entirely mine. I was very lucky to be in good health during the whole pregnancy, and thinking back these 9 months is a very good memory. Even before our daughter was born, I felt that we already had shared quite a lot of time and good experiences.

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Initially my husband was very shocked and sad, it was hard for him to accept that we had to stop trying new IVF treatment, it was difficult and to early for him to accept this new alternative of oocyte donation.
He saw this option as a way for me to desert or abandon the couple we were representing. To say yes to one oocyte donation was for him like saying no to the opportunity of giving life to a future family member of the family, erasing any possibility of recognizing me through this child. It meant giving up on welcoming some days a child personnifying the Love we always had for each other.
On my side, I saw it differently: the advice of our doctor asking us to put an end to this series of in vitro fertilization and replace it by the egg donation was in a way like closing an attic-window to open instead a proper gate. I finally saw a solution to the problem of fertility!

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I had always thought, I don’t know why, that I would have a child, that the failed IVF's were not the end of my story - it is that thought that kept me going.

I did however have tiny thoughts that kept creeping into my head that if I was to get pregnant the baby might not feel like it is mine and a sadness that kept washing over me that my baby would never look like me.

Once we had the most amazing rnd_news that the procedure had worked, I cannot put into words how happy I was, but I was also scared to be happy, in case it was all taken away from me.

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Of course I often though about the fact that my child was the result of egg donation and I did have some worries during the pregnancy: Would she be healthy? What would she look like? And how would I feel about not being able to see myself in her? But when I spoke to my friends about my feelings most of them told me that they had had the same worries during their pregnancies even though they had become pregnant with their own eggs.

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I tried to project how I would feel when I would not be able to mirror my child. I tried to seek these feelings to check if they left me sad and unresolved. Having a child is in some ways a vain wish. I tried to face the fear of not belonging with the child. All of these processes ended at the same conclusion: I was too full of love to not trust the love of my child. I believed in that the child’s environment was of deeper importance than its origin of genes…

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