Friday, June 13, 2008

Trying to get down to the heart of the matter: Changing my mind about DE

From the start I have always said Donor Eggs were not for me. Biology matters to me and donor eggs. The reason biology matters to me is probably different than other people. My biology matters to me because I'm American Indian. It's different from wanting a donor who's Scottish/Irish/ French but you have no cultural ties to that place and it would have no impact on how the children were raised. My tribal membership, identity, customs, culture, religion are very important to me and will be an important part of my family life. It would not be right to raise a child to be "insert my tribal name here" if they were not "insert tribal name here". Additionally I do have a genetic child who will be raised as a "tribal name". So that just complicates the heck out of things. Would I raise her "tribal name" and the other(s) not? Would I just raise them all "tribal name" and to hell with DNA? These questions are on top of the already difficult questions and emotions about DE. It was easier just to take the issue off the table.

But then something happened that has started the evolution of my thinking on the matter. I found a donor. Out of curiosity I was browsing a DE site (that right there tells you I must have some level of open-mindedness to DE). I found someone...she's me 15 years ago. Not so much in looks but she's a mix-blood Native woman with a strong tribal identity. I don't know what tribe she is but I'm guessing it's related to least in the same region. She does not really look like me (which I don't care own bio-child looks nothing like me) but she is my "type" short, petite, athletic, brown hair/eyes. She's also studying in a field similar to the one I studied and is pursuing the same degree I have. For the first time I thought this might be a possibility. I know finding a donor is much more complicated and many, many times it falls through but at least I am open to it...if not her then maybe someone else. One of the biggest stumbling blocks for DE was that genetic link to being a Native person from my region. While that would be incredibly hard to find's possible. When I say Native I mean really Native. Someone who has a tribal identity, knows and is involved in their culture and community....not part Cherokee Princess (sorry to offend any real Cherokees out there..but come on. You MUST know what I mean right?)

Now that DE is possibly on the table have been pondering all those emotional questions I thought I didn't need to deal with. I want another baby (or two). Besides my daughter, my greatest joy in life are my brothers and sisters (2 of each surviving). Siblings are important to my idea of family.

I want to be pregnant again. I have no doubt I would love a baby conceived with DE just as much as I love Piccolina. All that is easy. And while DE is obviously not my first choice it is an option I am open to. OK then, so what's my problem?

Once I started thinking about it I realized the reason I didn't want to do DE was not because I stigmatized was because other people stigmatize it. I think society looks at Donor-Egg children as somehow less than (I don't mean to offend any DE sister's out there. Just putting it all out there). I think my friends, co-workers and even family members might not see these children...might not treat these children as they do Piccolina. I hate saying that about my family...they are not bad people...but honestly.....if I were not in this situation I would probably have thought the same things about other people's DE children. Not even on a conscious level but it would undoubtedly be there...somehow that mother wasn't the "real" mother, their link to each other wasn't as strong or as valid. I cringe to even have that thought come out of my mouth (fingers?) but there it is. A naked admission. Talk about walking in another person's moccasins! (I'm Native I can make such bad jokes. Please refrain from making any moccasin, totem pole, teepee jokes unless you are Native in which case I would love to hear a good NDN joke right about now.)

Obviously my knowledge and compassion have grown leaps and bounds due to my infertility. But what about all the 95% of folks out there who aren't infertile? How would they judge us? And why do I care? Well, I don't care that much about general society....they don't even have to know. But what about friends? Family? If I don't know how they would treat this child should I even tell them? I don't see how I could keep something this major a secret but I would to protect my child if I felt I had to. And what a sad, sad have to protect my child from the judgment of family and friends.

What about Mr. Peeveme's family? Shoot, IVF is barley legal in their home country. I don't even know if they know DE exists let along have come to terms with it. What about all the other grandkids who are 100% bio-kids? Would there be a difference in how they are seen or treated? Do I give our families too little credit?

Clearly I am very early in the process. I still have at last one IVF left with my own eggs before I need to decide. I just want to start working through all this now because I can see it may take a while.

If you have done DE, know someone who has, are considering DE or even donor sperm...are you telling? Who? When? How have you sifted through all these conflicting feelings? What are your stumbling blocks and how are you resolving them?

This is my first heart-felt post (i.e. not about pooping, farts). I'm feeling really naked here so please comment with your thoughts or support or suggestions.


DC said...

I don't see why anyone would have to know you used DE. It's none of their business, really.

the Babychaser: said...

I've been having the same thoughts about using donor sperm. We aren't there yet, we're going to try a few more IVF cycles with J's sperm. But we know that male factor is the problem, and we suspect that we could easily have a baby if we would just break down and use donor sperm.

J was the one that brought it up. The way he sees it, if we adopt, we end up with an older baby, maybe even a toddler, of an entirely different race, who we have no genetic bond to, and it costs us a a bloody fortune and can take three years. Using DS is like a half-adoption, but a lot cheaper, and we get an honest-to-god infant that came out of my own body. Both of us think this is a better option.

I'm not big on secrets, especially about myself. So I've floated this idea by my close friend. Some think it's a great idea, but my very best friend was fairly horrified by it. That's when I realized that if we do this, we will probably tell only a very very select few. It's not just our privacy, but that of the child.

But yes, I feel really strange about that. What will I say when people tell us the baby looks like J, or that it has his personality traits? How can I ever keep a secret this big from my friends.

But I think I have to. And I think you're in the same boat. Otherwise your child will be gossiped about, even with the best intentions, and could end up feeling like a freak. I think because adoption is more common, you don't get that. But with this, it's a risk.

Good luck. I have no cultural/heritage values to worry about preserving, so I never even considered your plight until I read your blog. I really hope this donor works out for you.

Marie said...

I don't think it would even be an issue to tell. I mean they will be YOUR babies. If you find a donor who meets the standards that are important to you and your hubby then by all means expand your family.

Renovation Girl said...

We are struggling with this as well right now. While we can't afford to do it yet, we have begun discussing it. We agreed that we could only do it with a lot of therapy. To tell or not tell is a big issue...I have no answers on this one. It's so darn hard!

bleu said...

I am a single mother by choice AND gay so using donor sperm was always going to be done. That said I have always been very open about it to others. Bliss has always known as well although his understanding of it will grow with time. That said when I look at the possibility of donor embryos (in my case Bliss donor I am out of and would just go donor embryo for expense) I do have worries. I have worries mostly though about me, about how I make comments all the time to Bliss about things he does that I do, about features we share. That is where my fear stems, because I would never want any other of my children to feel even a tiny bit estranged and I worry. I know I would love any and all of my children, but what if ever made a non-bio child feel less than in any way. I would never forgive me.
So that is where I get fearful.

All of this said I also know if it comes to it I would do it, I just have to find a way to know I would never do those things.

Thanks for the support btw.

nancy said...

I personally don't think any differently of DE children or bio children. But that may be because of my position in the IF world.

And while I am VERY open about IF and teaching other people, if you feel that your child would be thought of negatively, I don't see any reason why you'd even have to tell anyone. Everyone around you would see you pregnant. See you carry that child for 9 months. Some things you can just keep to yourself if it's an issue.

G M said...

If you haven't found any DE message boards I have a link for you. Try and I wish you all the best!

luna said...

thanks so much for your comment. I'm so glad I found your blog for my friend. I can see why the genetic connection would be so critical to your decision-making, and it's wonderful that there's a prospective donor out there for you. like she sounds perfect, if it comes to that.

thanks again for sharing your story with me. wishing you all the best.

Smiling said...

I don't have anything specific to say other than I admire yourself for putting your thoughts out there. I really enjoyed reading them. I went round and round about DE, and then a donor came around that clicked... if it doesn't work, well who knows. I think I am okay with DE with HER, but don't know about DE with anyone.

Its a tricky thing, the more I look at it, the less I see and understand:)

Kami said...

Thanks for commenting on my blog. If you have read much of it you know that I am still processing myself. It sounds like you are moving through it pretty well.

Like you, but for different reasons, it was very hard for me not to have a genetic child. It was more important to have a child and be pregnant again so it was an easy intellectual decision, but difficult emotionally.

Because of how our infertility unfolded (losing a child in the third trimester) everyone knows about our IF and I kept them in the loop about DE. In an effort to spread awareness, I have gone public as well. Obviously, our little one will know from the very beginning (in age appropriate ways). I count on the short attention span of humans for the public part to fade away years before our child is even aware of it.

And that Native American donor might just work out. My first choice did. We met and then cycled within 3 months.

GL with the next IVF and with DE if that doesn't pan out.