Thursday, June 11, 2009

DE Related post-Doubts about The Donor and Feeling like a Ass

Ok so I going to start documenting some of my DE thoughts even if they are not pretty or make me look bad. Here is one of them.

I'm smart. My DH is smart. Piccolina is smart (although at 2.5 is hard to tell how smart or how that will manifest). I know there are all types of smart but I'm talking about the traditional, school-approved "smart". Actually, I was not thought of as very smart by my teachers while in grade school or high school. I didn't get good grades, I didn't do homework but when I got to College and certainly Grad-school I understand how to succeed in school and ROCKED it. So while I was a slow starter.... I always tested off the wanted me to skip a grade...I think I was just too immature to make it work. I have always had the raw materials to be nerd-smart...I just didn't not apply them until I was an adult.

Dh has always been "school smart". Good handwriting, good at math, still remembers high school calculus (yes he took calc in high school). His parents never once asked him if he did his homework...he just did it and got really good grades. His parents did not finish grade-school so they could not help him. He did it all on his own.

Here is where I sound elitist and judgmental. I worry the donor is not that smart. I don't want to go into the reasons why because then I'd have to write paragraph upon paragraph stating my evidence...considering opposing evidence...acknowledging the limitations of my evidence and justifying my conclusions none of which I care to do here or anywhere else. All in all I am concerned that Bambina might not have all the genetic equipment to be nerd-smart.

I probably sound irrational and full of myself but part of doing DE means looking at what you value in yourself and mourning the loss of that. It could just as easily been musical ability (which I do have), athletic ability (which I don't),looks (which we'll get to in a another post) or some other quality.

I know that even kids with the same parental DNA can be wildly different and that there are other qualities that are just as important but I am focused on this brain thing for some reason. Not obsessed or's just something I think about from time to time. It's not nagging.....just present.

And then I feel like an ass for sounding so full of myself, judging someone I have never met who gave me the most generous, compassionate gift imaginable. A person, who, by her profile, seems thoughtful, fun, likable. And then I try to focus on Bambina being kind, compassionate, fun and likable. That would not be so bad for her to have some of those qualities.... the qualities I feel I lack. The people who know me would never use those words to describe me.

But I'm still eating extra protein because of all the brain development that happens in the 3T. What? I can want her to have both smarts and a good personality.

I never worried about these things when I was pregnant with Piccolina. Yes, I wonder what she will be like but I don't worry. I don't think I am worried about Bambina becasue it's not MY if MY DNA is some genetic jackpot or something. No, I think I am more worried because I don't want her to feel separate, different, not fully one of us, not fully whole.

While I'm thrilled to let my children be who they are (not mini versions of me; no wish fulfillment or vicarious living here) I have more concerns for my DE child. I am truly excited to see how my children develop. I want to see them become who they are; see what makes then unique (something I might not have fully appreciated if I had not done DE). But what if what makes her unique makes her feel less than or separate from us? I do not have those concerns for my genetic child. Piccolina being different just IS and would not cause any concerns. Bambina being different might cause her confusion or questioning.

So once again with this DE thing I have my concerns and worries that I, as an adult, can navigate through. But I am left with my concerns for my child and how she will feel. I always end up in this place. All I can do is be aware and try to make it ok for her to feel whatever she feels about it.

BTW- I totally know that a lot of things are determined by nurture...but I really believe that nature determines the upper and lower limits. Certain things are set and nurture can only enhance/detract.


Riley said...

You should not feel like an ass! I completely 100 percent understand what you are saying and feel very similar myself. I am very upset that my future child will not be a creation of me and my husband. Although neither of us is perfect, I so wanted my child to be a combination of both of us. I wanted to look at my child and see me, my husband, my mom who passed away several years ago, my dad, my grandparents etc. Now, if we are lucky and this DE thing works, I pray that our child ends up looking and acting just like my husband rather than this unknown donor and her relatives. I know it's crazy.
I also had very similar feelings about the first donor I was matched with - I accepted her because she was available and had similar physical characteristics as I but I was uncomfortable with the information that I had about her family background, her education level, her chosen career. I know it's terrible, but it was how I felt, so I was actually relieved when she fell through and I got matched with another donor whose SAT scores were the exact same as mine, her IQ much higher (yes, they gave me this info for some reason) and who went further in her education than I did. Also, her family history is so much "better" than my original donor. I'm actually quite excited about it all. But does that mean if my first donor had worked out that I wouldn't love that child? I know that's not the case,'s all so confusing and so difficult emotionally. It's nice to hear about other people's feelings and doubts. Thanks again for sharing. I'm loving these posts.

areyoukiddingme said...

Maybe it's because I've studied genetics, but I have the same worries for my daughter. Her genes come from me and my husband, but when I look around the family tree, I see some people who are not traditionally "smart." She has just as much chance to be like them as she does to be like me or her father (who are both considered "smart"). I see very much in her (2.5 years also) that leads me to believe that she is going to be very bright, but I still worry about it. I think I worry most because I have little patience for people who can't grasp concepts that seem easy to me.

I'm sure it's a little more intense of a feeling with DE. It's yet another area where you have even less control than you thought you had.

Also, I don't think you sound irrational or full of yourself. You have to sacrifice some things in order to have Bambina, and I don't think sacrifice ever comes without a little regret attached.

sprogblogger said...

Yes. Yes yes yes yes yes. These are exactly the things that began to plague me when we first started looking at donor eggs, and they are still the issues that are making the decision on which clinic to use for this next step - we don't want to use a clinic that won't allow us access to the donor's education, SAT scores, and even IQ scores.

I lost a lot of readers on my blog when I first started writing about this fear. I'm pretty sure I never expressed it as well as you have here, and I'm so grateful that you're doing this, allowing us to participate in your process. It's such a difficult thing to say out loud that we want our children to be smart "like us". No one questions a person who chooses a donor with the same color eyes, but what about those of us who define ourselves more by what's inside than the color of our hair? Too often, I think we are made to feel as if wanting that mental connection - since we can't have the genetic connection - is morally repugnant, and I, for one, am so glad to hear other women discussing this issue rationally!

I can't wait to hear about your life raising Piccolina and Bambina, and I look forward to your insights along the way. Take care, and thanks again for writing about this.

Mel said...

This is a very interesting post, and I have to say you aren't an ass at all. I think I would feel exactly the same way in your shoes. I would imagine these concerns and thoughts would probably diminish with time as the child is in your life, but I could be wrong about that?

nishkanu said...

I think this issue probably is relevant to many, many people who pursue DE, just because overeducated, high-achieving people are more likely to know about DE as an option, be able to research it, have the money to pay for it, etc., while donors are more of a cross-section of society. I had concerns about this when I started DE, I would guess that people pursuing adoption have the same concern. Mr. Nishkanu and I are both super ultra intellectuals, I wondered how we would handle it if our child isn't.

Then I spent 6 months living and working in a small, tight-knit, working-class community where most individuals did not complete high school, let alone become the super-overeducated hyperintellectuals we are. And I fell in love with my neighbours, I met so many wonderful, warm people, and I started to value warm hearts much more highly than sharp brains. I thought to myself as I looked around that there were many women in the community where it would be an honor and a pleasure to raise a child that was genetically related to them. At that point the intelligence thing became really irrelevant to me. It still mattered to Mr. Nishkanu so we chose a donor who has a high GPA etc., but one who also seems to be warm and friendly.

Bluebird said...

Although I've never been through DE, I totally get what you're saying and I think it makes complete sense. If a child who's genetically my and my husband's is unique - how fun and crazy is that?! If a DE child is unique - is it because of the DE?

Thank you so much for your honesty and for articulating this so well. I'm honored to follow you on your journey.

Jen said...

Of course you aren't an ass for thinking these things. Every parent has fears their children will in some way(s) not live up to their ideals of what they want them to become. I am sure going through the DE process would compound some of those fears. Feel as worried as you want! I am sure it will in no way affect how much you'll love your child!

Sky said...

I completely agree that nature determines the upper limits and nurture only enhances/detracts. No question.

Having said that, mom's are inherently programmed to love their children - even the ones who seem too stupid for words or athletically dysfunctional or born with a third eye in the middle of their foreheads.

The love that grows during pregnancy is a biological imperative (so most mothers won't toss crying babies in creeks). DNA has nothing to do with it, as the evolutionary process that created that imperative didn't account for a woman carrying a genetically unrelated fetus (that's been a recent possibility).

So, there's my scientific answer as to why - no matter how brilliant or unspectacular either Piccolina or your second child is, you'll not only love them deeply but you'll even have an irreparable blind spot.

You'll see.

Anonymous said...

Weirdest Donor Sperm thought I've had "maybe he donates sperm because he has a small pe#is! and if I get pregannt and it's a boy, and i've sentanced it to a life with a small pen#s..." And then the thoughts just deterioate from there.
I don't think you are an ass at all. one of the many things that attracted me to my husband was his mind and his brain (scary smart), and I am really sad at the thought that that kind of smartness (and some characteristics he shares with his grandfather, who he rarely saw) are going to be lost.
this is so so hard.

Anonymous said...

Oh! And what if his mother is really ugly and dumpy! Nutty thoughts like those...

Not on Fire said...

I think that your thoughts are normal. I hope I don't sound like an ass when I say that I didn't have them.

I worried about the baby not looking like anyone. That maybe when we walked down the street someone would say "This baby doesn't look like you. Did you use DE?"

I worried about not liking his personality. That he might be born loving NASCAR or jazz, (shudder).

I did not worry about IQ. My DH is a genius. I figured his progeny would be okay and both of my boys are.

I picked my donor based on personality. I wanted someone who was happy, since I believe that there is a genetic component to personality. I wanted to make sure that I not committing to spending a lifetime with a genetic asshole.

Mad Hatter said...

I think everything you're feeling and worrying about it natural. You're allowed. ;-)

Chelle said...

I don't think you sound like an ass. Not at all. I believe that if I were in your position, I would think the very same thing.

I admire all the ladies that have used DE. You all are very strong women.

April said...

I'm really glad that you can BE so open and honest with these feelings...and I don't think you sound like an ass at all. It's human to have these feelings! While I've never personally been through DE, I can imagine I'd feel VERY similar and have similar thoughts and "worries" that you stated. It doesn't mean I'd love the child any less (just like YOU won't) but it's something I'd probably obsess over.

Kami said...

Where have I been?

I also worry about LB not being smart enough. I rocked the school thing, but was lacking support to really achieve what I think I could have. I wanted to give my child the chances I didn't. Now I worry that she will just be average. Or worse, that she won't be smart enough to deal with the bad stuff in life.

I know our donor and know she is bright, but she recently made some poor (IMHO) life choices and I sat on the floor and cried. Not for her, but for LB. I think it was overly sensitive, but that is the nature of DE sometimes.

There was also that recent This American Life where a boy group up not really fitting in with the family then learned at 55 he was his uncle's genetic child - the two brothers being nothing alike. It really made me think and made me wonder if I should even try for a genetic child if this FET doesnt' work out.