Recently I had a blog comment from a lady who is just starting her journey with egg donation, and her post got me thinking back to that time. I realize it's strange for a woman who blogs on the public Web about egg donation, to tell others to keep quiet about it. But bear with me, and I'll explain why.
Using donor eggs is rarely -- never? -- a woman's first choice for how to have a family. Most of us come to egg donation after a long battle with infertility. We run a grueling course of monthly disappointment, failed cycles, and sometimes the heartbreak of miscarriage. And what do women tend to do about our problems, our struggles, our tragedies?
We talk about it. We talk about it a lot.
When I first learned at age 38 that I had diminished ovarian reserve, with a Clomid Challenge FSH of 40 (you all know what that means, right?), my doctor cut straight to the chase. He told us the odds were long on having a child with my eggs. He advised us to switch to a practice that could offer IVF with donor eggs. And he warned that if I pursued pregnancy with my eggs, I would have a high risk of miscarriage.
I was devastated. This diagnosis was truly like a death in the family. It was the death of the children I would never have, and I grieved my loss. Loudly, and to anyone who would listen.
All my friends and family knew what the doctor said and how I felt about it. Anytime my girlfriends and I got together, I talked about my infertility and asked what they all thought about egg donation. Business lunch, football party, it didn't matter -- I talked about my issues. And when I felt I needed even more self-expression, I started this blog. Talking, writing, and a lot of tears: That was how I worked through the grief of never being a genetic mother. Some people hold their pain close. I let mine run wild. For me, it was a coping mechanism. It was how I got through.
To the everlasting credit of my friends, they put up with me. (My husband and family get no credit, as they are contractually obligated to endure.) Two of my dearest friends even offered to be donors.
Fast forward to today. I have two beautiful little girls born of anonymous egg donation. Everybody in my family and group of friends treats my girls the same as all the other kids getting underfoot on holidays. But...they know. In the back of my mind, I can't forget that all of them know my girls' origins.
For me, it doesn't matter any longer what people think of my choice. My girls are perfect in my eyes. If I could wave a wand and make them my genetic children, they wouldn't be themselves. And the world without Madelyn and Lilly, exactly as they are? Not to be thought of.
The problem is, I am not sure how my girls will feel about their donor egg origins. We plan to tell them about egg donation, and it's very possible they would want that part of their history to be private to our family. But it's too late for that. I took that choice from them with all my blathering.
Also, you may decide while pregnant or after your baby is born, that you would rather not tell your child about his or her egg donation origins.
I have had a purely unscientific poll running on this blog for about three years (look at the top right part of your browser.) Of the 273 people who have voted on the question "Will You Tell Your Child About DE?", a full 25% have answered no. If you've told all and sundry that you are doing a DE cycle, you won't be able to change your mind later and keep the choice private. Not without telling some whoppers.
So my advice to you, if you are just considering donor egg: Play your cards close to the vest. Don't talk about it to everyone you know. Or if you do, speak only in general terms. There are ways to get the help and counsel you need without sacrificing your children's privacy:
1. Find a good support forum like Looking to Be a Mom Thru DE, and cut loose there. Take care to maintain anonymity when creating your online persona.
2. See if there's a counselor at your infertility clinic who would talk with you for an hour.
3. Make your partner be your confidant.
I'm not saying you shouldn't tell anyone about pursuing egg donation. Each person's needs and relationships are different, and there are plenty of future donor egg moms whose donor is a friend or family member.
Just keep in mind that once you've told, you can never "un-tell." If it makes sense for you, save that choice for your children.