I talk about my infertility to break the silence and to help end the stigma that surrounds it. I am open about the way in which I created my family because I want to normalise egg donation—like anything, it’s not a choice for everyone, but it can be a wonderful choice!
In 2017, I started a Facebook thread where I encouraged friends, family, and acquaintances to ask me anything they liked about my experience with egg donation/infertility. Here are some questions I’ve been asked over the years.
And if you have a question, feel free to leave a comment below or email me! :-)
Have you thought about people asking V. about where her red hair comes from and how she’ll respond and handle it? I know it’s on your husband’s side too, but more likely from your donor right?
Oh, that is a great question! I hadn’t thought of people asking V about her hair colour, I love your out-of-the-box thinking!
Red hair is a recessive gene which means both genetic parties need to carry it. So, no side is more dominant than the other. I used to say, “her dad had red hair when he was her age,” which is the truth. These days I just laugh and say, “Total surprise!” — which is also the truth!
From what I have learned, we set the stage for our kids. I think if we demonstrate that we can answer questions comfortably, they’ll take their cues from us. So to turn this back to your family, in your son’s case, he will know that he was born with something called a double cleft and needed a few surgeries, but he is still a regular kid. His cleft is part of him, and it has shaped his experience, but it doesn’t define him.
How did you and your husband come to the decision to go with an egg donor?
IVF with my own eggs would have been a colossal waste of time and money. My chromosome disorder means I can get pregnant but don’t stay pregnant—and if I did, my baby would have severe mental and physical disabilities, and not live past the age of 6. Our choice was either adoption or egg donation. Even though I always thought I would adopt one day in addition to having genetic kids, when faced with an either/or decision it was simple: egg donation was much quicker, less invasive, and gave us control over picking versus being picked. I guess there are some advantages to knowing half the medical history/genes, but that didn’t factor into our decision. DEIVF was also likely to work given that we knew I had no problems getting pregnant the first time. And unlike with adoption, I would get to experience pregnancy (which was important to me after having a miscarriage). Plus, it also gave us a chance of having a sibling later.
Mother’s Day is coming up and I have a friend who is struggling with infertility. I think the reminder that she is not a mother on that day might hurt. Anything I can do? Or ways to be especially sensitive to her on social media, etc?
What a thoughtful friend you are! You’re right, Mother’s Day can be awful for someone who is trying hard to be a mom. I think acknowledging that the day is hard and that you’re thinking of her is a loving gesture. In the past I have shared on FB that Mother’s Day is hard for a lot of people: those whose moms are no longer with us, those who never knew theirs, those whose moms were / are abusive, along with those who are mothers-in-waiting. Sometimes remembering that it’s not an easy day for many is enough.
How can one tactfully ask if someone is trying to have kids and/or experiencing infertility? Obviously this is after you know a person for a while and have a certain level of intimacy, but are there key phrases to avoid? Or should you just always wait for the friend to bring it up and never ask?
Good question! I, personally, am on the fence about this one. I think asking (however tactfully) could feel invasive. Much as in the same way you might not ask someone about their sexuality, but wait until they share with you, I think saying nothing is probably best. (That said, this is your friend, and you know them better than I do.) Regardless of what you decide to do, I think talking about infertility in general shows that you are open to talking about something that much of society glosses over. The only thing I would earnestly caution you about is to avoid phrases like, “At least…” or “Just [do xyz]…”
In a nutshell your beautiful girl was another egg, husband’s sperm, your oven?
Hahaha, exactly! I tell my kids, “To make a baby you need three things: oocyte eggs from a woman, sperm from a man, and a uterus, a special place to grow the baby. Mama didn’t have the right kind of oocyte eggs to make a baby, but she does have a uterus to grow a baby.”