Sunday, October 9, 2011

Weighing My Options

We've been trying to select an egg donor for the past few weeks and still haven't made a decision.

The dilemma, as I wrote the other day, boils down to one basic question:  how much does it matter if our egg donor (and therefore our potential child) looks nothing like me?

The donor that we are considering appears very close to the perfect package:  healthy, intelligent, athletic, ambitious and compassionate.  But she's a fair-skinned blue-eyed blonde and I'm none of the above.  Total opposite, in fact.

Logically, I've come to accept the reality that no matter what, our child will not carry my genes.  And honestly, that's probably a good thing - there are some serious coconuts and bananas hanging off the branches of my family tree and I'd just as soon not risk passing along any of their traits that may be twisted among the strands of my DNA.

But still. I had hoped, on an emotional level, to find a donor that looked a little like me. One with at least a few drops of Italian blood in her veins. It's hard for me to let go of that. I've already had to let go of so much. As a friend commented on my last post, "'ve made so many concessions. If you don't have to make this one, better."

But sometimes I think that infertility is the universe's way of forcing me to let go of my need for perfection and control. Oh yes, I'm a hard-core control freak and the universe really does have to hit me over the head with this lesson a bunch of times before it sinks in. There's no such thing as the perfect child and I can't create one by finding the "perfect" donor. The ache to hold a baby in my arms goes down to the marrow of my bones and I know just as deeply that I will love and cherish that child whether they are anything like me or not.

I asked the question: if we adopted a child he or she would look nothing like me and it wouldn't matter, so why does it matter now?

I guess the difference is when someone says to an adopted child, "gee, you look nothing like your parents," the answer, "I'm adopted" is easily understood and accepted and everyone moves on.  My child would have to face a decision, every time someone comments about how they look so different from their mother, either to share the very personal story of their unusual conception and deal with the questions and reactions that ensue, or shrug it off by saying "I take after my Dad's side of the family."

I don't want to make this decision based on fears of what random strangers may say, because random strangers say stupid shit all the time and you can't live your life worrying about those assholes. 

But I don't want my child to be reminded constantly of their "otherness," and I fear that's what all those comments and questions may do. Adoption has been around for centuries and is universally understood, but donor egg IVF is a relatively new technique and still shrouded in secrecy and confusion.  Some women choose not to tell anyone they used DE IVF, not even the child that results from it. While I respect that choice, it is not the one that I plan to make.

I still haven't made up my mind.  I can't bring myself to pull the trigger and I can't bring myself to walk away.  But in the meantime, I'm watching this video a LOT and hoping that I could raise a child as well-adjusted as the lovely Allegra.


  1. And here I am having a hard time picking out a new pair of glasses for myself!
    It must be very difficult to choose, and I only have one piece of advice - go with your gut.
    I guess having a child that looks like you only matters as much as you want it to. In the end, you wont love him/her any less...but yes, I can see the nagging questions that come to your mind about a child that wouldn't look like you.
    I don't know much about donors and donor eggs, but are you able to look into more donors to see if that will help you decide? You may find another donor, or be more reassured about the one you already found.

  2. What a wonderful video! This would be such a difficult decision. Sounds like you are leaning towards this donor, even though you don not share physical characteristics. I like how Allegra said had her mother's mannerisms, even though she did not look like her. Good luck with your decision.

  3. Infertile Days - Usually my gut is a good guide but this time even it's confused. We've narrowed down the currently available donors down to this one - if we decide against her, we'll have to wait another 2-4 weeks and see if any new donors have been added. Of course by then this one may be taken, and there may not be a better option, so it's all a gamble.

    TurtleMama - My BFF said the same thing last night after I talked it all out with her. Y'all may be right. Thanks for the good thoughts and congratulations on your awesome news!!

  4. This little girl has two very noteworthy attitudes; she knows that she was very much wanted and that her birth was a miracle.

    If you decide to go with this donor: "I take after my Dad's side of the family," seems like a great answer. If any questions when the baby first arrives, a very worried “Do you think that the hospital accidentally switched the babies?” might shut someone up. Or “Genetics is a crazy science, isn’t it?”

    You will come up with idiocy no matter what the circumstances are. At least, in this case you can plan on how to respond. As you already know, my MIL publicly clamored that my son doesn’t look anything like her side of the family. Back then, I got real angry and upset. My FIL said the exact opposite; he announced that the baby was the spitting image of my husband. If this happened today, I would tell my MIL a thing or two. I was blindsided because, as everyone well knows, my son is my husband’s and does share some of his characteristics. You know what my point here is.

    I am not telling you to go or not to go with this donor. You and Mr. Wren will have to make that decision for yourselves. I am telling you that this is a tough decision. I am going to avoid saying anything else, because you know how much I am rooting for this to work out for you.

  5. Anony - Allegra also had the attitude that it was "annoying" when people say that she doesn't look like her mother...but I guess teenage girls are always going to be annoyed about something, right? :) Thanks for cheering us on.

  6. Mrs. Wren,
    My mom adopted me and brother and then had my sister naturally. My brother and I both have my mom's coloring while my sister is the polar opposite. Go figure. She does, however, look remarkably like a 2nd cousin who lives about 3,000 miles away. Point being, I'm not sure how much it matters because you could find a donor that's the spitting image of your Italian gorgeousness and your child could look nothing like you'd expect, eh? In my case, our donor looks sort of like me (if you squint, cross and blur your eyes while wearing really dark sunglasses). But I figure since I'm wonder-bread white girl and my husband is Japanese, our kid will most likely look like him. HOWEVER, we could very well get a kid that looks just like Jay Leno. Who KNOWS! Follow your heart, dear girl--and best of luck. xo! -Tomago

  7. It is outright annoying. Yes, it is. This is going to be tough.

  8. Tomago -as the commenter above said, genetics IS crazy science. There are always outliers, recessive traits that show up at the weirdest times. Is your donor related to Jay Leno? (LOL, only half joking since I know you're in LA)

  9. Anonymous - you sound like you are speaking from experience. I'd like to hear about it, if you are...

  10. The 10:45 anonymous was me. Sorry. I was just agreeing with you. It is difficult to face all of the crap that people dole out. I didn’t mean to lead you to believe it was someone with experience.

  11. How quick do you have to make this decision? Is there a way to talk to someone who might have a grown child who was conceived with a DE?

  12. has a members only forum. Maybe someone there has experience and can address your concerns.

    The only thing I can really tell you is when D- had Alopecia Areata, C- wanted to shave his head in solidarity. The more of a big deal that we made over D's problem, the more upset D- became. He was taking his cues from us. The more we blew off other people's nonsense, the better off D- was. That's not to say that D- doesn't worry about future bouts, he does. That's not to say that he doesn't feel hurt, he does. But...once I got it in my head that this wasn't deadly, it was just visual and that people were just being idiots, D- was much better off.

    is another site that you might be able to bring up your question. I'm so sorry that I can't be of more help.

  14. As you know, having come this far on your journey, there are no shortage of patients in RE waiting rooms. I've often wondered if you polled the typical kindergarten class today (and were able to get accurate results), how many of the children were conceived with some type of "help". I wouldn't be surprised if some classes are now as high as 25%. I look at how HUGE the local twin club is and suspect most of the kids were the result of some type of ART.

    My point is that I think younger generations have a much better understanding of technology today compared to older generations.

    On the other hand, you could always say "It's the milkman's kid."

  15. Whatever happens, this child will be part of you, Jenny. I can't wait to meet him or her and celebrate your entree into motherhood.

  16. Flygirl - you raise a point that I've thought a lot about. I hope you're right and that in 5-10 years ART, DE and DS children will be so commonplace that kids won't think there's anything "weird" about it. The Kids Are Alright and all that.

  17. Andra - Thank you for that. I very much believe that's true. I can't wait to meet him or her, too!

  18. Wow - that is such a tough decision and lots to think about. I think once you get past this hurdle and are pregnant, it will become easier and a lot of the DE insecurities will subside. That baby will be YOURS and regardless of his/her physical characteristics, he/she will be like you as you are his/her parent - he/she will grow up learning how to be a person from YOU. I know so many people who look absolutely nothing like their parents - your son or daughter will be OK.

  19. Jen, you are totally right. With my last DE IVF, for the short time that I was pregnant before miscarrying, I didn't think about the donor at all. It was totally MY baby and I even forgot many of the details of the donor's profile, even though I had memorized them all during the selection process.

  20. Good lord. Remember when you once thought all that it took to make a baby was sex??? So much goes into this! (Ps. I'd worry more about the health and other things like that of the donor...the long and short of it is that this is your baby, whether the child looks like you! I look nothing like my dad, and I'm his...or at least I think I am. ;))

  21. Jen, good luck with your decision. I can understand your trepidation about a donor that doesnt look like you. I chose my donor mostly because of good health (her and her family) and height and education/personality. She looks nothing like me as I have the opposite problem as you. I am short, fair, blonde hair and light blue eyes my donor is tall auburn hair and dark blue eyes and in some pictures they look even brown. So I do worry what if the baby has brown eyes and me and my husband both have blue eyes that we might get some insensitive questions? But I am not too concerned I think the things i mentioned above as to why I chose my donor are much more important than superficial hair and eye color. Aran

  22. Jenny -
    My first time commenting on your blog. I have been wrestling with the donor egg question with increasing intensity over the past few months. My prognosis for getting pregnant with my own eggs is challenging - we're not quite through trying yet, but if the next one (or possibly two) cycles don't work, we will be faced with whether or not to use donor eggs.

    That video you posted is touching and inspiring, and I just wanted to thank you for sharing it. I initially had many misgivings about using donor eggs but as time has gone on I am getting more and more comfortable with it. In fact, it provides an incredible opportunity for people like you and me to have a baby - the only way I've been able to get through the really bleak times is to realize that this is an option.

    In terms of your decision - a very tough and personal one, and I wish you the best of luck with it. More importantly, I wish you success on your next cycle!

    Thanks again for sharing your journey.

  23. Rachel & Aran - I totally agree that health and personality of the donor is the most important thing. I've rejected donors who looked more like me but didn't have the other qualities.

    Newbie - thanks for stopping by and commenting. Making the decision to give up on your own eggs and use a donor is a tough one but it does become a more comfortable option with time. I'm glad you liked the video - it makes me cry every time! Good luck with your next cycles and whatever path your journey takes!