Sunday, 8 March 2015

Navel gazing

My belly button looks so weird right now.  At 37 weeks, it's pretty much completely flattened out and, as Lilee so eloquently noted in a previous post, it bears a striking resemblance to a cat's asshole.  The part that used to be inside now makes a wide, smooth, hairless orbit around the tiny pucker of navel that's left.  Above it, the crowning glory of my belly button piercing scar (an ill-considered result of a post-breakup rebellion in my 20s) has been stretched into two horizontal lines, making it sort of look like I have three tiny belly buttons all in a row.  I thought about posting a picture, but trust me when I say I'm doing you a favour by not.


With that out of the way, the title of my post actually refers to all of the thinking I've been doing about the upcoming big event.  (BOOM!  Double entendre, bitches.)  Most of it is fairly standard stuff for first time moms, I assume.  Things like wondering how I'm going to handle childbirth (spoiler: with drugs).  How are we going to adjust to having a teeny tiny life to take care of, while initially having no idea how to do it?  How are we going to deal with sleep deprivation?  With the change in our relationship dynamic?  With immense amounts of poop and puke?  Are we going to be good parents?  Are we going to want to go back to our old lives?  Are we really ready for this???


Then there's the other stuff.  The donor egg stuff.  I find myself thinking more and more about how I'm going to deal with having a baby that isn't biologically mine.  The fact is that most of the time, I don't even think about it.  When Chalupa is beating me up from the inside out, or when I hear his little heartbeat on the Doppler at the OB's office, it doesn't even enter my mind.  But every now and again, the thought strikes me like a splash of cold water to the face: this baby isn't mine.  When I talk to M about it, he seems to have a hard time understanding what I mean.  I don't think it the sense that I feel disconnected from Chalupa, or that I'm not acknowledging the importance of my role in bringing him into this world.  I mean it in the most basic, factual, cellular sense.  He's not my son.  Not biologically.  There is another woman's child growing inside me right now, and every once in a while the sheer absurdity of that situation needs to be acknowledged by my brain.

Again, most of the time this issue doesn't even faze me.  I've felt pretty much at peace with our decision to use donor eggs and haven't really second guessed it.  But every once in a while I wonder if it will somehow colour the way I feel about Chalupa once he's here.  Will I bond with him immediately, or will it take some time?  What if we don't ever bond the same way we would have if we were biologically related?  What if it totally screws him up for life?  I find myself hoping that he strongly resembles M so that he/I won't have to deal not only with other people asking who he looks like, but wondering that himself/myself.  I just hope that we haven't set him up for a  lifetime of feeling like he doesn't belong, or that he's different somehow.

Sometimes I wonder if I'll be able to be completely accepting of him.  For instance, what if he has some kind of physical feature or personality trait that I don't like?  Worse, what if he has a disability or chronic illness?  Will I respond unconditionally the way a genetic mom would, or will I resent the donor and blame her instead of just accepting it the way I might if Chalupa was purely made up of genes from M and I?

Then there are the really crazy thoughts.  The ones where I imagine that the clinic screwed up and fertilized the donor's eggs with the wrong sperm, and we'll find out someday (somehow) that he isn't related to either of us.  Or we'll find out immediately in the delivery room if, say, he comes out the wrong colour or something.  I totally don't mean that in a racist way, I just mean that it would likely be the only way for us to know right off the bat if something was not quite the way it should be.  What the hell would we do then?  


Well, OK, maybe that last one is a little bit over the top.  But I feel like the rest are pretty legit donor egg mom worries.

I've read enough donor egg blogs to know that pretty much everyone seems to feel like these worries fly right out the window once their baby arrives.  Of course I hope it'll be the same for me.  But just...what if it's not?

30 comments:

  1. I'm not sure how to respond because I understand your concerns but I've never felt like the little boy I'm carrying isn't 100 percent mine. Genetics or not. Of course, I worry most about how being conceived will affect him in his life. But my concerns are all for him and his wellbeing not about how I will be with him. I truly hope that all of your doubts dissipate the minute he arrives. There's nothing easy about the decision we've made but I hope that your fears and concerns go away.

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    1. I think it might be a bit different for you guys because you have a known donor that is a friend, so there won't be as much wondering who he looks like or where he gets certain traits. If we could have used a known donor I think I would have preferred that, but it just wasn't in the cards for us!

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  2. OK this might be nit-picky irrelevance....but wouldn't you say that CB is not your genetic child, but he is your biological child? because the process of pregnancy sure sounds biological to me. :-) That's always how I've thought of it, anyway...I'm not sure if there is agreement on the technical terms! I think your questions and musings are typical of a mom who's conceive with DE (so far as I understand it) but I think they are also typical of all parents. Even if you have contributed all of the genetic material, as a parent you still wonder if you might have passed something "bad" onto the child. I can't address the concerns you have specifically about DE, but I do know that as a parent one gets used to living with a degree of self-doubt in almost everything, but most of the time, it's OK. Because there are other kinds of awesomeness. Sending you lots of good thoughts for these final weeks!!

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    1. Semantics. ;) I'm sure you're right...there's tons of stuff I'll be self-doubting and second-guessing in future; DE is bound to be the least of it!

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  3. I think I know where you're coming from. Bear with me here. Grey and I both have dark hair (Grey's borders on black), so when He-Beat was born it was quite a shock to find we have a blonde-hair child. Though Grey joked about it, there were moments we worried about there being some sort of mix-up. What Grey did tell me constantly, though, was even if that was a possibility it didn't matter. Because we are his parents. We are the ones who held him, rocked him, feed him, changed his diaper and loved him from the beginning. Even if he isn't genetically related, he will forever be our son.

    What your facing is something many adoptive parents face. That missing the genetic link will mean that you're not able to love your child as much. What I can tell you is that you've already gone above and beyond for this child. You've cared for Chalupa, loved him from the very beginning and done more than most mothers ever would. That speaks worlds. I imagine there will come a time where you have to share the story of his origins and how he came into the world. But I suspect it will be a bonding moment.

    Hang in there, lady. I know the fears about feeling like you're not ready. Truth is, one can never truly be fully prepared. But I promise you, you will make it through. And we'll be hear supporting you the whole way.

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    1. You're totally right. I have a friend who is a mom to identical twin boys that look NOTHING like either her or her husband, so obviously that genetic link is no guarantee. I know you guys will be here...which makes it so much easier!

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  4. I'm 6 months out from my DE son's birth, and for me, the bond was instant (oddly, my own-egg first child, it took a couple of days...) however, it's only been the last month or so that I stopped worrying about the DE stuff, or really, almost forgot it. People say he looks just like me all the time...and believe me, he doesn't! He looks just like his sister, though, which is nice... I work fulltime and my DH is home fulltime, so the hardest part is seeing the closeness he has with both kids that I miss out on. SO glad they have it, but sad I don't. Anyway, I have had all the same worries you listed, and so far, none have come to pass. I think the fact that you are thinking deeply about all aspects of this is a good thing. Oh, and I prefer genetic mother...the donor gave one cell. Critical, deeply appreciated, but only one piece of the complex biological puzzle that became my son. Best wishes!

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    1. Yeah, I have a few friends who had very difficult births who told me that they had a bit of trouble bonding initially. It's definitely not exclusive to someone who's used DE. Thank you for sharing your experience, it helps a lot!

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  5. I am 26 weeks pregnant with a donor embryo. We also adopted a son almost 1.5 years ago. Everything you are feeling is so normal. "Genetic" moms worry about bonding with their new babies too. From my experience with our son, all those worries about yourself (will I bond with him the same, will I love him the same) go right out the window. For me, what has remained are the worries about how he will feel when he's older (will he feel different, will he be sad about how he became apart of our family). We just have to love and support him through whatever feelings come up when they do come up. I think what you said about your brain having to acknowledge how absurd the situation is is SO TRUE. But that also seems to be something other people can't understand. I've said similar statements before and people look at me like I'm crazy. But come on, it IS crazy. I'm pregnant with some other lady's baby. People keeping telling me it's my baby. And it is. But still. As the person carrying a donor egg or donor embryo i think it is important to our brains to acknowledge it every once I n awhile. And then when our miracle babies are born we'll thank G-d for science and the absurd amazingness of donor/adoption eggs/sperm/embryos.

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    1. Yeah, whenever I (infrequently) say something about CB not being "my" baby, M seems to feel like I'm looking for some sort of validation and starts talking about how huge my contribution in carrying and growing him has been. I'm always like, dude, thank you, but that's not what I'm getting at AT ALL! I'm glad someone else gets it!!

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  6. First, ew on the belly button.

    Like Jessah, my biggest concern is how it will affect my baby's life; it's something I've struggled with the whole time. I'm all for disclosure (despite B's misgivings; I'm going to work on him), but sometimes I just selfishly don't want to say anything because I think it will kill me when s/he lashes out and says I'm not his/her real mom.

    I don't feel super bonded to this baby either and I wonder if it's because it's donor, or if it's just my personality. I mean, I'm excited to be pregnant, but maybe it's because I don't look super pregnant and I don't feel strong kicks and it still seems so far away, but I'm not reading books to my uterus every night and I don't feel a strong sense of love.

    Finally, I'm also petrified that they screwed up with the DS! What if we have a white baby, not a brown one?!? Everyone is like, oh you never know, it could be blond and blue-eyed, and to those everyones, I want to go back to 9th grade biology and explain how recessive genes work. If we have a blond hair, blue-eyed baby it won't be the baby that we ordered.

    You're going to love this baby, of that I have no doubt. I do understand why your doubting, I have these same fears. I know you're not the first DE mom, but I definitely feel like I'm following your path through this process. 3 more weeks, friend!

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    1. I know exactly what you mean...I'm both petrified of and quasi-prepared for the eventual argument that will result in the "you're not my real mom!" comment. Although I seem to think that might be more likely to happen with a hormonal teenage girl than a boy. ;) Thank goodness I'm not the only one worried about a baby coming out the wrong colour, I thought I was just nuts!!

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    2. Oh also, if you're anything like me, then I think you might not feel super bonded because it's just your personality. For instance, I didn't really "mourn" my chemical pregnancy as a miscarriage because that's just not how it felt to me, although I know other people see it as a loss of a baby which is equally legitimate. We're not reading or playing music to him or anything. I just think I'm super practical and logical and need to see his little face until I can go, "Oh yeah, there you are. Hi baby!"

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    3. I do think that's what it is--just personality. It doesn't quite feel like a baby and I'm more concerned with making sure we're prepared with stuff, financially for the daycare hit--ouff, more than our mortgage--and mentally for all the changes. I didn't really mourn my miscarriage. I was sad at the time, but I didn't grieve--in fact my EDD was last Sunday and I didn't even realize it until after the fact.

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    4. Aramis, I didn't mourn my chemical pregnancy either. I don't know why, except it just never felt like I was pregnant to begin with. I did have a harder time with our miscarriage at 9w, but even then, I don't remember what day that was or what his due date would have been exactly like other people do. I've often wondered why I was wired so differently in that way...

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  7. Before my daughter was born, Hubby and I used to joke about a mix up in the lab and what would happen if I gave birth to a baby of a different race. That didn't happen, but even the thought of having to part with the baby I'd loved and nurtured for nine months, even if she wasn't genetically related to us, was almost unbearable, even in our joking. No one can predict how long it will take for you to bond with CB, but that's true for any parent. But I think the fact that you're worried about the kind of parent you'll be says a lot--in a good way--about the kind of parent you'll be. (Hint: the bad ones don't worry too much about it.) I'm so excited for you to meet this little guy in just a few weeks!

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    1. Yeah, I never really thought about it but the lab mix-up fear would probably be there whether we'd used DE or just regular IVF. Stories of stuff like this being uncovered years later terrify me. Possibly to the point of doing a DNA test at some point if CB isn't a miniature M, but I guess we'll worry about that later.

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  8. First off, my belly button has only gotten weirder since that post. Almost completely flat, the skin is so soft I can't believe it exists on my body. Thankfully, I can barely see it anymore.

    Second, I can tell you I'm just as freaked out about our new baby - even without all the donor egg extras. I wonder if I will bond right away when I have no experience with newborns. What if this kid's personality is really different from both me and Bobby and we don't like it? What if s/he has a disability or disease - how will we react? Am I actually capable of unconditional love when this kid is totally disrupting our totally awesome life? I know you have that extra layer of donor eggs, but I'd have to say your feelings sound pretty normal for any mom (or at least a crazy mom like me).

    37 weeks!!! You're so close!

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    1. I know, right? I wish the skin on my legs was as smooth and hairless.

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  9. Your worries are all totally normal. My daughter has my Mom's eyes, but other than that she doesn't look like me. people always say she looks like her Dad and the only people who've said she looks like me were my parents and I think they were saying it to make me feel good. Andino and I just laugh when they say she looks like him because we used a donor. I guess she just looks Latina?

    anyway, even if your baby doesn't look like either of you, I can promise you will still love him fiercely. I'm not saying you won't have moments when you think about it, but it just won't matter.

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  10. Your worries are all totally normal. My daughter has my Mom's eyes, but other than that she doesn't look like me. people always say she looks like her Dad and the only people who've said she looks like me were my parents and I think they were saying it to make me feel good. Andino and I just laugh when they say she looks like him because we used a donor. I guess she just looks Latina?

    anyway, even if your baby doesn't look like either of you, I can promise you will still love him fiercely. I'm not saying you won't have moments when you think about it, but it just won't matter.

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    1. That's so funny. I can see people maybe saying that to me if CB has dark hair instead of dirty blonde like M. I am 99% sure you're right on the rest...I guess I just feel like I won't know for sure until he's here.

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  11. First - I can totally relate to the belly button issue! And second - while I don't know exactly how you feel, I do know that you are so lucky to have such a strong support of women who are in, or who have been in, your shoes- we are lucky to have found these women who can relate to us, encourage us, offer advice, etc. I have a feeling all of this will dissipate when you meet your sweet baby VERY soon!! XO

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    1. You're absolutely right. The fact that so many people have commented on this post telling me that I'm totally normal and NOT CRAZY is so wonderful and helpful. I truly feel beyond grateful for having found this community. I hope you're feeling better lately! I know you must be crazy busy but update us when you can!

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  12. A cat's asshole huh? That paints quite a picture.

    I know that using DE adds a whole new layer, but I was worried that I wouldn't bond with my child after he/she was born....but it was pretty instantaneous. You have carried Chalupa for 9 months and gone to great lengths to have him. I'm pretty sure you will do just fine bonding with him. :-)

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    1. I never would have thought of it until Lilee (well Bobby actually) said it, but now it's all I can think of. And so disturbingly accurate.

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  13. I don't feel like I'm adding much that wasn't already said, but there are a lot of genetic moms who don't bond immediately with their babies. Myrtle shared with me that she didn't start to fall in love with her daughter until she was about 3 months old. I also have worries about an embryo mix up. I was the only transfer on the day of my final and successful one, but they didn't verify my ID at all. Part of me feels that I've come to cherish this pregnancy so much so far, but knowing how much work and stress goes into the embryo production (and I'm not talking about what happens in the lab) how could I deny another couple their child? It just sucks that we have to think about these issues. Also I think all kids go through the phase of "I didn't ask to be born" or wishing that their mother was much cooler like their friend's mom (until you're an adult and you realise your friends mom was really a lush) I once saw a poster for the TV show Parenthood that read "Parenthood is: hearing your teenage daughter say 'I hate you!' and knowing it means you're doing the right thing.

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  14. I think having a blog at all makes you more prone to navel-gazing - amirite?!

    So slap me if this is an asshole thing to say since I did not use donor eggs, but I kind of relate a little bit. Molly looks NOTHING like me. Like, not even a little bit. Her face, her expressions, her demeanor, the weird way her toenails grow sideways (God, are they ugly, I feel for the girl) - all of it is straight up Eric 100%. And that coupled with years spent wondering if I would ever really have a baby have made me skeptical sometimes. Like I'll be holding her and look at her and think, "Is this seriously my baby?" I don't even know sometimes. I know I love her, and I did bond pretty quickly, but still sometimes I question if she's really MINE. I don't know if that makes sense.

    We also joked all the time that they would mix up our genetic material at our clinic (it must be an IVF thing). About 80% of the doctors and patients there were of Asian decent, so it would have been pretty obvious, but I can tell you with 99.99% certainty they used the correct sperm. Correct egg? Who knows. That's anyone's guess. Clearly his genes are extremely dominant.

    The bonding will come. They make babies cute for a reason.

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  15. Did you say 37 weeks??!!? Your pregnancy just flew by for me. Hahaha. Can't wait to "meet" CB soon!
    I totally had the fear that I got the wrong embryos and a couple of different race babies were going to pop out of me. I was also pregnant around the time a story broke about an RE who put his own sperm in a bunch of the embryos at his clinic so I worried about my RE being crazy. He was middle eastern, though, so we would have known immediately of my blonde haired blue eyed husband was not the father.
    Everyone else has already said it so well. These are totally normal worries. I have a feeling most of those will fly out the window when he is here. Everyone bonds differently, DE or not. Mine wasn't instantaneous, but they were also taken to the NICU immediately so bonding was more of a process for me. I didn't bond with them while I was pregnant because it all still felt so surreal. However it happens for you is fine and normal.
    It's funny because I think of DE as so normal after being part of the infertility community. But, it really is such a crazy and absurd thing. It's amazing it's even possible.

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  16. Ohhhh, I had all these worries as well. You know that is normal. What helped me was when someone reminded me that I might not be my babies genetic mother, I am most definitely their biological mother because I'm the one that actually GREW them! Without you, CB would not be in existence. YOU are the one the provided his home to grow in the last 9 months. YOU are the one that provided the nutrients in order for him to grow from a mass of cells into an actual live baby! As for bonding, I will admit that I did not completely bond with my twins right away. I loved them of course, but I felt a bit of separation, which I really think is mostly due to the circumstances of their birth and the fact I didn't get to see them right away. I still worry about the day that they will understand what it means that they came from DE. I wonder if it will be even more weird for them knowing that they are a result of their Auntie and Daddy. Hopefully it will all turn out to be no big deal and they will just know they are very loved and were very wanted!

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I'm needy and your comments validate me. Help a sister out!