Tuesday, 1 December 2015

3rd Blogiversary: Reflections on being a donor egg mom

Wow.  Another year gone, and yet another huge shift in circumstances.  On my first blogiversary, I wrote about feeling left behind.  Last year, I was the one doing the leaving at six months pregnant.  And this year, I'm firmly out of the trenches with an almost 8 month old baby boy.  A boy who fills me with pride and joy every day, and is doing an exceptional job of keeping me on my toes now that he's crawling around and exploring his world.

A boy who wouldn't be here if not for the gift of a stranger.

Before Q's arrival, I wrote about my worries and fears about being a mom to a donor egg baby.  Would I feel like his mother?  Would we bond?  Or would I feel like a surrogate mom to someone else's baby?  Would the donor issue constantly be at the back of my mind, a nagging reminder that my baby was "not quite mine"?

Admittedly, some of these thoughts lingered for a little while after Q's birth, although not in the negative way that I had feared.  In the first month or two, every so often I would catch myself looking at him and the thought would come unbidden to my mind: he's not mine.  Perhaps some of it was that brand new mother incredulity that everyone experiences; the "how could this tiny perfect human possibly be mine?" moment.  But for me, I knew this was also more than a little bit about the donor.  He's not "mine".  There was no emotion attached to it, no sadness or anger.  It was just a statement, almost as if my brain was testing me by throwing it out there every once in a while to see how I felt about it.  And how I felt about it, as it turned out, was this: So what?  

So what? as I changed another diaper.
So what? as I breastfed Q in the middle of the night.
So what? as I held him close while he napped on my chest.

As time went by, this passing thought occurred less and less.  Like any bully, it came seeking a reaction and when it didn't get one, it stopped bothering to try.  Before long I couldn't even remember the last time it had cropped up.  With each act of mothering, any fear that I wasn't a "real" mom was being washed away.

Now, if someone were to suggest to me that I wasn't Q's "real" mom, my answer would be this: if not me, then who?  The donor, while giving us the single vital cell we needed to bring Q to life, has never held him or nourished him.  She's never played with him, tickled him, or elicited a single smile or giggle.  Never soothed his cries or rocked him to sleep.  Never fretted over his illnesses or milestones, or cheered for him as he achieved a goal.  Never laughed at his shenanigans or been frustrated by his fussiness.  She's never experienced a single minute of this precious, amazing little boy's life while I have been there for almost every single joyful, messy, tearful, hilarious, tender, stinky, irritating, fear-filled, awe-inspiring second of it.

Before I gave birth to Q, any time I expressed doubts about being a donor egg mom M would tell me that I was being ridiculous and remind me that it was my body that was allowing Q to grow and thrive, and that it was my body that would give birth to him.  That through these acts, I was already his mother.  This isn't in any way to minimize the contribution of our donor, of course.  If not for her gift of that one tiny cell, Q wouldn't be here, and I will be forever grateful for that.  But that gift doesn't make her his mother.  It might have taken me a bit longer to get here than for someone giving birth to their own genetic child, but in the end I've realized: being his mother is what makes me his mother.

Obvious to some, yes.  But to this donor egg mom, I guess I needed to get here in my own good time.  And now that I am, it's a beautiful place to be.

12 comments:

  1. Yay! for feeling a real mother. I think I went through those same emotions two years before you (as I have a two and a half year old toddler racing around). I feel very comfortable being a donor egg mother now. So comfortable even that i have decided to leave it up to my little one to decide how she feels about having a donor and a mother. While (obviously) the contributions to her life are totally incomparable, they both are 'real'. I have been reading (open) adoption blogs, and do not want to diminish the unknown for her, she can do that herself. I hope I still have ten or so years to go, plus had practice with stepkids telling me I'm not their real mother. I am me, and she is her own unique self. But hey, if we do this parenting thing right we grow with our kids. For an 8 month old that is being there and caring ALL the time. For a toddler, well, a little more night time cuddling than I planned, but also a lot of letting her run around.
    Hope you enjoy the ride! (and sorry for hijacking your comment ;-)

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  2. I just read your post to my husband. Our daughter was conceived with donor sperm. My husband got teary-eyed and said he couldn't have found better words to express how he feels everytime he looks at his daughter. Beautiful post and thank you for sharing.

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    1. I love this! I love that your husband was able to connect with this awesome post.

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  3. So good to know your thoughts about being a mother. Of course everyone is different, but I sometimes wonder how I would feel when I eventually hold my own baby. Good to know that you went through that and that it's possible to feel the way you feel.

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  4. Such a beautiful post. I love the 'so what?' response. For what it's worth, I didn't bond with Kate right away, and I still don't see any genetic resemblence in her. At times, i don't even connect her to the pregnancy. It was as if she just showed up in our life one day and decided to stay

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  5. This, exactly this. So what, indeed. I have the same voices in my head asking similar questions and they've quieted over time. Because there's no time to dwell when you're actually being a mother. We may not have the genetic link to Ayan, but when his face lights up in a smile when he sees us first thing in the morning I know that I wouldn't change a thing. He's ours and we're his and nothing can change that.

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  6. this is such a great post and it's wonderful to read how at peace you are.

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  7. Ah, I relate to so much of what you write, but especially this:

    "Now, if someone were to suggest to me that I wasn't Q's "real" mom, my answer would be this: if not me, then who? The donor, while giving us the single vital cell we needed to bring Q to life, has never held him or nourished him. She's never played with him, tickled him, or elicited a single smile or giggle. Never soothed his cries or rocked him to sleep. Never fretted over his illnesses or milestones, or cheered for him as he achieved a goal. Never laughed at his shenanigans or been frustrated by his fussiness. She's never experienced a single minute of this precious, amazing little boy's life while I have been there for almost every single joyful, messy, tearful, hilarious, tender, stinky, irritating, fear-filled, awe-inspiring second of it."

    There came a point in my pregnancy that I suddenly didn't give a shit about how our daughter was conceived. That's not to say I didn't have a few wobbly moments after her birth – but I have always wondered how many parents to genetic children feel the same wobbliness. I think it's to be expected, especially after loss or infertility.

    Can't believe your little guy is 8 months old already!!

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  8. This is the best post ever! Thank you for writing it. I'm so glad you got there in your own time, Q's mommy!

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  9. Wow. I am sooooo glad I back tracked to read this post! Aramis, this is a beautiful post that resonates with me so much as a donor egg mom. I think we all worry about our connection when using a donor. Heck, I think that some mom's worry about whether they will connect even when it IS their genetic child! Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I've been wanting to go back and write about my early thoughts of being a DE mom, but I still haven't done it yet. Soon...

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  10. I've been MIA with comments (and blogging) but had to chime in and say how much I love this post. As a donor-egg mama, it resonates with me. What is a mother? Well, it certainly isn't the person who donated a cell. Not that that isn't a gift past comprehension, of course---it just isn't mothering. It's sort of like the word "nursing." Mamas who don't breastfeed are still nursing their babes when they hold them and feed them their bottles. In both cases, it's the love and the nurturing that matter, that define the terms. xo

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