For women and couples who otherwise would not be able to have a baby, donor eggs may well be the solution that enables them to start a family. This includes women who are in an advanced maternal age, women who have experienced premature ovarian failure or those women who have undergone several failed IVF cycles. Becoming pregnant with the use of a donor egg is a fertility treatment that offers great results and your chances of having a baby are high. Here at Santa Monica Fertility, we consistently achieve a success rate of 70 percent of live births per embryo transfer. But we also understand that for most women, the decision to use an egg donor to become pregnant is not an easy one. For women who consider this option, it’s quite common to wonder, “Will I regret using donor eggs?” or “Is this really the right way to go about having a baby?”
Be assured that you are not alone in your questions and concerns over this decision. Let’s get a closer look at the psychology of using donor eggs to become pregnant and some of the common concerns, so you have the information you need to make the decision that is best for you and your family
Will I Love My Egg Donor Baby
Some women are hesitant to bring up this question, even with close family or friends, as many times they feel guilty for simply considering this concern. This is a completely normal fear and an honest question that deserves thoughtful consideration. Taking the question at face value, of course no one can predict with certainty what emotions you will have toward your future child. But we can say with complete confidence based on our experience here at Santa Monica Fertility with women who have used an egg donor to conceive, that all of our clients were thrilled to welcome their baby and had absolutely no regrets.
Although your donor egg baby is not going to be genetically related to you, thanks to modern reproductive research we know that DNA is not the end of the story when it comes to your baby’s identity. Scientists now know that epigenetics plays a huge role in determining just how genes will be expressed and that birth mothers do influence development of the baby . Plus, each woman’s experience when it comes to bonding with her baby will be individual. Some women feel a strong connection with the baby in utero, while for others it takes more time for this bond to develop.
Will a Donor Egg Baby Feel Like Mine?
Once the embryo is implanted and the pregnancy is confirmed, your pregnancy will most likely feel like any other. You’ll go through emotional ups and downs, from excitement and worry to tired and giddy, sometimes all in the same day! Your baby is growing inside you, nourished and protected by your uterus, bathed in hormones, nutrients and oxygen transferred from your body to the baby via the placenta. When the time comes for delivery, most women have bonded with their baby and that bond usually becomes even stronger at birth and in the days beyond.
Will I Feel Sad That I Am Not My Baby’s Biological Mother?
Again, no one can predict what emotions you will experience in the future. But it’s highly unlikely once the baby is born and the child becomes an integral part of your life, that you will feel sad. Remember, it is you who will provide the intrauterine environment in which the baby will be nurtured, and it will be you who will hold and bond with the child after she or he is born.
The very real biological experience of pregnancy, birth and lactation (should you so choose) are yours and yours alone to savor.
Having a Donor Egg Baby after a Biological Child
There are many women who choose to use an egg donor to have a baby after already having a biological child. The reasons for this vary but usually stem from the inability to conceive again naturally. It’s quite natural for women having a donor egg baby after a biological child to ask questions such as “Will I love my egg donor baby as much as my biological child?” Most women who have made this choice report that they love each child equally, as each child has his or her own unique personality and qualities, regardless of whose egg was used to conceive that baby. Many of your children’s qualities will be a direct reflection of how they are nurtured and raised by you over the next 18 years of their lives.
Carrying a Donor Egg Baby
Once the embryo has been successfully transferred and has implanted into your uterine wall, your pregnancy will feel physiologically the same as any other pregnancy. If you have thought through all of your questions and have all the information you need about carrying a donor egg baby, your pregnancy will very likely feel psychologically the same as well.
Physically, there are some increased pregnancy risks associated with carrying a donor egg baby, the most common of which is preeclampsia, which means elevated blood pressure in pregnancy. Your blood pressure will be carefully monitored during your pregnancy, so this condition can be managed if it should arise.
Bonding with Your Donor Egg Baby
Because you have carried your baby inside your body, you already have a special connection, both biologically and psychologically. Although your donor egg baby is not genetically related to you, epigenetic research proves that you have already influenced your baby’s development in many ways.
Attachment and bonding with your newborn baby is crucial for his or her development. Bonding with a donor egg baby is really not any different than bonding with a baby who was conceived using your own eggs. Bonding will happen quite naturally as you respond to your infant with care and affection.
There are many enjoyable, easy ways to bond with your baby:
- Skin to skin contact with your newborn baby
Give your baby the gift of skin to skin contact. Directly after delivery, unless there is a medical problem with the baby or mother that requires otherwise, the baby is placed directly on the mother’s body. This skin to skin contact begins the bonding process and has been shown to have both physical and psychological benefits for both mother and baby alike. You can continue this skin to skin contact even after you are home, by holding your baby next to you, cuddling the infant and speaking softly. Regular touch and cuddling with your infant is a must.
- Help your newborn infant to feel physically safe
When holding your baby, be sure to provide secure head and neck support. This gives the infant a feeling of physical safety which helps her relax. Also swaddling your baby in a blanket (be sure to get instructions on how to do this) will help her to feel secure, as it recreates the safety of the womb.
- Make eye contact with your baby
When you are holding your baby, be sure to make direct eye contact. As you speak, sing, coo or smile at the infant, he learns to associate eye contact with pleasurable feelings.
- Respond promptly when your baby cries
Child “experts” used to erroneously state that responding to an infant every time she cried would spoil her. We now know that this advice is not only wrong, it can be harmful. Infants have no other way of communicating their distress other than by crying. By responding to her, you reassure her of your constant presence and give her a firm emotional foundation on which to build.
Anonymous Egg Donor Impact on Child
Research studies indicate that any anonymous egg donor impact on the child as well as the mother are negligible. Both children and parents who are part of families created through egg donation are generally well functioning members of their families throughout childhood and into the adolescence.
Telling Your Friends and Family You Have Used an Egg Donor to Have a Baby
Unless you are in a circumstance where using an egg donor to have a baby becomes obvious, such as a same-sex male couple or single male having a child, telling friends and family is entirely up to you. Just as your friends or family members’ reproductive choices are their business, your choices are yours alone, and you have every right to keep those choices private if you so desire.
If you do decide to discuss your choice with friends or family, decide in advance what details you wish to reveal and who you want to know about your decision. Confiding in your mother about your decision is very different from telling your hairdresser about your reproductive journey. If you do decide to discuss this, be prepared with answers to their questions about why you made this choice. If you have a partner, be sure to discuss this with him or her prior to having these conversations, so you both are on the same page.
Do I Have to Tell My Child They Have Been Conceived with Donor Eggs?
No, there is no obligation to tell your child they have been conceived with donor eggs. However, the healthiest way is to be honest. With DNA testing becoming more and more available and popular, or if the child has to undergo genetic testing at some point, it is very likely that your child may find out in the future they are not genetically related to you. Or, a family member might accidentally let this slip. This can be quite a shock to the child and may well break a loving and trusting relationship.
Introducing the story early in childhood of how they were conceived is best. Simple conversations are best when the child is very young, such as “mommy and daddy had everything we needed but not the egg.” Telling your child about this is not a one time conversation, but is something that is repeated with more information added as the child grows into early adolescence and young adulthood.
How to Find Your Anonymous Egg Donor?
You may feel that knowing more about your egg donor will give you confidence. You may want this information for yourself, or to share with your donor egg baby in the future. Please do not try to find your anonymous egg donor. Donors choose to be anonymous for a reason, and many do not wish to have contact now or in the future with the recipients of their eggs or the resulting child.
A child conceived with donor eggs can choose to reach out to their egg donor once they are 18 years old but there is no guarantee the egg donor will want the same. Although we ask our egg donors if they are open to contact with a child conceived with the help of her eggs in the future, some say yes or some say no. There is no guarantee the donor will be open to contact 18 years later, and she can absolutely change her mind. For contact to happen, both the egg donor and the child must agree, and personal details will not be revealed if one party chooses not to be contacted
How to Accept Using a Donor Egg
If you have reached the point where using a donor egg is the only way for you to become pregnant, you may be asking yourself how to accept using a donor egg. You began this journey out of love, and have likely gone through other failed fertility treatments such as multiple IVF cycles in an attempt to realize your dream of having a baby and adding to your family. You have come a long, long way, and it helps to realize that using a donor egg is just one more step in helping that dream to come true
Yes, pregnancy is a joyous time, and we know from modern epigenetic research the intrauterine environment has a huge effect on the child’s development. You only carry a child in your womb for 9 months, but your influence over him or her for the next 18 years will shape who your child ultimately becomes. When the embryo is implanted in your uterus, it’s a tiny bundle of cells, but it’s your body that will grow the baby! You may not be the genetic mother, but you are the biological mother in every sense but that. If you need more support, many community hospitals and health organizations have fertility support groups, where you can talk and express your feelings and concerns with other women going through the same things.
Having Your Baby Through Egg Donation
Although you may have doubts and wonder if egg donation is the right journey for you and your family, here at Santa Monica Fertility, we have helped thousands of women to conceive with donor eggs over the past few years. Feeling sad, having trouble bonding, or having continued doubts about having used egg donation to have a child is uncommon.
We see parents who express to us their feelings of overwhelming love and gratitude once the baby is born. Of course, as we have said many times, no one can predict with absolute certainty how you will feel about your journey, but we can speak from extensive experience and reassure you that the vast majority of new mothers through egg donation report having no regrets.
Psychology of Using Donor Eggs
The psychology of using donor eggs to become pregnant is complex. That’s because human beings are complex and no two individuals are ever the same. Everyone reacts differently, even to identical circumstances. This is why if you are considering using a donor egg to become pregnant, you need to prepare yourself with the best information and choose a fertility clinic such as ours, that has extensive experience in this area.
We understand you’ve likely already been through a lot, and that you may have struggled with making this choice. But the chances are excellent that when you finally do become pregnant, carry the child, and then give birth, you will be filled with joy and wonder at the newborn who has come into your life.
If you have questions or need more information on becoming pregnant using a donor egg, please contact us here or call us directly at 310-566-1470. We have extensive experience in using donor eggs for IVF and would be delighted to speak with you.