It hurts, it hurts! / Some thoughts on donor egg and adoption

I don’t know how common this is—probably pretty—but I can’t get over how much this love hurts. I feel like everything is going so fast, too fast, even while I am eager for each new stage. It’s such a confusing experience. I love to watch him grow and change, and at the same time, I feel nostalgic immediately after each stage has passed. This morning I realized that I probably shouldn’t wash him in the kitchen sink any longer (he’s getting too big and he gets excited and bumps his head against the side of the sink) and I just started crying. Recently, we’ve been experimenting with crib time, and this weekend we might try to see if he will sleep there (instead of in the Rock-and-Play, where he’s been sleeping for reflux—but he’s starting to seem uncomfortable in there sometimes). This change prompted me to write a letter to him yesterday morning, which I did while crying. I told him that his nose is growing and changing, and this detail made me sob. I don’t and I do want his nose to change. I thanked him for being my buddy, my fellow-adeventurer, my tough winter baby, going to museums and snowy parks and antique stores. I tried to express how much I love him and found that there are no words for this kind of love. We’ve been talking more and more, just hanging out together, playing, stretching, pressing against hands and feet, doing dances to the Indiana Jones theme song (DH’s invention), flying through the apartment like a superhero, and making up countless stories and songs about his being a starman. When he laughs, his whole face breaks open into pure joy. I’ve never seen anything, anything, so beautiful in my life.

And now I am crying again. What is it? It’s this tension between joy and nostalgia. Insta-nostalgia. He no longer does the stick-out-tongue thing to say hello. Now he coos and says some pre-words. He is getting louder and funnier. When he does the soft, intimate, almost whispery talk, really close to me, I get lost in it…and then I have thoughts of, Oh, what if this passes, too, how do I capture it? How do I keep it forever? And then I gently scold myself for worrying about such things.

He’s going to revolve through countless changes for years and years, and I am just at the beginning of learning how to deal with that. I am new. Brand new mom. Every emotion I have is raw and stumbling and pure. I’m sure I will learn how to handle the enormity of this love.

Of course everything I feel is exacerbated by sleep deprivation! For both me and DH. We both feel torn…a part of us looking forward to development that will lead to his sleeping longer and longer stretches, will lead to more predictable patterns and schedules, will lead to us being able to have more time to sleep, exercise, eat, connect with each other, and more time to process all that is happening. The other part loving his itty-bitty-ness (not so itty-bitty any more) and knowing it will never come again and wanting so much to capture it…

I also want to mention how strange it is being a new parent in the digital age. We are so used to capturing and keeping and sharing every little moment. DH and I are not oversharers, I don’t think, but we are as susceptible as the next person to feeling compelled to capture stuff, via photo and video, and share. Now that we have a newborn, I think we both feel a lot of pressure to do this even more, especially since family is so far away. Sometimes I have to really check in with myself about this and try to dispel the pressure. Sometimes I intentionally leave my phone elsewhere.

But it is difficult. He is changing, and guys, he is becoming even more beautiful. People comment on how alert he is. He engages with people right away. Such a little baby! And he engages. He tilts his little head and considers. “Such intelligent eyes,” the doctor said yesterday. Yes, definitely.

If there is anyone out there reading this blog because you are considering donor egg and are worried about having a lack of connection to your child because of the lack of genetic connection—well, I can only give you one perspective. Every story is a little bit different from the next, of course. But my story is this: Donor egg has not had an effect on my connection to my child, to our bond, our burgeoning relationship. The fact of donor egg is present and will be part of his unique origin story—unique, just like he is—but I don’t have any negative feelings about it. I know that may be hard to believe for some. But it’s true. I feel gratitude and some more of that love that hurts when I think of all the things that had to happen to bring this spectacular human being into the world. I feel honored to be his mama. I can’t imagine life without this baby. Everything unfolded just the way it should to make way for his arrival from stardust to us.

And for those of you considering adoption—I have to say that I think all of this would happen just the same with or without pregnancy. Yes, it is fun to talk to him about my belly, where he used to swim around like a little fishie. Yes, I am glad that I have the plaster mold of his belly-home to show him some day—I’m sure he’ll think it’s pretty neat. Yes, those months were a wonderful bonding time. But if you are considering adoption, just know that other things will take the place of those pregnancy stories and memories (how you found him/her, etc.) and be just as much of a reason to bond.

I am glad we did donor egg, glad we had the opportunity to control the uterine environment, to bond with him in utero and watch him grow from a speck of light. I feel so fortunate to be able to give birth to a son, to mother a baby from the time it is newly born. But the more deeply I grow into parenthood, the more I realize that the absolute, number-one thing that matters is this: the relationship. The relationship is all. I feel confident when I say that no matter what age the child is when it starts, the strength of the relationship trumps all else. All you have to do is have love in your heart and give it freely and unconditionally. The child feels it instinctively. And then this absolutely mind-blowing dynamic starts to swirl and reach and take on a life of its own.

Well, Starman is napping and I’d better take this opportunity to get some breakfast in me!

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10 Comments

  1. Love this. You have such a perfect way with words. My daughter is turning one tomorrow and I’m feeling the same exact way about her growing up– I love every new stage, every new development, but am so aware of all the “babylike” things she’s grown out of. They change so quickly I almost (almost) don’t have time to be sad about days past.

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  2. I agree with you one 100%. Though D shares my genetic material, you wouldn’t know it by looking at her. She is ALL Merp. And that certainly doesn’t make me love her any less! I know for sure that if I had used someone else’s eggs that I would love her just as much. Like without question. I think something magical happens when you’re carrying a baby inside of you, regardless of how it got there. And I think that same magic can happen with adoption, for sure. Once a child is yours, regardless of how it happened, that love just grows (I’m simplifying, I know). I loved my puppy instantly, and he’s not even a human, so I know adoption of a child would be the same thing! For me at least! Glad to hear you are reveling in every emotional, sleep deprived moment… It’s magical isn’t it? Oh and I meant to comment on your pilates post… YOU GO GIRL! 10 months later I finally have my pre baby body back and all the pilates type core work really helped, I think.

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  3. You took the words right out of my heart. I’ve been feeling similar things lately and couldn’t put into words exactly what it was. But you did it, and so elegantly and truthfully. I love your writing and perspective.

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  4. Thank you for this beautiful post. I needed this today.

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  5. Great post! Thank you for your perspective.

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  6. You are 100% correct. It doesn’t matter if you share genetic material or not. That is not what makes you a mother. THIS does. All THIS love that you wrote about. My son shares my genetic material but I share exactly the same feelings that you write of. You son is your son. Donor eggs, sperm, adoption, genetic make up, infertile, fertile. Doesn’t matter.

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  7. Oh! That was so beautiful it made me cry. I love this love and this hyperawareness of everything beautiful and wondrous about your son. And I especially appreciate the fact that this beautiful bonding and adoration and intense love and happiness-yet-sadness at all the milestones and growth is separate from any genetic connection or gestational experience. (Although that belly-mold sounded pretty darn cool… I could make a squishier one now but it’s not really anyone’s home and would just be kind of creepy, so I’ll skip that since I won’t be pregnant, but I loved the idea!) Gorgeous post. And you made me laugh with the leaving your phone elsewhere part… it reminds me of a trip I took to Cape May with friends, and we were on a sunset dolphin cruise, and I spent so much time trying to take pictures of the dolphins that I didn’t have great memories of the ACTUAL DOLPHINS. You can miss so much trying to document it. I get the pressure, though! So much love to you and Starman and your mister.

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  8. This was lovely to read, especially because I’m still having those few nagging doubts about how I’m going to feel in a few weeks. Most of the time I totally forget the little guy growing inside me isn’t “mine” genetically, but every once in a while the thought comes back like a douse of cold water and I wonder if it will make things different. I’ve read so so many times from other DE moms that it won’t, but you just never know until you experience it for yourself, I suppose. Thanks for quelling that voice for a bit.

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  9. I love this honest, raw and beautiful post! I have no doubt that I will feel that same connection with my son despite the fact that he was conceived using donor eggs. I just got done telling a friend that I don’t want to conceive with my own eggs…I’ve already closed that door. Our frozen embryos and my son’s biological siblings deserve a spot in our family above all else.

    Reply
  10. Hi. I just found your blog because my husband and I are looking into using DE for our second baby. THIS was exactly what I needed to read today. Our daughter was born after 4 IVF cycles, 2 of them cancelled before egg retrieval because I have severe DOR. Now, four years later, we desperately want another baby. But it’s looking like using DE are our best shot. I don’t so much worry about my feelings towards the baby though. I worry about what other people will do – will they compare the two children, since I do have one already? I would hope not, but I’m already getting comments from some of my family. I know I shouldn’t care, and I don’t care for me – I care more for my potential second baby conceived using DE. Anyway, thanks for this. I know you wrote this forever ago, but I am so glad to happen upon your blog. It’s made me teary reading back over your journey. You are one tough woman!

    Reply

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