The donor egg aspect, Part 2

It’s not that I don’t think of her. The donor. I do, and often enough. But perhaps what I think about more often than the donor herself is the moment, about a month after S was born, when I happened across something…

I was doing this massive reorganizing of Dropbox, my hard drive, etc., realizing that I did not have the capacity to save and organize the incredible amount of data we were accumulating in pictures and videos of S! A first-world, Digital Age problem, to be sure, but a stressful one. If you’re pregnant or about to adopt right now, my big recommendation is to get all that sorted out before the baby arrives. I’m still trying to figure out a system on the fly.

So I was doing this at lightening speed during the two seconds S was sleeping, and I clicked on a folder I didn’t recognize (I think it was labeled with the donor #) and on one of the files within it and—bam—there was a picture of a little girl who looked so much like S that it startled me.

There was a second, more likely a fraction of a second, when I didn’t understand what I was looking at. That’s how completely the donor was not on my mind and how rushed I was feeling. In that fraction of a second, a flurry of thoughts passed through my mind: what’s happening is this S who is this, this is the donor, the donor, oh my god i forgot what she looked like, S looks just like her!

I uttered aloud, “Wow.” And just sat there staring for about thirty seconds. And then I closed the file. I didn’t want to look at it too long, didn’t want to solidify the connection. I was still in the early stages of bonding with S, and times were tough with the acid reflux, and I was a sleep-deprived, hormonal, fragile mess, deeply mourning the breastfeeding connection—something I had thought of as another way to bond myself to S in a biological/physiological way that I had lost.

The timing of happening across her connection to S was uncomfortable. But I checked myself, after closing the file. I took a moment to reflect on what I was feeling. I had the distinct sense that what had just happened wasn’t random, that on a subconscious level I’d had some non-specific notion of what I was doing.

Maybe not, maybe so, but in any case, there she was, suddenly part of the scene. The image of her little-girl face, which had been rather blurred in my memory, was now clear. I had remembered the photo as being out-of-focus, but I saw that it actually wasn’t. “We have a couple of photos of her when she was little,” I would tell people like my mom, “but they’re kind of blurry.” Why had I thought of the photos as blurry? They weren’t. A bit faded, but clear enough.

I didn’t want to stare at the picture and emblazon every detail of it on my mind. But at the same time, I was accepting of the unexpected finding of the image. I had familiar feelings of gratitude. Imaginings of what life would be like without S—not life without “a baby,” but life without S, this very specific and amazing human being. A bleak thought.

He is so happy to be here. Here on Earth. Here with us.

There was nothing. And then there was something. It’s nothing short of magic.

S is not the donor’s child, and she is not his mother in any way. (A doctor we saw for something kept struggling to find the word to refer to her, starting with, “Moth…” and I finished for her: “Donor. She’s the donor. I’m the mother.”)

Not the mother. She is a donor of a gamete. But in that act of giving, she partook in the magic act of conception. She is one-third of the reason the something of miraculous S could emerge out of nothing.

I don’t pine after the lost genetic connection because I want to be S’s mother—and if he were genetically related to me, he wouldn’t be S.

Wishing for my genetic connection feels, to me, like wishing S away.

I had a moment when back home in Ohio, when looking at my baby book—the bits my mom had written down about when I did what, the photos. I thought of how that little baby girl was the last of her line and I felt a pang of something…what was it? Something like, I’m sorry, baby girl, I did the most I could.

I thought of S and telling him that he is not biologically related to me in any way, trying to clarify that difficult concept for him as he grows older and asks more questions. I thought of showing him pictures of my ancestors—black-and-whites of Appalachian farmers and their wives, their crooked porches, their bare-chested offspring—and wondered if he would feel any disconnect because he would know there was no blood connection. Maybe he will, maybe he won’t. I plan on playing guitar and singing with him, teaching him the old ballads. Chances are, if he likes the music, he’ll feel the connection no matter what.

What is more difficult for me than the lost genetic connection is accepting that we most likely will not adopt a second child (but this is getting easier). And what is more difficult than the lost chance of a sibling is being an “older mama,” managing the aches, strains, the at-times crippling hip pain, that I think would not be so severe if I were 35 and not 41.

When I think of the future, I can see, more and more, how S might react to his special story. It’s already apparent that he is a really thoughtful little guy. Explorative, happy, observant, loving, gentle, attached, bonded. I imagine that these qualities will come into play when we begin to tell him his origin tale. But I also know that reactions will happen that I cannot possibly predict. We are a psychologist and a social worker, and I’m sure some of our training will come into play a bit, but more than that, it will be our love and attachment to him that guide us through the gradual unveiling of the story.

Sometimes in the morning, S will hold my hand with one hand and DH’s with the other while we feed him his morning bottle. He loves it when the three of us are together, and he grins hugely when he sees me cuddling with or kissing on DH. The three of us are this little unit, and the chemistry is so good. We laugh, tumble, tickle, play, cuddle, kiss, massage, stretch, snooze, eat, explore, all three of us together, and it is wildly fulfilling. We’re building something now that has a solid foundation. When the time to introduce the idea of the donor comes, we will have that foundation to stand on. Books and guides are great, but that foundation is the most important preparation of all.

I did get a book, the first children’s book that deals with the subject of struggles with fertility. It is called Wish, and I was led to it by the writer of the Beloved Burnt Toast blog. It’s a gorgeous book, one that I’ve been able to make it through without crying when reading to S and DH only once. It’s intensely beautiful and puts the struggle in simple terms—we wanted you so much; we waited for you for so long; we were so sad; and then the miraculous happened: you arrived.

Part 3 to come…

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1 Comment

  1. Julia

     /  July 30, 2015

    I always love reading about your time with your sweet boy, and reading your perspectives.


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