I went off birth control, thinking my body would need time to get regular. Two months later I still hadn’t gotten my period. I took countless pregnancy tests, hoping that maybe we got lucky. But when they came back negative, I went to my OBGYN. She assured me this was common and put me on hormones for a week with the hope that it would kick start my cycles. No dice.
And so I went for the first of many blood tests. When the results came back, my hormone levels were that of a woman in her late 60s. My OB was over her head and quickly referred me to a specialist. Fast forward five to six blood tests and two months and the answer was clear- my ovaries were cobweb collectors.
When I was teenager, I secretly felt that I was special, one in a million. It turns out I was right. Premature Ovarian Failure. My options were: A) adopt, B) be childfree (though not by choice) or C) use an egg donor.My husband was honest with me in saying that he wasn’t comfortable with adoption. He wasn’t sure that he could ever feel connected to a child that wasn’t biologically his and he felt that the waiting, possibly for years, hoping for a baby that might never come, could potentially destroy our marriage. Though I was angry with him for this, and called him selfish (as I am sure may of you will) I had to respect his honesty and his bravery in telling me this and for that I would always be grateful. And in my heart of hearts, I had the same fears.
But I had hangups about using a donor- would it be weird having a child that doesn’t look like me? How would the child feel about being conceived from a donor? Would they turn to me as a teenager and utter ,“you’re not my real mom?”
What will our families think? And, overshadowing all those emotions was the feeling of failure- failure as a woman, failure as a wife. I took some time to grieve. And I let myself feel. Feel angry as cousins got pregnant out of wedlock, feel bitter as I helped yet another women fill out forms seeking paternity tests ( at the time I worked in family court) and eventually feel hopeful when I saw a woman with a swollen melon belly.
After a couple months, I stopped feeling sorry for myself and realized how lucky I was. Lucky that we learned about our infertility early in the process of starting a family, so we didn’t get frustrated waiting month after month for a pregnancy that could never happen. Lucky that I lived minutes away from one of the best hospitals in the country, lucky that I had the financial resources to even consider this, and most of all, lucky that I had the opportunity to even experience pregnancy. I know that many woman who are diagnosed with infertility can never carry I child, and it was time for me to be grateful instead of angry.
A conversation with a friend during this time really helped shift my perspective. I was lamenting to her my fears about potentially having a daughter that didn’t look like me. This friend is Italian and is married to a Tyson Beckford look alike. They have two beautiful little girls. And she said “My kids will never look like me.” It was so simple. And so true. And yet, obviously, she was their mother. That conversation cemented it for me. It didn’t matter what he/she looked like, what mattered is that he/she would be mine.
The next six months were a blur. We started the injections, picked an anonymous donor who had interests and an overall look similar to mine, and bam- just like that, I was pregnant. With twins. There are still moments when I have doubt- will they question my choice when they are older? Will they reject me as their mom? Will they be mad that they can’t find the donor? What if they fall in love with a girl and it turns out to be their half sibling by the donor ? Sometimes I search their faces, looking to see if a piece of me somehow transferred to them via the womb. But then they come crawling into my lap and I take a deep breath and remember than even biological moms can have messed up relationships with their kids, that how they grow up does not turn on genetics.
I write this knowing it is likely full of typos and grammatical errors because one eye is trained on them, the two little boys behind me who are pulling up on the couch, the toys and each other desperate to test out their newfound legs. I write this knowing there are those who will disagree with my choices and tell me I’m selfish and wrong for spending money on getting pregnant when there are abandoned babies in the world that need to be adopted and charities that deserve the money more. I write this knowing there are religious organizations, including the church in which I was raised, that believe what I did was evil and that my children and I will never go to heaven. But most of all I write this for the others like me, the few other woman out there who are struggling with these same emotions and this decision. There is very on the internet from people who have used egg donation, and I know I would have really appreciated someone, anyone, who was going through this to talk to. Hi, nice to meet you. You’re not alone. And you won’t regret it.
* I wrote this anonymously not because I am ashamed of my choice, but only because revealing my name could one day lead back to my sons and I want them to be the ones to choose if and with who they share the facts of their conception.
(Image: getty Images)