A person holding an egg meant to represent an egg donation for someone trying to get pregnant.

Egg donation: Thinking it through

Regardless of what family dynamic our favorite childhood TV shows painted as the “ideal,” the older you get, the easier it is to see that there is more than one way to create a family. But even if we acknowledge that there are many paths to parenthood, there can still be that voice in the back of your head saying, “Yes, that family is unique and beautiful, but that isn’t me, I’m going to have a traditional pregnancy.”

What you should know about egg donation

If you get news from a doctor that a traditional pregnancy isn’t possible, it can feel like the world is collapsing, and you may feel that you are somehow at fault for your infertility. This feeling is common, but receiving this news in no way means that you are not destined to be a parent.

Making the final decision

Donor egg transfer can have up to a 50% success rate. Seventy-one percent of women over the age of forty-four looking to conceive with assisted reproductive technology settle on using an egg donor, but making the choice to go this route can be difficult. Other than the aches and pains that your body will go through, there are also invisible emotional factors that deserve your attention. Emotions can run high when deciding on this course of action, and it’s okay to be hesitant. It’s also normal to have a lot questions about the future. We’re here to address some of the more common questions and concerns.

Will I be able to bond with my baby?

This can be one of the most nerve-racking questions that you may ask yourself. If you have a partner, they may have an opportunity to be biologically related to your child, and you may wonder if that fact could lead to resentment, or feeling that the child is less of your own.

Be open about your feelings. If you are going to move forward, you and your partner need to be completely on the same page with this decision, and who knows? You may decide to use both donor eggs and donor sperm.

Many parents say that once they were given the good news, all previous doubt disappeared. They were finally pregnant! And not only that, but they knew that they were undoubtedly pregnant with their child. Remember, egg donation can give you nine months to get to know your children before they are even born. Take this time to feel the kicks, the butterflies, and the hiccups, so when they’re born, you’ll feel like you’ve known them your whole life.

Should I tell my friends and family?

Discussions around egg donation seem to be done on a hush-hush basis. Unlike adoption, egg donation usually includes a parental pregnancy. And when a parent gets pregnant, most people just assume that they used their own eggs to do so. It may feel like you have to go out of your way to tell someone that wasn’t the case, so you should feel no pressure either way. But, you should know that using a donor is nothing to be embarrassed about. If you are able to talk about it casually, others will follow suit. For example, if someone asks, “Where did your baby get that beautiful hair color?” you can simply respond with, “Thank you! We used an egg donor, and we couldn’t be happier! We definitely won the lottery.” Using an egg donor is just as valid as any other path to parenthood. Talking to a counselor, family member, or close friend could help you navigate what you feel comfortable sharing with others.

Should I tell my future child?

Again, there really isn’t a rule of thumb here. The decision is entirely up to you. If you are afraid that telling your child would just confuse them, you’re not alone. But if you are going to tell them, it might be best not to wait too long. A lot of parents find that if they talk to their children about the situation at a young age, they basically just accept it as normal part of life, and even though they may have questions, it doesn’t usually create a rift as the child grows up. It could also be a great benefit for them to grow up knowing just how much they were wanted by their family.

Am I being selfish?

Maybe someone close to you or an acquaintance has an adopted child. You see their family, and you start to wonder, “Am I being selfish by trying so hard to get pregnant, when I can just adopt?” The short answer is, no. You have probably been on this journey for a long time, and there is nothing wrong with wanting to care for your child before birth. Some people know that adoption is for them straight out of the gate, and that’s wonderful, but if you aren’t there, you’re not being selfish. You’re doing your best to try and figure out the right path for you and your family.

Moving forward

It may be comforting to know that a good number of parents who used donor eggs have asked themselves these questions, and have shared their experiences. Know that everyone needs time to think about and process their emotions before making this kind of decision. Keep an open line of communication with your healthcare provider, and give yourself all of the time you need.

  • “Figures from the 2014 Assisted Reproductive Technology Reproductive Technology Summary Report”. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2014. https://www.cdc.gov/art/pdf/2014-national-summary-slides/art_2014_graphs_and_charts.pdf

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