Words by Jessie Day
Moving to egg donation is a big step, whether you’re early on in your fertility journey, or you’ve been TTC for a while. Almost always, experts agree it’s important to honor the feelings and emotional barriers which can come up, from shock at an unexpected diagnosis or test result, to sadness, anxiety, grief and in some cases, shame. All of these feature in our community chats, and we’re committed to helping you meet them head on.
You are never, ever alone
Working with the experienced team at Donor Egg Bank USA, we ran a few polls with our Insta community, asking our donor egg IVF mamas about their decision to go forward with egg donation. We asked which emotional barriers presented the biggest challenge — here are the headline results from our respondents:
- 100% said they’d experienced infertility grief when coming to their decision
- 79% had concerns about society’s perceptions
- 66% were anxious about speaking to their kids about their origins
- 62% were worried about feeling like a ‘real’ mama
- 50% were intimidated by the egg donation process
These concerns and anxieties are completely valid, and naturally can present emotional barriers to moving forward with an egg donation journey. But, chatting to Donor Egg Bank USA, and from our own experience, we’ve found that acknowledging, honoring, and doing the work to process whatever comes up is key to moving forward.
After all, the mind-body connection is a crucial factor in so many fertility journeys. It makes sense that if you’re working with a big step like egg donation, you need to ensure you’re coming from a strong place, with your mental health supported.
Here are those headline emotional barriers, and our tools and support kit for help in moving past them, in collaboration with Donor Egg Bank USA.
Are you in the loop for the Donor Egg Bank USA Assured Refund Plan®? Find out more about the Donor Egg Bank guarantee: bring home a baby or receive a 100% refund.
Infertility grief — moving through the stages
100% of respondents to our Insta poll said they’d experienced infertility grief, in some form. It’s real, and it’s completely valid, and natural. For this most prevalent of emotional barriers, experts recommend working through the key stages of grief, much as you would for any other form of grief or loss. These are:
- denial – possibly denying that there’s a problem, or a desperation to keep trying with your own eggs.
- anger – strong emotions around the injustice of the situation (you’re likely to externalize these, through outbursts and confrontations with a partner or loved one, etc).
- bargaining – here, you’ll often negotiate either with yourself (if I can use my own eggs, I’ll never do XYZ again, etc), others around you, or even a higher presence.
- depression – which needs very little introduction, research shows that 35% of women undergoing ART (assisted reproductive treatment) screen positive for depression.
- acceptance – this is the turn key: from emotional barriers to going for that donor egg option. You need to process grief and find acceptance, to be in just the right place.
Everyone needs to work through grief in their own way, and on their own timescale. So we won’t advise on how to do that. But we do very much recommend:
- building a trusted support network
- talking to a trusted circle, whenever you need to
- looking into therapy options (many practitioners specialize in working within the fields of fertility and infertility grief or trauma).
Addressing society’s perceptions
79% of respondents had concerns about society’s perceptions of using an egg donor. And with that, from your DMs, an all-too-common need to manage questions and perspectives of those closest to us.
From concerns and lack of understanding amongst close family members, to flippant remarks from colleagues, and a fixation on the genetic trappings of appearance — where does her red hair come from then? — handling the outside world can feel overwhelming. Plus, intended parents are worried about the perception of classmates, ability of teaching staff, sensitivity of healthcare providers and many other groups they’ll need to navigate, for and alongside their child.
We say, prepare and bubble-wrap. Society, sadly, will take time to evolve in-step with your egg- donation story. But you can get clear now on your stance, be super-clear with your loved ones from the outset, and work on rock-solid responses for any careless comments which come your way.
And remember, as a parent you’ll be modeling your attitude. Let your baby see you strong and confident in your story. No one’s parenting journey is straightforward, we promise.
Speaking to your kids about their origins
57% of respondents said they were anxious about how (and/or whether) to speak to their children about being donor-conceived. And a further 9% said that they still found the prospect difficult.
Most experts agree that when it comes to telling your donor-conceived child about their origins, honesty is the best policy. And really, as long as you’re using age-appropriate language and narratives, it’s never too soon to share this information. Fortunately, there is a wealth of books and other resources to help make these discussions a little easier and understandable for your child.
Feeling like a ‘real’ mama, and bonding
Grief is natural. As are concerns around societal pressures and speaking openly to your kids. But 62% of respondents are worried about feeling like a ‘real’ mother, after using a donor egg. And whilst this is just as natural, we want you to know, you absolutely are.
A big part of the concern is worries over bonding. Will I bond with my baby, without that biological tie?
We say, bonding worries are part of so many pregnancies, whatever your path to getting pregnant. Absolutely no one gets a guarantee on how their bonding experience will be. But by working on your connection with your baby — during the pregnancy — talking to them, before they arrive and forever after, nurturing them from birth and beyond, and creating the environment for them to grow and thrive — all of this builds layers of love which only you, as their parent, can provide.
Do speak to a professional about any worries you have, before and after your baby is born. It’s amazing what talking can release, and heal.
Preparing for the egg donation process
Half of our respondents are concerned about this aspect. It may not be as prevalent — possibly because so many clinics do a great job of prepping intended parents and patients — but in terms of emotional barriers, it’s significant.
One great thing about using frozen donor eggs is that it not only offers you greater convenience, but also gives you a lot of control. You are the one who has chosen your donor, the eggs are all yours and ready for you when you say when — you get to set the timeline. There’s no need for cycle synchronization, or fear of the donor backing out.
Ready for the next step? Connect with the team at Donor Egg Bank USA for expert care from start to delivery.
And, all our love on your amazing journey. You’ve totally got this.