An excerpt from our diagnosis chapter of Let’s Talk About Egg Donation. One intended mother recalls her meeting with her physician upon learning that she would require the help of an egg donor to become a parent.
“The doctor called me into his office to give me the talk about moving on to donor eggs. He said I would have to do egg donation if I wanted to be pregnant. I went deaf and numb. After the first few words, I couldn’t hear him. I needed to go home. I looked to my right and saw only the empty chair my husband should have been in. I knew he would feel dreadful that he was not there that day, and no one could have predicted it would be the Day of Trauma. The shelves behind the doctor’s seat were filled with books that certainly should have told him how to help me conceive. The titles blurred. I desperately tried to hold it together.
I had a forty-five-minute bus ride to get home, and I knew that when I got there, Dave would not yet be home. I willed myself, one minute at a time, not to completely
disintegrate right there on the bus with all those people. Ten minutes, then eleven. Twenty. Halfway there. My brain was oatmeal. I focused on not missing my stop—the stop I knew like my I knew my own name. Half an hour passed. I couldn’t call anyone because I could not think. Forty minutes. At last.
I barely got the key in the door and shut it behind me when I leaned my back against a wall, slid down it, and fell apart. I completely lost it. My heart was pounding in my ears. I knew I was in shock and was so alone. I remember thinking that no one knew what I was feeling, and I could finally let it out.” – Terri, Mom to three beautiful kids conceived via egg donation.
The hardest thing about reproductive loss is saying goodbye to someone we never said hello to. Our sadness and depression over the loss of our genetic offspring are a form of grief. But unlike the grief we feel when a real person dies, infertility grief means saying goodbye to someone who was never really here. When there is an actual death, we have ritual around it. We have funerals and wakes, or we sit shiva and make social calls. We may go to our places of worship, and often we light candles. People bring casseroles to our homes and say, “I’m so sorry for your loss.” But when we are told that genetic children aren’t possible and that we will need someone else’s DNA in order to conceive, we have to confront that our child may not look like us, be like us, laugh like our grandparents, or have our partner’s intelligence. It is a big deal—but no one brings you a casserole or says they are sorry for your loss. There is no name to give to a person who died, even though you feel exactly as if a real person has passed. That’s because the person—your genetic child—has been so real to you for so long, even if you didn’t realize it.
Chapter One- Diagnosis: “Let’s Talk About Egg Donation”