As I mentioned in my last blog (all those months ago), you can’t run away forever, so I got back from running away, and made a decision that I probably wouldn’t have made if I were on my own. I decided to try to find an egg donor.
When I was single and doing this alone, I had pretty much decided that I wasn’t OK with the idea of trying to become a parent of a child that I had no genetic relationship to. I had said — to myself as much as anything — that I might feel differently if I were in a relationship with someone else but that idea was so abstract, I didn’t have to think about it. And then suddenly I was in a relationship with someone else and I did have to think about it. And, if I’m brutally honest, there was a large part of me that, although I still wanted to be a parent, and desperately wanted to make him a father, didn’t feel differently.
I don’t think I’m special in this. I’ve spoken to a lot of women who ended up going down the donor route and none of them found that decision easy, most of them had wrestled with the same anxieties that bothered me. But in the end all of them said that their only regret was not making that decision sooner, not saving themselves the heartache and the money of those last own egg IVF cycles.
I wanted to believe them, I wanted to think I was just like them, but something in me didn’t. It was some strange combination of arrogance that I was not like them, that I thought more deeply than they did, and insecurity that I was not like them, that I wasn’t as good a person as they are.
Because if I had to articulate what my main concern in all this was, I think it’s ultimately that I doubted my ability to be able to be a good parent to a child that wasn’t genetically mine. I worried that when it was being a total shitbag, as all children inevitably are, I wouldn’t be able to say to myself “Well what did you expect? You’re stubborn, wilful and like to get your own way, it stands to reason your child is too, 50% of the reason why your child is like this is your fault” Instead, I worried that I would blame anything, and everything that “went wrong” on the donor. Health problems, behavioural problems, academic problems, all because they were someone else’s genes not mine.
And let’s be honest, I was also grieving the fact that the thing I’d tried to make happen for so long wasn’t going to happen, and the fact that I wouldn’t get to pass my genes on. That lingering fear that I’m not worth reproducing. That knowledge that my genetic family history stops with me. I mean obviously it doesn’t, I have a niece, but I have a strong sense of family, of the characters and individuals in my family and the way they’re echoed through the generations that I know. And the idea that any child I had wouldn’t be a product of that, wouldn’t have that DNA stretching back across the years, made me sad.
So I did whatever any educated, enlightened, relatively affluent, middle class woman living in London does in these situations and I went to talk to my therapist. And we talked about nature and nurture and epigenetics, about families and about love and about compassion, and about the fact that I knew what my decision was going to be, and that I also knew that at some point my heart would catch up with my head, but I just wanted to fast forward to the place where I was OK with the idea of using an egg donor.
And she told me I’d be fine, and that we had nine months at least to sort it out and not to worry about it. Basically this brilliant, kind, smart, funny woman who, over the last three years I have told my deepest fears and shown my worst sides to, told me that she believed that I was the person I was scared I couldn’t be, and promised that she would help me believe it too.