Now that I’m at the point where, despite what I thought was clever dressing to conceal my bump, I am very obviously, it appears, pregnant, I am confronted by yet another issue. How much do I say about our baby’s origins?
It’s very easy to think that the obvious answer to that is “as much or as little as you want, it’s nobody else’s business.” But for me that oversimplifies things. Let’s be clear, I feel no shame about the fact that we have used a donor egg. This baby is unquestionably my baby, and while I’m not naive enough to assume that there won’t be bumps in the road in the future around this, for now, I’m not just at peace with the decision I’ve made, I’m proud of myself for making it.
In therapy speak (not my therapist, obviously, she wouldn’t be my therapist if she spoke like this), I’ve “done the work” to get to this point. I’m also comfortable that the way we found our donor was ethical, that she had a good understanding of the physical and mental implications of what she was doing, that she wasn’t exploited.
If it were just me, I’d be telling everyone. But it’s not just me. And I’m not talking about B, who has, in his usual way, been brilliant and told me that what we tell people is entirely up to me and he will follow my lead. I’m talking about the bundle of cells that became an embryo, that became a foetus that now, on the scans, is discernible as a humanoid creature with body parts I can identify. I’m talking about someone who will I hope, one day, be a child, and then an adult, who will have their own views on how much about their conception they want to disclose, and to whom.
That’s who I feel a responsibility to. It’s another of those instances where, once you tell someone, you no longer have agency over that information. So when I tell my friends, many – but not all – who know about how we got to this point, I tell them knowing that they might tell their children. The same children who, one day, I hope – when I dare to dream – might be friends with my child. And maybe, when of an age when this sort of thing becomes important, my child might not be ok with their playmates knowing this information that hasn’t come from them.
Of course, my hope is that, because this will be a part of their story from the start, because they will always know how they came into being, this will be as unremarkable as the fact that another child we know was carried by a surrogate, another has two fathers, another has ADHD, another is on the neuro diverse spectrum. Things that are just a part of the fabric of someone’s life, but not things that define them or are in any way remarkable.
But despite all that, it’s still information that isn’t entirely mine to divulge. And I wouldn’t necessarily, if I didn’t feel another responsibility, another tension, which I wrote about for the Daily Mail earlier this year. It’s a responsibility I feel to myself. Not necessarily the me of today, but the me who spent so long trying to conceive, the me who sat at dinner parties, or in bars, listening to well-meaning people tell me about their friend who after 7, 8, 9, 10 rounds of IVF finally got pregnant and had their first baby at 43, 44, 45, 47… Which is, of course, theoretically plausible, but is also – more likely – because they used a donor egg. They just didn’t say so.
These are the unicorns that gave me, and thousands of women like me, false hope. I don’t want to be someone else’s unicorn. I don’t want to be “my friend Alice who’s 44 and got pregnant on her eighth round of IVF” without the caveat “when she used a donor egg for the first time.”
And so I’m torn. And I don’t have any hard and fast rules about who I tell and who I don’t. I sort of go with my gut. Like so much of life, I’m winging it. And I hope that if I ever have to discuss with my child why I disclosed information that wasn’t wholly mine to disclose, I will have been able to raise a child who’s compassionate and empathetic enough to understand that it was for all the people who want so desperately to be in the position of having a child to have a discussion with, for all the people I was before I became their mother.