I got some good news this morning. Not the sort of good news anyone else I know is ever likely to get. The woman who received my donated eggs last year has had a baby.
What a magical, breath-taking bit of news.
And it is magical, you can barely believe it, it really worked. It really meant someone got to be a mother and that’s the breath-taking bit. I hardly know what to say.
So I thought I’d take a moment to think about that woman and her new child and about what I did when I donated my eggs. There are lots of things I feel right now. I feel happy for her, which is such a trite, bland phrase – it feels inadequate for what I really feel. I mean I feel happy, really genuinely happy, for this stranger. And that isn’t a bland or everyday feeling. We might empathise with strangers, we might feel for them, but it’s rare to feel such a burst of real emotion for a person I don’t know and it’s a lovely feeling.
I feel a strong surge of love for my own children. My own children who I wanted so much and who I was lucky enough to have without needing anyone else’s help. It’s the love I know this woman is feeling right now for her first child. And that feels incredibly good too.
When I was considering being a donor, I talked it through with friends, family and my partner. Everyone was supportive. Many friends thought it was great, but that they couldn’t do it; they weren’t sure how they’d feel about a child born from their eggs. For me though, it felt different. I thought about it a great deal whilst making my mind up and what I felt was this: that the love I feel for my children is because they are mine and they are mine because I carried them, I fed them, I raise them, I’ve been with them all the way. Genetics plays a part, and my daughter does look a lot like me, but it’s not why I love her. Donating my eggs meant I could give another woman the chance to feel this love for a child or children that would be truly her own, she would carry them, feed them, raise them and be with them all the way.
I thought about my nephew too, my sister-in-law’s son, a child I have no genetic relationship with, but I love him and he’s family. Genetics do not form any part of my relationship with him, but he’s more important to me than friends’ children because he’s my family. It’s such a hard concept to explain, but one I think everyone can understand – we all truly love people who we aren’t genetically related to, don’t we? We all understand what ‘family’ is, even if it’s hard to put into words. So, when friends asked me ‘wouldn’t it be weird to think of a child of yours out there’ and ‘how would you feel if they got in touch later’, I thought this – any child born from my donated eggs isn’t ‘a child of mine’, they couldn’t ever be, they won’t be my family. But I know they’ll be born into their own family, a family who desperately wants them. And how will I feel if they get in touch? I’ll want to tell them this; ‘I’m so incredibly glad you exist, I know how much your parents wanted you and I’m so glad I could help.’
It was always about the woman for me, not the child. A woman who wants a child. I was once a woman who wanted a child, so I know how that feels. To imagine how bereft and helpless I would have felt had I been unable to conceive was the motivating thing for me. To be given the chance to help another woman facing that, was a gift to me. A rare gift.
And that’s the part that’s hard to express. Why donate your eggs? Well, every donor will have their own reasons, but one we all share is that there are very, very few opportunities in life to do something that is wholly good, wholly kind and wholly for someone else – and that when you do have that chance, the feeling of happiness and pride in your actions is immense.
So yes, it’s hard to put it clearer than this. On hearing the news this morning I feel two things; I feel happy for her and I feel proud of myself. As simple as that.