Starting Our Family

The reality of infertility, IVF and donor eggs

To Tell Or Not To Tell- Part Deux

on June 4, 2013

To be, or not to be, that is the question- at least according to Hamlet.   But when it comes to infertility the question sometimes is- to tell or not to tell. 

I looked back at my blog entries and I had posed the same question in Aug. 2012.  Silly me- we were IVF newbies at that time and I was asking whether or not to tell about doing IVF.  IVF- HA- that’s child’s play (pun intended)!  Now here we are almost a year later and I’m laughing about the question relating solely to IVF.  At this point I could care less who knows we’ve been doing it.  Now we are rolling out the big guns and switching to donor eggs.  Now the question is way more intense.  It also carries more potential consequences.

The saying “there are 2 sides to every story” does not really apply to whether or not to disclose if you’ve used a donor.  When using donor eggs you have several options (or stories if you will): a) tell nobody b) tell only close friends and family c) only tell the child.  Each option probably also has several little side options within it but for this blog I’m going to stick with the 3 basics.  I’m also going to focus strictly on using donor eggs since that’s what applies to me and what I know best.  There are several opinions on the topic.  I’m just going to talk about my opinion.  You may or may not agree and that’s ok- its a very personal decision that only YOU can make for your family.  What’s good for me might not be good for you.  And I don’t even have a baby yet so there is still a possibility that I will change my mind or adapt it as my journey progresses.   I have no idea what’s going to happen or how I will feel in the future so I can only go with the here and now. 

Not Telling:

If you don’t tell everything remains secret and safe- right?  Not exactly.  I don’t believe anything in life ever truly remains secret.  Eventually you either wind up inadvertently spilling the beans or someone figures it out on their own.  One would think that carrying a baby and giving birth to it would lead people to believe that baby is genetically yours.  That’s not always the case especially in today’s age with more and more people turning to medical assistance to create a family.   Its becoming more and more “acceptable” and mostly with the help of celebrities and the media.  Plus more and more women are waiting until later in life to have kids- some by choice and some by circumstance.  The longer you wait the more likely you will need some sort of “help”.  So the more people know about IVF and donors the more they might be suspicious.   I’m guilty of it as well- every time I see someone with twins I wonder if they used IVF.  You need to prepare yourself for the inevitable unsuspecting (or suspecting) questions like  “why doesn’t the baby look like you?”  You would think people wouldn’t be rude enough to ask but they are- even innocently enough.  I think most children, somewhere along the line, ask where they came from.  For some children “from mommy’s tummy” is answer enough but for some it is not.  A lot of women when choosing a donor look for someone with physical characteristics that they have.  For some women this is not important at all but in the case of those who choose not to tell this is very important for obvious reasons.  Its easier if you have a boy because you can say they have more masculine than feminine features.  Or perhaps the baby, even if you used your own eggs, will look more like the daddy.  Your baby might have your same eye color or hair color but will most likely not look as much like you as if you were genetically related.   Or maybe not- genes are weird and can be hidden for generations and generations and then all of a sudden you get a red headed child when everyone has brown hair except your great, great, great grandmother.  So I guess you can always find something to explain it that way?  Another time you might be confronted with the dreaded question is when your child is old enough to learn about genetics in science class.  I vividly remember drawing little boxes to figure out eye color and learning all about dominant and recessive genes, who can roll their tongue and fun stuff like that.  And then there is the internet.  You know that thing that Al Gore invented so kids could pirate music and meet predators in chat rooms.  You can pretty much find out anything on the internet.  If my grandfather can find all of his WWII war buddies online your kid might be able to learn a thing or two about donors.   Even if you DO decide to tell your child you used an egg donor (and that’s all you say) he or she might still be able to find out who the donor was or even find any half siblings.  There is a sibling donor registry specifically created for such investigation- keep that in mind!

Some people don’t want to tell because they want to avoid confusion.  They might be afraid that their child will feel like they don’t belong.  Or that their child might one day want to find the donor.  Or maybe they don’t want people to judge them or maybe it goes against their religious upbringing.  Some people are just plain embarrassed that they couldn’t conceive naturally.   Some people don’t want to face the fact that they used a donor- out of sight (and mouth) out of mind- as if they don’t talk about it then it means it never happened.  Personally none of that sits right with ME- but I won’t hold other people’s reasons against them.  I could care less what people think about me- but you sure as hell better not judge my baby- I will go at you full throttle!  Honestly, I do feel somewhat inferior that I can’t have a baby naturally.  But in the same breath it’s not my fault that it took so long for the perfect man to come into my life.  And I would rather have a non-genetically linked baby with him than a genetically linked baby with anyone else- so there (picture me sticking my tongue out at you!)  I do, from time to time, wonder how our baby will feel about it.  Will he or she wish there was a little of me in their DNA?  We plan to raise our child to know that blood is not thicker than water- love is what it’s all about.  And trust me, with all that we are going through to have a family, that child will NEVER feel not wanted.

Telling:

If you decide to tell your child that he or she was conceived via donor eggs you should try to have that all planned out with answers to all possible questions.  The more you are prepared with answers the more natural it will seem.  Some people plan to only tell their child and then let the child decide who to share that information with.  I’m not sure I agree with this approach.  I know if we didn’t tell certain family members and then one day Little Johnny says to grandpa “hey I was made with a donor” there will be a family fight.  Not because I used a donor but because I withheld information.  Children pick up on this stuff and then that can cause a problem within itself.  I also feel that only telling the child makes it seem more like a secret than a story.  Will the child think “why can I know and nobody else?”  If you are going to wait and tell your child first just be prepared for any outside backlash when that “secret gets out”.  And don’t think for a second that you can only tell your child and not expect that information to be shared.  We all know kids suck at keeping secrets. 

Most psychologists today believe that the child should know- that they have a right to know.  The theory also is to tell as early as possible so the child grows up knowing who they are and where they came from.  I think most child who grow up knowing something all along just see it as natural- they don’t know any different.  We’ve all heard stories about children who for the 1st time see someone that looks different than them.  “Mommy why is that person chocolate?” or “Daddy why is that person so fat?”   And you know they never ask the question quietly.  They wait until you are on line at the supermarket so they can announce it to the world.  Telling early also helps to avoid the child feeling like they were lied to.  As a teenager, establishing their identity, they’ve grown up thinking they were someone and now they might question who they really are.   And God forbid your child finds out on their own, from someone or something other than you, that could be a catastrophe leading to resentment or mistrust.  These are all potential problems I would like to avoid thank you very much.   If you do decide to tell your child don’t stress about how you are going to do it.  There are plenty of books on the market to guide you through it.  There are also a ton of books written for children that explain it several different ways.  Go on Amazon and search “donor egg books for kids”.  I’ve read the summaries for each and have highlighted a few that I’m interested in.  I plan to buy them all and then read them to decide which fits me best.  But I’m superstitious so I’ll wait until I’m far enough in a pregnancy as to not jinx it lol.

OK so you’ve decided you will tell your child but who else will you tell?  You should definitely tell your pediatrician- God forbid you ever need to use it for medical diagnosis or treatment.  An emergency is not the time to be opening Pandora’s Box.  Even if you only know your donor as Donor #8724 many clinics have a program that a donor can enroll in that will store and update medical history and information.  The donor still remains anonymous but medical history is kept and updated when needed.  This is usually run by a third party company but ask your RE about it- it might be something you don’t need now but would be good for the future.  You can choose to only tell close family and friends or be totally open about it and tell everyone.  Being open does not mean you need to write it on the birth announcement.  You can choose to not mention it unless you’re asked or there is an opportunity to talk about it.  In our situation we are basically telling just a few close family and friends.  We don’t really care who knows once the baby is born but this is stressful enough without all the added questions.  We don’t even tell the people who know we do IVF when we do a retrieval because there is nothing worse than having to tell someone it didn’t work.  Actually speaking those words seems to intensify the pain.   We have plenty of friends and family that will not agree with what we are doing.  And then there are those who will judge and gossip just because that’s what they do best- we all have these people in our life.  Keeping that nonsense to a minimum is what works best for us right now.   We also don’t want anyone to have their own anxieties about bonding with our child.  Not knowing ahead of time will allow for that bonding to come more naturally without preconceived notions.  I have to chuckle because this “bait and switch” approach reminds me of the movie Eyes Wide Shut.  You know your friends and family better than anyone so you know who to pre-tell and who to wait to tell.  It’s annoying that you even have to play the game in your head but you get the point.  Remember- once you tell, even just one person, that information is no longer just yours.   You can never take it back or un-tell so please think about it long and hard and weigh all your options. 

I know that a lot of would be parents using donor eggs already have enough questions in their mind of how they are going to handle it personally.  Will I bond with the baby?  Will the baby bond with me?  Will I feel like I’m carrying a stranger?  Personally I feel coming to terms with how you are going to deal with it is the easiest part.  Once you have that little baby in your arms- the arms that have been empty for so long- there will be no doubt that the baby is 1000% yours- it’s all the other crap you will have to worry about. 

In case you are now dealing with a spinning head from all that I’ve talked about I leave you with some humor to lighten the mood.  There are plenty of websites that have onsies you can buy to help you get your story out.  The following came from www.cafepress.com  Do a search on there for infertility- enjoy!

 art

ice age

cant afford

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One response to “To Tell Or Not To Tell- Part Deux

  1. NannySavvy says:

    […] Kids are Gross (parentalsurvival.wordpress.com)  […]

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