Sunday, January 16, 2011

I am the Mom!

I have been spending the last couple days trying to write this blog. I had had discussion with my husband about what is a mom and also discussions with myself. In my head they sound like this, "How does one cell make you a mom?"

"It doesn't"

"Well they share genetics."

"Who cares about genetics? I gave birth to him."

"Genetics are important, that is how his eye color and hair color were decided."

"Well, still how does that make the donor his mother?"

My head has been spinning with frustration…how do I explain to people I am Ant ONLY mother? This all steams from a blog post a read in the NYT Motherlode this week, "An Egg Donor's Tale" written by an anonymous egg donor. It is basically about the anonymous egg donor and how she wants to reconnect with the recipients and the twins she helped create. She reminisces about how she wants to tell them about their conception because she believes the parents never told the twins. For the most part I enjoyed hearing from her but the only thing that stung was when she called herself the "Biological Mother." UGH!!! Also how she talked about co-parenting. Later on in the comments she says she doesn't want to co-parent but just be a part of the twins lives.

I was also impressed with how the comments were not your normal infertility comments, such as "God made you infertile, so you should adopt."

If you are interested in the comments they are a pretty good read. There is some banter back and forth between a few but for the most part they talk about how the egg donor shouldn't contact the twins. So, I was brave and commented also,

"Thank you so much for sharing your story. As a mother through egg donation it is nice to hear from a donor. The only part of your story or comments that jumps out at me is you calling yourself the "Biological Mother." I realize egg donation is still a "new" ART procedure but I really feel like "Biological Mother" is the wrong term. What even makes one a mother? But all I know is that I am my son's ONLY mother. Yes, a very nice women donated eggs so we could have our family but I carried him, I nurse him, and when he cries I am the one he wants. Thank you again for sharing your story."

Well, almost the next was:

"Donor Diva- Read my comment in 63 and Todd Fox's in 66. Sorry, it's just not true in your case. You aren't the only mother of your child. Your child has a different genetic mother, which has many biological and yes, emotional ramifications (see CZ's comment). The sooner you deal with this, the better off you and your child will be."

UGH!!! I was so annoyed but I refrained from getting into a comment argument and decided to blog about it instead. Seriously how does one cell give our egg donor the title of mother to Ant? She donated it so she is giving it to use and has no claim to this cell. This one cell was then mixed with my DH's cell to create Ant (the embryo). This embryo was then grown in the lab and then transferred into ME! Yes, ME (I guess I sound a little selfish). Ant then grew inside of me for the next 36 weeks and then I gave birth to him (I have the c-sec scare to prove it). Also since he is breastfeeding the milk he drinks is created by me. How does this not make him my biological child? This one cell that was donated grew inside of me and is now growing with the help of my milk.

DH says, "There is a lot more to being a mom then a one cell egg."

This comment came from our discussion about donor sperm and egg donation. When I hear people talking about sperm donation, I have NEVER heard a sperm donor referred to as the father. Maybe I need to hang out with more people who used donor sperm or is it because it is so much easier to get sperm then eggs?

I don't even know where I am going in this blog except to say I am Ant's ONLY mother. Yes, a wonderful donor gave us the eggs to create him but I took over from there. Mum(+ 1cell) + Dad = Ant!

20 comments:

  1. This is SUCH an interesting topic. I agree whole heartedly with you that you are Ant's only mother, and that is doesn't make much sense to refer to the donor as Ant's "biological mother" seeing as after that ONE cell was donated, throughout your pregnancy every single cell of his body was contributed by YOUR body. Then you nursed him. You are definitely his biological mother. And it only seems right to refer to the donor as "The donor," NOT as any sort of "mother." My son was conceived with a combination of donor and my husband's sperm, so we don't actually know if he is "biologically" my husband's (he's the spitting image of me and looks nothing like DH, so we REALLY don't know) but it doesn't matter one bit to us and DH is his ONLY FATHER. We would never even think for a second of calling the donor his "biological father."

    I do understand the desire of the donor to meet the children conceived with her eggs, though. After going through IF, I have very mixed feelings about donating my eggs. I would WANT to so that someone could have the joy of carrying their child, but I would have a very hard time with giving up my eggs and seeing someone else raise "my" child. I know that doesn't make any sense considering everything I just said above. But I think after having such a hard time conceiving, I'd have a hard time giving up my eggs so someone else could have a baby with my eggs. And I WOULD want to meet that child and be part of his/her life.

    So complicated. Good post.

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  2. that makes me very uncomfortable to here that a donor is calling themselves the "biological" mom. If the woman feels a need to define what she is in terms of a mom, she was simply a GENETIC step-mom, for lack of a better phrase. Plain and simple. She gave a small part of herself; the smallest part possible, in fact. The BIOLOGICAL mom nurtured, grew, sustained, fretted over, birthed, fretted over some more, and continues to nurture the child SHE brought into the world. End of story. If a donor wants to meet the child she gave a cell for sometime later in life, I think that is a great option for people who have agreed upon that very thing prior to the cycle happening assuming everyone knows, understands, and follows through with their roles: DONOR and MOTHER. Two different roles for that particular child. Aaaaand I'm off my soapbox :) Love to you and Ant!

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  3. Thank you for your post. I wonder how our children will define their egg donors when they are older.

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  4. Abi I wonder the same thing but after talking with Marna, the founder of PVED.org, I have a better idea. Her son is 10 and has always known about his conception story. He often tells her, "What is the big deal with one cell?" Love to hear these stories since she is about 10 years ahead of us.

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  5. Donor Diva...I'm an avid reader of your blog...now just under 14 weeks pg via DE IVF. But I have yet to read the article as I fear it will send me into a tailspin of anxiety/frustration/etc. Good for you for being brave enough to comment. I HATE the term "bio mom" for the ED's. They ARE NOT the mother. They are what I call "the donor"...nothing more or less. Our donor has a daughter and I will never call the donor's daughter as my child's step sibling...simply the donor's daughter. And technically speaking in the eyes of the court...WE are the biological mothers as WE gave birth to the child. Simple as that. Without US, the biological MOTHERS, the DE child would NEVER be brought to existance...ever. If the donors want some kind of "title" how about "genetic donor"...ugh this is all so frustrating. Such is why I won't read the article...maybe just not there yet. And I love that you called out that a sperm donor is never called a "father" yet this particular egg donor wants some kind of title to reference "mother"? Double standard for sure. Good call on that one.

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  6. I agree wholeheartedly with your post. I have twin girls via DE and they are only almost 3 mos old. We haven't told anyone that they were from DE, because we decided after going through counseling that we wanted them to know first. Believe me, this even has brought up questions like, "Will the girls think I'm ashamed of the fact that they came from DE because we waited to tell?" I know that's a possibility but not a probability. We used an anonymous donor, but I actually have a picture of her. Will we show this to the girls? I still have these conversations in my head regularly, like you do, but in the end I have the same knowledge that you do: These girls are mine and my husband's and no one elses! If someone donated a kidney to me, would the donor still think of it as "theirs?" Of course not! Same with these 2 cells.

    I think we moms can't help but think these things. In the end though, I don't think the kids are going to think it's a big deal, just as your friend's child pointed out. ART with DE is new, but in 10 or 20 years, it will be so normal that no one will think twice about it. I'll end with a wonderful quote that all moms should embrace:"God shows me over and over again that anytime love is our motive, God has a way of writing stories with great endings." -Anita Carman

    Thanks again for your post!

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  7. Here's a different example:

    I donated 10 inches of hair to the locks for love program so they can make a wig for a child. Is that wig mine? No! I donated something I had to someone else to help them do something productive with it.

    Good post - you are Ant's mom and that is all that matters.

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  8. I agree, you are Ant's ONLY mother. The donor is simply a genetic donor - so very different from a "biological mother" a term that is more common in adoption. I think the world has yet to provide a good "label" but good for you speaking out to clarify that you are his ONLY mother. A sperm donor is not a father, an egg donor is not a mother, and a liver/kidney/other part donor has no claim after it was donated....they are all simply donors in my mind.

    I was adopted, and in my view, I have one mother - the one who raised me. I actually wish that there was a better term for a bio/genetically related person who gave birth but did not parent. I can tell you that biological mother or parent doesn't feel quite right to me in my case based on how I define "mother" and "parent". However, in cases of open adoption where the bio mother is still actively involved, there probably should be a different label for that too. Oh, these labels are so hard! I almost wish that we didn't spend so much time on attaching a label to everything.

    Regardless, YOU are his mom - unequivocally so. Yea you!
    (PS - I have a new blog now, but this is Sue from "Taylor Twins".

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  9. what an interesting post. i agree that "biological mother" really seems like it is meant to refer only to someone who carried the baby and gave birth, and then gave the baby up for adoption. "egg donor" sounds like it would be a more appropriate title in this case. i think the story about the egg donor wanting to meet the children she helped create is kind of creepy. i guess egg donation is still such a "new" practice that there aren't legal rights that are just taken for granted.
    thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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  10. Hi there - Yes yes yes you are Ant's mom and no one can take that away from you. Forever and ever amen.

    I think what is interesting is as our kids grow they become interested in their origins. I know Nick is interested in his roots now and where he came from. He doesn't want another family member, and he certainly doesn't want or need a new mom. Or a new family member. He would just like to know where he came from if that makes sense.

    That doesn't take away from who I am or the role I play in his life. And I realize ten years later -- without the egg donor he wouldn't be here and without me he wouldn't be the child he is today.

    You are your son's mother - oh yeah, baby you are.

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  11. Hi from New Zealand! I am currently pregnant via DE. In New Zealand we are very clear in the ART world that the donor is just that, a donor, not a Mother. The donor has to have several counseling sessions to get their head around that. NZ also strongly encourages the child knowing it is DE, but whatever contact it has with DE is for the Mum and Dad to decide. It sounds like the writer of the article is holding on too tightly emotionally to something she has given away. I actually feel really sorry for the writer of the article. She is misguided and it's sad.

    An egg is one ingredient, sure, a precious one but one ingredient. It's not the beautiful cupcake! There is also research that shows that the biological material of us, the mum, affects the baby via the placenta.

    You are his Mother. YOU are his biological Mother. Thanks for a great post and an awesome blog. I have found it so encouraging as I too process all that this DE journey involves.

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  12. If the woman feels a need to define what she is in terms of a mom, she was simply step to mom, for lack of a better phrase. Plain and simple. Everyone agree whole heatedly with you .

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  13. As somebody who is considering donating eggs, it is really interesting to hear both sides of the story. One of the things holding me back is the thought that there will be children out there who are biologically "mine," but that I will probably never know them. That being said, I don't necessarily think the donor meant that she had just as much of a claim to those children; "biological mom" is just the term used in hers, and other donors', cases.

    In a way, I can agree with her in that I do think it is the right thing to do if you have children, to tell them if they were conceived via a donor. I feel this way because I believe that everybody has a right to know their genetic background, because of possible health issues and what-not, although if I ever donate eggs, I would never claim to be that child's mother. Like you said, when your child cries, it is you that he wants. You're raising him to be the person that he will one day be, not the donor.

    But I do agree with her that the twins should one day know how they were conceived; however, I do NOT agree that she should tell them against their parents wishes. Regardless of how I feel, I know that if I end up choosing to donate eggs, it will be the decision of the parents whether or not they ever tell them how they were conceived, and I would never try to interfere, if I even knew who they were. I feel like if you choose to donate eggs, you should do it to provide the opportunity for another couple to create a family, and you have to put your own wishes for what you would apply to your own family aside. However, if I were to donate, and the parents were to tell their children about me, I would be more than willing to be a part of their lives if the children wanted me to be. I've read stories where children have wanted to meet their donors, but couldn't find them, etc., or their donors did not want to meet them. I would meet them, if they wanted, because I would still feel a part of them, but not really as a mother. But I would certainly be willing to answer any questions about family/genetic history, etc., because I feel that everybody has a right to know that about themselves.

    Congratulations on having a son! I think families are beautiful, and your passion just goes to show how much you love and appreciate your child. It always thrills me to see people who really do deserve to be parents, become just that, regardless of the method used. :)

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  14. Dear loving MOM of Ant!

    I am a previous egg donor and it was very interesting to read your blog. I do understand your feelings and I agree, YOU are the only MOM your son has.

    When I donated my eggs I was very much open to either "meet the parents" or not, respecting their wishes. Fr my surprise they asked if I would like to meet them. It was very emotional and AWESOME! Not one second I felt like it is a competition between "who is the mom". It was more that I felt connected with "my couple" and I was proud and grateful that they had chosen me to help them receive THEIR baby! They asked me if I would like to stay in contact with them and maybe even "be involved" in the soon-to-be-born childs life. And not one second did I think the would mean I am the mom. it made me feel like "my very close friends are having a baby and I'll be kind of an aunt".

    I already have a 10 year old son (who does not know about the donation). This is the only thing that holds me back right now. Because I don't want to hurt his feelings. I am thinking about a good way to make everyone happy. I do believe that (if the parents agree, and only then!) the conceived child has the right to know its genetic background.

    Don't worry: you are the only mom. And I agree with someone's comment that this girl who wrote the article probably did not mean to sound the way she comes across. It's just the term that causes trouble.

    Congratulations to you for being the mom of a healthy boy :)

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    1. Andi thank you so much for you comment! It means so much to me. Wishing you the best in deciding on how to proceed but this baby will be so lucky to be in contact with you. I now blog at www.donordiva.com mainly about parenting now but still blog about being a parent via egg donation.

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  15. make a donation
    Nice job, it’s a great post. The info is good to know!

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  16. Male or females are the biological parents of their own offspring. There is no difference between offspring a woman does gestate from those she does not; they are both equally her biological children. It is not because she contributed a single cell to a person, it is because her whole body reproduced, she reproduced herself, her biology in the bodies of her offspring.

    I reunite separated families for free. Many were separated by the terms of reproductive service agreements. I can assure you that their relatives see their donated offspring as grandchildren, nieces, nephews and cousins just as much as any they raise. There is no real difference other than that she does not raise them. Their offspring don't remember beig gestated all they know is that they have a woman who is biologically related to them as their mother to the same extent their father is biologically related and that woman is absent. They have a social mother who they know as their mother who is not biologically related to them. This is not a slam or a slight, its just the reality that the woman that delivered them is not biologically related to them as their mother. She is not the biological origin of them. Yes her body gestated them but it is not like her cells are in them or her blood or anything. Her milk does not make them her child. If that were true most people's mothers would be cows right? We give kid's cows milk and that does not make them mothers. They have milk banks the milk providers are not their mothers. Providing nourishment does not make a woman a mother biologically.

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  17. Many people raising the offspring of egg sperm and embryo donors don't know that those people are looking for their family behind their backs. Some of them are raised by very high profile outspoken bloggers on the topic of raising donor offspring and on openness. The offspring don't refer to their missing parents as donors the common phrase is my parent's donor is my mother or is my father. They don't mean it in the social sense but only in the concrete fact of the matter biological sense. They see it in black and white biology text book terms which makes sense you can't expect them to see it any other way. They were not cognizant while they were being gestated. Their connection to the social parent comes from having been raised by them not by having been gestated by them and not by their intentions prior to their birth.

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  18. Egg donation is a completely safe process and done in the clinic of a highly reputable fertility office. Egg donation does not affect your own fertility. Because egg donors are so carefully monitored, it really is a risk-free exercise.

    egg donation

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