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Sock it too Me 2009!

« Nipping in to say hello! | Main | Moving Right Along! »

March 28, 2010

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Sara

Saying hello is a wonderful thing to look forward to!

It's such a complicated issue, isn't it? It seems different with sperm donors, somehow, because their role in the conception mimics that which we expect from a father much more closely (contribute some sperm--wait 9 months). With mothers and egg donors, though, it really is different, I think. To me, gestation seems like a pretty important thing, especially since the gestational mother (whether she is the genetic mother or not, and whether she is the social mother or a surrogate) has such profound effects on the child's prenatal and postnatal development. Put simply, if the same embryo developed in a different woman, it would be slightly different. We tend to obsess about genetics in our society, and to forget about epigenetics, but that doesn't mean that epigenetics aren't important. You can influence the child's metabolism, tastes, temperament, etc. before the child is even born as a gestational mother/carrier. So, I think that it's a little bit more meaningful to develop a construction of motherhood that includes both genetic and gestational roles, than it would be to attempt the same thing for fathers.

Summer

I have yet to find a terminology for egg donors that I think honors their contribution. Like you said, my egg donor to me is so much more than the cells she donated to us. Those cells she donated have become a part of my life and they have forever changed the course of my life. I like your idea that both my egg donor and I are birth (m)others. I feel like we were both equally important in creating him. Neither of us could have produced my son without the other. (After his birth, however, I think is a different story. I am my son's parent, but she is not. She has no relationship with my son although one day that may change if TK wants to find and meet her.)

Sweet Georgia

To me, the egg donor is the biological mother, well mostly.I had a tough time with the search for a donor as well - exactly for the reason you stated. I was searchng for me, and "me" was not an option.

I have read a lot on epigenetics and feel like the break down is 50% my husband, 25% the donor and 25% me (even though technically the donor probably is a much higher percentage).

Calliope

I consider W's sperm donor to just be another tool in getting me to parenthood. A pretty big tool, but still on par with the doctors, the drugs, the procedures.
A really helpful book (at least for me) was Mommies, Daddies, Donors, Surrogates: Answering tough questions and building strong families.

I think they actually use the term "birth other" in the book.

NoodleGirl

This was such a thoughtful post, I'm sure you echo the sentiments of many other mothers who pursued a child with DE or DS. It is interesting to me, as someone who seriously considered DE myself, that there seems to be so much less of a grey area when it comes to donor sperm. Hardly anyone regards that donor as the "father". But, obviously, it's so much more a distant relationship - can be done years in advance, millions are donated with little, um, "effort" on the part of the man.

I agree with a pp about epigenetics making the child much more you than you might realize - or anyone does since that science is so new. Plus, you cannot underestimate the nurturing after birth and how that will make that baby your own, in mannerisms and personality and even looks.

Very excited to see your transfer coming up so soon, please keep us updated! :)

Dreams and False Alarms


That makes sense to me. I think I misunderstood your original post, but now I think I get it. If I am understanding you correctly, youre talking about your process, not the way that you will think about the child or encourage the child to think about his/her parentage.

I think that mourning the genetic connection is something that may happen in stages: now, again when the child is born and you dont get to play the hey, he has uncle Joes ears! game (although sometimes that works out anyway), later when the story actually gets woven into the childs life narrative, etc. I dont think that its necessarily something that you can get out of the way all at once. Its really self-aware of you to notice your own
constructions of paternity and how they are designed to soothe your own feelings. Its probably a good idea to peek around the corners of those constructions to see what might be lurking there, but at the same time, I imagine that some things may both look and feel different when there is an actual child in the picture.

Regardless, I really appreciate your sharing. Its absolutely fascinating stuff. I sometimes find myself alarmed to realize that my own logic (e.g., the argument that gestational mothers ARE critically important for development) often collides with my political views (surrogacy isnt a form of motherhood, but rather an act analogous to e.g., bone marrow donation). This really is a brave new world that were living in.

From: Sarah
sarah@dreamsandfalsealarms.com
To: reply-3TDJ34LDO43N_4FAIY5FQO7RF@typepad.com
Cc: summerdownes@gmail.com; sara.tapa@yahoo.com
Sent: Mon, March 29, 2010 12:07:47 AM
Subject: RE: [Dreams and False Alarms] Summer submitted a comment to laying low

squarepeg

I'm glad other posters have mentioned epigenetics. As a scientist by training, the prospect of giving up a genetic link - realizing that I am an evolutionary dead end - was perhaps more hurtful than just about any part of IF. Understanding the profound influence that gestation can have on gene expression made me feel so much more connected to pregnancy. I think your balance of recognizing this along with the absolutely crucial role the egg donor plays, however, will benefit both your feelings about being a DE mama as well as the feelings of your LO when the time comes to talk about being donor conceived.

I don't think that comparing an egg donor to a birth mom is really accurate - but it does at least shine light on the generous role she plays in your child's conception and, indeed, life. She will be a part of his or her life and deserves the same respect - if not the same role - as a genetic AND gestational mother.

At the same time, you will also play a huge role not just as a parent but as the earliest nurturer. You will gestate and (if you choose) nurse your baby. These processes do sometimes allow you to "forget" that your baby isn't genetically yours. Sometimes indulging in that lapse of memory is nice - it minimizes the "otherness" you worry will always be there.

I think about my son's conception every day. It's not a self-pitying type of reflection; it's just something I am aware of. He looks SO much like my husband and every time I think about that, the corollary thought of "he'll never look like me" follows. But it doesn't make him less my son - it just makes him more... HIM.

Eva

It's a very complicated issue and I'm wrestling with some of this myself so I don't feel that I have any profound words to share right now. But I just wanted to pop in and let you know that I'm reading and listening and sending you lots of hugs.

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