Will the baby feel like mine if I use donor eggs?
This question comes from the core of the mixed feelings you might be experiencing as you go through fertility diagnoses and treatment. You might feel grief at not having the child you’d hoped for and at the same time feel happiness and relief that you’ve found another way to build a family.
Our families have told us how they feel about this question, how they experienced these feelings as part of their journeys and how they look back on their experience of having a baby using an egg donor once their babies have safely arrived. We share some of their responses here.
It is regularly something our families have experienced to different extents, but they have also told us about the strength of the bond that grows through pregnancy.
"There was no question that the baby growing in my tummy was ours and every scan when we saw her on the screen our love just grew and grew. The day she was born and I held her in my arms for the first time, that was it! The love we had for the tiny little baby was just so overwhelming and it was the best decision we have ever made in our lives."
"I honestly don't think I felt any different than if he hadn't been donor-conceived but have no way to know. I grew him in my womb so I'd already bonded with him. I've loved him from day one and I really don't think much about the fact he was donor-conceived. He's mine (ours of course) and that's that. It's also quite interesting how many people have said he looks like me, even though we've been open about using an egg donor. A nice, somewhat strange surprise!"
"We have never looked back after deciding on receiving an egg donor because without it we wouldn’t have a child right now, it seems scary at first but we just want to reassure couples who are thinking about it that there is no doubt in our minds that it’s the best gift we ever received and there are no doubts about bonding with your baby. You love them from the minute you see that image on the scans and your love for your unborn baby just grows and grows."
"I loved him from day one and I really don't think much about the fact he was donor-conceived."
Building a different family
Families today are so diverse, they aren’t always dependent on a genetic connection – adoptive relationships, same-sex couples, step-families – the modern concept of families is so different now, it’s not that unusual to be part of a family where not everyone is genetically related but who is still deeply bound together as a family unit.
"Of course, the donor gave a lot to start with, but the bond with me, with all the exchanges between mother and baby during pregnancy, and after birth is very strong; the bond is woven and strengthened every day, whatever way he was conceived."
"The bond was instant. There is no question that he is our son, and the fact he is donor-conceived doesn't even come into mind. The genetic inheritance was obviously always something we pondered about before the fact, but having read into epigenetics, and the plain fact that my wife was able to carry him for a full pregnancy and experience all the joys (and pains!) of that, means we hardly ever think about it because of that bond forming."
Acknowledging your feelings
It’s normal to express ambivalence and uncertainties, and also to feel confident and secure as your baby’s mum. Finding a place for your donor in your story can help you with any uncertainty, being thankful for the part she has played whilst also understanding that from the moment of donation this is your own unique family story.
"After carrying my baby for 9 months I loved him before he was even born. After he was born, I knew that I couldn’t possibly love him anymore, even if he was from my own eggs. He is my baby in every way and the donor eggs are just a technicality. He looks like me and he loves and depends on me."
"The truth is that donor egg pregnancies are the same as any other pregnancies. Some people have a straightforward pregnancy, some don’t. Some people bond easily with their babies, some don’t.
I felt deeply bonded to both of my babies from the moment I knew I was pregnant and I have always felt that they are fully mine. A few years down the line, I know that I am their mum - and our bonds grow stronger every day. And with two toddlers I am too busy to think too much about anything!"
Knowing that many women who have been through pregnancy using an egg donor have faced and overcome these concerns may help to reassure you about your feelings when deciding to use an egg donor or during pregnancy.
At London Egg Bank we’re passionate advocates for the use of donor eggs, talking openly about the whole range of feelings and emotions this raises, and celebrating this non-genetic path to parenthood. A final word from one of our families:
"I felt a distance at first, as everyone who saw the baby kept saying it looks like Daddy. I knew that I needed to break the distance and give my baby all my love. I kept saying to myself my baby had been with me the whole journey growing inside me and has my blood. After a month, I bonded with her and she is my world. The way she looks at me and I know what she wants - no one can take that away."
We understand that egg donation can be a complicated topic. That's why we always support our donors and recipients through extensive consultations and counselling. We always recommend that you take time to understand the whole picture and to read about the experiences of other people who have gone through the same journey as you.
At London Egg Bank, we're here to support you throughout your journey. We're here whenever you're ready to start.