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I Used An Egg Donor —​ And I'm PROUD To Admit It

Photo: courtesy of the author/photo by reenie raschke 
i used an egg donor to get pregnant in my forties
Family, Self

My messy (beautiful) backstory.

Throughout my life, I was led to believe it was no big deal to conceive a baby in my forties.

Like many women, I spent my late twenties and early thirties kicking ass in my career. I worked hard — like sixty to eighty hours a week hard — and played hard.

And I loved every minute of it.

Back then, when people asked me (as they so often do ask women in their 30s) if I planned to have children, I waved them off. Maybe. Eventually. Someday. I'm not sure.

Even as I edged into my late 30s, I felt no particular urgency to find a mate and start a family.

As an educated, career-driven, young woman, with no potential long-term mate on the horizon, I thought I had time.

I couldn't have been more wrong.

I learned it the hard way. I woke up in my late thirties, partner-less and on the eve of perimenopause, longing for a baby, and fully aware that if I was going to become a mom, I was going to need to do it on my own.

I jumped into getting pregnant, realizing that I was running out of time and blind to the reality of what it would take to get pregnant at age 41.

Soon after, my doctor advised me that if I wanted to get pregnant I was going to need to use an egg donor.

I refused.

I was going to beat the odds ... or so I thought.

Thus I went tumbling down the rabbit hole of infertility options. Alternative treatments, western drugs, herbs, dietary restrictions, stress reduction — you name it, I tried it.

But my efforts to defeat the odds weren’t working, and I realized I needed to try something different.

And so I was forced to process my options and come to terms with using an egg donor.

I worried about the lack of genetic connection, and I had to reexamine what being a mother meant to me. 

Did I need a genetic connection to feel bonded? Was that an integral part of motherhood for me or not?

I asked myself why I wanted to be a mother and realized that I wanted to shepherd a life — share insights and wisdom, watch a child move through the stages of life. I wanted to experience the intense two-way street of love between mother and child.

None of this seemed dependent on a genetic connection.

In the most extreme scenario I could think of, I knew that if someone dropped off a baby or child at my house and asked me to raise it, I’d be cracked open with love for the child. 

However, I decided that I wanted to be a mother no matter what, and that being able to carry a child through pregnancy was enough of a connection for me.

And I’m so glad I did, because now I am the proud mother of a beautiful son.

I can’t imagine him being one ounce different than he is. I most definitely got exactly the child I was meant to have.

My journey toward motherhood was an alternately harrowing, humbling, liberating, and even exalting trip that reminded me, time and again, that life rarely goes according to plan.

In the end, life dashed every expectation I had about how I would become a mother. In fact, sometimes it seemed that everything that could go wrong did.

But through the unfolding of unexpected circumstances, I was pushed to find learning in the hardship and to let go of my firmly-held beliefs so that something else could arise.

And I am not alone. I regularly hear women lamenting that they waited so long to have a baby.

For whatever reason — perhaps a misplaced belief in the power of modern reproductive technology, a plethora of celebrities who give birth well into their forties, and a lack of information about what it's really like to attempt pregnancy at a later age — they feel surprised and deceived when they learn that conceiving in your forties is not easy.

My only regret — if it can be called a regret — about my journey is that it took so long.

If I'd had women to talk to, women who had walked this path before me, to share with me how the incredible bond they share with their egg donor conceived children, it would have normalized the process for me and reassured me that it was a perfectly satisfying path to motherhood, I would have moved more quickly through the process.

Yet, there are very few examples of women being open and honest about the use of an egg donor.

I understand that it is in many ways a private fact that does not need to be shared. And, at the same time, we've all seen the pictures on the magazine covers: celebrities, happily pregnant (with twins!) in their mid-forties.

But rarely do we see behind the scenes, into what they actually went through to get there. Rarely do women give voice to their journeys.

Instead, they remain secretive, shamed by their body’s inability.

I hope that by sharing my story — a real-life, messy-honest look at the journey from maternal ambivalence, to the courage to go it alone, to a no-holds-barred quest for pregnancy, to motherhood via egg donation — that others will have a better understanding of the limitations of female fertility.

And for those who find themselves in my position, I hope they find the inspiration, encouragement, and empowerment they need to find their own unique path toward motherhood.

I, like many other women, was misled to believe that it would be easy to conceive in my 40’s, in part because no one talks about the messy, difficult aspects of infertility and egg donation. It’s time to educate women properly about diminishing egg quality and the limitations of IVF for women in their 40’s.

And, more importantly, it’s time to end the fear, shame, and secrecy surrounding the use of an egg donor.

My journey has led me to my life calling — to share my story with the women who come after me, to share the guidance, wisdom, and reassurance I gained in my struggle to become a mother.

My wish is that by being open and honest about my journey, other women will be inspired to reimagine motherhood, finding alternate paths, while feeling confident to stand proudly in those decisions and every aspect of their lives that led to this outcome.

Click here for more info on National Infertility Awareness Week.

Sarah Kowalski, founder of Motherhood Reimagined, is an attorney turned life coach, and fertility doula, who serves women struggling with infertility. Her book: Motherhood Reimagined: When Becoming A Mother Doesn’t Go As Planned will be released October 17, 2017 and is currently available for presale. Join her mailing list for updates on the book or to sign up to receive a 30-minute FREE Discovery Session.

 

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