How my feelings about egg donation have changed since becoming a mother.
There’s no denying it, becoming a mother has affected me in unexpected ways. There is a vulnerability in loving someone so much; even considering my life without my son seems unbearable. Watching or reading a sad story in the news, particularly when it involves children typically makes me think of my own child. There is no longer a disconnect between those people in the news and me…those children somehow feel like my child.
My capacity for love has grown and continues to do so daily. There are moments when I feel that I could not possibly love my son more, yet the next day comes and I do. And it is the truest and purest kind of love…genuine, unconditional love. It’s not because Everett makes me a better person, shares similar interests, is intelligent, funny or charming – maybe he will be, or maybe he won’t, but it doesn’t matter – I will love him the same anyway.
When Everett was born, I did not immediately fall head over heels in love with him as I’d expected. Exhausted from labor and almost 72 hours without sleep, I felt disconnected from myself and him. I would hold him and nurse him while he looked up at me with the biggest, most alert eyes I had ever seen on a newborn. It was almost as if he too was figuring out if he liked me yet.
Eventually, the overwhelming love did come, even when I didn’t know why. When he developed colic and cried all day, every day for nearly 4 months, I tried everything I could to make him comfortable. Aside from putting him down for a few minutes here and there, I’d hold him, rock him and bounce him constantly. There was not much to love about this tiny baby; he and I were both miserable, but I loved him anyway.
Like every parent, I’ve cleaned up explosive diapers, changed my clothes 5 times in one day, rocked my crying baby all night long and awoken after an hour of broken sleep to do it all again.
But, I’ve also been the recipient of hundreds of open mouth kisses and countless gummy smiles. I’ve inhaled the sweetness of his soft, little head and felt the exhale of relief and loosening of his tiny, stressed body when I comfort him against mine. I’ve experienced the contentment of watching my baby drift off to sleep, after wishing he would sleep all day, only to miss him when he actually does.
I was on the receiving end of his first step.
When he fell trying to take a few more steps, I picked him up and encouraged him to try again.
When he fell another time and startled himself, I scooped him up and held him until he was ready to try once more.
I know that the simple contribution of DNA is the least of what makes someone a mother or a parent.
You become a parent when you begin to love unconditionally, even when that love is scary, unexpected or makes you feel vulnerable. It is in changing blowout diapers and making your baby clean and content again, that you become a parent. It is responding to the cries, showing up each day and doing your best to encourage and comfort your child that you become a parent.
I have done these things and it has changed me.
Now, when I think back about the egg donations, I am curious and hopeful. I wonder how many of those parents have been fortunate enough to experience the unconditional love that I feel for my son. I hope it was all of them. I wonder if any of them experienced colic. I hope not any! I wonder how many open mouth kisses, gummy smiles, and first steps they’ve witnessed. I hope it’s more than anyone could count.
The truth is that I will never know what became of the eggs I donated. All I will ever have is curiosity about the families that might have been created and hope that families actually were created.
I like to think that in a way my own son is the byproduct of egg donation. A baby girl is born with all the eggs she will ever have in her life. And while many of my eggs were donated, he was left for me. And of course, I would not change that for anything.