14 Sep The emotional burden of egg donation
Regardless of the type of treatment, AR brings with it a heavy load of emotions, both positive and negative. Especially when a woman or a couple has to resort to egg donation, the emotional burden can be even heavier.
We often feel an overwhelming mix of emotions such as:
– Hope: Egg donation is not an easy choice, but for some women, it may represent the only opportunity to fulfill their desire to become a mother, often after numerous attempts and fertility treatments.
– Fear of disappointment, coupled with uncertainty about the success of the process, often puts an additional emotional burden on hope. Most women’s reaction in this situation is self-protection: consciously or unconsciously, they deny themselves the expectation of a positive result and the possibility of a pregnancy, in order to shield themselves from the disappointment in the event of a negative result.
– Sadness and sense of loss: resorting to egg donation means grieving the loss of one’s own genetics and of their “biological child”. As women’s ability to give life is affected, sometimes they may lose confidence in themselves and their bodies.
– Guilt: an emotion that is very present in all AR procedures (especially for women), and one that takes on a very special dimension in the case of egg donation. Many women hold the belief (unjustified but unfortunately very present) that, if they have to resort to donated oocytes, it is because they waited too long to become mothers, or they have not taken good care of themselves, and so on. This could even lead to the destructive belief that perhaps they are not cut out to be mothers.
In addition to these emotions, which are very present during the process, there are also fears about the future:
– Fear, which is shared by many women who are turning to egg donation, of not being able to bond with the baby, or not loving the baby enough (or at least not as much as if it had been their biological child).
– Fear of social judgment: Will people understand? Will they accept it? What if the child faces stigma or negative comments because of the way in which it was conceived?
– Fear that the child will be unhappy and will struggle to develop their identity (fear that they will also hold a grudge against us for this).
– Fear of being rejected by the future child, when they realize that they do not share the same genetic load as their mother. Fear that the child may one day want to know their “origins” ( something that is not possible in Spain due to the principle of anonymity in gamete donation).
– Last but not least, the fear of the unknown: What will the child be like? Will they be good-looking? Will they be intelligent? What if they have a genetic disease?
These emotions and fears are normal and natural – again, egg donation brings with it a lot of emotions and although this could be THE solution to becoming a mother, coping with these emotions and fears is not always so easy. Working with a therapist ( a psychologist or a coach) can be of great help in understanding and accepting these emotions, facing these fears, and dealing with them more effectively.
Learning about epigenetics can also help you navigate your emotions. Epigenetics proves that the bond between mother and child does not depend on genetics alone, but also on epigenetic factors and early mother-child interactions. The same embryo would not create the same baby (and, therefore, the same person) if transferred into the uterus of one woman or another.
– First, during pregnancy, epigenetics plays a crucial role in the development of the fetus and in the regulation of gene expression and function in response to the maternal environment and other external factors;
– Secondly, education, values, family environment, and life experiences also play a fundamental role in a person’s development. A child may resemble their mother not by the features of her face, but by her gestures, the way she speaks, the way she smiles, and so on.
In short, epigenetics adds a layer of insight to the fears and concerns associated with egg donation, highlighting the importance of considering not only the genetic but also the epigenetic aspects of the development and well-being of the future child.
It is very important to receive support in carrying out this reflection in order to make an informed and conscious decision and to deal with any emotional concerns that may arise throughout the process.
More information and contact info on www.stephanietoulemonde.com