Jul 25, 2022

Anna has wanted children for as long as she can remember. Her reproductive story began when she was a teenager. Her childhood had been filled with joyous summers at the Long Island beaches with her mother and three younger siblings. Winter holidays were filled with eggnog and trimming of the Christmas tree with all the siblings singing carols. Anna remembers her childhood as idyllic, so, by the time she was 13, she knew that she wanted a family like her own.  She hoped to have four children and model herself after her own caring and loving mother. The oldest child would be a boy named after her father, as she had always wanted an older brother. He would be tall and strong and always stick up for her.

Anna planned to marry by age 30 and to begin to have children shortly after. She was sure that she could have four children by the time she turned 40. That dream, however, never materialized. Like many women, Anna’s reproductive story was filled with fertility challenges. Now, at age 41, she was beginning her fourth round of IVF. She sought out therapy to make sense of the inadequacy that she was feeling undergoing multiple failed rounds of IVF.
The reproductive endocrinologist had talked with Anna about egg donation after the third failed IVF. Her egg quality was poor and, at age 40, the likelihood of a successful round of IVF using her eggs was low. But Anna was hesitant as egg donation only augmented her feelings of inadequacy and failure.

In therapy, she told me that she wanted her baby, not a baby. She wanted a child that shared her own DNA - a child that looked like her and shared her personality. We talked together about what Anna was feeling about egg donation. What did it mean to Anna to conceive a child that would not be biologically hers? How would she feel about a child that would have her husband’s DNA, but not her own? Is she, indeed, really a mother if the child does not share her biological DNA? What defined the words mother and mothering for Anna? Are the words defined by what she saw in her own mother in childhood or could the words have a different, more expansive meaning for Anna?
These are the questions that Anna struggled with when Anna came to see me. Therapy allowed Anna to create a broader understanding of mother and mothering that included much more than a mere connection to DNA. She came to understand egg donation as potentially a thoughtful, loving gift on the part of the donor.

Are you considering egg donation? Do you relate to Anna and her feelings about egg donation? Please contact us, as we are happy to help you better understand the meaning of your feelings through individual and group psychotherapy.

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