The hardest thing about giving up on my eggs and looking to a donor for help in conceiving a child was losing that genetic link. Anyone who has been through this process will tell you that. Knowing that your child won’t share your genetic material is a difficult thing to face. I’ve been grieving that notion for months and maybe I won’t ever be able to let it go completely. I’ve been so focused on the fact that my future child won’t be a hundred percent mine that it didn’t occur to me that some good might possibly come of this.
The past few weeks have been difficult. The day after we picked our donor, after we put the twelve thousand dollars down to secure our eight frozen eggs, something happened that would change my whole viewpoint on using donor eggs to become a mother.
I returned a call that night to my mom after a dinner with my in-laws, who had requested in a text message to call her back.
“I hate to be the bearer of bad news,” she said. I immediately wondered if she was going to tell me someone had died. What she said next, though, I didn’t see coming.
“I was just diagnosed with breast cancer.”
“What?” I said, too loudly, my mind refusing to understand. I laid my head back on the seat. Chris was driving us home, glancing at me in concern.
She said it would be OK, that the tumor was small and the surgeon seemed optimistic that he could remove it with surgery and radiation. As I listened with tears streaming down my face, I saw Chris’s bewildered expression in the corner of my eye. My mom told me she and Dad would come over to talk, and then we said good-bye; as Chris and I finally pulled into the garage, I burst into tears. “My mom has—” I began, a sob bursting through my lips, unable to even say it the first time, “My mom has breast cancer.” Then I curled up into him from across the seat, the lights in the garage shutting us in darkness. And I cried and cried.
“She has to be OK,” I sobbed into his shoulder. “I just have to think everything will be OK, because I can’t live without my mom.”
I always knew the potential was there. My aunt, whom I was named after, is a 26-year survivor of breast cancer. She was diagnosed young, in her mid-thirties and had it really bad. So I always knew my mom was at risk for it. It’s just quite different, you know, as it becomes a reality.
Last Friday, my mom had surgery to remove the tumor. She is now home and doing well. She will probably start radiation in the next few weeks and has remained incredibly positive for my two little sisters and me.
The last few weeks have given me some time to reflect. I have been so angry with my body, at my eggs, for failing to create a child. I have been depressed that all the years of infertility had led to the use of donor eggs to create our family. I felt cheated.
One thing I have realized after my mom’s diagnosis is this: the breast cancer. We can knock out that genetic link for our child. I know having an aunt and now a mother with breast cancer puts my sisters and I at risk. But I can wipe out that risk for my future daughter.
I can potentially erase the depression and mental illness from my child’s genetics, which is widespread on both my parents’ sides.
I know nothing is for certain, but bringing in someone else’s genetic material gives my future children a chance of being free from cancer, from depression. More important, however, the last few weeks have been an opportunity to let go of the loss of my genetics. In the end, it is a baby coming into the family that is most important: a baby to make my mom a grandmother, to make my sisters both aunties and to make the love of my life a daddy. And isn’t that what this is all supposed to be about? About love being stronger than genetics?