Written by Guest Author, Victoria Nino
Our friend Victoria Nino from @expectinganything is here to share her last blog in her series of guest blogs on donor conception. As a well-known advocate in the industry and mother via donor eggs herself, Victoria brings a special perspective to the table and helps women navigate their unique journey using donor eggs. In this post, Victoria shares a response for intended parents who may have fears about bonding with their baby or have wondered, “will I love my donor egg baby?” We hope her experience and insights brings you joy and hope for what’s to come.
If you are asking yourself “will I love my donor egg baby” please know that this is completely normal. I think everyone who considers donor eggs has this fear in the beginning, I sure did. I talk to women every week that share this concern - so many tears are shed on the thought of “what if?” What if my baby doesn’t love me? What if my parents don’t love my baby? These are all normal feelings, I had them too.
If my parents had adopted me or used donor conception to conceive me, I would have learned at a young age that genetics isn’t the primary force of love within a family. I would bet that I wouldn’t have had the same fears I had when I first pursued donor eggs, because my core belief system would have been different.
I know this because my perspective and belief system are much different now then they were when I was first considering donor eggs. All because of my beautiful three year old daughter. She has taught me what a mother child bond really us built on - and I can tell you it is not DNA.
Our bond is like nothing I could have ever imagined. We have a saying we say to each other… “I am You and You are Me” because that’s honestly the easiest way to explain our attachment to each other.
Without her, I am not me and without me, she is not her. We are different, yet the same.
Prior to getting pregnant, I knew I had to change my perspective if I was going to be able to move forward with donor eggs. I knew I had to look at this situation differently than what I had been taught. If I had to give credit to the biggest thing that helped me do that, I would say it was when my first doctor explained epigenetics to me.
She explained that Epigenetics (Epi “on top of” genetics) can change the way your genes are expressed. Had my daughter’s fetus grown in the donor’s womb, she wouldn’t be the same person. Just like if you plant the same grape tree in a different region of Napa Valley, you’d get very different wine.
Without me, she would not be her.
This allowed me to find a new way to connect with my baby and find my way to my identity as a mother via donor eggs.
Later in life, I realized that while the mother/baby bond does happen for some in the womb, for others it takes time. For some it happens months after they are born. But the important thing to remember is that all babies and mothers do bond with each other, it just might take time. This is the case for genetically related mothers and fathers with their babies too.
Dear DEIVF Mama to be,
I know you are nervous. I know you are anxious. Excited yet worried.
What you have been through to get to this point is hard, perhaps the hardest thing you have been through yet.
I know how lonely you might feel, like no one will ever understand your heart. You have sacrificed everything for a baby who won’t have your DNA, yet still worry if you will be enough for your baby.
But listen to me, sweet mama. When that baby finally makes its way to your arms, it will be better than anything you could have dreamt up. You will wonder how you ever questioned mothering via another woman’s DNA. I promise you this...your baby will know exactly who you are and you will be more than enough.
You will be EVERYTHING.
You ARE everything.
This love is the most magical kind of love. A love with multiple layers. A love that comes with deep gratitude and soul searching. A love that isn’t assumed, it's fought hard for. A love born in your heart long ago and will continue to grow with your every breath. With every needle, legal document and hard conversation, your love will grow.
A love that will break you into a million pieces, and will make you whole again - a stronger, more compassionate, resilient version.
The sun, the moon and the stars all had to come together to conspire a special plan just for you, to help you find your way to this love. You were chosen for this little soul with great purpose. This baby chose YOU as their mama - what an honor that is.
You will see mama, you will see.
This is a love you can’t possibly expect or see coming, but you will see.
It will rock you.
It will save you.
It will change you.
And then it will become you.
You ARE the love mama, hold on to that. Your baby is you, and you are them. Your heart is where your baby was first born and will live forever more.
1. Tell your story to your baby in utero: Start talking to your baby in the womb and practicing telling them your story. This gives you time to practice and figure out the words, but also helps your newborn learn to recognise the sound of your voice - mama’s voice.
2. Pheromones bond you: It’s no secret that the smell of your baby can trigger maternal bonding, but the opposite is true as well. The bond between a mother and child is so much more than a loving feeling. Pheromones are exchanged in the womb, through breastfeeding, and through other types of physical contact which create a lifelong bond between mothers and child.
3. Remember that all mothers bond with their babies: Remember that it’s okay if you don’t bond with your baby right away, you will bond with them on your own timeline, please also remember that mothers who share genetics with their babies also have a hard time bonding at first.
4. Cut your baby some slack: Try not to put too much pressure on the fact that the baby is donor conceived. Babies don’t know how they were conceived, babies are babies! If the baby is crying a lot, or having a hard time nursing, or not bonding with you right away, remember that it has nothing to do with them being donor conceived.
5. Honesty builds trust and attachment: Continue to be truthful with your child about how they were conceived, and find casual ways to weave it into conversations, just like you would the fact that they have Irish heritage, have 10 toes on their feet, and were born in California. This creates a strong foundation of identity, normalcy and trust in their parents. Create a safe, non judgmental space for your child to ask questions or express raw emotions. Let them know that you will love them no matter what they say or ask.
6. Involve family in early stages: Educate family members and friends on how to best support your child. It takes a village and the more love and empowerment your child has around them the stronger sense of belonging they have in the family.
You will see that genetics or DNA is nowhere in these bullet points. Bonding with your baby can happen in many ways, but the important thing to remember is that it is no different than a mother and child who share genetics.
You will bond with your baby, your baby will bond with you, it’s inevitable.
Donor Nexus is an egg donation agency in Southern California, working with intended parents and egg donors worldwide. We invite you to continue browsing our website for additional resources and contact our team with any questions. If you’re seeking donor eggs or donor embryos, register now for free access to browse donor profiles in our online database.