In simple terms, a donor egg pregnancy is when either an intended mother or gestational carrier is pregnant with the help of an egg from another woman that was fertilized with either the intended father’s sperm or donor sperm. The resulting embryo is created through in vitro fertilization (IVF) and then transferred to the carrying woman.
As I write this, I am currently 5 weeks pregnant with my second donor egg pregnancy. I can’t believe I’m even typing these words - pregnant! We have been trying for almost three years to give my daughter a sibling and had exhausted all the embryos we had from her egg donor. We were faced with the hard decision to stop trying or start all over again with a new donor - and I am so glad we did.
My first journey to pregnancy was very different from this one, my husband and I had been through four years of treatment with multiple IUIs, IVFs, surgeries and even multiple egg donors with various agencies.
Back then, infertility was my life and it had consumed every piece of my being. I didn’t go to parties or plan vacations. I didn’t eat certain foods. In the summer, I drank warm drinks and wore UGG boots, because someone told me these things would help me get pregnant. I did everything humanly possible to get pregnant, meanwhile, friends and family were getting pregnant left and right.
I had gone to a very dark place mentally.
I could feel everyone walking on eggshells around me and all I wanted to do was run and hide. Crying in my car became the new normal. The fake smiles were wearing out. It was a really dark place to live.
I lived there for about three years.
We took a year off from fertility treatments and traveled the world. I started to find myself again. I was able to get myself to about 50% back to who I was when we made the decision to jump back in. We found a new doctor and a new egg donor and got pregnant on the first try.
That pregnancy changed my entire life.
From the moment I saw the picture of my embryo, it was like I knew it was my baby. I was so worried for so long about connecting or bonding to a child via someone else’s eggs, and here I was swooning over black and white photo of a bunch of cells. It was the first time I could actually see myself as a mom.
I know bonding happens differently for mothers and their babies, but my bond with my first born was like nothing I’ve ever experienced. Being pregnant with her was such a huge honor. We got to go everywhere together! She got to learn my voice, my laugh, my inner energy for nine whole months. I got to bond with her from the moment she became a life.
Using donor eggs to get pregnant isn’t something you can really understand until you have gone through it. I worked myself up so much about a bunch of fears and lies I was telling myself, and my daughter took all those away.
I went from feeling like the most unlucky person in the world to the absolute luckiest. I wish I knew back then that the hardest thing I was going to experience in life was going to lead me to the absolute best.
Now, with my second pregnancy, I am not worried about the same things. I’m not worried about the bond or attachment due to the lack of DNA connection, I’m worried about things I think most pregnant mothers of their second child worry about - like how will I ever love my second child as much as I love my first. Or, how will I ever take care of a newborn and a 4 year old at the same time.
I get a lot of questions about what to expect in a donor egg pregnancy, but I really don’t think it’s any different than any other type of pregnancy. Every pregnancy is unique, and when it comes to nausea, bloating, sore breasts, ankles on swole, etc, it doesn’t matter whose eggs you used to get pregnant. Pregnant is pregnant!
I do think what is different is how you feel emotionally. When you finally get pregnant after struggling with infertility for so long, it can be a huge mental undertaking. It’s an identity shift, and it takes time to transition.
I remember in my first trimester feeling like I didn’t know where I fit in. I didn’t fit in with the fertile pregnant women, but I also didn’t quite fit in with the infertility community either. It was really important for me to find others who had been through pregnancy with donor eggs, to lean on and feel supported emotionally.
I had to constantly remind myself that this is my pregnancy and it’s different from everyone’s elses, and that’s what makes it special.
I’m not a “normal” pregnant woman, I’m an extraordinary pregnant woman! Hear me roar!
During pregnancy, most women wonder and visualize what their unborn child will look like. They wonder - will he/she have my eyes? Or, my smile? Will he/she be tall like me?
I didn’t get to wonder about those things. Sure, I wondered what my baby would look like, but I didn’t wonder if she would have my smile, or my eyes. I wondered if she would have my donor's eyes or my husbands? That used to make me sad, but not anymore. Now, I know that there are far more ways to connect with your pregnancy/baby that have nothing to do with DNA.
I don’t know about you, but I wholeheartedly believe that babies choose their parents. Creating the right mental space and energy for that soul connection to come in is way more important than most might think. There are a lot of very powerful ways to start connecting and communicating with your baby, whether it be through visuals, music, sounds, symbols or actually just speaking to them directly.
Walter Makichen, the author of Spirit Babies, believes that mothers are powerful shamans who bring the soul of their child over from the Other Side. Being a shaman means making the Other Side (of peace and love and "magic") evident and present in this reality. I personally think anyone considering pregnancy via donor eggs should read this book. It truly changed my outlook on how we are connected to our children. I actually brought it with me to my recent IVF transfer and had my acupuncturist read some of the meditations for me.
The biological connection I had to my daughter and now my growing fetus, by carrying them, is something I will never take for granted. My womb is the first place they both lived. My body gave both of my baby’s embryo’s signals as to which genes to turn on and off, otherwise known as epigenetics: Epi “on top of” genetics. Which means my womb (the environment they both grew in) can change the way their genes are expressed.
My body gave my daughter’s body everything she needed to be welcomed into the world.
Pretty cool, right?
When an embryo implants, the uterine wall sends messages to the embryo to start activating genes and RNA molecules are sent to the embryo from the uterine wall that activate lots of cool stuff.
My role of growing my babies in my womb is a very important one, and without me, they wouldn’t be them. They’d be different humans. We used to think DNA was the only way to pass on inheritance - but now we have transgenerational epigenetic inheritance - the transmission of epigenetic markers from parent to child that affects the traits of the offspring without altering the primary structure of DNA.
That’s a pretty special connection only we have.
During pregnancy, there is a physiological exchange between the woman carrying and the fetus through the placenta and therefore the carrying woman may have cells from her fetus in her maternal tissue, and these cells could live in your body for a decade or even longer. This is called Fetal Maternal Microchimerism. For women considering using donor eggs, this is yet another scientific explanation that shows the incredible connection you establish with your baby during pregnancy.
It is said that during pregnancy, if the mother suffers from organ damage, the baby in the womb sends stem cells to repair the damaged organ. When I was pregnant with my daughter for 39 weeks, our cells merged from my bloodstream and back to hers in the most beautiful dance. She healed parts of me that no one else could. Every child I’ve been pregnant with, even the ones who didn’t make it earthside, have left an imprint on my body. That is something so magically special I will forever be grateful for.
I actually feel quite grateful that I have been able to expand my ways of connecting to my pregnancies, ways I might not have even known about had my babies been created from my egg. I have gotten to love my soul babies way before they were even in my womb or in my arms.
If you can open your heart and mind to all of the beautiful connections that exist outside of DNA, there is a whole world of beauty out there waiting for you, and it just might lead you to your soul child.