The spring of 2012 was a mix of heart break and quarter life discontent for me. I was living in Brighton, working on my degree somehow and felt like I should have had more figured out that I actually had. I knew I wasn`t gong to have kids any time soon and I also knew these were my “best years” in terms of fertility. Donating eggs is illegal in Germany, where I grew up, so the concept was new to me, but when an article showed up on my lap, it seemed like a really cool idea.
“When you feel helpless, help someone else.”
I do agree with that idea, mostly. I think ultimately we all yearn to be of service in some way, just not necessarily in the capitalist sense of being productive. So I thought that while I read self-help books and wander around beaches in search of clarity about adulthood, I might as well help someone else who has their shit together to start a family. I knew I didn`t want an anonymous donation, mainly because I was scared a conservative would show up at my door 18 years later. That kid might have been really disappointed to realize their egg donor is a poetry writing, crystal wearing hippy with a little fluffy dog (lets all pretend Orlando will outlive us, okay?).
So when these two amazing women magically showed up, I knew it was right. We met in London and ate rose cupcakes while talking about everything from “What if it doesn`t work?” to “What if you loose the baby?” and “What if there are more eggs than we need?”. All very important questions, but I knew it was right all along anyway. These two are wonderful, warm, creative women who will raise a little feminist and that’s all that matters. I wanted the baby to get a fair chance at life.
Extra oestrogen gives you extra feelings
Donating eggs involves having your health screened inside out, so it was actually pretty cool to know its all good as you wouldn`t normally have such in depth tests, especially not on the NHS. If you qualify, you will inject hormones for ten to 18 days (or something like that) daily to stimulate your ovaries so that many more than the usual one egg develops that month. I am not a fan of needles in my tummy, but it was okay. But let me tell you, I had all the feelings. All of them. I randomly cried into my baked beans, I cried on the bus, I cried in the shower. Sometimes it was happy crying and sometimes it was just confusion. I felt a little more like a mummy bird than I usually do and I could feel my ovaries, which was kinda spooky.
Donation day was actually really smooth and beautiful. I had a swanky room overlooking Hide Park to myself (private clinics!) and I was offered to choose between crème brûlée and mousse au chocolate after waking up, so all was well in the world. It wasn`t painful at all, so the anaesthesia was actually just a bit more dreamy than normal sleeping. The two awesome future mums drove me home and we exchanged excited, beautiful and hopeful hugs as we said bye.
She looks like my dad
Anna (not her real name and that one above is a picture of baby me actually because I am smart like that) was born this spring and it was just wonderful. When I first looked at her, I had a little happy cry and I proudly show her picture to anyone who will listen. Its funny to see a little mini-you and to know that phew, you don`t have to do anything about it. No changing nappies, no nap-free Sundays.
Strangely, I felt a huge sense of relief. Spending the rest of my life as an art making, travelling, napping dog lady wouldn`t be so selfish anymore. Most people who know me well were just happy for me, but not everyone could relate. Some looked concerned and wanted to know if I was really okay. Some didn`t belief that it didn`t make me feel broody at all and some called me her biological mother. But Anna is not my child, she has two amazing mums and I am so so grateful to be her egg donor.
These conversations made me wonder about the expectations we still hold for women. I can`t help but feel that things would be completely different if I was more butch or if I was a guy who had donated sperm.
To be honest, when I first decided to donate I worried how I might feel too. But as the years passed, I became more and more sure of my decision to donate and not ever being a mum myself is something I can totally see for myself at the moment. I realized it takes a lot of time and mindfulness to get to the bottom of what you really want when there is so much society chatter about what you should want constantly at the back of your mind.
I also think lots about blood lines, the things we pass on for the generations to come and the things that have been passed on to me. The wide dimensions of time, culture and space our families cross and how we expand into chosen family as we grow.
I totally give myself the right to change my mind and change it again. I love my freedom way too much right now, I want to travel and be spontaneous and I know I have books inside me that need to be written without a baby needing my attention. Maybe things will feel different in a few years, maybe not.
But I know I love both Anna and her two mums with all my heart and I wish them well.