I’m sharing because I believe sometimes we can overthink this, particularly when it comes to fears around bonding before we have our children. Think about all of the people you love in your life that you aren’t genetically related to. Simply put, genetics are not a requirement for love. I truly believe that love is what makes and builds a family, cemented by the experiences that we share.
Just this week I overheard two comments at nursery that would have previously made me wince – “You can’t argue with genetics” as a Dad responded to a comment someone had made about their likeness and (less than 30 seconds later) someone else told another Mum “She is your absolute double, such strong genetics there”. Moments after hearing these comments I looked through the window and caught sight of Mila as she spotted me, my heart jumped as she literally shrieked with delight shouting “Mummy!”. It still is one of my favourite moments of the week, collecting her, as she always runs towards me and leaps into my arms, something other parents comment on as being so adorable. We don’t need to share genetics for the connection and love that we share, it grows every single day we share together.
It isn’t possible for me to love our girls any more, even if they had been created using my eggs, the thought is just inconceivable.
Love, Becky x
One of the most important skills I’ve always wanted my children to have is empathy. Above anything else I believe it is so important to have the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, without prompting, and take notice of how they might be feeling. It’s not something everyone has the natural instinct to do, but it’s a skill I like to think is a strength of mine – it’s something I’ve always wanted to pass on to my children.
When deciding to use an egg donor, I did wonder about how strong nurture over nature can really be, something that can never be fully measured or proven for sure as there are so many individual factors at play. I’d wondered about how my child’s personality would develop and whether us not being related by genetics might mean that there are many noticeable differences. Of course this can be said for anyone having a child, no-one has a child that is a 100% clone of their own genetics and so I’m sure many differences show through – we should celebrate these too! I suppose what I wanted was comfort to know that, even though we don’t share genetics, I can still pass on my ‘legacy’ in other ways – through time spent together and nurturing as a Mother.
That’s why I was bursting with pride as I read Mila’s nursery report this week. I was incredibly happy to read about her development with numbers, letters and language but it was this quote about her social skills and empathy that had me smiling from ear to ear… “Mila takes pride in being helpful and kind to her teachers and friends. As a result, she has built lovely friendships. Mila will always consider how an action might make a friend feel and if a friend is upset, she will offer comfort and help by fetching a tissue or a game”.
It’s such a small thing, but it gave me great comfort to read and know (from an outside perspective) that the nurturing we’re providing is shaping Mila to have an awareness of others, even at the tender age of 3. Of course she may have had this ability anyway inbuilt through nature, but I truly believe that nurturing is vital when it comes to social skills such as this backed up recently when I read a quote that said “Empathy comes from being empathised with” (Dr Stanley I. Greenspan, Great Kids, 2007).
I wanted to share to show how as a recipient parent, just like any other parent, you are constantly learning about your child and realising how much of an influence you can have. It’s incredible to see three very different personalities developing before my very eyes, knowing that I’m helping to shape them into the people that they will become makes me realise more than ever what it is that defines a Mum.
Love, Becky x
This picture popped up on my memories today from 3 years ago. Mila at almost 6 months old (those chubby cheeks 🥰) and Matt at a similar age. They’re the same baby, right?! I still can’t believe how alike they were, and still are!
Before using donor eggs, I did wonder whether it would bother me if they were to look just like Matt, like it might make me feel less connected in some way. Truthfully, I was uncertain about not sharing physical features with my child and I feared that their similarities might make it more obvious that they didn’t look like me. In reality, I actually found it incredibly comforting and loved to see how much she resembled him, plus it was a great way of deflecting any potential comments about her likeness or (lack of) genetic link to me. I used to beat myself up for these fears and rarely said them out-loud, thinking in some way that I was ‘vain’ or ‘superficial’ for placing so much emphasis on looks. I realise now that it’s a genuine and very common human instinct, to want to pass on your ‘legacy’ and to be able to see yourself in your child. Society puts even greater pressure on this, with people instantly looking for physical similarities as an easy conversation starter with a newborn..I know, I used to do it all the time!
What I also now realise is that there are many other ways to see yourself in your children, Mila in particular is the most physically alike to Matt, but I see many personality traits and mannerisms from me too. Most importantly of all, she is herself – a beautiful individual, which excites me most of all – seeing who she is becoming.
Sitting here this afternoon, cosied under a blanket as we both recover from horrible winter viruses, those fears from 5 years ago couldn’t be further from my mind. I adore her for who she is and wouldn’t change a thing.
I’m sharing not only because the likeness in this picture is so striking, but because it has inspired me to open up about these fears I once had. Is this something you think/worry about? I’d love to hear from you and truly believe that opening up about these worries can really help us process them and feel less alone.
Love, Becky x
As I’ve been busy planning my DefiningMum event (announcement coming soon!) I’ve been thinking a lot about the different fears and challenges that we inevitably face as parents who don’t share genetics with our children.
One of the worries that I often didn’t share out-loud (for fear of sounding ‘shallow’ or being misunderstood) was my anxiety around whether my child would bear any resemblance to me. I was lucky to bond with my pregnancies instantly, but it didn’t stop the worries, things that I don’t think I would have given a second-thought if we hadn’t used a donor. What will they look like? Will it be glaringly obvious to everyone that we don’t share DNA? I see and hear this fear so many times when I’m contacted, especially when it comes to the point of actually selecting a donor.
It’s a rational and very real worry because family resemblances is something that for most is simply ‘small-talk’ and typical conversation, without realising that for us it is hugely significant. The stark difference in significance is what sometimes can make it difficult for us to express to others. We hear these comments often, especially when it comes to children and families, as an easy, innocent topic of conversation. This can be triggering for us, and potentially for our children in the future, in situations where a donor has been used.
It’s something I have become used to over time, it’s no longer a concern and I now take these opportunities to point out the girls individual differences rather than just talking about their similarities. I can honestly say that there has been such a shift from those pre-conception / pre- birth moments where everything is unknown and incredibly daunting, to the feeling when you start getting to know and love your children as real people. You realise that these things aren’t as important as you thought, whilst learning to adapt to the ‘small-talk’, realising that is all that it is.
I share again to give hope and open up these conversations that I wish I’d heard when we were making the decision to use a donor. It’s an insight into what I want my upcoming event to be about, a safe space to open up and talk about these very real emotions and fears because, ultimately, if we look after ourselves and become more secure now, then we will no doubt become more emotionally confident when talking to our children about their conception. That’s my hope anyway! Look out for announcements soon, I’m just pulling together some final plans!
Love, Becky x
I plan to be very open with Mila, Eska and Lena about how they were conceived using an egg donor. We don’t share genetics but despite this, we are still very similar in so many ways – all because of epigenetics, nurture over nature and simply through sharing nearly every waking minute with one another.
So, whilst being open might feel scary – almost like a bond is being broken with the truth – what you are actually doing is building an even greater bond with trust, honesty and understanding.
What I’m also finding is that you will probably start to realise, with delight, even more similarities than you otherwise might not have even noticed. I smile every time I hear myself in Mila – especially her overuse of the word “actually”, just like me! The way we share a knowing look and sideways glance as we both share the same sense of humour, knowing what will make each other smile. Even tiny physical similarities, Mila is delighted that we both share a freckle in the same place on our left foot – “just like Mummy’s” she says and it is her way of remembering left and right!
I share this to show that being open and telling your child about their donor conception doesn’t have to be daunting. You can build your own stories and narratives with the truth, giving them a sense of belonging and allowing it to be the only thing they have ever known. That’s not to say that I don’t have worries, I know there are more challenging years ahead as they grow and ask questions, but I hope that by laying a foundation of shared characteristics (that aren’t necessarily genetic) it will help make those conversations easier and so much more natural.
Love, Becky x