Our journey through infertility, failed adoptions and now parenthood through the miracle of embryo adoption/donation.

Friday, April 1, 2011

"So, are you are the biological mother?"

Maddie had an appointment with an ENT this past week. She has had 5 ear infections is less then 4 months. This means that she has been on antibiotics a total of 50 days in 4 months. That is insane! We barely get a week between stopping antibiotics and her next infection. And yes, the antibiotics are working because her follow up appointments show no infection. And then BAM, she gets another one. Before this last one I had scheduled her to see my chiropractor and still plan on taking her, but at this rate I don't feel that we have many options. She is getting tubes on the 22nd. I had really wanted to avoid surgery but I feel that to wait is putting her health at risk. I do not want to risk her hearing by delaying surgery. Also, I hate for her to be on antibiotics so often. She currently has a nasty yeast infection from this latest round. We are still going to see the chiropractor and if we see an improvement we may delay the surgery, but I doubt that we can avoid it altogether.

While at the appointment they were asking about a family medical history. This has come up once before when she saw the neurologist and I have to remind myself that her and I do not share a medical history. I explained to the nurse that she was a result of a donated embryo and gave her what medical history I knew. This gave the nurse pause. She had to fill in whether I was the biological mother and did not know how to answer. She asked a few more questions and decided to put me as the bio mom.

Later another nurse was setting up the surgery and she mentioned several times how Maddie looked just like me. I laughed and said "Ironic, isn't it?" thinking that she was amazed by the resemblance because she had read on the chart that Maddie was a product of EA. This was not on the chart so she was confused by my comment so I had to explain. I say "had to" but really I mean "got to" as I love sharing Maddie's story. I am happy to give infertility a voice and to introduce people to the concept of EA. Though EA has gotten more exposure and is not completely unheard of, it is still one of those sci-fi sounding procedures to most people. The nurse was curious and asked some questions and congratulated me on my little miracle. I love opportunities like this! I am always happy to share with others that show a genuine interest. I have had several people ask for contact info for either myself or for clinics or have asked for websites about EA wanting to pass it along to someone or because they themselves are interested in pursuing EA.

Though I enjoy telling Maddie's story I do wonder if that will change as Maddie gets older. I don't want her defined by her conception, but I also don't want her ashamed. As much as I want to educate people about EA and infertility I don't want to do so at my daughter's expense. I do know that had we used donor egg or donor sperm I would not be nearly as quick to share. Not because of shame as I would have none, but those options are much more common in that people know about it and understand it. EA is different and still confuses some. Navigating the land of EA brings questions and situations that I just don't know the answer to. So I ask you all, what do you think? Should there come a time that I not be so free with telling people? Or should I still discuss it but maybe not in front of Maddie once she begins to understand? I still have a few years before she understands anything at all about this, but I like to be prepared.


  1. Good luck with the ear tubes. As a little girl I suffered horribly from ear infections. I had a total of 4 sets of tubes put in, one a permanent set. At one point I was almost deaf causing a delay in speech. I remember my ears bleeding and having to go every week to get the blood and wax sucked out by a machine. Finally after years of this, an old semi-retired doctor ENT saw me and took me off chocolate which solved all my problems. Apparently the constant sinus drainage caused fluid to build up in the ear drum. The eustachias (sp) tubes in children are straight across and as as adults they slant down allowing drainage to go down the throat. In children/babies the drainage has nowhere to go but build up in the eardrum.

    To this day if I get a bad cold I get an ear infection.

    Just something to think about.

  2. I'm straight out adopted. Although my parents didnt carry me in my mom's womb, they raised me from the start, so, that's where I'm coming from.

    My parents were always honest. It's tough to explain to a child; but there will always be questions (doctor's offices are just one place) and, honestly, had I found out afterwards, I would have been devastated that they'd lied to me. Although you did carry her, she is, ultimately, adopted. There is no shame in that, and, telling her (or not hiding it, rather), is the first step in teaching her to be okay with herself, in not thinking she was second best or the back up plan. To this day, I still am told how much I look like my parents or, even more cute, how much our kids look like my parents, my brother (not genetically related) or his son.

    In the end, we are all related somehow anyway. :)

  3. As a soon-to-be DE mom, I plan to always be upfront with our child about how he or she came to be as I don't want it to ever seem like a shameful secret when it's such a blessing. Obviously, we will need to always share this info with medical professionals as you do. But I do not plan to share this info beyond our immediate family (husband, me, and our kids) because I want our child to have control over who knows what about the details of his/her conception. This is a little tricky--we have an open adoption with our first son, and I'm a huge fan of openness, but I think DE is a little less clearcut and I don't want our second kid to face judgements from people who don't approve of donor gametes, etc. So, we'll tell him or her their story and that it's his or hers to share when they feel ready. Hopefully this will work--I'm sure navigating all this will be a work in progress!

  4. We have a son through domestic adoption, and are now 7.5 months pregnant through embryo adoption. Our motto has been that we are not hiding the fact that either of them are adopted, but we are also not advertising it. Our feeling is that it is THEIR story to share, if and when they choose. You are right -- we don't want them to be ashamed -- but we also want to give them the right to share their birth/conception story.

  5. I hope the ear tubes can prevent future infections. My daughter gets them too, but not nearly as often as your little one, but it was often enough that we were considering tubes. The frequency has lessened over the last year or so - so I think we'll wait a little longer. We haven't seen any delays in speech or anything (and she is 3), so I think we are okay for now. I do think it is a good idea for you to do something - before deafness/speech problems arise.

    About how much/when to tell - my daughter is becoming very aware of things at 3. I wrote a little book for her about her story and she loves it. We read it over and over. Genna doesn't look like my husband or I, so we do get a few more questions than you probably would. Most often we get complete strangers asking where all her blonde hair came from. For now, she just smiles and says "my hair is blondie!". It's super cute. And, I just say God gave it to her and leave it at that if it's just a stranger and a more in depth conversation doesn't seem appropriate. Of course, doctors get the full disclosure whenever they ask about family history. Whenever I do talk about EA with someone new in front of Genna, I usually turn to her and say how it was such a special way that she came to us. If she gives a big smile as I talk about it, then I give more details. If she ever starts to roll her eyes or whines "mohhmm" (as in - are you really going to talk about this again?), then I'll take the hint and leave it up to her to share.

    My 2 cents.

  6. I really appreciated this post Jess. I think a lot about how we will best handle this situation with our child since we used donor sperm. I really love the way that you say that you love telling Maddy's story, there is no hesitation in your voice, you are proud and you are an advocate. I hope that I can find that same strength. I want to be open, and we will most definitely be open with our child, but I have a hard time thinking about talking to other people about it. I also find myself being cautious about who I share the information with, because I do not ever want it to be used as a label, or to define our child. I figure that we'll cross each bridge as we get to it, but do appreciate reading about others who are a few steps ahead of us.

    Good luck with the tubes.


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