At first, when people said we're "doing a beautiful thing" by donating our embryos, I squirmed. This is despite a widely-used script which everywhere reinforces the idea that it's the proper motivation. Donor testimonies read:
"We wanted to pay it forward-" should that be backwards? "-and help another couple with their infertility."
"We were so excited to be able to share this gift to make another family's dreams come true."
Some time ago a friend I don't know very well visited Singapore and we caught up for a coffee, and I did that thing to her where I accidentally ended up saying a lot more about what was troubling me than she was probably expecting or indeed comfortable with. Amongst these were my thoughts on working and motherhood.
"I've applied for a full time job," I said, innocuously. "PB has asked me to enrol him in extra-curricular classes every day after school so I guess I'm not needed there so much now and... I just think it might be time."
But she's perceptive, and there must have been something in my eyes, because she paused on the other side of the table and looked at me closely.
"He's a great kid," I added. "What other child do you know of who's demanded more school?" I gave a small chuckle, but then I found I had to break eye contact to look out at the trees. "I mean, sure, he can be a handful... By the end of the day... sometimes we just... I don't know. But his sports coach is wonderful with him."
We sat in silence for a few seconds, then she leaned forward and put her cup on the table. "You know, it takes a fucking village," she said.
And I nodded, because I believe her. But to do so I fight the myth that it has to be all me, all the time. I fight the myth that I should be most of his world. I fight the myth that if someone else is guiding my child - God forbid if they do it more often or more successfully - it means I'm less than; I've failed; I'm unfit. And I fight this myth not as a parent, but as a mother - even in this place and time.
At first, people said we're doing a beautiful thing for this couple by donating our embryos and I squirmed, and it's because I've been told that this is the correct reason, and also that this reason isn't good enough.
But as I talk things over I realise, with relief, that it's not actually our reason. For us, it's not about helping them. It's about accepting where we're tapped out; about working to prioritise the kids we already have; about wanting to move forward but in a way which honours our past. We're here because we have this thing to do but we've learned we can't do it all on our own. We're ready to see ourselves as part of the world's village and to let the village take on this role.
And the more I think about it, the more I come to this conclusion: it's because we don't want to do a beautiful thing that this whole plan might work out ok.