After we announced our engagement, my mother said, "I'm de-mothering. I'm de-mothering." She repeated this mantra whenever she was overcome with the instinct to fuss and interfere. "It's up to you two to work things out together now," she said. "But you're sensible, and he's a nice boy."

The formal discussion process for our embryo donation started nearly two weeks ago, and so far we have progress and answers and new questions and outpourings - a healthy amount of each of those.

We all ask: How many people would we tell?

And we all say: The children, of course - yours and ours. They should know from fairly early on, and we should update their understanding of it as they mature. Then the bigness of the deal of it - that's up to them.

Then we all ask: What about the rest of the family?

And we all say: It wouldn't be a secret. Two sets of grandparents are already waiting to know what'll become of the extra embryos.

And she adds: If it were me, I'd be talking through it with my mum already. But could you tell her not to say anything to the people who should hear it from us, until after they've heard it from us? Not that it would be the end of the world, but ideally...

Then we all breathe our sighs of relief. It's good to be on the same page. It's one of the reasons we've chosen to go with known recipients, rather than leaving the choice to the clinic. Relinquishing responsibility is easier when you're ceding it to someone you have faith in.

Then the psychologist says: How would you feel if these two decided to terminate the baby?

And we pause a while because it's a difficult thing to imagine.

At last we answer: It would have to be their choice. From this standpoint, we all have similar ideas, but if push comes to shove it'll be their baby, and it won't be our place to say.

And the psychologist agrees that the "gift" needs to be complete and unconditional, right from the very beginning.

I'm de-mothering. I'm de-mothering.


MrsSpock said...

Good on the psychologist for thinking of those possible future chess moves. I would never have thought of that particular "what if".

Aerotropolitan Comitissa said...

And I think it's the ultimate question when it comes to handing over responsibility, too. It has that immediacy and plausibility and finality. Hits home much harder than some complex scenario involving parenting choices in the teen years. I guess that's why she's the psychologist...

Lori Lavender Luz said...

Because I've been advocating for openness in donor conception lately (so that lessons learned from the adoption community can be applied sooner rather than decades later), I've recently begun to see the complexity involved in either donating or receiving embryos. Thanks for sharing this. Wow. Such a lot of ground to cover with this decision.

Aerotropolitan Comitissa said...

Thanks for your comment, Lori. I have to say your thoughts on open adoption have influenced our decision, so I'm glad to see you here. The next appointment will be a big one where we really have to go through a lot of tough questions (these were the easy ones, apparently - just the groundwork) so I'll be thinking a lot of this through over the next couple of weeks.

AnneR said...

Thank you for this. Embryo donation is a distinct possibility for us and I can't seem to emphasize the depths of these decisions. I appreciate what and how you wrote this.

Aerotropolitan Comitissa said...

Thanks, Anne. I've got a few more thoughts about this process to come. Let me know if there's anything you'd like to hear/talk about since you're thinking through the process as well.

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