Pros and Cons of Using a Donor

3 years ago

couple holding hands

My husband has non obstructive azoospermia, which essentially means that as far as we can tell, he is not producing any sperm. This is a post from my blog about our experiences dealing with infertility as a couple and about raising our little boy who has been brought into our lives using a sperm donor. 

Jason, my husband, was willing to use a donor from Day 1. Which truly is saying a lot about who he is. I don’t know many men that could learn that they are unable to get their wife/girlfriend/anyone pregnant and just immediately think to themselves, “I know how badly my wife has always dreamed of being pregnant, and I want to figure out how to still make that happen for her.” I really am that insane woman who, not only has always been dreaming about becoming a mother and looking forward to being pregnant, but who has also always been fascinated by and looked forward to giving birth.

There is a major mourning process that a couple goes through when they learn they are unable to have a biological child. Your vision of what your family was going to be has essentially died. When I went through the grieving process I was also grieving things that had pretty much been the only thing that I wanted to experience when I grew up. Sure, I knew that Jason and I were still going to be parents somehow, but after our visit with the first urologist and hearing how slim he thought our chances are that we’ll ever have a biological child (we still don’t know if we can or not; the second urologist we saw was much more uplifting) I had let go the idea that I was ever going to be pregnant.

Some people say you don’t know what you have until you can’t have it anymore. To suddenly think that I would never have a positive pregnancy test, I would never feel those little flutters inside of me when a baby first kicked, I would never be able to be huge and big and uncomfortable just waiting and waiting for my baby to finally make his/her big entrance into the world, I would never be able to experience birthing my baby and that I would never be able to experience breastfeeding, it was all just too much to handle. I spent hours and days just mourning and crying. And then I felt selfish. I knew that I could still have a biological child. I could still have all of those things that I so desperately always dreamed of having. My husband was the one who couldn’t have a biological child. And here is where I could see a marriage falling apart upon learning this news.

I had the thoughts like, “What if I had just been with that one other guy and accidentally gotten pregnant?” And although I never sincerely gave this thought actual consideration, of course it entered my mind that most any other man I married would be able to give me a biological child. And then enteredguilt. How could I ever have such thoughts? How could I ever think of leaving this wonderful man? I think the truth is that these are all natural thoughts and feelings that are coupled in with the grieving and coping that goes on. I would certainly imagine that some couples don’t make it through this phase, but thankfully this trial in our life showed us just how much we sincerely love one another. Jason could have said that if he couldn’t have his own biological children then he didn’t want to have any children. I could have said that I couldn’t stay with someone who couldn’t give me “my dreams.” Instead we were willing to make sacrifices in order to be together.

From the moment we learned we were infertile I started having bizarre thoughts (that again, I think a lot of women go through). Thoughts like, “Maybe we could ask Friend A to be a donor? Or perhaps Friend B? Jason doesn’t have any brothers, so that option is out, but I have a brother. Of course my brother can’t be a donor, but perhaps we could ask Jason’s sister for an egg and my brother for some sperm and then at least the child would be biologically related to both of us! But then comes the issue of family get-togethers. Would that be awkward? Would they be looking at my child thinking to themselves that it is their child?” I very seriously considered these things. I imagined how the different conversations would play out with various people. I researched what a friend would have to go through in order to be a donor. Ultimately I never would have had the guts to ask anyone I knew to be a donor. There were too many massive reasons not to ask and a very slim chance anyone I asked would actually say ‘yes.’

So after we saw the second urologist, Jason, watching the struggle I was going through giving up so many of my dreams, yet again started making his case for a anonymous sperm donor. Pointing out that I would be able to experience pregnancy. All the joys (and challenges) that come along with it and I would be able to experience birth and breastfeeding. He said that I would be biologically related to the child and that that is something he wanted. He brought up how much faster the process could go than adoption or any of our other options. And finally he ended with saying that we will just have a different kind of family than what we have always thought of, but that that is OK. We have so many options available to us. We could have the first child via donor, the second one could possibly be conceived using IVF, MICRO-TESE, and ICSI, and if not, we could have another via donor or perhaps we’ll be at a better point in our lives to adopt. Regardless, he felt very strongly about using donor sperm.

At this point I was feeling convinced but I felt it was time to weigh out the “cons.” The big question when deciding whether to use a donor is, “Do I tell my child and if so then when?” We started discussing it and I was surprised to learn that we felt the same way. We both thought that yes, we would tell our child and that we would raise the child with the knowledge from Day 1. It would just always be part of the birth story; the story of how s/he came into our lives. The the automatic next big question is, “If we’re going to be that open with our child then does that mean we are going to tell all of our family and friends?” Again, the answer was ‘yes,’ though this one I left up more to Jason because by telling all of our family and friends that our baby was conceived using a donor meant that we would be telling everyone that he is infertile. Which was another reason I had always felt hesitant about using a donor. I don’t know many men who would feel comfortable with the world having such private information about them. But he said he already realized that and that was fine with it. Therefore we agreed to complete openness and we started moving forward with finding a donor.

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