Carmen Martinez Jover
Fertility Coach , Carmen Martinez Jover
Donor Eggs, Emotions and Support
It’s upsetting and heart-breaking when couples realise that something so perceivably simple, as a sperm meeting an egg and continuing to grow, refuses to happen, even with the aid of medical science.Whilst the use of donated eggs can provide an increased chance of pregnancy the choice isn’t always an easy one to make. Selecting a donor may be linked to a sense of grief, surrounding a woman’s own fertility, and can create additional stress and sorrow, as well as feelings of excitement and hope; it’s easy to see why infertility is often described as an emotional roller coaster.
Carmen herself was unable to conceive and, as egg donation wasn’t an option when she was trying for her family, she adopted.Alongside the physical journey, Carmen also describes infertility as an inner journey too; one which forces individuals to learn more about themselves in order to become the parents they were meant to be. Research has shown that the parents of medically conceived children create an extremely positive and caring upbringing. For couples who get that positive pregnancy test result, following donor egg IVF, it will often feel like a dream come true. Holding a baby, who has been so difficult to have, is an immensely happy moment. Carmen explains it’s therefore perfectly understandable that new parents won’t necessarily want to spend their time thinking about how to discuss the intricacies of egg donation with their miracle child. After everything they have gone through, to reach this moment, parents don’t want to take away any joy or, further down the line, upset their child’s happiness, self-esteem and confidence. These days, modern families regularly come in many differing forms having been created in a whole range of ways. IVF and/or ICSI are more common than ever and, if it’s not an egg donation conception, couples or single mothers could just as easily have used a sperm donor, or even a donated embryo.
Carmen advises that parents should feel proud of how their family was formed and proud of their journey to conception.In order to be more relaxed when talking about donor conception, she believes that couples need to focus on fully accepting the situation themselves; if parents are wholly comfortable with the way they conceived, then the child will be too. For anyone struggling with this aspect then external support and help is readily available.
From her own experience, Carmen found that it also helped to properly look at other families. When she did, she discovered that even biologically conceived offspring do not always look like their parents or share the same interests, hobbies, likes or dislikes.She was able to find great peace in understanding that those things all cease to matter in the end, choosing to remember that the ‘how’ wasn’t important, but the fact she had become a mother was. As knowledge in assisted reproduction has increased, so too has research into cells and genes. Epigenetics is a new type of science which is challenging the way scientists think about the body’s heritable phenotype changes. Phenotypes are the observable characteristics of an individual and epigenetics studies changes which are caused by a modification of gene expression, rather than the alteration of the genetic code itself. Put simply, whilst an individual’s DNA sequencing cannot be altered, it is now recognised that the environment, and more specifically an individual’s perception of the environment, can affect cellular and physiological phenotypic traits. Based on these studies, Carmen states that the most important thing parents need to understand is that, rather than how a child was conceived, it is the actions of the parents which will eventually form the child’s own beliefs and behaviours. For further reading, she suggests; The Biology of Belief by Bruce Lipton. Carmen also recommends that all parents of donor conceived children read the works of Susan Golombok. Susan is a Professor of Psychology and a leading authority on the effects of non-traditional families and children’s development. She has been researching for the past four decades and has concluded that donor conceived families are absolutely no different to any others out there.
There are numerous books, aimed at pre-school children, and beyond, to teach them about donor conception. Carmen, herself, has also written many, some which can be personalised with parents’ and children’s names, making the story even more unique and relatable.