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Donor Egg Love

by Joyce McFadden

The most important woman in my life is a woman I only met for a couple of minutes.

My sweet daughter is 12 now, and I’m still so madly in love with her that several times each day I wish I could inhale her. I often think about the young woman known in my household as Angel Cate, whose egg made this child possible, and I send up little agnostic prayers of gratitude to whatever force in the universe brought her life to sit forever next to ours.

I went off birth control when I was 24 and gave birth when I was 33. They never did diagnose why my body didn’t work, but I spent that decade of my life building to a crescendo of desperation in trying to figure it out and fix it and have it be over, so I could meet my baby. I wasn’t then, nor am I now, a woman who’s naturally drawn to children. But I always knew I wanted a shot at living out the clean love I fantasized a mother might feel toward her child.

When we began sliding into infertility treatment, the science was new and labor intensive. Every stage of it, as it unfolded in my body and my marriage, demanded a physical diligence and a consuming emotional preoccupation that I thought at times would take me down. It strung together mercilessly, making us not believe we were in our third year of trying, then our fourth…well surely it’ll happen this cycle…yet there we were in our eighth year, then approaching our tenth. I stopped counting surgeries and procedures after the seventh in vitro. And still, 104 times, my period came. Each month, more hope rinsing out of my body.

As my chances of conceiving continued to fade, I spent a couple of those years reluctantly contemplating the idea of donor eggs, and weighing my ambivalence about carrying another woman’s baby against never having the chance to carry one at all. I’d grown up in a family in which there were always stop orders being placed on what was thought of as love, so I’d learned early on that genetic connections guarantee nothing, but that understanding wasn’t enough to disconnect me from wondering if I could love a baby that wasn’t my own.

Now, being on the other side of that decision, and living in the privilege of both loving and being loved by my daughter, I’m here writing this column as the proud mother of a donor egg baby.

There hasn’t been one moment of shame, secrecy or embarrassment. It’s been only the opposite. After all those years of trying to conceive, I am well aware of how lucky I am to feel this love. My friends and family have celebrated and shared in it, and whenever my daughter has chosen to tell her friends over the years, none of them has so much as batted an eye.

She is the greatest joy I will ever know. And the way she came into my life will stand as the most profound act of human kindness I will ever experience.

Joyce McFadden is a certified psychoanalyst with an MSW from Columbia University and five years of postgraduate training. She’s a faculty member, training analyst and clinical supervisor at the Training and Research Institute for Self Psychology, and author of the ongoing anonymous web-based Women’s Realities Study. A featured writer for the Huffington Post, and faculty member of the Woodhull Institute for Ethical Leadership, she writes and speaks on issues affecting women and girls. She’s been practicing for over 20 years and has offices in Manhattan and East Hampton, NY.

All women are welcome to participate in her Women’s Realities Study which collects narratives of the realities of women’s lives, kept in their own words. To participate visit

A modern love story.

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