Posted by: katedaphne | January 30, 2008

The bridge

In my last post, I told about asking my sister if she would be an egg donor for us.  Not an easy thing to ask. But it was a cinch, compared to getting to the place where I ~could~ ask, where I ~wanted~ to ask.

Facing giving up the genetic link — I just typed “the” genetic link, but what I mean is “MY” genetic link — has been something that has, well, I don’t have words to say how big of a deal it is to me. I always knew it was, but until the failure of our fourth IVF last spring, I didn’t know how much,

That’s when it first dawned on me that I was probably never going to have a biological child. It wasn’t just being negative, and it wasn’t giving up. It was just the clear, cold recognition of a fact. One plus one equals two, Earth is the third planet from the sun, and I am not going to have a biological child.

The grief I felt was staggering. It was the grief of four failed IVFs heated by a fusion bomb and sent via Sputnik to the core of my soul.

It wasn’t just the death of a child. It was the death of my child, and my child’s child, and that child’s child, and all my grandchildren down the line, to infinity. Yesterday, I assumed they would exist, long after I was gone. And today, I knew they never would.

I’ve been grieving that since the day I realized it, every day. It’s an invisible boulder strapped to my back, it’s a thick black smoke that I labor to breathe through, it’s a pounding in my head when I try to sleep, a pit in my stomach when I awaken.

And every time someone tells me, “Genes don’t matter,” I want to punch them. It is so diminishing to be told something I care about doesn’t matter. It matters to me.

I’ve written about why genes matter to me in a previous post about adoption. It’s not that I wouldn’t love another baby. Any baby plopped in my arms would be a complete set of wonderfulness all its own. It’s the loss of this other thing that pains me, the connection to the past and to the future.

I’m sorry, but I. Want. That.

I don’t know why. And I frequently wish I didn’t, because life would sure be easier if I didn’t. I do believe in “mind over matter” but some things can’t be wished away.

So. We tried another IVF. And failed. Neither of us feels good about trying the same thing again. We’ve done every protocol, had all the tests, been to the best doctors in the world (for us).

So we are ready to move on. Okay, that’s a lie. We are not ready. We’ll never be ready. But he is accepting, and I am resigned.

But, wait. Maybe we can’t have a baby with me in him or her. But — maybe we can have a baby with my dad’s eyes or my mom’s smile. Maybe there is a way to gerry-rig this link rather than completely breaking it off.

My sister.

Someone told me siblings share about 70 percent of their genetic material. True or not, it doesn’t matter. Her stuff and my stuff come from the same place — our parents. Different branch, but the same tree. And my sister has a pretty good branch.

For whatever reason, breaking the link to the past has been the toughest part of this whole problem. My sister offers a way to keep it. Though my link to the future is severed, my family’s is preserved. And so is my husband’s.

It is enough to give me some hope back.

I don’t know if my sis will end up agreeing, I don’t know if the doctors will agree we are a good match to proceed, and I don’t know that it would work if we try.

But in agreeing even to consider it, my sis has given me a bridge to a different way to have a family. I typed “a” family. What I mean, of course, is “MY” family. And now that I’m on this bridge, I don’t see myself turning back. I’m not going to return to that side even if things don’t work out.

I hope they do work out, and I hope it works. Having a daughter with my sister’s eyes, my sister’s figure, or best of all, my sister’s heart, wouldn’t be a bad thing at all.



  1. Oh, another beautifully eloquent post from you! I tried and tried to “move on” and it was so unbelievably painful that I ended up convincing myself to do another cycle with my own eggs. Even though I know it has very little chance of succeeding, it was just easier to stop the pain of trying to move past that genetic link. Your post captures that pain so well. And I hope that your sister will consider it carefully, and will say yes so that you can have YOUR family and finally be done with this awful infertility stuff.

  2. How wonderful to be on that bridge! I know how important it is to have hope, without it, life is painful. Your sister is an amazing person.

  3. I admire your strength. I really do,



  4. Genes do matter! It still breaks my heart some days. Little things – like the small ridge on the back of my head that only some of us get but traces back generations. If I could have had my sister’s eggs, I could have ignored it all. I would have considered it my genes – because it is close enough.

    I really hope she will help you out and you are spared the grief of never having your genetic child or grandchild

  5. What a wonderful post. I wish I had a sister like yours. The DNA match is more than 70%, for sure!!


    PS: I am trying my own blog. I’m not sure how to share it, but here is the link:

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