My twins are 2 now – 27 months old to be exact. Since they were conceived I’ve been thinking/debating/rehearsing what to tell them about their genetic origins. I’ve read some literature and talked to some people and done a whole lot of thinking. I know that it’s better to tell them sooner rather than later so that they grow up with this knowledge rather than springing it on them when they’re older because that can erode their sense of self and stability. But how young is too young? And what do you say? In this, as with most things it seems, I’ve gone with my gut and just taken the plunge.
It happened accidentally a few months back. They had just switched from cribs to toddler beds and that wasn’t working out AT ALL. So we moved them to mattresses on the floor which they really loved. At bed time I would come and lay down between their mattresses and hold their hands and sing them songs. One night I was singing “Sunshine” and holding their tiny, plump little hands in mine and I had an overwhelming feeling of gratitude for the donor (this happens pretty regularly). But this particular night I was feeling particularly loved and secure and so I just started talking to them about it. I started telling them the story. I told them how mommy and daddy wanted a baby so badly but the doctor told mommy all her eggs were broken so she couldn’t have a baby. And mommy was so sad she cried and cried. And how a nice lady let mommy use some of her eggs to make a baby, because the nice lady had extra eggs and it’s nice to share. And mommy was able to have not just one baby but TWO babies! And mommy and daddy were so, so happy to finally have their little babies. And those little babies are you!
I’ve told them some version of this story once or twice or week now since then. Sometimes they’ll ask for the story – “Mommy lady story, k?” and they’ll break in at different parts. Whenever I talk about how sad I was R pats my face and says “OH NO! No sad mama! Lady share.” and they both clap when I tell them that we were so happy to have TWO babies. At the end Z always says “Yay! More story.” To them it’s just another story. But to me, it’s acceptance. It’s gone a long way towards allowing me to accept my decision to use donor eggs and to feel secure in my role as their mother. And I feel like they will grow up with this being a part of who they are. To them their conception story is a soft, warm, safe part of bedtime, and I hope that those feelings of love and security will endure. I hope that the part that sticks with them is that we desperately wanted them, that people in the world are good and are willing to help and to share, and that having them made us happy and complete.
I know that the story is going to have to change as they get older. I know that they’re going to have questions and that it will all get exponentially more complicated. But I feel confident that we have laid a good foundation of openness and trust. And that makes me “so, so happy”.