There are two parts of the answer to this question. The first would be when your RE tells you that egg donation is your best choice for achieving a pregnancy. The second part is when you are emotionally ready to actually pursue finding an egg donor.
The physical/medical decision that egg donation is the best option for pregnancy usually comes after repeated attempts to become pregnant, both on your own and through fertility treatment. Most woman need an egg donor due to diminished ovarian reserve regardless of the women’s age but in most cases the woman will be over the age of 37 and often in her 40s. Once a woman is in this age range she has only a 10% chance, or less, of conceiving with her own eggs according to the fertility clock offered by the website, My Future Baby.
Yet, many woman are lulled into complacency by the fact that they are still menstruating and they see celebrities having babies well beyond 40 and assume that they will also be able to have a baby easily beyond their mid thirties. That is why it can be is such a rude awakening for many women when they are told by their fertility specialist (reproductive endocrinologist or RE) that they should consider a donor egg. With such disappointment, I have seen many couples leave that RE and seek the advice of another. Technology is wonderful and amazing strides have been made to help woman to have children beyond their normal reproductive years but this is usually accomplished through donor egg when one is beyond 40.
This brings us to part two which is really the most difficult hurdle of all: being emotionally ready to choose an egg donor. One of my recent clients put it very well, “I am so tired of people sugar coating the egg “donor” option and trying to imply that I’m crazy not to be thrilled at the notion of having to resort to buying an egg to have a child. Just because a crippled patient is grateful to have the option of using a wheelchair does not mean that the patient equates it to the joy of walking.” I understand her feelings. One cannot move on to using an donor egg until she and her partner have allowed themselves the opportunity to mourn the loss of their biological child. Only time can begin to heal this wound. Even then one can’t expect to never feel the pangs of longing for what has been lost. The pain may diminish over time but it may not completely go away.
I have found that for some couples it may take only six months to overcome the disappointment of not being able to use their own eggs. But for many, it may take a year to a year and a half to reach acceptance. At that point, you can start looking at donor profiles without crying or being furious with the world that this is your “best” option. This is when you really have gotten to the other side and can view egg donation as your chance to become a parent and can be excited about finally being able to build the family you have been longing for.
No matter how your child is conceived, it is the opportunity to build a wonderful, loving family, even if you already have one child that is biologically related to you and must use a donor to have a second or third child. Another one of my former clients had this to say about having a child via egg donation: “I can with 200% certainty tell anyone hesitant about using a donor that once your baby is born, because it has grown in your body, that baby is ALL yours. We are so grateful for our miracle baby and I regularly say prayers and offer thanks to our donor. I will probably never meet our donor, but I will forever be eternally grateful for her gift to us. She gave us the seed to grow our daughter, but it was my soil that grew her. She’s our daughter in every way.”