I made it to 33 weeks before Finnegan arrived. He was born folded and twisted like a street cart pretzel, with knee, hip and elbow dislocations. He was born with lungs so weak he needed the help of machines to breathe for nearly two months. But he was born. And as I stared down at him in the NICU, noting his similarities to me — the blue eyes, the brown hair, the upturned nose that got me called Miss Piggy as a kid — I wondered: If Finnegan and I were out together someday and we saw kids who shared our same constellation of features, would I notice? Or, having been mixed with some unknown Y-chromosome, would my egg donor children be unrecognizable even to me?
Recently, I listened to a podcast about the children of a serial sperm donor. Each of them innocently submitted swabs to 23andMe, expecting to find out what part of the world they were from and what diseases they were susceptible to. Instead, they discovered they had dozens of donor siblings (or “diblings,” as they called each other). This floored me. I’d never imagined there would be a line — traceable and discoverable for a mere $199 — from Finnegan to the children who might have been born from the eggs I sold. The cloak of anonymity under which I donated my eggs couldn’t have predicted the rapid rise of consumer DNA tests. Which meant I couldn’t predict how the decision I made 10 years before Finnegan’s birth might reverberate for the rest of his life.
As Finnegan, now 2, gets healthy at home — ditching his medications, outgrowing his casts and walking on his own — I’ve begun to consider how Emmett and I will talk to him about his possible part-siblings someday. It’s forced me to question, after all these years, how I see my egg donation.
Was it a means to an end, simply a way to supplement my meager intern’s salary?
Was it the ultimate gift, making the dreams of would-be parents possible?
Was it the thing I’ll always suspect damaged my womb and endangered Finnegan’s life?
Or was it, as I imagined those revolving doors saying, the necessary precursor to everything in my life that I love? Not so much a revolving door as, to borrow a Gwyneth Paltrow rom-com metaphor, a sliding one?
Yes. Yes. Yes. And, yes.
And so, when we eventually tell Finnegan his birth story, it will be a story of circumstances, close calls, a fateful meet cute, and so much love. A story with at least one happily ever after. Or maybe as many as 29.
Justine Feron is a writer and advertising executive who lives in Brooklyn with her husband and son.