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Pregnant, Donor Oocyte Recipient Women Describe Their Lived Experience of Establishing the “Family Lexicon”


  • Patricia E. Hershberger

    Corresponding author
    1. Patricia E. Hershberger, PhD, APRN, BC, FNP, is a postdoctoral research fellow at the School of Nursing, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
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Address for correspondence: Patricia E. Hershberger, PhD, APRN, BC, FNP, School of Nursing, University of Michigan,, 400 North Ingalls, Room 2224, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-0482. E-mail:


Objective:  To describe the lived experience of pregnant women who used donor oocytes for conception.

Design:  Qualitative, using a descriptive phenomenologic approach.

Setting:  Interviews were completed at a location and setting selected by the participant. Of the 16 interviews, 13 were conducted at the participant’s home, 1 was conducted at a private office, and 2 were conducted by telephone.

Participants:  Eight women, between the ages of 33 and 46 years, were recruited at a large urban infertility center. The women were between 9 and 23 gestational weeks pregnant at the time of data collection. Each of the women participated in two open-ended, in-depth, audiotaped interviews and answered a demographic questionnaire.

Results:  Four themes emerged from the women’s description of their experience, which were (a) acknowledging the desire for motherhood, (b) accepting and coming to terms with donor oocytes as a way to achieve motherhood, (c) navigating an intense period of decision making, and (d) living with the lasting legacy of achieving motherhood through oocyte donation.

Conclusion:  Clinical practice can be improved by incorporating recognition, support, and communication of the experience to women contemplating or undergoing donor oocyte treatment. JOGNN, 2007. DOI: 10.1111/J.1552-6909.2007.00128.x