Sunday, December 26, 2010
But I'm still around.
Suffice it to say that our trip was amazing. Perfect in every way. Our tenth trip to the city in ten years--the best one yet!
Christmas with my parents was better than anticipated. It's amazing how your perspective and expectations change...I was thrilled beyond words that my Dad managed to stay in the living room while we opened gifts, and even exchanged two or three sentences with us. He actually asked us to show us what we were opening up which was remarkable. And he chose to eat at the table with us, rather than eating in his bed. It was a Christmas miracle indeed. If you'd asked me if I ever would have been ecstatic to have my Dad just say three sentences during a family celebration I would never have predicted it, but alas, it was true.
Changes are coming to the blog..this much I know. I just haven't decided in which direction to turn. I turned off anonymous comments which feels ok, but still doesn't feel like enough. Maybe I'm getting to the place where I don't need to be out there so much...I cycle through this emotion every now and again but this time it seems to be sticking around.
I hope everyone reading had the best possible holiday they could. I know it's an awfully hard time to be dealing with infertility, to have empty arms, less stockings to hang than you want, to ache for the babies that should be with you, to see blissful families bustling around you who will never know the pain of yearning for what they have so easily.... There are myriad ways to feel pain at the holidays, but also myriad ways to feel joy.
I hope all my IF buds felt some joy this holiday season, because you deserve it all in abundance.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Instead, I'm in my office, door closed, trying to stem the flow of tears so I can see patients all afternoon without looking red and puffy. Because a coworker brought her tiny newborn in today at lunch and she's a precious little five pound peanut all 100% perfection and marvel and wonder and someone said "You do it so well you should just keep making more!" and I had to sit and smile and swallow hard, so hard, and I thought I could keep it together but behind my closed door I just couldn't keep it together. And the three other pregnant coworkers who are due within the next month came in to oooh and aaah and I was trapped in the corner and couldn't even squeeze past the pregnant bellies to get away, to breathe.
I am not a warrior right now.
Sunday, December 5, 2010
Here's the thing: I've been running a lot lately. I'm enjoying long runs and so 3.2 miles was easy peasy. When we started E and I were keeping pace but B was falling behind. She wanted to walk. She told us to just go on, no reason to wait for her.
So we did.
After we ran the first mile and slogged through about 3 feet of muddy water on a different obstacle midway, we looked at each other and said: why are we not waiting for B? Hello? We're a team. (note: we weren't an official team, it's all individual but we agreed to race together).
So we waited. And waited. And waited.
When we saw B's tie-dyed shirt coming we screamed and screamed for her and her face just lit up to see we had waited. So we climbed over hay bales together, traversed cargo nets together, slid down muddy slopes together, at one point I offered to piggy back her for a while but she wouldn't let me.
I have this awesome picture of the three of us jumping through the fire obstacle and then crossing the finish line, together.
Our time was crap but it didn't matter.
Boy do I wish the 'race' to have children was the same. How I wish I had any control at all. How I wish that those of you who have sprinted past me (fertile and infertile) could just wait for me and maybe even piggyback me across the finish line.
But you can't. It doesn't work that way.
I know this intellectually but my heart can't seem to learn this, to accept this great disparity that exists between not only me and fertiles, but me and many infertiles as well.
But those words don't comfort me as much anymore. Because while it's true that we all run our own race, the simple truth is not everyone crosses the finish line. I get it loud and clear that fertility treatments don't work for everyone, though they have for many of the people I know who have pursued them multiple times. But I'm starting to get how adoption doesn't work for everyone either. And that sometimes you just can't find another way to cross that finish line.
People on the outside easily think there are so many options that of course everyone can--but if they were really honest and knew the facts they'd have to see that it just isn't the case. It would be like me telling my Dad he could have run the Warrior Dash with me if he just wanted it enough. That somehow he could manuever his wheelchair over a cargo net.
The holidays are coming. A mixture of pure pleasure and pain.
PS I really want to respond to some individual comments (hellooooo??? former IF now ET adopter...hellllooooooooo, we must talk....) but I have just felt so overwhelmed (note the lack of posting lately). But I'm not ignoring anyone, I promise....
Saturday, November 20, 2010
This past week or so has been so rough. I found myself in that dark dark place I have fought so hard against.
I have about six blog posts in draft, and none of them have made it here to the finished page. I re-read them and they're too...
The list goes on and on.
I woke up this morning and thought: today is the day I will end the blog. I don't even know what to say here some days, it seems like I'm just on repeat, I am so tired of the journey, so exhausted from the pain of the pursuit of parenthood, so tired of feeling like it will not happen, so tired of picturing two stockings yet a-freakin-gain this holiday, just so tired. Why write about it anymore?
I got an email from the lovely Sarang. And she told me to check out her blog, a blog I have followed for a while now after receiving an invitation to view it, long after she had been a super supporter here for me.
What commenced when I read her post was happy tears, happy tears--buckets of em!--ugly crying but in a happy way--you guys know the kind, right?
Her post was a virtual surprise party for me, complete with delicious MEGA desserts and loving messages of support and just...
I don't even know what to say. (and that says a lot! :) )
Thank you seems inadequate but it's all I have.
Thank you from down deep, in the darkest part of my heart that only you guys understand, but also the part that feels hopeful and renewed just knowing you are out there, that I really don't know where I would be without you all and just...
(off to cry some more happy tears--it is so nice to have some happy ones every now and again eh?)
Friday, November 12, 2010
I'm lucky, I guess. My car is pretty smashed but I'm OK. A few years ago my neighbor swerved to avoid hitting a deer, wound up knocked unconcious in a ditch until a stranger rescued her from her burning car. She needed skin grafts and surgery and thank God for that stranger. So yes, it could have been worse.
I found myself thinking "If only I hadn't run that tenth mile, I would have left sooner and I would not have hit that deer." Yes, I went on a longish run this morning and it felt great. It was split in two--five miles on the trail and five miles on the treadmill because of a rainstorm....and those wet slick streets made it harder to avoid the deer, too.
It's useless to think like that, the if onlys and what ifs. It leads down dangerous paths populated with thoughts like like "if I had just started trying earlier I wouldn't be here now' or 'what if we had done a sixth cycle--would that have been our magic one?'
We found out that Ethiopia has slowed down its adoptions/court dates tremendously. It figures. So far there have been nothing but negative changes since we joined up. Let me qualify that statement: the changes are ultimately good ones for the children which is obviously the most important thing, but tell that to my waiting heart. Five+ years of trying to become parents makes for an impatient heart indeed.
Mr. LC and I discussed that if the bottom falls out of the Ethiopian program (like it did with the Guatemalan program a few years ago, when it shut down completely) we will be done.
Childless. Childfree. Whatever the term. Just the two LCs and our pets.
We don't have anything left in the tank, we're on fumes. I can't even imagine starting over again.
One year ago we were back in Colorado, transferring the fab four. George, Jerry, Kramer and Elaine. And one of those guys at least made a bonafide effort to stick around in my twice-punctured uterus.
But yet here we are, a year later and we're just more tired. Excited and hopeful--naturally. But we're steeling ourselves for something major to happen with this program. Maybe it's all just rumors but really...I'd rather not even try to research because there is.nothing.I.can.do.about.it.
Tonight we'll work at the homeless shelter--always good for perspective. And then go out for some delish Indian food. That feels wrong--go out to eat after working at a homeless shelter? Thoughts?
And I'll be driving like a granny everywhere I go today....
Monday, November 8, 2010
Oh my students. They did run the gamut. And I did care about them--deeply.
I saw students who were poor--literally with dirt floors--I saw students who were rich--with two Lexuses in the driveway. I saw a student in an arranged marriage with her first cousin who was 40 years old and it still makes my skin crawl just typing that sentence. I saw two students who planned their pregnancies together and delivered within two weeks of each other. I saw one student who was twenty years old and still in the 10th grade, on her third baby.
Of course the beautiful thing at the time was I had no idea of my own precarious fertility. It was slipping away with every visit I made to each teen mom. It was sliding through my fingers as I consoled their crying newborns while they tried to take a test. It was declining while I scrambled to find them a carseat so they could take their baby home from the hospital, while I filled in as a Lamaze coach, while I stood knocking in the freezing cold only to learn the house I was visiting, where my student and her newborn lived, had been raided by the police the night before, nearly everyone arrested on drug charges. But I had no idea--the world 'infertile' wasn't in my vocabulary. I was there to teach, to listen, to hold, to help--to make a damned difference!-- and when I cried for their sad and seemingly impossible situations I am grateful now that I had no idea what loomed ahead for me, for my sad and seemingly impossible situation, or I would surely have come apart at the seams.
Life is full of irony, no?
Monday, November 1, 2010
I mean, who was I kidding? I was the grown up. Supposedly anyway.
She was just a kid. A teenager. A pregnant teenager.
She was fourteen years old. Fourteen?
What the hell? What was I doing when I was fourteen? I think I was still playing with Barbies. OK maybe not, but probably I still wanted to be playing with them. I was just starting the ninth grade. I was one of the younger kids in my class, scared and anxious and uncertain about starting high school.
I hadn't even been kissed.
I'd been on a couple of dates but they were ridiculous--to homecoming, to the Valentine's Dance--things were awkward and gawky and maybe there was hand-holding but not much else.
And now this girl--this fourteen year old--was pregnant? As in, she'd had sex? I could hardly get my mind around that, and it was a good thing I didn't know a whole lot more before going to the apartment for that first visit.
My boss has told me Katherine was special.
Mmmm, okay, special? What exactly did that mean?
Special meant special. As in, Forrest Gumpish. A little slow.
But sweet, most definitely sweet. That much I'd been assured.
It was my first official day on the job. Officially. I was a teacher but my job wasn't in any classroom. Unless you counted my trunk as my office and my kids' living rooms as the classroom. It sounded a lot better/cooler than teaching in any traditional classroom--during student teaching (OK let's be honest: during pre-student teaching) I knew teaching wasn't going to be for me. But I was young, married, finishing up college and didn't want to start all over. I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up. Did anyone? So I finished the degree, got the certificate, enrolled in graduate school in a different field but still needed a job and voila! this one fell into my lap.
Alternative school homebound teacher for pregnant and parenting students. Officially.
I imagined the stories I'd have! The rapt attention I'd get at parties as I talked about my students, the poor pregnant darlings I'd be entrusted with...I envisioned myself befriending them, saving them, opening up worlds for them, making their lives better.
Excuse me? Who was I kidding? I was barely older than they were with zilch in the way of life experience. I had nothing to offer other than a way to fill an official requirement to stay in school.
So Katherine was my first. And she was special.
I knocked on the door and despite my best intentions, I was most definitely nervous. My heart was beating hard, my armpits were damp with sweat. JoAnn, my boss, was already there, we'd arranged it that way. We were going to share the first visit--I was going to observe and see how things were done. JoAnn would transition out and then the next visit I'd be on my own.
At least that's how it was supposed to go down.
Katherine's mom answered the door. Lois, as I'd later learn her name to be--she certainly didn't introduce herself-- did not look delighted to see me, to say the least. She looked me up and down as I smiled nervously and thrust my hand forward.
"Hi!" I squeaked. "I'm Ashley!"
"Oh there she is!" JoAnn yelled out from across the room. She was sitting on the couch, all teachery. I felt such relief seeing her there, hearing her familiar sing-songy voice.
Lois moved aside with a grunt and I took that as my invitation to enter the apartment.
My eyes could scarcely take it all in. Sensory overload indeed.
Filth. Trash. Crap.
No surface was spared, it was equal opportunity disgustingness. The kitchen table was piled high with food and food items, empty fast food bags, half-eaten sandwiches, bags of chips--open. Dirty dishes, dirty utensils.
It was a dimly lit apartment and I saw two sagging couches in an L-shape formation with a long rectantgular battered coffeetable in front of one of them. A large older woman--later introduced to me as Katherine's grandmother (soon to be a great grandmother y'all!)--was sprawled out across one of the ratty sofas. JoAnn sat smiling on the other, and I was introduced to Katherine, who sat next to her.
My first official student, Katherine.
Her belly was enormous. Her t-shirt was stretched beyond it's limits and I'm sure I was staring. Katherine did not look at me but I took her in. She had long stringy hair and greasy skin. She wasn't pretty.
I couldn't help but think about her and some boy--the soon to be father--doing it. I swallowed.
"Hi Katherine!" I sounded like such an overenthusiastic idiot. A Pollyanna.
Katherine looked at me and gave a half-hearted smile. Lois had lumbered into the living room and squeezed herself onto the couch next to Katherine.
I stood there awkwardly, my bookbag on my arm.
JoAnn suddenly jumped up and started talking about how she was leaving.
Excuse me? Had I heard right? She was leaving? Me? There? Alone?
It seemed so. She had 'accidentally' made another appointment that was starting in, oh, five minutes so she had to head out. Accident my ass. She was ready to drop this student on me like a hot potato. But she'd left us with a video and an assignment to work on together so no big deal--her words. She kept nodding her head up and down, up and down, looking from Katherine to me and back again. I wasn't listening. I just kept thinking 'don't leave me here, please.'
But leave she did.
And I did stay.
After all, I was the teacher. This was my classroom.
And no one made room for me--the interloper--on the couch. Katherine had somehow filled up the space JoAnn had left when she got up and there was simply no room.
After standing there for what seemed like an eternity I sank down to my knees and placed my bookbag on the coffee table.
OK. I was the teacher. I could do this. The pregnant fourteen year old, her mother and her grandmother were not in charge of me. I was in charge. All twenty-one years of me.
I mumbled something to JoAnn and waved her away, annoyed once again at the fakeness of my own voice. Why couldn't I just sound like a normal human being?
And then I noticed them.
Small brown roaches, a few here, a few there, just skittering here and there across the floor, across the television, across the table.
It took every ounce of restraint I had in my every cell in my body not to scream, not to run out the door. To not have a major freakout. No one else noticed them, or if they did, they weren't bothered by them.
I was sickened. I fumbled through the lesson--which consisted of watching a newborn babycare video and answering some questions about it--a nice easy break-in first visit type lesson. More on that little activity later.
I just wanted to get out of there.
I just wanted to take a shower.
Monday, October 25, 2010
I'm here, I'm around. I'm trying to read and keep up and comment...I'm sorry if I've missed people. And I'm sorry I haven't responded to questions in comments--hi Angela! Hi new readers--Homesteaders, Aecusack--I always intend to go and respond to comments and then never do. Please don't give up on me.
We've been busy. Updating paperwork for the adoption--it seems our agency fired our Ethiopian attorney so whoops, we needed to do some updating in that regards. More authenticating of documents which means another trip to the Secretary of State's office. Today I will be dealing with USCIS because of our impending expiration of our federal fingerprints, oh dear. It's always something but that's ok. We just keep moving forward.
I dreamed the other night about my Dad.
In the dream he was smiling, wide and bright and even. Even. Not the one-sided smile that we rarely see anymore--he just doesn't show emotions.
And then suddenly he was standing there, in his running clothes. His old-school running shorts and one of his threadbare marathon running t-shirts.
He looked at me and said "Let's go! Who wants to go running?"
And he took off running.
And in my dream mind I was so proud of him, thinking, 'wow, my Dad is still running at age 72.'
I think--I hope-- that will be my Dad's heaven.
It has to be.
Endless even wide smiles and long runs with strong legs that carry and carry and carry him as far and long as he wants to run.
I try to imagine a world where there aren't disabling strokes and other devastating illnesses, where there is no infertility, where babies aren't taken too soon, and where there aren't beautiful innocent children in Ethiopia--millions of them--wondering why no one is choosing to be their family. Where there aren't children hurting and longing and aching for parents anywhere.
I can't stop strokes--though every day in my work I try. I can't cure infertility. I can't stop the unfairness of it all. But hopefully--God willing, the Ethiopian government willing, our Secretary of State willing, our federal fingerprints willing--hopefully....hopefully....
On a much lighter and sweeter note, another thing I can do while I wait, is make cakeballs. Wedding cake cakeballs to be precise (stolen, naturally, from Bakerella!).
Saturday, October 9, 2010
And by "this" I don't mean IF. I mean life.
This weekend is the enormous Austin City Limits Music Festival. Mr. LC and I lucked out in a major way and scored free three-day passes (they've been sold out for months and cost an arm and a leg) that also have all kinds of special access--backstage access, artist village access, free food and drink, and getting ferried around on golf carts rather than trudging around through the 'masses.' It's awesome I must say. Last night we saw Beach House and Spoon from the stage, and then Vampire Weekend. Super duper fun. We can go back today and tomorrow, rinse, lather, repeat.
(Spoon from balcony onstage)
I'm sure you remember me posting and linking to my good friend's blog, Little Wonderboy. He's two and a half and was recently diagnosed with autism. Today we will all don super hero attire and walk in his honor.
I should have posted the link to help raise money--but that's a funny thing to do in this space. I know many of you are struggling to pay enormous sums of money for the chance at a child, asking you to donate to another cause can be hard.
But when Megan's son was first diagnosed I felt at a loss--how to help? What to say? I don't have kids (you heard, right?) and so I simply cannot comprehend the enormity of the love a parent feels for a child. I think I have glimpses of it, but yet I know I just cannot know. And then to know your child will face challenges...well, that has to cut you to the quick and leave you breathless when you think of the future.
But we're not so different, are we?
I remember writing these words to her: "I may not know the specific pain you're feeling, but I do know what it's like to have your life go in an entirely different direction than you ever imagined. I know the feeling of being out of control, of life feeling profoundly unfair, I know pain."
We all know pain, unfortunately. And that bonds us together, unites us in our various fights and challenges.
Today we walk for autism.
Go Team WonderBoy!
PS If you're inclined, motivated, inspired to donate, they're still taking them!
Sunday, October 3, 2010
Saturday, October 2, 2010
First of all, anonymous, you must live a really charmed life to have never had moments of self-doubt.
Second of all, if you knew me at all, if you'd read my blog, or my previous blog, you'd know we always said we'd "have one adopt one" long long before we knew we had fertility issues. In fact, our reasoning for 'having one' first was so that no adopted child would ever feel they weren't enough. So no, this isn't a resort of the desperate. It just took a long twisting and turning road for us to realize we were going to end up skipping over the 'having one' part. But sometimes I still hurt, and I get scared, and I have doubts. Hmmmm, I guess I'm a human.
Thirdly, the fact that you used the verbage "You want your own" makes me wonder about you and your thoughts on adopted children. I don't think of my future adopted child as anything but my own. So yes, I do want my own, and she will be it.
Oh anonymous. You bring tears to my eyes. You don't understand stream of consciousness. Just because I said I am tired of reading doesn't mean I won't read. It doesn't mean I haven't already read. Do you think for a second we just woke up one day and decided to adopt? If so, you don't know much about it or the process. Duh. My words in the previous post don't mean I won't fight the hardest fight I can to make sure I do the very best I can for my child. And I can't fault you for knowing this because no one here does--but we have already made a pretty significant decision after doing much reading on transracial adoptions that impacts our adoption in a huge way. In a way that will be wonderful and hard, but is in the very best interest (as best as we can tell with our research and reading!) for that child. So please, quit being hateful.
I have tears in my eyes because if you intent was to hurt me, consider yourself successful and give yourself a pat on the back. Feel better about yourself? In my estimation, intent is the most important thing related to our actions. My intent is to become a mother. A good mother. My intent in yesterday's post was to share my fears because I think they're normal. I won't apologize for them. I can't. Denying feelings is far worse than acknowledging them and dealing with them.
I know I can handle tough situations. Try mentoring a kid with all kinds of problems for seven years. Try changing your own father's diapers. Try going through fertility treatments. Maybe you did all these things and more, how do I know? You hid behind the comfort of anonymous judgement.
And for the rest of you who offered gentle support, encouragement, and no judgement, thanks. I recently read the following and it resonated with me: I've been blessed with love both human and divine and I believe that there is no essential difference between them. Any person who acts out of love is acting for God. Thank you for allowing me to be human. Thank you for allowing me to have a moment or two of self-doubt. Thank you for knowing that writing any of that won't make me any less of a mother; that acknowledging some of my fears should in fact make me a better mother.
Your intent is obvious.
PS I did go for that run. 8.1 miles. Another 5 today. And today--if I wrote my stream of consciousness--it would be completely different. Because today I teared up when we were trail running, the mister and I, and we stopped by the creek, running beautiful and clear, and saw four Dad's dipping their little babies into the water. And my heart leapt--leapt!--when I visualized Mr. LC dipping our little one into that same creek some day. It was a beautiful vision, one I can only hope will come true.
Friday, October 1, 2010
I am scared. I know it's normal. I've read enough to know that.
What are we doing? This isn't like 'normal' parenting--anyone who says it is is deluding themselves. Anyone who says that love can conquer all is actually being silly and naive and it's frankly insulting. Do they realize? No, they don't realize. They just want to help. But I don't want it, thankyouverymuch. I know we chose this, right? There's the rub. We chose it. It chose us? I don't know. A few months ago I was more sure. When did this happen--the older I get the less sure I get? Seems a bit unfair...I was supposed to get more self-assured with every candle added to the birthday cake but um, no that isn't happening in this realm. What if we're making a big mistake? White parents/black baby/conservative suburbs? We should move. We have a five year plan. But then we have to get new jobs, new careers...I've worked hard for my career. Is it such a big deal? When I'm there it is, I feel like my job matters. When I'm away from it, maybe notsomuch in the grand scheme of things? Who knows anymore. Does anyone feel like they ever do enough, give enough, say enough, don't say enough, care enough, engage enough, disengage enough? Does anyone? We're all just hurtling through space on this great amazing planet that we're all destroying, bit by bit, some of us faster, some of us slower but we're all still destroying it. And yet did I just let the water run the full two minutes while I was brushing my damn teeth? I did indeed--add another layer of guilt. We tell ourselves by adopting we're doing the right thing, ecologically speaking, not making any more humans to destroy the planet but when did we get so eco-friendly? We chose not to do donor anything because we didn't want to have 'those' talks but come on, didn't we all fear when we were growing up that we were secretly adopted? Did we fear it? Or sometimes wish it was true? Those days we simply could not stand our families, those days that everything they did, said, stood for, looked like, ate, breathed--it was all wrong wrong wrong. I had those days, many of them. I didn't want to be connected to those people in any way shape or form. But no, I never really hoped to find out I was adopted. I have no idea what that would feel like, how can I? So my kid--yeah, she'll know. She can't not know. She'll look too different from us. So there won't be any big moment of announcement, but there will be a moment of realization. Realization, when she's old enough and wise enough and smart enough to know what it all means--and she'll probably hate me for it just a little bit, if not a whole, whole lot. That's going to be a fun time, eh? Yes we chose this. We did in the strictest sense....we didn't choose to have fucked up gametes and to waste four precious years of our lives pursuing mad science-esque treatments and spending all our money and losing our religion and coming apart at the seams only to stitch ourselves back together and come apart yet again but in the stricted sense yes we chose that too. Sometimes I'm ashamed of it, sometimes I'm amazed by it, and sometimes I'm just raw over it. Maybe now I'm just numb to it. We didn't choose donor because I couldn't imagine those moments of realization either. Do people without fertility problems realize realize realize for even a nanosecond how lucky they are that they don't have to contemplate these moments of realization and understanding? I'm told to read--read read read--to prepare but can I just say that I'm tired? Exhausted even? That I am not inclined to read read read anymore. I spent four years read read reading about drug therapy and experimental protocols and egg quality and supplements and gonadatropins (speaking of gonadatropins I keep learning of more people who did multiple IVFs and now have breast cancer and frankly I'm doubting every doctor who told me these drugs were safe and that's one more thing to think about and worry about and what the fuck did I do to myself anyway??) and I'm sick of reading. Except for pleasure that is. But then I feel guilty. Like my child will be harmed because I haven't read enough because God knows I'm smart enough to know love isn't enough. Oh but I'm sick of reading and I'm sick of feeling guilty and really right now all we want to do is enjoy the two of us and not think about the adoption because it's really just too abstract. But I'm anal retentive and don't want to be unprepared or behind. And we're having such a great time right now--that oppressive boulder of endless treatments is lifted off my chest and by God! I can breathe again--and maybe we are making a mistake? Ruining this perfectly good life? If it was just the two of us we could do more for the planet, more for society--we could volunteer more. Selfishly we could travel. We could see things, do things, live an amazing life. Sometimes all I want to do is bake and cook and watch Project Runway and read for pleasure. Would we feel guilty? Would we feel empty the older we got? How do you live a life hedging your bets against future regrets? Seems impossible doesn't it? But yet that's what we're doing in some small way. I think I think too much, but when your life starts running away from you you tend to overthink things.
Man oh man oh man oh man oh man.
I'm going to stop now. It's time to go for a run. I'm going to Glide up, and go for A Very Long Run.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
I survived the weekend.
Actually, there were some good times. I find that I actually enjoy riding the tractor pulling the finish mower mowing acre after acre. It's therapeutic. My parent's property is beautiful. The weather was spectacular. I also had the occasion to use an old fashioned cross-cut saw. If anyone is looking for a good workout, then I'd suggest cutting down a few trees using one of these tools...Mr. LC and I make quite a good cross-cut team. I know I need to enjoy these times out there as my Mom can't keep this property forever. It's simply too much to handle.
My Mom...ahhhh...we did OK. Of course, I was on a tractor for many hours, then she went to a birthday party and a wedding on the afternoon/evening I was there...so our face to face time was limited. I didn't mention the adoption once and she didn't ask. So yesterday I sent her an email articulating why, at least to the best of my ability. Interestingly enough, she hasn't mentioned the email nor replied to it. Who knows.
My Dad....I will tell you that there were some good moments--a few minutes doing the crossword puzzle together, about an hour of watching the UT football game (well, he can't really see but he sat with me with his eyes closed, listening) but most of the weekend he slept. Did I ever tell you just how badly his brain was injured in the stroke? His entire right brain--and I am not exaggerating as I saw the MRI--is gone. Starved of its blood supply that critical morning when a massive clot decided to lodge in a mission critical portion of his mid-cerebral artery...it has simply died. And while the brain has a pretty fantastic ability to recover and rewire, you cannot overcome a deficit like that. Emotions are flat, at best, short term memory is awful. My Dad didn't ask one question about me, my life, the adoption...he simply cannot think like that anymore. He needs a lot of sleep. I'm glad he can escape into sleep.
He's still my Dad.
Did I mention that I had some bloodwork done and I carry a pretty awful genetic mutation that puts me in line for a potentially similar vascular fate? Ummmm, yeah. Not a good thing indeed. Sometimes being in the field I'm in is scary scary. Having access to some of the genetic tests is also scary. I'm going tonight to hear a leading expert on this topic...to help my patients better, to help me. So while I do mourn the loss of my genetic connection to my child, at least I know I won't be passing this on.
It's something I guess.
I have so many posts in my head about this adoption...about my fears, about breastmilk--yes, you read that right, about transracial stuff, so so many things. I'm scared to write it down sometime. Strange, coming from me, huh?
Right now the wait times are just extending. We're not counting on anything anymore. We thought for sure we'd be traveling before the holidays but there's no way that is going to happen. I know where we are on a wait list and it would take a miracle to move us along that quickly. So instead we bought some airline tickets to our favorite destination and that gives us a trip--not THE trip-to focus on. We need some levity!
Our just some more cross-cut sawing :)
Thursday, September 23, 2010
I miss my Dad. I need to see him.
So why am I dreading this visit so much?
And why haven't I learned my lesson? That family is precious. That they can be snatched away from you in a millisecond and that you can never, ever go back.
I try to remind myself about that and cherish my Mother.
But instead, she drives me crazy many days. She doesn't understand why I don't talk about the adoption. She thinks I'm over my infertility. She doesn't think it could be hurtful to tell me about my 40 year old cousin's oops baby. I get irritated with her.
The other day I dreamed I was yelling at her--full on screaming--as we went through forms that were related to our adoption. She was crying and I just kept on yelling. I woke up feeling like a horrible, horrible daughter.
I want to keep such a positive enlightened perspective. That time spent at home helping my Mom out, sitting with my Dad, doing whatever with them is a precious and lucky thing.
But instead all week I've been dreading going. Dreading the drive. Dreading giving up my weekend. And then I feel guilty.
I know in some ways I'm just scared. Scared to see my Dad again. It's amazing how shocked I can feel each and every time I walk into his bedroom and see his shrunken, frail body in the hospital bed. You'd think I'd be used to it now.
You'd think I wouldn't get teary starting up his tractor mowing his grass playing with his dog watching his television driving his Gator...all without him.
But I do.
You'd think I could cut my Mom more slack. But sometimes I think she forgets that that is my father wasting away in the back bedroom of their home. She probably thinks I forget that it is her husband. I think she forgets that I'm still sad--devastatingly sad some days--over the loss of that wacky little kid I know Mr. LC and I would have created together. That I'm sad that my child will not know my Dad in a very meaningful way, if at all. Infertility is a forbidden topic now. Been there, done that.
Families are so complicated. Mother/daughter relationships are so complicated. I laugh--bitterly--when I think about how hard I am fighting to have a child of my own have such a fiercely complicated relationship with me one day.
To resent me and love me and be annoyed by me all in the same breath.
But I guess it's what we're all fighting for, huh?
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
But I have been having fun lately.
Running, lots of running. 9 miles here, 7.5 miles there, 10 miles there. I lost another toenail but hey, it's what lotsa running does to me.
On Friday night, the mister and I went and marched and danced with a crazy marching band that was performing in the streets at 10:30 at night, marching from moonlight tower to moonlight tower in Austin. OK, so we only made it to two towers (the mister is still in a boot cast for his ankle) but it was pure happiness. I wasn't in pursuit, I was in it. It was so much fun watching people come out of their houses to see the impromptu parade in the darkness! Only in Austin, right?
The other day I was in my garage and I spotted a beetle. A giant one. He was on his back. I felt guilty because I didn't help him flip over but my hands were full and I was late for an event, yadda.
When I got home, that beetle was still there.
I walked over to him and flipped him over.
He immediately rolled back onto his back, legs clawing at the air.
I flipped him over again.
He would not stay righted.
I immediately had the following thought: how many times was I like that beetle, helplessly and hopelessly flailing my arms and legs, unable to right myself?
How many times did someone--God? the universe? --try to flip me over, help me back onto my feet? And how many times did I immediately flip back over?
Oh little beetle--are you and I so alike? In the throes of my treatment I didn't know much else besides flailing and feeling hopelessly out of control, clawing at the air.
I finally decided that this particular beetle must have been injured--beyond repair--so that he simply couldn't stay upright. He'd been on his back far too long.
I sometimes think how dangerously close I came to not being able to be righted again.
But here I am, upright, dancing and marching under the magical moonlight towers.
Friday, September 10, 2010
I recently added a link to our IVF video to this blog. Obviously I had posted it in the past but never could quite get around to having it as a link on my main blog page. But I think it's important. It tells a story in three minutes and twelve seconds that is hard to express in words. Of course, it really only scratches the surface, set to the sounds of the upbeat ELO "Hold on Tight To Your Dreams," and mostly shows us being goofy through the grueling IVF procedures--minus the one BFN call. We either didn't record or edited out the most painful parts, because really? Who wants to see me comatose on the couch with a t-shirt soaked with tears and snot? Or how about sobbing hysterically on my kitchen floor, after collapsing, defeated by a fertilization report? Oh yeah--we can't forget the near hyperventilization-level sobbing in the restaraunt at CC.R.M. IVF#1 (overall IVF #4) w hen we got that fertilization report. Um, those wouldn't have exactly gone with the music, no?
I rewatched that video for the first time in a long time recently.
Oh the heart clench moment...when Mr. LC donned his surgical green scrubs the first time and was smoothing them down with a smile. Do you see the hope on his face? Do you see the excitement? It is palpable to me when I watch that moment. God that section of the video grabs around my heart and squeezes so hard I nearly have to close my eyes.
There isn't much worse than knowing the one person you love more than anyone else in the world is hurting. Oh wait--there is something worse--and that's knowing you did all you could and still couldn't do a damn thing about it.
But no, I can't close my eyes at that part. Because that is the face that took me through this journey--he never wavered, just supported, loved, gave shots, went to appointments, held my hand, showed up, wrote checks, laughed and joked and danced around in surgical booties to keep me from losing it--that's the face. That is the face that gets it. Deep down in his soul--he gets it.
That is the face that will continue to get it through the craptastic parts of the journey we're on now.
I'm glad we made that video. I'm glad I have a visual documentation of this part of my life...because otherwise, I might not have believed it, or remembered it accurately. I don't watch it often--maybe once every few months--and some might wonder why watch it at all? I guess it's part of trying to heal. I'm sure if I poked around on YouTube I'd find many more documented journeys of IF...but I have a feeling most of them have a happier ending and that's not going to do me much good. Our story is what it is...we did not beat infertility in the strictest sense. But it's our story, and that face--that face--heart clench or not, I love that face.
Sunday, September 5, 2010
So as completely and utterly selfish as this sounds, we tend to stretch our birthday celebrations into weeklong celebrations...and mine has encompassed this nice long holiday weekend. Lucky me!
As embarrassed as I am to admit this, I have never had an MP3 player. Until now! Yee haw I have joined the twenty-first century. This morning the Mister helped me download some songs and build up a workout mix. He was mortified by some of my picks but what can I say--I was born in 1974 so I have a few late 80s and early to mid 90s loves. So there. And you know what else? Debbie Gibson shares my birthday and sometimes when I clean my house I turn on her greatest hits CD. Ha.
I am also joining the twenty-first century and getting a smart phone. I have mixed emotions about this--I resisted a basic cell phone for years and now sorta can't think about living without one....and people keep texting me and I can't text back and it's really pitiful. I'm waiting another few weeks until my plan expires so at least I can get a semi-good deal.
I have been mega-running lately. Friday I ran 10 miles. Saturday 6.5. Today 7 (whilst listening to my new MP3 player--yippee!). Right.this.very.second my right foot is submerged in a bucket of ice water because of the damage said runs inflicted on my right ankle and one of my toenails. Back to the MP3 player--I had to seriously stop myself from busting out into dancing mid-run a few times. That would have been pretty.
Thanks to Larisa, I no longer get mega blisters when I do those mega runs. Thank you a million times over for turning me on to Glide. Also--no more sports bra marks, which are always such a beautiful thing in the summer.
A gift certificate to Gordoughs from Stacey as part of my birthday treats! Gordoughs are gourmet donuts and they are--generally--heaven. See why I run?
A nice long chat with Gail, my NJ sister.
The acquisition of a free Arco mid-century modern lamp (Castiglioni style). I have not stopped talking about this lamp since we got it (did I mention it was free?), the mister re-wired it, we cleaned it up, and now it sits in our living room. It's huge and beautiful and has a 150+ pound solid marble base that was a joy to move. We saw many reproductions of these lamps when we were in NYC last time and started lusting after them but even the reproductions cost $500 and up and then boom! this one lands in our laps for free. Maybe there is something to the Secret after all!
Just kidding. But I do love that lamp.
On my actual birthday, the Mister brought me one of those Gordoughs but it was just a not-so-great flavor (that I picked). I ate three bites before deciding it was simply not worth it. I plan on making a revisit very soon and am salivating just thinking about those damned gourmet donuts.
Watching MadMen (not a loss at all, only this part) and seeing Trudy and Pete finally get pregnant after being infertile for a few years/seasons. They reacted every bit the way I always would have pictured the mister and I had we finally succeeded. OK, jealous of fictional TV characters? New low for the LC.
I really can't call this a loss yet. But-- I received a text from the wife of our former little brother, whom I have talked about here previously. I'm semi-sorta scared to contact her back...the text was fairly neutral...but what if she's contacting us to tell us they're on to their third? Ack. Only time will tell.
I hate to admit this seeing as how you internets are under the impression that I'm a master baker (you guys know I only post the photos of the pretty work, right?) but I had one helluva an epic fail in the bread baking department. I had six perfect loaves rising in the oven while we were out running errands, and I was all ready to bake them and share them with friends. So imagine my horror when I opened the oven prior to turning it on to find the following:
I don't know what happened. All I know is that it sucked and there was yeasty running dough everywhere. It was a pleasure to run the self-cleaning oven when it was 90+ degrees outside. Yowza.
Thursday, September 2, 2010
I've developed a special relationship with birthdays over the past few years. Not just because I've cruised through my early 30s and now am well established in my mid 30s (Tuesday was the charming and alarming numero 36) but because we've been trying to build a family for over five years now. So every birthday is met with complicated emotions, much more complicated than just "oh crap I'm getting older." You know the drill--that familiar ache of "oh crap another year older and still no family." I remember turning 31--my friend Bea called it my "Golden Birthday" because I was turning 31 on the 31st. A group of us went out to dinner to celebrate and I can look at the pictures and actually see the angst in my face--I was turning 31 dammit and I wasn't pregnant yet!
If I could go back and talk to that young lass I would tell her to buckle her seatbelt because it was going to be one helluva ride for the next five years. If I was feeling particularly cruel I would whisper in her ear that when she turned 36 she really wouldn't be a whole lot closer to having that family she had dreamed of for so long.
You could say I'm closer but I'm a realist. Until I have a child in my arms I'm simply not close--not close enough anyway. At all. Wait times are extending longer and longer for Ethiopian adoptions...I see it all around me. Families that have been waiting far longer than we have are still waiting...families who have received referrals are waiting much much longer for court dates. They've added a second trip requirement which extends everything and of course makes things much more expensive. (and did you see where airlines are probably going to start requiring tickets for kids under 2. Oh, thankyouvermuch, add another 3,000 to our cost).
It's a good thing there isn't such a thing as time travel because if I had met my 36 year old self when I was a fresh-faced naive 31 year old and I told her about the next five years surely I would have punched her (me?) square in the jaw. More than likely I would have laughed and simply not believed her (me). Because really--who can believe some of the shit we put ourselves through? And who could believe anyone would willingly keep going back for more?
I received a lovely email from a fellow IFer who said the following:
"I sincerely hope, wish, dream that this is the year of your life you create your family."
Oh me too. So, so much. I hope this is the year for the rest of of you still in this Godforsaken limbo too. All of us, it's time to cross over.
Thursday, August 26, 2010
I think most of you got what I was trying to articulate in my previous post, but just in case...the finer points:
1) I did not say that all multiple pregnancies are super high risk, but there is no doubt in the medical literature that they are riskier than singleton pregnancies. From the March of Dimes: "More than half of twins and nearly all triplets are born prematurely, associated with an increased risk of death and disability."
2) While CC.R.M. will obviously say that multiples are not their goal, and their literature will say as much, they do push beyond the recommended guidelines...and they're not unique in this. I'd say many (most?) REs do. And they can, because who's going to call them out on it? The patients who are desperate to succeed? The insurance companies that don't cover this stuff for the most part anyway? It's largely unregulated.
3) I totally understand transferring more than the recommended number of embryos--which is why I mentioned I did it myself. For so many reasons--emotional, financial, physical--we try to limit the number of times we go through IVF. IVF sucks. If you haven't been through it--even once--you really have no idea. No way around that.
4) No one knew those twins were conceived by IVF, so my other coworker's "it's not fair" comment was not reacting to anything A.R.T. related, but other things, which I just cannot mention here.
5) I simply think that if IVF were covered, it would be much easier to elect to transfer a single embryo at a time when that is appropriate. The current recommendations are as follows:
One embryo woman under 35 with good prognosis, max embryos two. With less favorable prognosis--max three. So see? Right there I went against guidelines two times.
6) I also don't think IVF should just be covered for everyone carte blanche...there would have to be guidlines there as well.
But none of this matters to me anymore.
I'm out of the A.R.T. game. I like to say I'm in recovery. But I still sat in my office and cried on Wednesday when the lunchroom talk yet again went to the fact that we have eight pregnant women in our smallish office...and that it's "most definitely in the water". Which then elicited all kinds of responses from women who couldn't--apparently--imagine anything worse than another pregnancy. Someone found a pregnancy test in the bathroom and everyone was trying to guess to whom it belonged. At one point they were going around the room.
What would I say when they got to me?
Be the spoiled sport and say "I'm infertile. As much as I'd love it to be mine it's not and it never will be?"
Just smile and shake my head?
Burst into tears?
Luckily it died out before it got to me. My one blessed coworker who has held my hand through the worst of the past few years leaned over next to me and asked if I was ok. I nodded. And then went back to my office and sobbed.
I sat at my desk and felt so completely out of control. I have no control in the adoption. All I can do is just sit here and hope for the best. I cried for a woman on the other side of the world who is pregnant now, with a child I hope to raise, which feels wrong on so many levels, and I cried because she may be hungry, or may be sick, or stressed, and no one is rubbing her belly and asking her about names and no one is asking to see her ultrasound photos and I have no part in any of it. I can't help her. I can't control anything. All I can do is be left out of the goddamned lunchroom talk yet again. Most everyone knows about my adoption but I'm never "counted" in the expecting woman count. There's the eight pregnant women and there's me, LastChance, on the outs again. I guess I always will be huh?
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Yesterday I bit my tongue so hard I nearly bit it off, but I did it. And with a smile.
A patient of mine, who is an executive in health care, was in for a cardiac screening test. After I went over her results, we started talking about insurance and coverage of preventive health testing. Blah blah blah.
Then she said IT.
She said, and I quote: "Now what is really ridiculous is coverage of...what do you call it? People having babies? No, not people having babies, that's ok, but people who can't have babies and do to that...what do you call it? Insemin....artificial...in vitro....?"
I interrupted and said "In vitro fertilization?"
"Yes! That's it! They pay for that...ummmm, excuse me? I think that's insane. I refuse to pay for that!"
I could feel my face freeze in a ridiculous smile. I thought there must be a hidden camera somewhere in my office.
I managed to stammer: "Well I don't think many pay for it, actually."
Her reply: "Oh yes they do! And it's ridiculous."
I didn't say anything else. After all, she was my patient and if the conversation had continued, I likely would have decked her, called her out on her bad dye job and stupid 80's hairdo, and then been fired. How about a little compassion for those of us who aren't naturally fertile? Sheesh.
Which brings me to something else...and I am warning you, I am NOT judging anyone for selecting to transfer certain numbers of embryos...I'm just talking here.
Someone with whom I work had their first IVF recently. They are young and otherwise unexplained. They chose to transfer two very good quality blasts. They got pregnant with twins. Their twins were born way too early and have spent considerable time in the NICU. One has had multiple surgeries.
I heard another coworker talking about how we (my employer) will be dropped by our insurance company because this person's twins have bankrupted us. It's true, they probably have. I cannot imagine the cost of two babies in the NICU for several months. The coworker was saying that it's not fair.
Let's take a step backwards here.
Our insurance doesn't cover IVF. If they had, I can guaran-damn-tee you that couple would not have transferred two blasts. The doctors who recommended it was going against recommended guidelines. In medicine, guidelines are gold. They are the standard. I practice to guidelines every.single.day because they are based in science and research and outcomes studies.
But when you have zippo coverage for IVF, you take bigger risks and doctors allow it, encourage it even. You transfer more than might be the recommendation because you cannot afford--literally--to fail. It's understandable. We transferred four embryos on our last IVF and I was 34 years old. Granted, we were not a typical couple--we'd have four failures prior with nary a chemical, and our embryos weren't stellar. But even still, guidelines would say transfer no more than three. So I completely understand the need to transfer 'more than enough' just to be sure. Just to up the odds. Because I did it myself.
CC.R.M. has an unacceptable multiples rate. Multiples should never, ever be the goal. I am not saying all multiple pregnancies are doomed to be costly and risky and all of that, but the goal should always be healthy singleton pregnancies. But who's going to call them out? They want the success rates, too, and I don't think they can force women do to single embryo transfers. I do know they limit the number of CGH normal embryos they will transfer, thank God for that.
So back to my stupid stupid patient and my coworker: do they ever really think? Think that if IVF were covered we might not be faced with desperate couples making decisions that stray from established guidelines, and that health care costs would actually be lower in the end?
Of course not.
Because they're stupid. And annoying. And I'm really ashamed I couldn't have spoken my mind with my patient, but alas, I couldn't.
But maybe if they could watch my video (I reposted my link to our IVF music video) they would see that we're just two human beings, in love, wanting a family, and having to go to measures no one ever should to have one.
And it didn't cost anyone else a blessed cent, we fronted it all ourselves. So there.
Sunday, August 22, 2010
We were finishing up our last fresh cycle at CC.R.M. It had gone well, for us...but when I look back on it with hindsight my estrogen was out of control and we still had poor fertilization and all of that.... But oh we had some 8-celled day three embryos and I poured my entire hope and love right towards them. They were lovely and beautuiful and perfect in our eyes and yes, we loved them right from the start.
For nearly three months they remained frozen in a storage tank, while I dreamed dreams of nurturing them into full beings.
Of course, we know how that turned out.
I will never ever forget those moments of seeing the second line, of calling a few close friends and my sister and hearing the excitement in their voices. I don't regret for a second sharing when things were so tenuous, because how often in our lives to we get to feel such unabashed joy and share it with the ones who mean the most to us?
This August looks very different. We wait, our hope is still frozen, in a different sense, halfway around the world. Nothing is guaranteed. Anything can happen. The world of international adoption is fraught with ups and downs. When I get a letter from the Dept. of Homeland Security, or Immigration, my heart lurches as I prepare for bad news. So far, so good. All we can do is wait.
My Mom came to visit a few weeks ago. After she left she called my sister and told her she was worried about me. Because I don't talk about the adoption.
I've had my heart shattered one too many times to be giddy at this point. We're happy--most definitely--and excited, and yes, hopeful too--but nothing is real. This is all very abstract. I'm in unchartered waters here--how am I supposed to act? We have papers--nothing more, nothing less--sitting in a third world government building somewhere and our names are on a list. I wish it was more than that, but it just simply isn't.
In the meantime, we fill our days with things like this, and pray for a day when that frozen hope thaws into a beautiful song, one that he can sing for his very own children....
Thursday, August 12, 2010
When I read a blog I tend to read the other comments. Sometimes with great interest, as you can learn a lot about other people with their comments to other blogger's predicaments, etc. And of course there is a whole cohort of bloggers out there who tend to read the same blogs and so you get to know people this way and that.
A few weeks ago I read a comment on someone else's blog that really really hurt. It wasn't directed at me but it had something to do with me.
It was a comment that pointed out ways that 'other reproductive choices' (I'll keep it vague here) were better than adoption. Specifically, there was a point made about a partial genetic connection vs. NO genetic connection, and an adopted child having an 'other mother' vs. this blogger's child having only them as a mother. The commenter went on to say that the blogger's choice made them 'closer' than an adopted mother would be to the adopted child.
It hurt so badly to read that. Why does there have to be a comparison? My gut wanted to immediately post all the reasons I feel differently, that maybe I feel adoption is better than other options (it obviously is for me, or I wouldn't be making the choice). How dare they suppose that I will not be as close to my adopted child as anyone else is to their child?
We walk through this inferno of IF and hope beyond hope to somehow emerge on the other side semi-intact, scarred but not destroyed, and whatever choice we need to make to get us to that other side is so intensely personal that everyone else should support. Not compare. Not judge.
Hmmm, LastChance, why don't you tell us how you really feel?
I read and re-read that comment and tried to make it OK in my heart but it wasn't. It wasn't something I would have expected from that commenter and that probably made it hurt worse--it wasn't anonymous, it was someone I blogknew. Or thought I did.
I realize when you comment on someone's blog you can't comment for other readers, too...but as I stated above, I think of the IF blogging community as one that should support all choices because God knows we've all laid on our floors, sobbing, wondering why the world has to be so hard, wondering how the f' we're going to live through the pain, and it is those ties that bind us regardless of individual choices we make to cope, survive, and become mothers.
Got that off my chest.
In other news, the hard drive still hasn't gone to the data place..partially because I'm too scared they won't be able to salvage anything. Partially because all our money heads towards Ethiopia these days (in theory) and so spending $1,000 to recover data that should have been backed up pains me to no end.
The good news is that tomorrow we celebrate our 16th wedding anniversary. As cheesy as it sounds I love Mr. LC more intensely than I ever have and I honestly cannot imagine my life without him. I am lucky. This I know. He took tomorrow off so we'll pal around all day, have our regular gig at the shelter, and then (though it feels weird to go from shelter meal-serving to eating out) go have a nice dinner together. We don't do gifts but we do make homemade cards and it's always a contest to see who can outdo the other...he always wins :)
PS T asked for my email: email@example.com
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
My hard drive died on my laptop last week. It was.not.backed.up. Please, no lectures. All our pictures are on it...all of them. All of my writing was on it. All of our taxes were on it (well, we have hard copies and bulky files full of medical receipts, but...) I have not yet had time to take it to a data recovery place, but I'm anticipating very little recovery for very many dollars. Sigh.
And oh yeah--I lost all my bookmarks. Yes, that was the way I followed blogs. I'm so hopelessly behind, trying to find people again. Yeah, I've heard of google reader. I know.
I have been posting in my head quite a bit but it never quite gets back here. What?? You can't read my mind?
In the past I've sent you to a friend's blog when she was having a tough time. She's a real life fertile friend who has supported me in countless ways along my journey. Her amazing son was officially diagnosed with autism recently, and she started a new blog to document his journey. She's an incredible Mom but this is a tough time, full of mixed emotions. If you have a second, drop by and give her support.
I promise to find you all again, and I promise to get my butt in gear and start writing again--funny as it seems, I still have a lot to say. The latter part of that last sentence is sarcastic, just in case you didn't catch it.
Monday, July 26, 2010
If it would, it would read: are you sure?
And that word 'sure' would be triple italicized, if that were possible, and quadruply bolded if that were possible.
I know I have sucked as a commenter and as a poster lately. I'm still working on coming up with a new blog but that, alas, has taken a back seat to, well, life, lately. But I have so many posts swirling in my head and I know they'll all have to come tumbling out eventually, in some space, somewhere. But for now, I just wanted to share this little gem of an interaction with you.
We all know that to be politically correct in the IF journey there can be no pain olympics. And I've said and read this before that being a true IF veteran might be more of a state of mind than anything. However.
There are most definitely subtle and sometimes not-so-subtle differences between those who have gone through multiple cycles and those who have not. Those who have flawless cycles and those whose cycles fall apart piece by piece, bit by bit. Those who have one single diagnosis that is mostly 'fixable' with IVF and those who have multiple diagnoses that might be sorta kinda amenable to IVF but really who the heck knows. I say all of that because of the interaction I had with a woman last week that has still left me laughing (mostly) and shaking my head.
I was in my work lunch room talking with a pharmaceutical rep. Something was said about fertility or infertility, the lead-in to the conversation isn't important to the meat of the story. She said "Well we did IVF to have our first child and then after that, bam! we were pregnant on the first try with our daughter without any intervention. And we had 19 frozen blasts left from that first cycle."
She went on to say that they had male-factor only and so they had done IVF, and it worked. She gave me a look like "You have no idea how hard IVF is." (True, I have no idea if this is really what she was thinking. I am only guessing based on her expression.)
I casually said "We did IVF five times so I know what you mean."
She looked at me with her mouth agape.
And then she said it.
"Are you sure? Are you sure you did IVF five times and not five IUIs?"
Oh. My. God.
Am I sure?
Am I sure?
Let me count the ways I am sure.
I am quite sure that was me who underwent 40+ vaginal ultrasounds.
I am quite sure that was me who took countless injections.
I am quite sure that was me who went under anesthesia five times and had my ovaries punctured with a long needle through my lady-parts.
I am quite sure that was me who took those nail-biting phone calls with fertilization reports and embryo growth reports.
I am quite sure that was me who laid down on my couch countless nights while the mister stuck a two inch needle into my keister to shoot me up with progesterone.
I am quite sure that was me who submitted to 40+ checks of my estradiol levels.
I am quite sure that was me on an airplane flying to Colorado four separate times.
I am quite sure that was me who signed checks to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars to pay for those cycles.
I am quite sure that was me who sat through five WTF conversations with two different REs.
Hmmmm, am I sure?
Lady are you crazy?
Or am I?
Am I so crazy to have done so much--so much--that someone else would question whether I could possibly have done that much? (and really--while it's a lot, yes, I know several people who have done many more than five fresh IVF cycles).
Here's something else I'm pretty sure of (but again, I'm just guessing): that this woman coasted through her IVF cycle where everything went swimmingly and it worked (ok I know that for sure) and she had 19 leftover chances (I know that for sure, too) in case it didn't and then look! she didn't even need them (I know that for sure, too).
Did I really do five IVF cycles?
Yeah, I'm sure.
Monday, July 19, 2010
Saturday, July 10, 2010
So I think it might be getting time to wind down the blog.
I'm not an infertile woman pursuing fertility treatment anymore. I don't hear from people as often as I used to and I understand--it's not the same journey anymore. I miss people though, and then I obsess that I've said the wrong thing or not been supportive enough and really I need to realize that the story is different now. Maybe not as compelling. Maybe I don't speak in a language that others want to hear.
This place has been such a great source of strength but I just wonder sometimes if I need a break. So I'll be thinking hard about what I want to do next--keep blogging about the adoption or just fade off into the sunset. I'm not LastChanceIVF anymore after all.
Although I will always be her in part.
At any rate, before I decide I had to write this next post.
Claudia--a successful Ethiopian adopter of the most gorgeous twins by the way--left the following comment on my last post regarding why it is probably a good idea to avoid s-e-x near times of ovulation: Adoption can seem so much like 'failure' to the IF world - and this makes your baby the success baby, not the failure baby. It makes that baby the focus of what you're looking forward to, rather than the 'plan B' baby!
It's an interesting concept, I'll admit. Because the mister and I always said we'd 'have one adopt one' long before realizing we were infertile so I never thought of adoption as a second choice. Of course, back then I also thought babies and pregnancy were easy to come by and life would go according to the way I planned. I really had very little knowledge of international adoption--I have two cousins who were adopted from China and while I watched my aunt struggle through that process I really had no idea of the struggle.
At any rate, when you're immersed fully and wholeheartedly in ART and some clueless outsider mentions adoption well, you tend to cringe. You do feel like it is a second choice. And at that point, I guess that's true. If it weren't you'd already be pursuing adoption versus ART, right? So on the basis of the definition of first choice vs. second choice, for years we kept the biological baby as our first choice. We had discussed that having a biological child first, and then adopting, made the most sense--that way the adopted child would never feel they 'weren't enough' and that's why a biological baby followed. See? We were always thinking, the mister and I.
So yes, biological baby was the first choice. But it was never our only choice.
I saw the movie "Temple Grandlin" recently and her mother described her autistic but brilliant daughter as "different, but not less."
When she said those words I felt my heart and soul swell with emotion, and tears started to fall. They were not sad tears but they were tears of understanding.
Our option to parenthood is different--certainly--but it is not less.
As we traveled deeper and deeper down the road of ART for family building, as we met with more and more obstacles, more and more frustrations, more and more heartbreaks, we naturally started thinking more about adoption. In a very real sense, more as the first choice. More as the only choice.
And slowly all of the beautiful parts of adoption started to rise to the forefront of our brains and hearts.
Different, but not less.
Dare I say, different, and maybe even more?
I still struggle with feeling like a broken woman as I'm left out of countless conversations and do not have a shared identity with the fertile women who surround me.
But I am also slowly starting to see the beautiful parts of the way I will be a mother, and realize that I, too, am different.
Different, but not less.
Thursday, July 8, 2010
I remember my sister telling me about this strange new way to count time when we first started trying--of course she endured that for all of three months with each of her pregnancies.
The other day I knew I was ovulating. It's pretty obvious. And I had an 'interest' in the mister (trying to stay polite here). 'Cuz that's biology for you--must keep on the path to procreate--the species must survive!
But no, no, and no.
I told him "Gee I'd really like to have sex with you but no. I'm ovulating and no matter what I refuse to live my life in two week segments anymore. Despite our stopping of treatment, despite our moving on to other options, I know me. My stupid little feeble brain will start playing the 'what if' game, and I don't want to live the next two weeks with that thought rattling around in the background, and then wind up disappointed even though I know our chances of natural conception are somewhere on the order of 0.000001%."
I'm not ready for a hysterectomy yet, but really? IF is still has the power to muck up my s-e-x life.
And why, then, am I surprised when I overhear a pregnant coworker making an announcement which was then followed by four women around the lunch table comparing pregnancy stories, comparing how fertile they were (apparently one merely had to wash her underwear with her husband's and BOOM, pregnant!), and talking about their cravings and what it meant for their now school-age children and their food preferences--why am I surprised that I felt tears well up in my eyes for a brief minute?
I just sat there and stared into my salad. I think I cut my lettuce somewhat angrily.
When the topic turned to how fertile their own mothers were--the implication being that it is somewhat genetic--I had to bite my tongue to keep from saying "My mother was incredibly fertile, as was my sister, and I am 100% barren."
But I kept it inside. I didn't want to spoil my coworker's happy moment.
But I realized--when you adopt you don't get those bonding moments. It's rare I meet anyone who is adopting or has adopted. OK--less than rare. I don't know anyone in real life. It just isn't a shared experience for most women.
So I just sat there, cutting my lettuce, willing the conversation to hurry up and END already. And so, so happy I wasn't in the middle of some damned two-week wait.
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
The mister and I watched it last night.
We were both left with our heads spinning.
It primarily followed a partnered businessman who utilized an egg donor and a gestational surrogate in the U.S. to have a daughter, to the tune of 140K. He started thinking there has to be a cheaper way...and because in his business much work has been outsourced to India he wondered about outsourcing surrogacy. He found it is much, much cheaper to do surrogacy there (I think $5,200 or somewhere thereabouts, which is enough money to life the surrogate out of poverty) and so he started a business coordinating this effort.
At any rate, the show profiles an egg donor in the U.S., an Indian surrogacy/IVF clinic where surrogates live the entire pregnancy at the clinic, and this businessman trying to coordinate the whole thing (because most of his clients want Caucasian egg donors he coordinates that in the U.S. and then ships embryos to India). In one phone call you hear him take the request for help from a single 57 year old woman who needs egg, sperm, and surrogate and she states she has "plenty of money to raise multiple children."
I don't even think I have wrapped my brain around everything I saw on there yet so I'm not going to say anything else, I'm just wondering if anyone else has seen it....and their thoughts?
Monday, July 5, 2010
I'm no different. I'm just one little human being with one little human brain and heart, navigating through life trying to do my level best to love other people, respect the life I've been given, and leave the earth just a little bit better than I found it.
The mister and I most definitely feel that when we finally meet our baby we will say "Yes, she is ours. She was meant for us and we were meant for her." But quite honestly, we feel like we would probably have said this if we had chosen adoption three years back, or five years back, or if we didn't choose it for ten more years (but really by then we'd be geriatric so maybe not!). Just like my friend Gail will never say that losing her twins brought her her living daughter Katie, I will shy away from saying that all my failed cycles "brought" me my adopted daughter. We say that in the end, it won't matter how we got there, or why that particular child comes up on the list when it's our turn to be matched--what will matter is everything from that moment forward when we come together as a family.
As far as God's will on earth--well, if we really truly imagine what that would be like then I think we have to rewind things a few thousand steps. There would not be 6 million children in Ethiopia in need of a loving home and someone to help parent them. They would be able to stay in their own culture, raised by their families. There would not be poverty--the wealthy countries would not waste food, we would not be gluttonous with our enormous super-sized portions and restaurant meals while children starve to death. We would not build bigger houses while others have no shelter at all from the elements. We would not be spending money on frivolous cosmetic procedures while life-saving medications are not delivered to people who need them. God's will is there--stupid humans muck it up repeatedly and then we all have to figure out how to deal with the consequences. And maybe that's our part with our adoption--to give a life, albeit a compromised one, to a child who would not otherwise have had an easy life--our teeny tiny part that helps to right a million wrongs that have already happened that brought that child to a place of need in the first place.
I think prayer (and meditation--the quiet 'listening' phase that is often overlooked, mostly by me) is invaluable. I think it helps us sort out the issues on our hearts and keeps us feeling connected to God, the universe, and other human beings....if used the right way. And there I go again writing as if I know the 'right' way. But I think you know what I mean.
This stuff is too heavy--far too heavy for my blog--and I really wish I could just leave you with a picture of all my Curious George dolls, patiently waiting in the closet of my guest room, finally freed from their trash bags and plastic tubs. But I'm too tired from the running, swimming, yard working, cleaning, baking, checkbook-balancing, grocery shopping day we've had today to go get the camera and snap a picture. One day soon, I'm sure, that picture will be here. And it will be a much lighter post.
Saturday, July 3, 2010
Which is why I didn't know that Google reader caches posts, even if they don't end up being published--or are published and then taken down. Which is what happened to a post I wrote titled "Prayer." Some of you saw it--pretty sneaky sis.
The gist of it was that all too often lately I have seen/heard people proclaim that good things happened to them (IUIs were successful, health was restored, surgeries were successful) because "prayers were answered!" And it hurt my feelings. I do not think God is a baby (or anything else) vending machine--you ask enough or put in enough coins you will get what you ask for. I don't claim to really know any answers on a spiritual religious front--someone who does makes me wary indeed. But I don't think it works that way, and so hearing someone proclaim that it does got under my skin, and thus the post. That's all I'll say about that I guess.
Last night I dreamed I stumbled upon some psuedo-high school reunion and went up to every.single.person and learned they all had biological kids. And I started sobbing and then one of them said "But we had infertility, we understand." To which I snapped: "But you have two kids! You are NOT the same as me, so don't say you are!" (by the way in the dream her 'infertility' meant she had been told she had a 15% lower chance of natural conception, whatever that heck that means). There's much more to this dream but it doesn't take a PhD to see I still have 'feelings' related to my infertility. And it is true...every.single.person I was friends with in high school has biological kids. The 'one in six' rule did not apply to my circle, not amongst old friends, not amongst new friends--which is why it has felt so damned lonely and isolating so much of the time.
OK so now on to the award.For this award, here’s what to do:
1. Thank whoever gave you the award.
2. Tell 7 things about yourself that readers may not know.
3. Pay it forward by nominating 10 bloggers you’ve recently discovered.
Thanks to Mel, at Broken Eggs, Broken Dreams for the award!
Seven things you might not know--well, some of you have been 'knowing' me for a damn long time (from old blog to this one) so this might be hard, and forgive me if you already know these things...
1) I love mid-century modern style. It's the way we've decorated our house...so anything 60s and mod we heart.
2) I wrote my first master's thesis on cord blood banking. It was 1995 (see how old I am?) and that was a relatively new procedure. Isn't it ironic that I won't be able to take advantage of something I do think has value (at the very least we should be banking cord blood in public banks) and spent many months researching in the tombs of medical school libraries (pre-easy internet research--remember when we had to look up journal articles in little green books that indexed them by subject??).
3) I grew up playing the piano. I took lessons for years. I was decent enough, but never played recitals after one where I completely blanked and sat on the bench, hunched over, sobbing until someone came and literally picked me up and carried me off the stage. Today if I sit down at a piano all I can do is crank a few bars of "In the Mood" and then I forget everything.
4) I took the Mister to my high school prom. He was in graduate school (yikes--that sounds so bad doesn't it??). He actually built some of the decorations, since I was on the decorations committee. I wore a prom dress that cost almost half as much as my wedding dress and to this day I cannot understand why my parents allowed us to spend that much. Totally not like them.
5) I let my car run out of gas one time in my life. It was my first car (A Jeep Wrangler Laredo hardtop at age 16--so I guess I was definitely spoiled--see #4). Luckily it ran out of gas at the end of my street. My Dad pushed it back to our house and then said two things: 1) That was an excellent work out! and 2) Only an idiot lets their car run out of gas. Two statements that definitely shaped my future.
6) One time my friend and I were driving back from a baby shower that was three hours away. She let her car run out of gas, despite it beeping and flashing at her (I will claim innocence that I didn't know what those sounds were on her car). We were gabbing away and then all of sudden her car just stopped on the highway. We had to trek a ways to find someone to charge us $10 for one gallon of gas. He said he gets 'at least one idiot per day' running out of gas on the highway so he always has his one gallon ready for sale.
7) I really aim to never, ever eat meat again. For the rest of my life. It's been 2+ years now and I can honestly say I do not miss it. I do consume soy products designed to taste like meat so it's not the taste, it's the idea of eating animal flesh. Are you grossed out now?
Oh sheesh, here's where I fall apart on awards. I'm usually so late to doing them that the award has been passed around to most of my bloggie peeps so I'm just going to chicken out and say if you feel like doing it--consider yourself awarded!