Wednesday, June 23, 2010

All over the place

Warning: I have a little hunch this post is going to be all over the place.

First, boy do I only wish I were kidding or lying about my poll in my other post. I won't say anything more about it, but indeed it is a very true situation, with other layers that are even yuckier. PPD might be an issue--money issues should most definitely not. I'll keep that in my brain and see how I can help.

I'm reading Elizabeth Gilbert's "Committed" right now. I'm only near the beginning but already there is so much--so much!--that stands out and I wish I had it with me to directly quote what she wrote. She talks about how in our society it is just drilled into us that we have the absolute right to being happy. Well duh, right? Of course we are entitled to happiness. Happiness on a grand scale, happiness in everything we do--our love lives, our work lives, our family lives, our social lives.

It got me reflecting on my childhood, my upbringing. As I've worked to transition from pursuit of a biological family to pursuit of an adoptive family I see so many ways I was horrible ill-prepared for what I've been through. It's not my parents fault, per se (imagine that, NOT blaming my parents!) but rather it was their over-abundant love and devotion that sort of set me up for a massive, massive fall without any sort of a net to catch me.

In this society at large, and most definitely in my little tiny society that is my family, we don't spend a lot of time emphasizing that you might not achieve a dream. Quite the opposite--we're told to dream big, to go for it, to just do it, to work hard, to set big goals, to push push push and climb climb climb. So it's not surprising I adopted the same attitude when, five long years ago, we decided to get started with the family-building process.

The irony in this situation is that the physical act of having a baby isn't really a lofty goal (note: I'm not saying it isn't hard work or extremely important work to raise a healthy, happy, well-adjusted family--but the act of getting pregnant is accomplished regularly by all types of people usually with little er, effort--we all know that). Getting pregnant and having a few kids isn't really special or unique in say the same way as becoming highly specialized neuro-radiologist at one of the top medical facilities in the country (hi Anna!) or overcoming a shitty childhood and adolescence and writing a best selling memoir and then going on to lead efforts to end the sexual exploitation of girls (hi JE!). Now those are some unique accomplishments that took diligence, hard work, and major effort.

So as I've mentioned before, I wasn't prepared to fail or lose, most especially at something that shouldn't be hard in the first place.

But I did.

And it threw me for a loop of unparalleled proportions.

Suddenly, there was nothing as important as achieving a pregnancy, as delivering a baby that was a genetic hybrid of myself and Mr. LC...nothing else could possibly do. You tell me that it's going to be difficult and that just made me that much more determined to do it, to just work harder.

Hence spending nearly five years of my life in pursuit of such a decidedly un-lofty goal. I expended more energy towards this than anything else in my life and I am quite certain if I could have contained all of that energy and directed it towards any one thing I could have won the Tour de France or run for President. I'm just sayin'.

When we started talking about adoption I was so all over the place. I remember telling Mr. LC that if indeed we adopted then I would absolutely refuse any stupid baby showers. Baby showers are, after all, for women sitting high up on a make believe throne with huge baby bumps, swollen ankles, and a certain glow about their smug faces (I know that sounds rude, but I was bitter folks--majorly bitter--when the mister and I had this conversation). I wouldn't be one so I wouldn't have--couldn't have--a baby shower. I hadn't earned the right. I hadn't worked hard enough?

I'm still very, very quiet about our adoption. It makes me uncomfortable to talk about it. Not because I am not thrilled and excited about it. But it's because I've been burned. I'm now much better prepared to see the world for what it is. I am much better prepared to realize that we have already worked very hard to make this adoption happen, we have already spent multiple thousands of dollars to make this adoption happen, but yet it doesn't guarantee us anything. Working hard does not = a baby to raise and love. Not for everyone. Really, not for anyone, because most people do not work hard to get a baby. They just get one.

Of course when I imagine my life in a few years I am prone to picturing it with a little girl, with big brown eyes and beautiful brown skin wearing some adorable Small Paul duds...and I wonder if I will do what my parents did to me to her? That is, love her so fiercely and be so protective that she grows up with the sense that the world truly is at her feet, with boundless opportunity, and anything she wants she can get--if she just works hard enough...


  1. "and I wonder if I will do what my parents did to me to her? That is, love her so fiercely and be so protective that she grows up with the sense that the world truly is at her feet, with boundless opportunity, and anything she wants she can get--if she just works hard enough..." I hope so!

    Even though I was also not prepared for the living hell I am in, I wouldn't want a childhood where I was told I couldn't achieve or don't try because it doesn't matter. It sucks that the ONE thing I want more than anything is not happening despite, how much I try, but still, I am thankful for my childhood and my determination to fight or else I would have given up 4 IVFs ago.

  2. You are in my head again! LOL!

    I could have written this post too. In my house working hard=goal achieved. This is why I've really struggled with failing at the one thing most of us can do with ease and a bottle of jack. I've never failed at anything in my life, until this, and I had a hard time reconciling the fact that in this case hard work does NOT equal success. All of a sudden the "rules" of life my parents so patiently taught me meant nothing. I can't blame them either, after all, one of the biggest life lessons they taught us was that life isn't fair. I guess I just wasn't expecting it to be this unfair.

    I just said to DH yesterday that I have found the adoption process so much easier because I can control so much of it and because hard work CAN equal goal achieved. That said, I don't talk about it much either. Not many people outside our close circle know about it. (With the exception of an annoying coworker that I had to tell). I think I'll teach my children all the same rules to live by, along with the "life's not fair" lesson. After all, if I hadn't had that one drilled into me I might have gone off the deep end.

  3. I will say this. I had the opposite family. Not that they were all that terrible but it was always assumed that you shouldn't shoot too high b/c you will probably be disappointed. Life is kind of disappointing so you might as well just adjust to it. I'm sooooo looking forward to giving my daughter the opposite. I want her to feel that she can do anything she wants and that she should be proud of each and every accomplishment and that her parents will be there cheering from the sidelines regardless of what she does. I know what the opposite is like. However, I will also say this, my upbringing did prepare me for the IF journey. I wasn't surprised that it was difficult or that I could be disappointed or that it might end in maybe it was a good thing, who knows? I know I was surprised as hell that it worked this last time and that the pregnancy turned out easy and successful. Shocked. I still am...I just really didn't have any hope, though I just kept plugging at it. I just know that my upbrining made for a very difficult time trying to find some pride in my acomplishments and feel that I am good enough to get what I want. So, both sides are hard...

    You guys will be the best imperfect parents in the world to your little one, regardless of what she looks like (brown eyes, etc!!!).

  4. Thank you once again for such an eloquent post. You have such an uncanny ability to express some of the same feelings that I am feeling.

    I also was brought up to believe that if you worked hard, played by the rules, and lived a good life, you would be rewarded. That has been true for most of my life... except for the one thing that I want more than anything. And as you stated, it isn't some lofty goal to get pregnant and give birth- people do it all the time with very little hard work (at least the getting pg part)

    It's so hard to not feel like a failure... even when we have so much good in our lives. I wish that my life was not defined right now by this one thing, but it is.

    I have been meaning to pick up Committed. Thanks for the reminder that I need to get it. I loved Eat Pray Love and the messages within it. Looking forward to the messages in her new book.

    Thanks for once again reminding me I am not alone in all of this.

  5. Wow, it's like a lightbulb just went off in my head. You really nailed it. Thanks for yet another beautiful post!!

  6. In answer to your last question.... I think that one thing our babies are going to have to grow up with is already knowing life isn't fair. I hate that we can't avoid this, as families, but they're going to figure out very young that most people get to stay with their bio mums and dads and they DIDN'T, and no amount of wishing or dreaming or hoping is going to get them the simple life that everyone else seems to have. But, like you said - being surrounded by bio family isn't really something you *achieve*. For most people, it just happens! So I do'nt think it should stop us helping our kids to dream big. I'm hoping that my babies will grow up knowing that life isn't fair, at all, and sometimes it hurts so badly you'll feel like your chest is being crushed, but to konw that in the context of overabundant love and devotion :) Tough stuff, huh?

  7. What is a purpose of a BABY shower? To celebrate the bringing of a child into a family. To help the new family on their journey with things they don't have. You deserve a baby shower more than someone who got pregnant on the first try.
    My cousin had a baby shower for a domestic adoption. I went and it was great! We celebrated the baby coming and how their life would change.
    Sad part, the baby they were promised was not to be theirs. The mother changed her mind. Now, not for one second did I ever consider getting my present back. I knew that even though this didn't work out they would get another. And they did. They were called the day of the birth and had to pack quickly to fly out and pick up their baby.
    In the end it all worked out. If they weren't planning for baby #1 they would have been VERY ill prepared for baby #2. So my recommendation for when you get choosen is to have a great baby shower, BUT make it neutral. They were very lucky that baby #1 and #2 were both boys.

    Realize that until the waiting period is over the parents can still change their mind.
    The book "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Adoption" has a great list of laws and waiting periods by state.

  8. i know you and your husband are involved in your church since you've written about it before. i would love to hear how and if your faith has changed because of this experience. did your parents ever stress that God was ultimately in control? mine didn't but that's now what i'm realizing.

    i know you've written before that you can't bring God into the picture because then that means you're cursed and you refuse to believe that (i don't believe that either), but what if its not a curse but just a way to get you to the next phase in life, like maybe adoption is ultimately the way you're supposed to meet and help a child who will help you? i would love to hear your take on this.

    do you believe it is all just chance or is it God's hand?

  9. You are such a great writer. While reading this I kept on saying, "Yes!" because I agree with you. Our society really does tell us that if we want something bad enough we can achieve it. It's really not a fair idea, and as hard as it is to come to terms with the truth, I am slowly starting to do it. Life is just's not perfect...but there is alot of beauty in the imperfections. I know it's there...haha, I am still looking for the beauty in all of this! Thank you for sharing. My husband and I are warming up to the idea of adoption after some talks with our Doc, and so reading your experience is very helpful.

  10. Ah DAVS, beautiful post. It's funny - I didn't grow up in a family that made me feel that made me feel the world was at my feet. And yet...infertility is kicking my butt too. I think any way you slice it, however you were "prepared" for disappointment or not, this is just mindblowingly hard. I am so glad you are on a path to getting your little girl. One other thought: maybe one of our jobs as parents isn't to protect our kids from pain/failure but to cheer them on to get back up and to know that whatever else happens they are loved through and through. This is a gift I hope to mpart.


  11. Your posts always give me so much food for thought... it is interesting, isn't it, that many families in this country perpetuate the theory that we can achieve whatever we want if we are willing to put forth the effort. This obviously isn't true in Infertility Land, in which you can try and try and spend and spend and still end up back at Point A. It is basically a crapshoot. Your brown-eyed baby will be so fortunate to have such a thoughtful mama, who will consider the balance of encouraging a young child to shoot for the stars while simultaneously remaining grounded.

  12. Once again you have managed to beautifully say what so many of us feel. Yes, I do think you will love your daughter so fiercely and protectively, it's what we do. I've told you before and I will say it again ~ you are going to be an ahmazing mom. I can only hope that your day will be soon.. the day when your baby girl is placed in your arms and all of your tears and pain will fall away.

  13. In the past 2+ years of unsuccessful TTC, I have often had occasion to curse the fact that my parents raised me to believe I could achieve anything I set my mind to. Clearly I am now learning that is not the case, at least not as it concerns having a baby of our own.

    I do think that I would raise a child the same way, though. People who don't have dreams don't have much. The world will teach a child soon enough that life isn't fair and that not every goal is attainable.

  14. Oh, Ashley--I certainly can understand that you might not want to have a shower, but don't feel like you don't deserve one! A shower is for expectant parents, and I have a hunch that your excitement and anticipation for YOUR CHILD(!) will be just as physically evident, even if it isn't in the usual ways.

  15. I'm with Sue...I grew up in a family where I was constantly told that I shouldn't shoot too high to avoid disappointment. I was constantly told that I couldn't do things and that has really affected me, right up to today. My parents are still at it and I constantly surprise them when i prove them wrong, that I am capable of doing things that they didn't think I could do. Just yesterday, my Mom was preparing me for what she thinks is the eventuality that i will not be able to continue doing something even though i have already beaten the odds and have been successful at doing it for the past little while. If nothing changes, why can't I continue to do what I have been doing and being successful? That kind of negativity runs so deep that I struggle not to continually feel defeated before I even start.

    What I think is important to teach your child is that the possibility of success is there if you work hard but that life is not fair and sometimes, things are out of your control. I watched The Biggest Loser season this year and there is one mother/daughter team that said something that stuck with me. I'm paraphrasing, but the daughter says "What if I go in there and find out that I can't do it?" to which her Mother paused for a second and then replied "What if you go in there and find out that you CAN do it?". May I have that kind of wisdom some day. May we all be that wise and pass along these kinds of life lessons to our kids.

    Your parents gave you a positive childhood and you were probably happier for it. I reflect back on my childhood and yes, there were good times but there was also a lot of negativity and stress associated with not wanting things too badly.

    I guess how you raise your kids is a choice you are making...I say to teach them to strive for their dreams. If you didn't have your dream of having a family, don't you think that you would have given up so long ago in defeat? You are achieving your dream but your dream isn't exactly how you pictured it but it is still your dream isn't it? Maybe the key to all of this is to balance the optimism with the adaptability to deal with the crap life can dish out. Whatever it is, you and Mr. LC will figure it out - that much I am sure of.

  16. Ok, I'm not a subscriber to the practice of "everyone gets a trophy" even if your team lost, however, I would choose unconditional love and encouragement every time. I had that growing up. DH didn't. And wow, what a difference. He has thrived in my family, but there are still times when I have to build him up. (I figure we still have a full cup though - mine is half full, and his is half empty, but still a full cup. See, that's what a positive childhood will do to you. lol )

    As for infertility, I think it's unchartered territory for anyone. I don't think there's any way to prepare for it. Oh wait, I do wish that maybe a doctor would have told me in my mid twenties that some women will have trouble getting pregnant, say, at the age of 29 which is when we started TTC. Seriously, my pcp and ob/gyn told me not to worry about it. My pcp had her one and only at 40, and my ob/gyn had IF issues herself. I'll get off my soapbox about IF education now!

    But really, from your writings, it's obvious you are sensitive and aware of balance, and I have no doubt you will be an excellent mom. It sounds like your parents rock too :)

  17. Oh, and about the baby shower. I've had the same thought if adoption is the road we end up on. And, I guess I feel like I would be posing as a mom and not a real one. But, how about a baby shower after the baby is home? You have totally earned the right to friends and family showering you with oohs and aahhs and itty bitty things for YOUR baby!

  18. I've been thinking about what I wrote about you achieving your dream, just not the one you originally had and I want to take that part back. That was obnoxious of me and I'm've every right to how you feel as you so eloquently wrote about in this post and I really do understand how you felt unprepared for the reality that hard work does not always = baby. I apologize if I sprinkled more salt on the open wound that is IF...

    May I suggest something instead of a baby shower? When your adoption goes final and you have your child at home, pretend for a second that you are Chinese. It is traditional that you celebrate the 1 month birthday of that child with both the parents there and it is a way of introducing the child to society so to speak. So, celebrate the 1 month birthday of taking your child home. When we had our party, it was such a celebration very much akin to a second wedding for us that is how many people we had attending and celebrating with us. You so deserve that celebration and I think we got more stuff than we ever would have at a baby shower :)

  19. The last line really hit me. I feel ya and have also thought about this. I just don't know that there is any other way to parent...even with knowing the sometimes harsh reality that your child may feel life's disappointments from dreams unrealized...or hopefully, better yet, dreams that unfolded in different, unexpected paths.

    On the baby shower front, I know you are keeping a low profile at this time, but have you heard of a "Paper Pregnant Party" as written up by Mel on Stirrup Queens? It has inspired me to want to throw one for one of my IF Sistas. It's for the mom to help out during the adoption baby gifts, but wine, candles, books, bath stuff, etc. for the mom and to celebrate with her. I think of it as a chance for friends who didn't know the right way to deal with IF, but who can actively celebrate the adoption process.

    Also, my best friend's mom thought baby showers for 2nd babies were not appropriate, so instead we threw a "Sip And See" after the baby was born...come sip tea and see the baby. :) Just a thought...

    Thank you for your beautiful writing. It certainly does provoke thought on this end.

  20. I have a feeling that you'll not be able to beat your friends off with a stick- they'll be showering you wether you 'want' it (or feel it 'necessary') or NOT.
    In fact I think you need to let US all in on it's happening, because like the "good luck charm" mass-mailing, I know that I for one would love to mail you some Small Paul footies and shirts (you know that I'm down w/ that naughty monkey myself!) I understand why you're hesitant, and of course it's a time/place that will have to be carefully chosen...

    I think you're parents might STILL be spot-on. The harder you work, the greater your reward. (and vice-versa too I suppose- for those who put forth no effort, no great reward is reaped from their experiences.)
    Was it Mother Teresa who said "Give it the best you have, it will not be good enough. Give it the best you have anyway." ??

    At any rate, I love your posts. Always thought provoking and honest.

  21. I think the whole "work hard and you will get what you want" is a cultural thing. I too feel like a failure in some ways when I'm feeling down in the dumps. But when I let my objective mind take over, I don't get into labels and think "failure". I look on the positive side and think that all of my experiences have prepared me for adoption. I'm sure you didn't go into this thinking that you would do IVF or even adoption. Now you are doing something you never thought you could do!! Not everyone has a big enough heart to adopt. You certainly will love your daughter fiercely!

  22. I think you deserve everything you would have gotten if you were pregnant including a baby shower! I totally get it if you are uncomfortable with that, but if you want it, you should have it.

    I think about you guys all the time, and I just hope you get everything you want and deserve, and I think as parents we honestly BELIEVE our kids can have the it is just natural to tell them that and I hope it doesn't set them up for some major disapppointments.