Follow me on the crazy, hopeful, discouraging, funny, and ultimately successful (one way or another) path to parenthood while facing infertility.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

I Am Sad Today

Well, I had a great run with positivity, but I have been in a funk since last night that just doesn't seem to want to go away.

I was fine all day, looking forward to our Friday Night Mexican date, and thoroughly enjoyed my favorite special for dinner -- Cochinita Pibil (I think it translates to "little pig in the ground" -- it's pork that was slow roasted in a citrus sauce wrapped in banana leaves, served with picked onions and jalapenos, refried black beans with queso fresco, rice, and my favorite fried plantains).

Then we went to Targ.et.

I am so lucky -- we don't have cable, we don't watch a whole lot of TV, I haven't been to the mall in months and months, and most radio I listen to is NPR (which has limited commercials). So I have been spared the Mother's Day onslaught.

Tar.get wasn't too bad, either, but we went to buy our cards and I was in such a good mood I forgot about the effect Mother's Day card shopping has on me. You know, because we're all in the adoption process and feeling hopeful but accepting our life as is while we wait, yada yada yada.

Well.

That didn't create as much of a protective shield as I thought (I'm sure the margaritas didn't help on this score, either), and after looking for cards for my own mother and grandmother and helping Bryce pick one out for his mother, I couldn't help but see all the ones that could apply to me but STILL DON'T: to you from your husband...to you from your kids...the First Mother's Day section...and the ones for Expectant Moms.

WHERE IS MY FUCKING CARD? I looked and looked and there doesn't seem to be one for people who have been trying to have a baby for nearly 7 years with absolutely no success and who are in an adoption wait that could end in weeks or end in years. No one cares if you're expecting but have no due date, no endpoint to your wait, and it's all just so filled with mystery and suspense.

I started to get cranky, and sad, and then started actually looking at the First Mother's Day cards because apparently, I hate myself.

Then I walked away, and because I looked visibly upset, Bryce asked, "What's wrong?"

Well, I didn't answer that very nicely at all. "WHAT DO YOU THINK IS WRONG? IT'S MOTHER'S DAY CARDS again! It's my SEVENTH FUCKING MOTHER'S DAY without being a part of it as an honoree, and I am feeling FUCKING HOPELESS right now!"

That could have gone better. I could have just said, "Mother's Day"  and that would have been sufficient.

And so our evening spiraled quickly down the toilet, because I became very sad, and when I get very sad, before I turn into a sobbing puddle I get very testy and angry because it's easier to lash out than it is to be vulnerable and cry. It's not my best trait. I am fortunate that Bryce is a patient man. He basically sent me to bed when we got home, to get a fresh start.

I didn't do so well with that, either.

I went into the nursery this morning, after being sad upon waking up (because Mother's Day... I can't be sad next weekend because I'm celebrating my birthday, you know, the 40th one, and so I guess I'm trying to get it all out now before it taints my celebration).

Let me be clear -- the nursery did not make me sad.

I went in there because I was doing laundry, and I need to wash the changing pad cover and change it out because before Lucky got his teeth removed (incidentally, that went amazingly well and he is SUCH A HAPPY CAT), he was drooling a lot and the drool on the changing pad and my office chair pad tipped us off that we needed him seen ASAP, because it wasn't clear and it stained. Yes, I know it's gross that his teeth came out a while ago and I haven't washed the changing pad. Sue me. No one's using it (except the cat).

While I was in there, I decided that I should go through our goodie bag that we got when we signed up to register at the giant triple B baby store, because most of it was formula and breastfeeding supplies and I'd left it on the shelf.

WELL. All but one coupon was expired. The formula was expiring tomorrow. I have absolutely no use for breast pads. I'm sure I could figure one out, but I just don't want to.

This did not improve my mood.

See, we have very limited time left to use our registry completion coupon, the 10% off our entire order. We have a zillion gift cards stored from the showers, and were waiting to buy the stroller and accoutrements until we had the completion piece in place. Which happened in FEBRUARY. We have three months to use it, so that has to happen this week. And part of me is worried that we won't have a place to store the stroller, and I don't want it in my car while we wait because that's just depressing. And we already have a ton of stuff stored that we can't use until a baby shows up.

I don't know what's wrong my phone's camera that everything looks bathed in nuclear blast. Anyway, this is our back room we use as storage, and here is a giant pile of things including our spacesaving high chair, car seat and two bases, pack 'n play, little red wagon., bottle warmer... where on earth are we going to put the stroller? The "piano" is officially trapped as is.

We will go and buy the stroller. It would be stupid to let the coupon expire.

But I need to adjust my attitude before we go, because I cannot walk into a superstore devoted to the life milestone WE HAVEN'T HIT (although our completion coupon assures us that we must be so happy now that our LIVES HAVE CHANGED FOREVER... sigh), full of pregnant people. I am fairly certain that walking into that store in the state I'm in now would be an outright disaster.

I feel better after exercising, but I'm still sad. I hate the uncertainty. I hate that my goodie bag items expired. I hate that I have been in this cycle of hopeful-disappointed-hopeful-disappointed-hopeful for years, and years, and YEARS. I hate that we already have to update our homestudy, and that I really should get the blackout shades that open and close without cords, because our current shades are bamboo and have cords of death and I'm irrationally sure that those hanging cords will dock us somehow. I know logically they won't, but I want the shades in place before the social worker comes, again, at some unknown date because we haven't received our paperwork for the update yet even though they've had our check for two weeks now. I also hate that there are things my district does for charity that you can have taken out of your paycheck, and I either didn't do it because I thought, "May paychecks? I won't be there in MAY! I'll be home with my baby!" or I paid the Unit.ed Way all at once instead of doing 10 paycheck deductions...for the same reason (although that one's hopefully more realistic that I could actually be out on leave because it goes through December or something).

The wait of all this combined with another Mother's Day coming up just pushed me past the point where I could keep weighing the silver linings over the dark cloud. I cried this morning as I was texting a friend to see if she could use any of the stuff that I can't in my registering goodie bag. I cried tears of jealousy and incredible sadness that yet another one of my friends has entered new motherhood and will celebrate Mother's Day...and I am still waiting. I am super happy for her new motherhood, don't get me wrong. It didn't come easy. I just thought that we'd celebrate Mother's Day as new moms together. I was so hoping that last Mother's Day was the last one where I didn't count, where I shower everyone else with good wishes and stand on the other side of the glass, watching the joy and celebration through the fog of my shuddering breath. Probably turning 40 right before only serves to amplify my feelings.

Sometimes, when this happens, I realize I haven't cried in a really long time. And that maybe this is my mind's way of reminding me that I have been through a lot, and I am mourning all the years I could have been a parent but wasn't, because of infertility. That I can't be Suzy Sunshine all the time, and while the positivity I put out there isn't bullshit, I really do mean it, sometimes the dark side bubbles up and that's okay.

Sometimes, you just need to feel cranky and sad and cry the ugly cry for all you've lost, even while you're waiting for all the pieces to fall into place so that you, too, can celebrate this holiday that really does a good job of excluding people. Someday, I hesitate to put a timeline on it, I'll be on the other side of the glass.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

How Can There Be Less Than 8 Weeks Left?

At the end of last week, I was convinced that there were 9 weeks of school left.

But I was wrong.

It was 8, and now it's 7 and two days.

How is this possible? I am FREAKING OUT.

First, I'm freaking out because I'm worried I won't be able to squeeze in all the stuff I have left to do in my self-contained English class. We recently started Out of the Dust but I also need to do The Giver, which is my FAVORITE unit every year, and I spent so much time on writing skills at the beginning of the year that I am pressed for time on my novels. Novels where the first involves a character with RPL and a infant loss, and the last has me explaining the concept of birth mothers and how you can be pregnant when they don't identify birth fathers. I save all the interesting stuff for last, I guess. And I am trying REALLY HARD to not end the school year with The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, which I'm reading with my self-contained reading class to synthesize all the strategies and deeper reading skills we've learned all year. I love the book, and it's so wonderful for making inferences, but my god is it depressing. I need to make sure that we can do something happy for a few days after. I am somewhat of a terrible person for ending the year this way again. "Happy summer, sorry I stole all your innocence! 9th grade literature and history aren't quite so depressing, enjoy the sunshine!"

But that's just part of what has me in a tizzy.

I was so sure that we'd get our call sometime in the spring, and I'd go out on maternity leave at some point THIS SCHOOL YEAR. I had a school baby shower at the end of September to help us get ready for Mystery Baby. And here we are, almost May, only 7 weeks and change left, and Mystery Baby is still every bit the same ephemeral, amorphous concept as he/she was in September.

Now, the interesting thing is that my Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources let me know that the ideal timing was late June or July for leave. That that would buy me insurance coverage for the summer, and FMLA clock starting in September, and my 5 adoption leave days + 3 saved up personal days paid leave would start in September, giving me a bonus check before the rest of my leave. I would get 5 months for the price of 3. (While New York did just pass Paid Family Leave, it doesn't start until January 2018. So I'm hoping I go out before I'm eligible to take it, obviously, but YAY NEW YORK.)

But...what if summer comes and goes and we still don't get a call? I have to say that I will actually feel embarrassed going back to school and STILL not having a match, not having any real update that will result in parenthood, still waiting.

I know it's entirely possible. This process is unpredictable, and all-or-nothing, feast-or-famine, zero-to-sixty. But it would be hard, going back to school and still having to give my spiel about having my phone on at all times and "we're expecting through adoption, it's like being in your third trimester all the time but you can drink and have coffee, har har HAR."

So it's amazing to me that there's so little time left in this school year, and while we've had three profile calls nothing has changed, not really. We don't feel totally left out in the dark, because our book has gotten action. But we haven't hit the jackpot yet, to put it in not entirely sensitive terms.

There's still time -- we haven't gotten a call in April yet, and we had one January, February, and March. I know this is not a pattern or a causal relationship. We don't HAVE to get a call in April. But it sure would be nice. It would be nice to have my fortieth birthday come with a promise in the ether. I still have May and June.

It's just so hard, the not knowing. And the feeling like I've disappointed all the people who were so generous in September, helping us to prepare our nursery and be ready for that call to come at any time. Maybe I need to send out an email newsletter of sorts at the end of the year, with pictures of our nursery, and let them know that we have had action, just nothing that stuck, and that all those wonderful onesies and boppies and spacesaving high chairs and oodles of board books will most definitely get used.

We just don't know when.

Monday, April 25, 2016

#Microblog Monday: Doesn't the Nursery Make You Sad?

One of Bryce's friends recently asked him if the nursery makes us sad.

You know, because we're starting to update our homestudy and the tiny rocking chair quite literally has a coating of dust on it...and it seems to be enjoyed most by the cats.

The answer is no, no it doesn't.

I need to dust but I regularly vacuum in there (because cats), and every once in a while I tidy up or change out the books on display or try to fix up the tall bookcases that will eventually look a bit more closet-y. And sometimes I lie on the floor and stare up at the ceiling and try to imagine a new baby in the crib, a baby that can sit up tearing through the baskets of board book looking for a favorite, a night spent rocking a crying baby to sleep in our glider out in the hallway nook that again is a cat favorite but also quite a nice reading spot for those who actually live in the house right now.

Sometimes it's easy to visualize these things, and sometimes it seems painfully far away.

However, the nursery never, ever makes me sad. It is a place of hope. It is a place of promise. It is a place that belongs to a baby that might be baking RIGHT THIS VERY MINUTE, a baby whose arrival time is a mystery but who WILL be coming some day.

The door is left open, all the time, and I smile every time I peek in on my way downstairs in the morning to feed the cats before I get ready for work at an early hour. It's not a cordoned off room that feels hopeless, a room posing as a guest room with empty onesies stashed in drawers and a sad years-old pregnancy magazine under the bed, hollow and filled with the unkept promises of infertility treatment. It's a celebration of what's to come, and it is bright and happy and reminds us that we are actually expectant parents, just with the gestational period of a mastodon or something equally large and slow.

Sunday the spring sunshine was just pouring in the windows and I took a boatload of pictures so you can really see what this special space looks like. I mean, how can you be sad when in this cheery, sunny, owl-filled space?

Peeking in from our bedroom door
Looking straight in at my host of stuffed animals and books, books, books
Little blue nook with the windowseat that Bryce built when I first moved in and redid this room. I need new cushions though, thinking of making an all-one in a coordinating fabric to our owl rug or bedding. Love my little (dusty) rocking chair!
Looking from the other end. Some of these shots make the room look spacious. It's more spacious than I thought I would be given its 90 square feet, but still tiny. COZY. It's COZY. 
The left side of the room from the door side (you can see our Tower of Boppy)
The first half of the Long Tall Wall, and what will be a storage/closet thing when we're done taking some shelves out
The other half of the Long Tall Wall, including the Tower of Boppy and Ergo (and my favorite rug ever)
One owl is a lamp, the other is a stars-on-the-ceiling-soothing-noise-maker-night-light.
The giant bookcase head-on, still something to work on. Books and bins, and shelves coming out to make space for hanging clothes and shoes and maybe more diapers. Good to have more on the to-do list. 
Speaking of diapers, we have the start of a little changing table basket, with wipes and those tiny diapers for newborns and the Butt Paste I hope doesn't expire before Mystery Baby gets here because in a fit of optimism I bought a 3-pack online. 
And now for some art we have hanging... these were cards that a local artist created (I think she could be a children's book illustrator). I love them so much:
Strangely appropriate and adorable

And artwork we still have to frame and put up (again, something to do when we're feeling we need to spruce things up and make it a little less dusty):
The kissing puffins are from Maine, if I can't see a puffin in real life I can at least have some in the nursery!  The bottom two are from a series called 100 Owls and I love them so much! Especially the one on the left, which echoes the blue-and green-and-orange color scheme. Plus we love fall. 
Our little rocking nook, also not quite done but passable. It's a great place to sit and if you recline the chair just so and look up it's like you're in an escape pod from Star Wars. The print on the right was given to us by a friend and it made me cry a little. 
So there it is. A sunny place of hope and color and stuff that has us ready for a baby even if it takes a while for one to materialize. A decidedly NOT sad place, even if it's still empty months after we put it together in earnest. It's okay. It won't be empty forever. And the changing table is kept warm by Lucky, who will be sorely disappointed when it becomes off-limits.

Want to read more #Microblog Mondays? Go here and enjoy!

Saturday, April 23, 2016

And How Are You Doing With The Whole Turning 40 Thing?

Something I grudgingly have to admit that infertility taught me is the importance of self care. I started getting massages on the regular for stress relief during treatment, and then decided that I shouldn't stop just because my body isn't part of the babymaking process anymore. The stress certainly hasn't gone away, as the tension in my shoulders, neck, and skull can attest, and I can and should invest the time and money to take care of myself. I am worth it just for me, not only as a part of my ill-fated attempts to be a better vessel.

With that concept of nourishing myself in mind, I go once or twice a month for an hour to hour-and-a-half massage with the same person every time. She can really get into my trouble spots without making me feel like I'm paying for pain, and what she does with craniosacral massage is like a minor miracle for both my muscle tension and my migraines. I wish that she could follow me around all the time and do what she does to the base of my skull on demand. It feels like she's lifting my skull off my spine (which sounds gross but feels amazing), and I end up feeling such an incredible lightness behind my eyes. It's like I'm floating in a phosphorescent sea of stars. In a good way, not a concussion-y or trippy kind of way. It's too bad I can't achieve the same effect myself. I've tried but it just doesn't work.

The last session I had was last weekend, and when I was doing the awkward naked-boob-flip-over she said, "Isn't your birthday coming up? 40, right? How are you feeling about all that? Because my friend is turning 30 and she's totally freaking out."

Okay, so normally that would probably ruin a massage because all the OHMYGODI'MTURNING40INWEEKSNOTMONTHS thoughts would start cycling and my shoulders would start tightening and all of a sudden all the work would be undone.

But.

I said, "Oh, yeahhh. That thing," while exhaling deeply.

And then I told her how I felt.

Which is, that I swing back and forth (not too dissimilar from how I feel about the adoption wait). Some days I feel really kind of sad and depressed and fatalistic about it. I think about how my joints are falling apart and how my asthma tried to kill me when I had the flu, and how my metabolism pretty much decided I didn't need it anymore (COME BACK! I need you!)...and I feel not so great about hitting a new decade where none of these things will likely improve. I worry about physical repercussions from all the estrogen spikes during IVF and fear breast cancer, even though this is not entirely logical. I go down a very dark spiral where my body just gives out or I receive a scary diagnosis and then all of a sudden we aren't able to continue down the adoption road. I am capable of many, many dark thoughts about completely deteriorating in my forties.

But then I think, a lot of times women who are turning forty are sad about the whole biological clock thing -- especially if they want children but don't have them for whatever reason, or even if they have children and are just morose about the finality of going into the decade where menopause tends to start its wheels a-turnin'. It feels like a dead end of sorts, to paraphrase Meg R.yan in When Harry Met Sally.

My biological clock shattered against a wall years ago, so I don't have to be sad about that part. I've been sad enough about that part to last a lifetime, in my thirties, and so I don't really have to revisit it now. I feel like that particular piece didn't get attached to forty for me. BOOM, silver lining.

I also think, I have my shit TOGETHER when it comes to going into a new decade. When I turned thirty, everything was in spectacular disarray -- no home, no marriage, I was going to quit my job in a matter of months so I could student teach (which is working more than full-time and paying for it instead of being paid)... there really wasn't much that was in place other than having a very supportive family and wonderful friends. But now is a VERY different story, as I've written before.

I have a beautiful marriage, as described in about a zillion blog posts that are truly love letters to Bryce.

I have a beautiful home that is filled with over 10,000 books (like the nerds we are we sort of estimate-counted the other night) and rarely has a TV going because we just enjoy each other's company and the quiet of reading and working on our own projects THAT MUCH. Seriously, last night after our Friday night Mexican date, we were talking and then all of a sudden Bryce had his guitar out and was trying to teach me how to play one part of this song he's been working on and made a breakthrough with while using the reverb on his amplifier. I got frustrated because I could NOT get it maybe because of the angle and size of the instrument, so I got out my violin to try to teach him something on that. This led to a comparison of the range of octaves on the guitar and the violin (and how being good at one DOES NOT necessarily translate into any aptitude for the other, apparently, especially when tequila is involved), and then all of a sudden he's playing Michael Hedges and I'm playing the meditation from Thais and we start laughing because we are such nerds but love our nerdy life together SO MUCH.

I have a job that I absolutely love. You know you love your job when your doctor tells you under no circumstances are you to work for a week and you try to negotiate fewer days even though you are struggling to breathe because you can't imagine not being there for so long. A job where there are 9 weeks of school left with students and you wonder at how that can be and freak out because I'M NOT DONE WITH YOU YET! I have so much left that I want to do with my students and I'm concerned I'm not going to get to it all. I have never loved my job the way I love teaching...it permeates everything I do. I was in the shower this morning and I got all excited because I was thinking on how to rework a research project unit in my reading class that I won't get to this year for next year...all even though I'm really hoping I'm out on leave for a good chunk of next school year. Regardless, I'm still planning all the things I could do with another group while already getting sad about missing this group of students. That is an amazing feeling.

It seems I have SO MUCH that it almost feels selfish to want Mystery Baby, too. But I know it's not. I don't think most fertile people stop to think if they're just too happy to have a baby.

I still have that wonderfully supportive family and terrific circle of friends, and one of my friends recently said, "You know what? Even though you don't have the baby yet, that can be what your forties are all about. You spent your thirties getting everything else in order, and now you can focus your forties on becoming and being an amazing parent." I nearly cried (actually I probably did cry) because it was such a beautiful way to frame the splinter in my happiness that occasionally gets inflamed and at times feels infected and throbby.

Because that does actually bother me, going into my birthday while not being a parent yet, and then shortly thereafter ANOTHER freaking Mother's Day that's not mine to celebrate. Still being in a place where we're waiting for that star to align is hard. Not in an all-consuming kind of way, but the splinter's still there and even when it doesn't hurt, I'm aware of its presence.

Like yesterday, when I only had two students in my 9th period due to a rash of absences and for some reason something came up that made me mention that my birthday is less than two weeks away and I'mgonnabeFORTY, and one student was so sweet in intentions but said, "Well, maybe this will make you feel better! My mom is 43...does that help?"

Oh innocent thirteen year old...no.

I said, "That's really sweet of you to try to make me feel better, but you're thirteen, right? When I have a thirteen year old, assuming our baby comes in the next year...I'll be FIFTY THREE when he or she is an 8th grader."

"Ohhhhh, I get how that wouldn't make you feel better," she said. I thanked her for trying though.

Then another student said, "Well MY dad is 51, and he's got lots of energy and is really strong, so that doesn't have to mean anything."

See why I love my kids so much? That did make me feel better. How lovely of both my students to try to cheer me up.

Because that IS my biggest fear. That we'll be the oldest parents, that we'll have used up all our energy getting to the parenthood point, that I'll be dealing with my child's puberty while I'm going through menopause (man is that a bad combo), that I'll be worrying about retirement and paying for college at the very same time. I mean, all of those things may be true, but I'm hoping my second student is right, and that being an older parent forces you to keep your energy going. We can do this! It doesn't have to be a tragedy where we are like, "Go kick the ball against the wall, my arthritis is acting up," or "go play tag with your shadow, I'm just so tired and old right now."  Our child can somehow make us feel more youthful, active, and limber in body and mind...Right? RIGHT? Please, please tell me I'm right.

Right now, I'm feeling pretty good about turning forty. I am trying to focus so much more on all the pieces that are beautifully set and locked in place, and less on the one piece that isn't. I feel this way even though it goes through me like a fork in the eye when you're down and people say, "Concentrate on what you have to be grateful for." Don't you tell me to be grateful! Sometimes you need to wallow in the things that AREN'T and that is a good, natural, processing-grief thing to do. Forcing me to feel grateful when I need to mourn a loss only makes me feel like people want to skirt past the pain because it's uncomfortable...for them. Seriously, we need to get better about how we deal with grief in this society--that it's something to work through in your own time, not get past as quickly as possible. Maybe it's harder when you're grieving the loss of tiny beings who didn't get to truly exist, some more than others, or the continued absence of a baby who doesn't exist yet but is coming soon...hopefully.

But, in this case? I really do want to focus on the positives, on all the overwhelmingly amazing things to love about my life, which celebrates forty years of highs and lows in a scant 12 days. I have a really beautiful life. It helps that no one's telling me what to feel, that I've decided this on my own.

Things turned out differently than I originally thought they would. But...they turned out more beautifully than I could have ever imagined, even with all the twists and turns and pain and losses and setbacks we never could have seen coming. Maybe in some ways BECAUSE of those twisty parts.

I love the idea of saving something for my forties to work through SO MUCH. I'm going to go with that. I am going to celebrate the pants off this new birthday, the one that earlier in my thirties I thought of as a big dead end and now is the most exciting of beginnings.

So many things to look forward to. Bring it on.

Monday, April 18, 2016

#Microblog Mondays: How Are You With The Wait?



Last week was a blur of getting back into the swing of things after my illness, complete with meetings after school just about every day, several until 6, and a weekend where Saturday was consumed by NYS test scoring trainer training (I was a Question Expert, which is a funny title) and National Board writing retreat. It was exhausting, but I am definitely back to normal, finally.

Today, at the ELA test scoring, I spent a lot of time with people I don't usually see for more than passing pleasantries in the halls or when I get together with people from other buildings...which was nice. Everyone was super interested in adoption -- the questions "How is the wait going? Where are things now?" came up a lot, which I appreciated.

So how are we doing with the wait at this moment in time?

- Well, we received our email that our homestudy is expiring in 60 days recently, which sort of set of a tizzy of conflicted emotions and stress. We have to pay the update fee and the rest of our program fee before they'll send us the forms to fill out, and they can't schedule our one update visit with our social worker until they have the forms, so all of a sudden the end of June sounded AWFULLY CLOSE. It's a necessity, and our 1 year mark is technically the end of July since that's when our profile books went out, but all of a sudden we felt like OHMYGOD IT'S BEEN A YEAR AND THIS IS NEVERENDING. So out the check went and we wait for the forms.

- BUT, I also shared that we've received 3 profile calls in 3 months, one each month January-February-March, and I'm hopeful that we'll get one April (even though this doesn't have to constitute a trend, a girl can hope). It feels better to say "not yet" when we've gotten close at least once and we are getting attention  and opportunities.

- I explain that it's really hard to live in a place where this could come together in a week, or we could still be waiting next year. It's a world of extremes and no certainty of any kind. So we just kind of do the best with life as is and hope that it happens sooner than later and we're ready for the shock to the system.

- At the same time, our embryos are finally moving this week -- they are going to the cryobank connected to Snowflakes, and so that feels like the last piece in that puzzle before we're matched, so there's positive moment there. The ungodly amount of forms for this process is finally done until we have a matching contract. It was interesting when I mentioned the whole embryo adoption thing at school to a teacher I hadn't seen in a while and she looked at me like I was NUTS for handing our embryos over to someone else to get pregnant with and not doing surrogacy. I don't know why so many people think surrogacy in NY is so easy when the law is decidedly complicated, or why people don't get that not every option is right for every person. Being open means contending with people's reactions, I guess.

It is lovely to have so many people asking. I love that unlike infertility, I generally don't cry when I talk about adoption...unless someone else tears up first (like when I was showing another teacher pictures of our nursery and she totally got misty). Things are good.

Not easy, not simple, but good.

Want to read more #Microblog Mondays? Go here and enjoy!

Monday, April 11, 2016

#Microblog Mondays: The End of Reproductivity



This past Saturday (yes, appointments on Saturday!) I had my annual well woman visit at my OB/GYN. I don't know why I keep insisting on calling him an OB/GYN, since the OB part is now completely irrelevant.

It is really bizarre to realize that even though I am still of reproductive age, I am no longer a reproductive being. That's not the purpose of my body anymore. I answer the questions "no" to trying to get pregnant, "yes" to having had pregnancies but "no" to having had births, and it no longer guts me. 

It's kind of freeing to have my body be truly mine again. It feels like I had a possession of sorts, that for a period of my life my body wasn't meant for me but for growing someone else, even though it wasn't ever good at that and I tried so many crazy things to coax it into being more compliant. 

My body is mine, all mine -- my questions are about my own long term health and management and how Depo Provera can give me peace of mind and keep my stupid reproductive system in check until it decides to check out, and how now that I am accepting of the fact that I am infertile I am otherwise perfectly normal and healthy in my nether regions. 

It was truly the first time that I didn't leave that yearly appointment and sob in the car out of disappointment, and betrayal, and loss. 

I went home and went for a walk in the brisk April air with Bryce, and celebrated my body for what it can do...forgiving what it can't. 

Want to read more #Microblog Mondays? Go here and enjoy!

Saturday, April 9, 2016

What IS a Happy Ending, Anyway?

It's been an introspective week. I was written out of work due to asthmatic repercussions to the flu, and so had a LOT of time on my hands to read, and blog, and think, and read, and write, and think. (And sleep, although it really is something else when they want you to rest but have you hopped up on nebulizers and steroids and so you are EXHAUSTED but you absolutely cannot get your heart to slow and your mind to not race...so being out of work was definitely a good thing.)

One of the concepts that has been mulling around in my mind has been this idea of a Happy Ending, of a Happily Ever After, and how many times I have used that phrase. It started as a seed of thought even before it germinated when reading the Flip The Script Anthology (I told you there would be a bunch of related posts), continued to grow when I read Mel's post Who Tells Your Story?, and then really started to bloom in my mind today, of all days...my annual gynecological exam.

I'm realizing that the idea of a Happy Ending, a Happily Ever After, changes. For some people it's the same thing it always was, in terms of family building -- get married, have your 2.5 kids, live a comfortable and happy life. For some people kids aren't part of that happy ending and never have been. It may be having a fulfilling life, or finding a person to share that life with, or finding that thing that makes you excited to get up every day. The funny thing is, I don't actually know anyone who has a truly uncomplicated, comfortable, sitcom-perfect life, even if they have the marriage and/or the kids and/or whatever it was they envisioned their life to be.

When you think you know what your happy ending is, and then you realize that you're not quite sure anymore, it can throw you for a loop.

Especially when you realize, perhaps selfishly, that you've had so many different kinds of happy endings and maybe "endings" are overrated anyway.

For instance...one of the questions that they ask you in your annual well woman visit is, "Do you feel safe in your home?" The answer should be unequivocally yes, but that hasn't always been the case for me. In a past life, I never felt like I could answer anything but "yes" to this question but the sordid truth was that I most definitely did not feel safe. I desperately wanted someone to know but was too afraid to even acknowledge the truth and so would meekly say "yes" and hope the subtext was caught but it wasn't. Now, I can say "YES, absolutely" and know that I have a beautiful marriage with a home that is safe and a man who respects and cherishes me. My marriage is 100% a happy ending, a happily ever after.

But, that's not the ultimate happy ending, right? Because we want a family beyond the two of us...which pushes the happy ending out more. I've had a post bouncing around in my head about how I actually feel selfish sometimes because we want more than what we have. I know it's not rational. We're not greedy and gluttonous to want children. But we just have SO MUCH. We have this amazing relationship where we can talk through anything, big or small, where we can face outright tragedy and feel like that cliche that we came out stronger. We really do come out stronger. We complement each other and both love to research and learn and spend quiet time on the couch or at our respective desks, 20 feet away from each other. We don't watch a whole lot of TV. We have deep conversations over Thai food. We can laugh through our tears. I can get shouty and Bryce will just laugh at me and occasionally let me know that I am maybe taking things a bit too far...and things defuse, they don't escalate. We are financially secure. We live in a beautiful home that we curate together. Could it be bigger? Could the basement not give Bryce a traumatic brain injury every time he goes to feed the cats? Sure. But do we NEED more? No. We have great careers and are both intellectually fulfilled and feel that we are in our chosen professions. That piece took a long time for me, too -- I figured out love and career at that same point in my last decade. But it's there now, with all those other beautiful jigsaw pieces fit together, and I feel so damn lucky.

So isn't that a happy ending? Isn't that a happily ever after?

When we first got married (actually, before we got married, because I like to plan and we knew we had some obstacles ahead, we just weren't aware how absurdly high that wall really was), we knew we wanted to have a family and got started right away. That was to be our happily ever after. We were happy together, of course, but wanted the two kids. Well, I wanted two kids...Bryce has always been okay with one (a preference that's probably reality at this point). And so pregnancy became the new Happy Ending.

But then pregnancy turned out to not be easy, and when it did happen, it certainly wasn't a happily ever after. But we still fought for it. We shed genetics, bit by bit. And then we realized that that particular happy ending was not going to be for us.

So we rewrote our arc.

And now our Happy Ending is to have a family through adoption. It wasn't our original idea of the happy ending. Will that part of our story hurt our child? Will they feel that our five and a half year journey of hardcore fertility fighting makes them seem like a second choice? Like a last resort, instead of our best hope?

Adoption is our best hope. I want parenthood so badly. I want the joys and fears and tears of raising a tiny human. I do not feel like adoption was a last ditch effort, but I do worry that's not how our child will see it. That our long history with fertility treatment didn't have a "happy ending" and so we turned to an alternative, but not in a complimentary way, in a "you would have much rather wanted a child you gave birth to" way.

This is a hard thing to think about, a hard angry teenage conversation in the future to envision. I mean, I really did want to be pregnant. It's a human experience, so I was led to believe. I wanted it SO BADLY that it pretty much consumed us for years, resulting in loving people asking us when we were going to realize that the fight just wasn't going to be won. Which is so hard when you are beaten into this NEVER GIVE UP mentality and the whole power of positive thinking piece that can be really helpful if you realize that you are, in fact, not actually magical. And that positive thinking can help you not live in the pit of despair, but if people could actually think themselves pregnant there would be a lot of unemployed fertility specialists.

But what I really wanted when I thought it was pregnancy? What I want now? To be a mom. To have a child. To be responsible for a tiny human and help them to grow into their best self. That never really changed. The vehicle changed. The reality changed. I do see adoption as our absolute best choice for parenthood. To be fair, it is our only choice at this point. We did not pursue surrogacy (something my OB/GYN brought up today just rhetorically), but that was because New York laws are tricky and we did not feel comfortable asking someone to do that for us and after everything we went through and the distinct lack of answers we received on WHY everything was so damn hard and complicated, it just didn't seem worth all the risks. We can't go down the infertility treatment road any further, even if new technologies come up. I can't complete a transfer anymore. I don't WANT to complete a transfer anymore.

This baby that is coming to us through adoption is like the rest of our happy endings -- an evolution of our histories, melded together and reformed into our best hope. My career as a special education teacher doesn't mean less because I had four jobs before I found my true calling. I do not think that Bryce and I have a lesser marriage because we were each married before. We were not each other's first choices in life. Our first choices were disastrous for varying reasons, but we learned from those failures (for there was failure on all sides) and created our own happily ever after, a relationship that is everything our previous experiences weren't. We are more secure for the mistakes made and the toxicity survived. I don't exactly encourage divorce -- it's messy and painful and feels like a world ending, the exact opposite of a happy ending -- but at the same time it is incredibly enlightening. It is a rewriting of your arc, of your story...a new beginning with the benefit of lessons learned.

Adoption feels the same way. It's not how we started out, but it has the best chance of getting us to that sweet spot where our marriage is -- the opportunity to expand our relationship to parenting. I worry that my choice of the words "Happy Ending" could put that responsibility on a child to feel that they have to make us happy, but hopefully I make it abundantly clear that we don't need something else to make us happy. We want to expand our happiness. We aren't looking for a plug for baby-shaped hole, even though I've spoken of this baby-shaped hole many times in the past. That's been a shift, too.

Part of this is because we've been starting the discussion of what happens if adoption doesn't work out. I don't really think that this will be the case, but what if? There was a time when the thought of living without children terrified me, filled me with a horrible emptiness, sank me into a deep musty hole of desolation. But even though it's not fair to call trying for children for nearly 7 years living childfree, we have actually been living without children for a really long time. And since we haven't been in a constant cycle of needles and appointments and reminders that I am attempting to be The Great Incubator, it's been easier to just LIVE, just the two of us, to kind of see what that would be like. Even with the beautiful nursery upstairs and the giant pink binder of adoption paperwork that is already in need of updating.

It's not as scary anymore. I'm not gonna lie, it would not be the end to the story that I wrote in my head and have rewritten over and over. It would be a horrible disappointment. But then it would be okay, because we have each other. We have a Happily Ever After already. We have accepted the changes that have come to us. We have accepted that our lives weren't neat and tidy and there were lots of codas and epilogues and sequels to what we thought would be so simple in our 20s. I have accepted that when the nurse at my annual gynecological appointment asks me if I'm trying to get pregnant, I can say "No" and not feel even remotely sad about it. In fact, I feel a tiny bit of relief. That piece of things is over. It is disappointing. It is an experience I will ever only wonder and read about. But I can let it go, because it's not part of my story anymore.

There's so much still to be told in this crazy story of ours. Probably the best thing for me to do is to quit thinking in terms of happy endings, of happily ever after. That implies an end, and last I checked my last days of being 39 are not an end. It is the most beautiful beginning of the story that we can see unfold, with all its parts, all the beautiful mess and twists we never saw coming, and all the history that intertwines to make up the story of our family. Whatever that ends up looking like.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

My 400th Post!

Well, I'll be. As of today, I have written 400 semi-organized thoughts on this here blog, just a little less than a month before I turn 40 and 5 years and 7 months since I started this whole thing. 

I was looking at my first post, "To Share or Not to Share," and thinking on how very different everything is now...and how similar. It was a kind of manifesto at the beginning of what I wanted this blog to be, back when we had just failed our first IVF cycle. Obviously at the time I did not realize that I would go from being an IVF blog to a miscarriage blog to a  donor egg blog to a donor sperm blog to an End of Treatment blog to an adoption blog to an embryo donation/adoption blog to a weird combination of all those things. I thought for sure that I would be sharing my struggle, and that my struggle would be shitty but swift, and that I would become a Parenting After Infertility success story by 2012 AT LEAST.  I remember having a fight with Bryce because in 2011, a year after I started this blog, he said, "I don't think we'll be successful until the end of 2012," and I thought that was a doomsday prophecy. OH TO HAVE BEEN SUCCESSFUL FOUR YEARS AGO. 

But, the evolution and distinct lack of closure to my blog I think hasn't been a bad thing. I get to explore so many topics, and meet so many people from so many legs of this journey. We have been trying to have a child for longer than I ever thought would be possible, and it stymies me a bit that we have a nursery now, in 2016, but still no tiny human to raise in it. 

I have watched people meet their husband to be, get engaged, get married, and have MORE THAN ONE CHILD in the time that we have been trying to add to our family of two. 

I don't think I saw that coming in September 2010. 

However, my spirit of wanting to share my story, to give transparency to even the most uncomfortable or mundane aspects of infertility, IVF, loss, ending treatment, and adoption, to try to open conversation and hear perspectives that differ from my own while bushwhacking my own path through this jungle... that is the same. I hope that I bring humor and candor and a dark chuckle or two to this journey, as it has most definitely shaped my life over the past six and a half years of attempting to add a baby to our lives and the five and a half years of being open about our journey. 

This hasn't been easy, but I am so grateful for everyone who reads. And it's amazing to me how many do read -- I am not a big shot to say the least but I am slated to hit 200,000 total page views this month and that is just incredible to me. The fact that hundreds of people read my blog each day and that my average monthly pageviews has been over 6,000 for months and months and months makes me think that I resonate somehow, out there in the internet-y ether. It's not necessary, but a wonderful feeling to feel like your words go somewhere, that you are heard, that your voice is OUT THERE. 

I feel a part of a community, an ever-changing one, and I value all of your thoughts and friendship and support just so damn much. I love that I have friends who are parenting after infertility, friends who are living childfree, friends who are new adoptive parents, friends who are adoptive parent veterans, and friends who are in every stage in between -- trying for a second after IVF, pregnant with a second, trying after fostering, adopting after loss, coming to grips with failed treatment, you name it. 

And most of all I am grateful to Mel of Stirrup Queens, who has carefully crafted a community for anyone touched by infertility/loss/adoption, and for anyone who relates to a feeling of a life spun out of control that ISN'T related to ALI. It is an amazing community and where I have found so many amazing blogs and bloggers and people from all around the country and the world that I would never have become friends with any other way. Because you're all my friends, those of you who are here to read and listen and support and be a part of this insane journey...wherever it ultimately takes us. 

I am also super thankful to Bryce, who accepts that our life is put out there on the internet for strangers to read, and supports the hours that I spend frantically typing out my thoughts at weird hours when posts come to me. I am thankful that he doesn't mind being included in my transparency, although we do have arrangements on what can and can't be shared, because we're in this together. I appreciate his support and perspective and rock of sanity that he provides when all this becomes too much. Just think, most of these 400 posts have been read out loud to Bryce, often before posting, to make sure that it reads okay or I don't sound too defensive or whiny (or that we're okay with me sounding defensive or whiny due to the content) or that I haven't shared too much of our private affairs. That's a lot of listening time logged. That's a dedicated husband and partner in all this experience, because I couldn't be so honest and darkly funny without his encouragement and I certainly couldn't write the posts that are abject love letters to the man who makes me better in every possible way without his tacit and explicit input, support, love, and help. This space wouldn't exist without Bryce on so many levels. 

So hooray for a milestone, for many, many hours logged pouring my heart and soul out on this laptop (and probably several others at this point), through laughter and tears and bewilderment. For a space that tells my story, bruises and flowers and everything in between. For this place that helps me make sense of a life experience I didn't think would be so thoroughly mine, but hopefully helps others to not feel so alone and those who support us to understand just why this is such a complicated journey that impacts every single aspect of life, marriage, and mental well-being. I look forward to sharing all the moments that are to come, the closure that's-not-really-closure of meeting our slippery Mystery Baby, and all the adventures that come After. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Word Choice and Adoption

After reading Flip the Script: Adult Adoptee Anthology, it got me thinking on how I write and speak about adoption.

Word choice matters.

Over and over, the idea of "chosen" as a way to talk about adoption came up as incredibly harmful.

Now, to be fair to myself, I have hated the word "Chosen" with regards to adoption since I first started looking for stuff on Pinterest and came across this framed print/wall decal/pillow print/whatever that came up over and over and over again, that goes something like this;

I was LOVED
I was WANTED
I was CHOSEN
I was ADOPTED

Why would this make me feel icky on the inside? Because I feel it's not accurate. I do not go to a baby store. I do not choose my baby out of a row of infants or go to an orphanage and line kids up to pick the one I want. That takes the whole birth mother piece out of the equation, sanitizes it, and makes it sound suspiciously like the whole stork thing that removes messy vaginas and labor from the picture for little kids, and for adoption removes that piece of loss of grief wrapped up in the relinquishment that makes placement possible. (Please know that in no way am I suggesting that gory birth pictures should be displayed in nurseries for the sake of honesty and transparency...)

The truth is, WE WILL BE CHOSEN, not the other way around. One day, our future baby's expectant mother will pick us out of a handful of glossy photobooks, "imagine your baby here" life books, and maybe that will be it or maybe there will be in-person meetings or interviews to decide between families. Because it's a BIG DECISION, and it's HER DECISION. We don't choose. She chooses. And while of course our baby will be loved and wanted, I hate the idea of saying "chosen," because that goes along with "special."

What's wrong with telling a child they're special? Nothing, unless it sets them apart because you specially "chose" them and it puts silent expectation on this difference.

A quote from the anthology, by Joe Soll, LCSW's essay/poem titled "Finding Myself" speaks clearly to both these concepts:

"What I knew about being an adoptee growing up was that I was chosen, perhaps from a baby supermarket. 
What I know now about being an adoptee growing up was that my parents chose to adopt me and each time they told me I was chosen, it caused me pain, reminding me that I lost my mother when I was born.

What I knew about being an adoptee growing up was that I was special, but it made me sad to hear it.
What I know now about being an adoptee is that every time I heard the word 'special,' it caused me pain, reminding me that I lost my mother when I was born."

The same goes for "lucky" and "grateful." I hope that no one that I know would ever tell my child how lucky they are or how grateful they should be to be adopted by us. That is unfair. And it creates problems with feeling okay about talking about birth parents, because if you're supposed to be so lucky or grateful, wouldn't it be ungrateful to want to explore your first family, somehow a betrayal to your adoptive parents? This is not how we feel, whatsoever, but it is an unspoken expectation that comes with "Lucky" and "Grateful." That if you are happy where you are, you should forget where you've been, where your origins lie, who your first family is. I am hopeful that we will have an open adoption where there won't be so much mystery, but because we are the ones who are chosen, we may not have that option. So even if physical contact or communication isn't possible due to birth mother choice, I always want my child to be able to talk about and ask questions about his or her first family, without ever feeling like they are looking a gift horse in the mouth because they are not being "grateful." NO NO NO. We are all partners in the adoption constellation, even if not everyone is clearly visible for whatever complicated reasons. It is hard to tell someone that they are lucky or should be grateful because they are not being parented by their biological parents. Wouldn't that sound confusing and upsetting put in that context?

Then there is the whole "Missing piece" thing, which makes me worry about every time I've written about a happy ending or the baby-shaped hole in our lives. The feeling of expectation that this child should fill a space left empty by failed efforts to conceive a baby. That your happiness is dependent on this child and being a perfect happy family now...which simply just doesn't exist. There is no such thing as the perfect happy family in any situation. However, I could understand the pressure felt to make everyone happy as if that's your role. Which it isn't.

I hope that it's clear when I write about our lives that we are very happy just the two of us. I hope that it's clear that we really want to share our love with a child, to become parents and raise an amazing child (no pressure, we just think that we could do a bang-up job of childrearing and every child is amazing).  That a child does not COMPLETE us, a child ADDS TO US.

My least favorite Pinterest nursery decoration is the one that says,

First we had each other,
Then we had you...
Now we have EVERYTHING.

This one's not meant for adoption solely, but makes me cringe every time I see it. Because jeezum, the pressure. You are our everything? I feel like that makes the child seem like the glue to hold the marriage together, the one piece that is responsible for ultimate happiness and fulfilment. And, I mean, it's of course fulfilling and happiness-making to have a child and participate in parenting and all that, but I don't believe that it should be the ultimate thing that defines me. Probably because in a month I turn 40 and I've had a lot of time to live my life without children, and I'm not wallowing in a pit of misery without direction because I'm not a parent. My marriage and my life is beautiful and full and I don't expect a child to complete it, but it sure would be nice to have that element of our lives come to fruition. (Also, because I teach middle school, I can see the follies in children being the complete and total center of their parents' lives... it does not lead to self-sufficient, resilient children, I can tell you from my experience with many children in a different context from parenting.)

Lastly there is a particularly horrific (in my mind at least) nursery decoration that sort of combines these two sentiments... the CHOSEN and the You are EVERYTHING to us:

I was CHOSEN
I was WANTED
I was CHERISHED
I GREW IN THEIR HEARTS
I WAS THE MISSING PIECE
I was LOVED
I was ADOPTED

I find the past tense concerning, too. I WAS loved? Shouldn't this be present tense for some? Even though I find it a bit cheesy, I do love the "I grew in their hearts" part, because of the whole being a mother at heart forever thing and loving this mysterious child that's been hanging out in the ether for nearly 7 years. There's nothing wrong with that. But it does contribute a bit to this whole "adopted babies just materialize... they weren't grown in someone else's body." Our agency reminded us that at certain developmental ages we have to be sure that our kids realize that they were also born and grew in a tummy, because a lot of times toddlers who were adopted think of adoption as this magical storklike thing and don't realize that they, too, were born. And while that's hard to explain since it means also acknowledging that they grew in someone's tummy and were born and then lost that person (even if it's open adoption, because the first mother isn't parenting), and that is heavy stuff for a three year old. But necessary. And there are great picture books to help with that, including the one that made me cry at my adoptive parent education training weekend. They might not work for every circumstance, but there's more and more literature out there to help with these heavy but vital conversations.

It's the MISSING PIECE part that gets me the most. Now, we feel that we are missing a baby, for sure. Otherwise we wouldn't be working so damn hard to become parents, in so many different ways, for so many difficult years. WE REALLY WANT TO BECOME PARENTS AND PROVIDE A WONDERFUL LIFE FOR A CHILD. We have slowly shed connections to genetics over the past several years. But, in no way could we put it on a child that they are this missing piece to us, that they complete us, that they hold the responsibility to our happiness. The more I read the more the sense of feeling this strong responsibility to be happy and to provide happiness and to never be sad came up in the stories adoptees told in the anthology.

Another quote from Joe Soll, LCSW's essay/poem titled "Finding Myself" speaks to this feeling of happiness responsibility:

"What I know about being an adoptee growing up was that I was supposed to make my adoptive parents happy.
What I know know about being an adoptee is that I am not responsible for their happiness."

Powerful words.

I vow to be more conscious of the way that I speak and write about my FutureBaby, about our wishes to have an extended family beyond our happy family of two. I apologize if I have offended you and these signs are sitting in your nursery...but it doesn't change my feelings about the sentiments. To me, signs like those are like the ones people have over their beds in their master bedrooms...

ALWAYS KISS ME GOODNIGHT

Holy hell, if you need a sign to remind you to kiss each other goodnight, I'm not sure it's worth it to slap that vinyl decal up there. The fact that our child is loved and wanted and adored and that we want all the best things for him or her should be apparent in our actions, not in the decor around the crib, in my (strong) opinion. I'll take owls and kissing puffins and fairy tale foxes lazily eating grapes anytime over that.

Word choice, in what we say, how we write, and how we decorate even can go a long way in making sure that we aren't placing undue pressure or stress on a child whose adoption has brought joy, but is also layered with grief. Not something that has to come up daily per se, but that grief is irrevocably intertwined with the complexity of adoption, and it's so important to honor all of these pieces, not just the sanitized version that is so much easier to swallow.

Monday, April 4, 2016

#Microblog Mondays: Adoption Book Recommendation

A while back in November, Lori Lavender Luz recommended some holiday reading, two of which were books written by adoptees:

The Adoptee Survival Guide: Adoptees Share Their Wisdom and Tools 

and

Flip the Script: Adult Adoptee Anthology

I bought them both for some light holiday reading.

Why? I'm not an adoptee myself, but the whole point of Flip the Script is that the way adoption is handled in the media is largely from an adoptive parent perspective and an adoption agency perspective, very rah-rah adoption is AWESOME and makes FAMILIES and sort of conveniently leaves out the majority of the perspective out there, which is the adoptees themselves, and the fact that adoption ALSO means the loss and grief of a birthmother lost, a first family gone (even if there is contact through open adoption). So, there is a movement to reclaim November (and other months I bet) to Flip the Script and give the perspectives of adoptees, who often share feeling pushed aside, not considered experts on their own experience, subjugated into a feeling of Gratefulness, torn between a desire to know their origins and birth family details and the pull to not disappoint or upset adoptive families. Most importantly in the legal arena, there is the fight to own their original birth certificates and biographical information. (Original birth certificates are amended upon finalization and adoptive parents are listed instead of birth parents, a fact I was largely unaware of until fairly recently.) It's an important movement, and one that I want to understand, because I am a prospective adoptive parent and my child will identify as an adoptee and have complex situations to contend with that are not within my own experience--I can only read about them and try to understand and seriously try to not screw up the whole parenting thing.

I will say that the first book had me running to friends of mine who were adopted through domestic infant adoption and asking them if they were really angry about the whole thing or felt betrayed by their parents or marginalized as a person or that they had been a commodity bought and sold, and they just hadn't told me they felt that way because I was excited about adopting. They thought I was crazy, actually, but appreciated my asking their feedback. The perspectives were important to read and it sure did make me think, but a lot of the stories involved a lot of lying on the part of adoptive parents and adoptive parents who turned out to be horribly abusive and adoption agencies that were for profit or really corrupt and were not at all on the up and up. There were perspectives that believe that NO adoption is on the up and up and it should be abolished. There was a lot about searching because of closed records, and that was incredibly interesting because I had no idea how much you can gather from genealogy websites and adoption search sites. It was actually an adoption search registry that a friend of mine used, that her birth mother also used separately, that resulted in their reunion a few years ago. Actually, if you are an adoptee from a more closed era or recently where there wasn't much information given, this book would be like a bible for coping and searching and expectations for reunion.

It was interesting stuff, but also incredibly scary. I felt like there were a lot people out there who would hate me for wanting to adopt a child (albeit through a non-profit agency that is birth-mother driven and provides lots of education and training and support and counseling for everyone involved, forever...). I think the biggest thing I learned from this book once I got over the fear that I am a horrible baby snatcher is DO NOT LIE TO YOUR CHILD. BE HONEST AND OPEN AND HONOR ALL PARTS OF YOUR CHILD. Valuable lessons (that my agency hammers in as it should) to take away, for sure.

Given the intensity of the first book, I waited a little while to read the second book. I just read it over my Spring Break (the one with the Flu).

This one I felt (maybe biasedly so, since I am a prospective adoptive parent) was more balanced, because it was not so heavily ADOPTION IS HARMFUL AND RIPS FAMILIES APART AND THERE'S NOTHING POSITIVE ABOUT IT FOR THE CHILD OR THE BIRTH FAMILY, EVER. Not that that's all that I got from the first book, per se, but that one was a little more geared towards Adoption Is Typically Unethical. This one made me feel a little more comfortable, a little less like a baby-stealing villain (even though that is most definitely not what I am or will be). But it's important to feel uncomfortable every once in a while, because this is how you grow. This is how you embrace other people's thoughts and feelings and get your empathy working, so that you can be a better person who can consider all sides of a given issue, all parts of a given experience.

I flagged a lot of pages in the book, things that made me think, things that made me smile, things made me cringe a little, things that made me rethink some of the ways I speak and write about adoption, myself, as a newbie to the process and uninitiated by actual parenthood yet:

There are more flags than meet the eye here. Pardon my unvacuumed rug, we've had the flu.
This is a collection of essays, and a one-woman-show-excerpt/essay, and songs, and a rap, and artwork, and poetry, and just a lot of hearts laid bare. It is a book I think everyone considering adoption should read, not just adoptees. It gives a variety of perspectives, including perspectives of international adoptees, domestic infant adoptees, adoptees who have found peace with their adoptive and birth parents, adoptees who ended up adopting themselves, adoptees who needed to separate from their adoptive parents in order to find themselves and worth in themselves, adoptees whose birth parents were duped, adoptees who were devastated by adoption, and adoptees who are at a tenuous peace with the complexity of it all. The same message applies -- don't lie, don't avoid honest discussion about birth family, don't hinder search efforts or hide information that would help a search, watch your terminology and how words like "grateful," "chosen," and "saved," could make a person feel, making sure you are truly prepared for transracial adoption, and how important it is to honestly deal with infertility loss before putting your happiness on a child through adoption. SO MANY THINGS TO THINK ABOUT.

This is basically a book that is spawning a zillion posts, and this is already a Macroblog Monday, so I'll leave it at that for now. I have to say that I absolutely respect the perspectives in both books, even the ones that made me feel intensely uncomfortable and felt rooted in adoption practices of yesteryore. However, after reading some more, there are still agencies and practices in adoption that aren't much better than the Baby Scoop era even today, and I am thrilled that my agency is of the non-profit, child-centered but birth-parent-driven, highly-rigorously-screening adoptive parents variety. I don't think I'm being naive here, either. I have so many questions, and so many things to mull over. I will be sharing these in the next few posts, because it just really settled in me.

Please read this book. It is amazing, even if it makes you uncomfortable. Maybe even especially because it may make you uncomfortable.


Want to read more #Microblog Mondays, perhaps ones that actually follow the rules and are truly Micro? Go here and enjoy!

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Why I Won't Survive an Apocalypse

It's been quite the Spring Break. Bryce caught the flu and got sick Sunday as we drove home from Vermont, and was in full blast flu mode Monday.

I felt fine Monday, and was supposed to have lunch with a friend who was nearing her due date and so texted her that if she wanted to opt out because the plague lived at my house, to feel free, I wouldn't feel bad. She took me up on it, and while I felt a little Typhoid Mary, it was a really good call.

I had to cancel another lunch on Tuesday (so sad, break is when I can have midweek lunch out like so many normal people), because I was starting to feel a little off myself. A little tickly in the lungs, a little run down, a little freezing even though it was a balmy 65.

Then Wednesday I had full on chills and a low grade fever and a lovely cough started in my lungs. I should have gone to the doctor Thursday when it didn't get better, but instead I slept until 1:30 and zombied around the house.

Friday I went to the doctor, and was diagnosed with flu even though my temperature never rose above 100. I thought for sure I had something else, because I didn't have the high fever, but apparently if your body aches like you ran a marathon (when I most certainly did NOT), you have a headache, you are coughing a gross juicy cough, and you are exhausted, a low grade fever counts. Great.

Unfortunately, I have asthma. And my asthma is like a kindly ghost, usually -- I know it's there, but because I take really great daily preventative inhalant medicine, it's completely well controlled. I have the ghost in mind when I do things like take crazy cold weather hikes or swim in heavily chlorinated pools, but most of the time it just kind of flits in the background, summarily tamed.

When I get sick, it's a different story. I become like the girl in The Exorcist, wheezing deeply to the point where it seems glass windows should be sucking in and out with my breath, my cough insanely wracking and full-body in nature. When I went to the doctor, apparently there was no color in my face and I was using "accessory muscles" to breathe. She immediately put me on a nebulizer, and I felt much better. She wanted to do a second treatment right away, but the thing about nebulizers is that they are powerful and it makes a body really, really jittery. My heart feels like hamster heart. My hands shake. I really wanted to be able to drive home. So, she sent me home with a modern nebulizer of my very own.

When I was in high school and newly diagnosed with asthma, I ended up in the emergency room due to poor inhaler carrying habits enough that I was prescribed a nebulizer. The thing was huge, the size of a portable turntable, and the liquid medicine that went into it came in these hazardous glass ampule things. They looked like the bubble things on levels, but with pointy, ball-tipped ends. Ends you were expected to snap off at scored points so the liquid could go into the machine. With your finger. I cut myself more than once.

A modern nebulizer is incredibly cute in comparison. It's this compact, about 7" by 7" thing that has a handle like a little radio thing, and the medicine now comes in twist-off plastic tube things. No risk of slitting a finger open anymore. It's really quite amazing how everything gets smaller as it gets more technologically advanced. Except for smartphones. For some reason those keep getting bigger.

Anyway, I am to nebulize up to 5 times per day (but I am finding 2-3 is okay), which is just spectacular. Today makes me think I need to do it more than 2-3, because I had two separate fits that left me feeling like I was being suffocated by my own organs and my body was actively trying to kill me. All because I dared to laugh.

It is really, REALLY hard not to laugh when you live with Bryce. He is just so funny. He has a beard right now, and a beard trimmer I got him for Christmas. It looked like he missed a spot and it was sticking out and making him look rather Confederate General. When I said that, he pushed it all forward and pointed his arm authoritatively towards the kitchen and yelled in a southern voice, "CHARGE! FIRE THE CANNONS!" I mean, how do you not bust a gut with this kind of hilarity?

I seriously thought I was going to die. I was head between my knees, nearly on the floor, crying with desperation because I COULD NOT GET ANY AIR IN MY LUNGS.

And then, when I wasn't suffocating anymore, I sat at the dinner table and cried. I am very cranky on all this nonsense (I'm on oral steroids, too, so I am full of the 'roid rage apparently). It doesn't mix well.

"Aren't you so glad you married someone whose body defies them at every turn? Whose body literally DOES NOT WORK AT ALL?"

"Yes," Bryce said. "Obviously, very glad."

"Yeah, well, it's just great. Breathing? Nope, can't do it. Reproducing? Nope, not here. Eating wheat/barley/rye? NOPE, I can't even EAT properly. Oh, and sucky joints. Don't forget the sucky joints."

He just rubbed my back. You can't really argue with me on that one, because it really does seem like there are so many things my body sucks at. Migraines, too. My head revolts against me regularly.

I know there are so many things my body does right. I mean, I have really good GOOD cholesterol, and my blood pressure (when I'm not starved for oxygen) is actually quite good. I am strong despite my craptastic joints. I don't suffer too terribly much for not being able to eat gluten, because we are amazing cooks (if I do say so myself) and we find great restaurants that take Celiac seriously. I have a great mind, capable of all sorts of fun and interesting things. I can still hike and play the violin and write and read and garden and all those activities. When I don't have the flu, that is. (A positive -- doing a nebulizer treatment is kind of like being hopped up on speed after -- so I am typing this REALLY fast.)

I just feel so defeated by my body. I wish it did me right more often than it deals me poor hands all over the place. I'm probably tired and cranky and throwing myself a big fat pity party, but not being able to breathe pretty much makes you feel as helpless and awful as you can imagine it would.

It makes me realize...I am never going to survive an apocalypse. The food thing could get me...what if all that's left is Wonder Bread? I'd die of diarrhea. But it's the asthma that would get me first. No asthma medication, and I'll shut right down. Strangled by my lungs' failure to properly do their job. I guess that's better than eventually getting eaten by zombies, though, since I can't run fast enough if they are fast zombies due to my bum knees. Although we do love Vermont, and if there are zombies, apparently they never go to Vermont. Maybe they have stockpiles of albuterol inhalers there.

More reasons to love Vermont.

Well, the mouthpiece didn't get smaller. This looks like I'm putting a spray bottle in my mouth. Looks crazy, but it saves me for sure. Tells my lungs what's what, for at least an hour or so.