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

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

A Surprising Wave of Grief

We are now in the Contracts phase of our match with the couple who is adopting our embryos...they said yes, and switched to a more donated-embryo friendly clinic, which to me was an amazing leap of faith.

Last week we received two large square boxes in the mail labeled "LABS" with a maroon-and-white beaker logo on them. In these boxes, one for me and one for Bryce, we have two square styrofoam coolers, four blood collection vials, a sterile urine sample cup, and paperwork explaining that we are to call a blood lab in advance of getting our samples taken to see if they will ship samples to another lab for processing, and that all payment is billed to Nightlight Christian Adoptions and they have prepaid FedEx slips, so it's all taken care of.

Why, might you ask, do we need to get blood and pee tested again? Because they need an infectious disease panel for the FDA, to show that our embryos are safe and free from infectious disease.

Oh, hilarity. We have done the infectious disease panel multiple times when doing donor cycles, and yet it's either not in the medical records that were sent over or a newer one is needed.

Except these embryos were created in 2014 and 2013... so, um, why would our infectious disease panels NOW say ANYTHING about those embryos? I guess if we don't have HIV or Hepatitis now, we didn't have it then? Plus I can assure them that we most definitely DO NOT have TB, since we are tested yearly on that one for adoption. We really hoped that our records would reveal the panels they needed, but then they sent us the kits which led me to believe that our records came up empty, and so today we went to a blood lab that I called in advance to bring our bulky, awkward kits that we would have to explain.

Luckily it wasn't busy, and I panicked at first when the first phlebotomist asked, not in a snotty way, "And what made you think we send these out to another laboratory?"

I immediately said, "Tammi in Client Services, I called yesterday." And so that shut down the possibility of being shut down.

But then the next hurdle was the packaging -- the kit required bags be filled with "wet ice," and they did not have any wet ice. I joked that I wished I had known that because I have about a zillion freezer packs in the basement freezer leftover from medication deliveries, but even those wouldn't have worked. 4 pounds of wet ice per kit was needed. Luckily, they were good problem solvers and suggested that after they drew the blood and collected the pee, that we should go to the nearby grocery store and pick up a bag of ice, and then they would package it all up for delivery. (Of course, when we went afterwards, there was a choice of a 7 pound bag or an 18 pound bag. We needed 8 pounds, and Bryce at first was like, "Can't we just make do with 7?" and I snapped, "NO! I am NOT doing this again if less than 4 pounds means the samples are compromised somehow. They will just have to figure out what to do with an extra 10 pounds of ice." I just don't understand why it jumps from 7 to 18... shouldn't there be a 10 pound bag or something?)

Thankfully I did the urine first because my bladder is apparently anatomically no smaller than anyone else's (per all the ultrasound techs who've ever seen my uterus and ovaries, which is no small number), but it fills QUICKLY. Then it was time for the blood.

I let the sweet older lady know that I have crappy veins.

"Oh no, you don't have bad veins. Let's not go into this with the thought that you have bad veins. Today you have good veins," she said to encourage me.

We'll see about that, I thought as I smiled at her. Then I realized that I have completely forgotten which arm is my better arm, right or left. And I realized that there's been such a long break since I was poked so frequently that for all I know, I have spectacular veins now.

I don't.

She found a vein (I remembered it to be one of my good ones) on the outside of my right elbow pit, and while it took a minute to start to fill, and she had to press on my arm to keep it filling the tubes, it did the job.

Things took a surprising turn though while my blood was slowly seeping into the vials. I discovered that my eyes were also slowly seeping.

I sat there, after looking away and breathing out slowly when she said, "just a little pinch now," knowing that it would be a slow fill, and thought about all the times I've sat in this exact kind of chair, with a zillion different phlebotomists coaxing my veins to produce a steady stream of blood.

I thought about how the results were never quite what I wanted them to be.

How my estrogen was too low or too high.

How my betas were either nonexistent negatives, or low -- too low to be encouraging for the ectopic, and the low end of normal for our uterine pregnancy that ended, the final death knell being sounded from a call after I sat in a chair like this, hoping against hope that my bloodwork would return high, that I wasn't miscarrying, that I had some kind of subchorionic hematoma like all the other people I knew who bled early and still got a baby in the end.

I thought about how this was the LAST TIME I would be sitting here, in this chair, giving blood for something embryo-related.

The finality got me. This was the end of a long and sad era, of 7 years of sitting in these chairs and offering up my wretched veins for no good reason, in the end.

It's also the beginning of a new one...I hope that this couple is successful, and that I gave blood for the last time for a GOOD reason, that a child or two or three results from our efforts and hard work and heartbreak, just not one that will be ours. A child who wouldn't exist if not for giving away the material that will lead to a pregnancy, we hope, because I couldn't be a good home and we are just so burnt out on the whole infertility process. Let this sweet young(er than us) couple take the torch and carry it home.

Unfortunately, all I could think on while my blood was filling the vials over the course of minutes was the end. And the silent tears just rolled down my cheeks.

After, I went out into the waiting room, because it was Bryce's turn now (and that guy has AMAZING veins that fill vials in SECONDS, which is simply unjust). And there, in the waiting room, was a woman who looked green about the gills because she was downing the disgusting liquid necessary for a glucose test. She was pregnant. I know that blood labs are full of pregnant women, but I had just hoped for a moment that the only other people who would be in there while we were would be the nice elderly lady who apparently has to get blood draws frequently, because she was apparently well known by the staff.

Bryce saw my face and the residue of my blood draw tears and he said, "Are you okay? DID SHE SAY SOMETHING TO YOU?" and it was funny, because he was all ready to do battle for me, to go tell that lady what's what if she had said something insensitive, or unhelpful to me about our situation. But she didn't. She was perfectly nice and I didn't bring anything up. But the simple words "are you okay" always just tip me over, spilling what I'm desperately trying to keep bottled until the car over and down my face. I managed at first, "yup. I'm okay. It's not that." but that he pressed me, and said, "Did it hurt?" and I was like, "NO. It's NOT THAT. It's SOMETHING ELSE." and then he got it but it was too late and I started to sob and ran out of the office into the hallway, a horrified Bryce following close behind to make sure I was all right, probably surprised to see these violent tears that used to be so regularly shed make a reappearance.

I couldn't keep it in anymore, this feeling of sadness, of relinquishing our last bits of the hope we'd held onto for so long even though in relinquishing we are giving these embryos the best hope possible. They are getting the chance to BE. It's just not IN ME, or FOR US, and while we are good with that, it STILL HURTS. The end result of 7 years of trying to have a family and failing spectacularly STILL HURTS. We are very excited for the possibilities of adoption, but the fact that we had to renew our homestudy and we haven't had a profile call in 4 months now STILL HURTS. It's a cumulative thing. You can't go through what we have, over and over and over, disappointment after disappointment after disappointment and loss after loss, losing pregnancies and body parts and genetic material twice over and then the possibility of pregnancy at all, and NOT feel the hurt.

I was just shocked it was so visceral, and that it was nearly PTSD-like in the way sitting there, getting my blood drawn for a reproductive reason, just brought EVERYTHING up to the surface and made me really dive deep into the enormity of our decision, and the culmination of everything that is leaving us hopeful for our own family through adoption, but mourning all the things that will never be for us. Mourning the ability to be pregnant and manage that process, to have the prenatal experience ourselves. Mourning our ability to parent without thought of our child's loss, their first family's loss, and that our joy in finally becoming parents is tempered by the loss of the person who brought our child into the world, for whom our child's birthday will be a source of pain, possibly a source of what-ifs. That we will always be one of two sets of parents to our child, and parenting is simply more complicated for us because you can't sweep all that under the rug and pretend that it's the same. It's not.

The wave just washed over me again, and again, and again, and I couldn't face going back into the office. So I stayed outside while Bryce did his part, and then moved further from the door as the older lady and the pregnant lady started waxing poetic on pregnancy and delivery and stories from daughters and sisters on all things pregnancy, something that will definitively never be my experience.

I have made peace with all these things, but being at peace and being able to NOT FEEL the hurt that goes with them is not the same thing. You can be at peace and still be hit with the loss, just not all the time. I'm sure these triggers will lurk throughout our life, because adoption is a wonderful way for us to become parents, but it is not a cure for infertility and it will not suddenly make things okay, just as finally becoming pregnant and holding a baby doesn't erase the infertility wounds for those who are successful in that way, eventually. It is ongoing.

I gathered myself together by the time Bryce came out, but I felt tired, almost hungover from the emotional expenditure. I went with him to get the ice but had him run it in. I know I will have to go to blood labs for cholesterol screenings and the like, that I can't avoid their offices forever, but I just couldn't face going back in.

Now that this piece is over, all that's left is to sign and notarize the contract, and then probably sign and notarize one more form for the transit of our embryos, about halfway across the country this time. Once the contract is signed and mailed in and processed, those embryos are no longer ours. They are the embryos formerly known as ours. We will get to know what happened to them, and that is worth so much to us. I'm sure there will be more days when I fall into a sobby mess over all this -- if the transfer doesn't work I'll be sad, but also if the transfer DOES work it will be incredibly bittersweet. I will be happy that we could give these embryos a shot, that we could help this other family grow into more than two. And I will be so, so sad that I couldn't do that for us. Like today, it will catch me and throw me into a place of grief and sadness. And like today, it will ebb and recede like the tides, leaving me exhausted but okay.

I am exhausted. I am okay. Grief is not linear. Maybe tidal is a good way to think of it...these particular tides aren't regular, but they come, and they go, and as much as they erode they also build you back up. It's a new kind of okay, and one that will shift and change just like the tides shift and change beaches, not in a way that's static, but one that's utterly dynamic.

Monday, July 25, 2016

#Microblog Mondays: To Go or Not To Go



Every year our agency has a picnic in August, an hour and fifteen minute drive from our home, for adoptive families and waiting families, and it's like a big party for everyone. We have gone to other events -- the Halloween fun day at a local garden center, the Holiday party at a local firehouse, trainings offered at our local JCC. We missed the Waiting Family Ice Cream Social that I REALLY wanted to attend (to meet other waiting couples, but also to get a sense from others of how long others are waiting), but it was the same night as our homestudy update.

We've never gone to the picnic. For me, it has less to do with hanging out with a bunch of families and feeling again a bit the Little Match Girl on the outside of the glass, peering in on what a warm family life can be, and way more with the fact that potluck food situations are an unholy nightmare for me as a person with Celiac disease. I would pretty much have to pack my own lunch, because we'd be driving over an hour and it's all hamburgers and hotdogs and bring-a-dish-to-pass, and I have no idea if any of the potato or other various mayo-based salads are made with mayo that's had a bread knife dipped back into it after slathering bread, or if there's fake bacon in there instead of real bacon, and fake bacon has gluten in it more often than not. If something IS gluten free, then I have to worry if someone put a spoon from something NOT gluten free into it, or if crumbs from a hamburger bun made their way in. If I get sick, then I am facing horrible gastrointestinal distress in a park with questionable bathrooms.

Then, the socializing aspect, which is difficult for Bryce. He is a pretty social guy (or is capable of faking it very well), but these events where we don't truly know a lot of people and everyone wants to ask how long you've been waiting or if you've had profile opportunities or tell you their own story makes him uncomfortable. We probably know a fair amount of people, but it is awkward being the people without children, even though waiting parents are totally encouraged to come. It makes you feel a little on display, which was okay for the Halloween and the Christmas party, because we could stop in for an hour or so and then leave, and it was a 10-15 minute drive home. This would be closer to 2 1/2 hours round trip. A long time to talk about how uncomfortable one of us was through the whole experience, and how hungry the other one is.

Also, it's the last weekend before Bryce takes the GREs for the PhD he's already accepted into, but still has to take the test to check off a box and he is studying like a fiend because he likes to do well on everything he's up against.

I don't think we're going, but I still feel guilty saying no. Maybe it will be easier when we have a child (it still won't erase that food piece of things) but maybe it will then feel more natural to go and pack my lunch so my child can play with other children and we can commiserate with people on parenting, not on waiting to parent without any kind of due date. Until then, it just seems like the negatives outweigh the positives.

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

Saturday, July 23, 2016

The List

Beautiful hilltop blueberry field
I was blueberry picking today in a beautiful, family-owned patch that is on a hill overlooking Keuka Lake (quite a hike but worth it--the drive is offset by the views and $1.50 per pound cheapness) with two friends who have been through infertility and are now adoptive parents. We were talking about stuff as we went through the drive and the picking and the running away from aggressive beetles, and Bryce came up.

And it was interesting, because I forgot who asked the question, but it was like, "is your life with him really like what we see on Fac.ebook? Is it really that good?"

It made me think. There have been a slew of posts recently about what you see on social media versus reality, and I wondered how I present myself on Facebook when it comes to Bryce. Maybe I was making things look better and more glamorous than they really were. So I scrolled through my feed.

What it looks like this:

- Many wonderful hikes, either locally or out on vacation or day trips
Bryce in our Secret Garden,
with the ribs he bbq'd and
the delicious Zinfandel we're
about to enjoy with it
- Tons of great food, either at restaurants (we don't typically photograph restaurant food but we do occasionally take the opportunity to photograph ourselves looking fancy) or at home (we cook really awesome things at home)
- vacations
- a lot of selfies because we hang out with each other and no one else probably an inordinate amount of time
Croquet up at the lake
- an article where Bryce was interviewed about his job and industry initiatives that I was really proud of (and that explained what he does, because the word "photonics" is continually a mystery to me)
- tales of late night trips to a local park to see the abundance of fireflies, like stars in the trees and grasses, or buggy evening walks through a local swamp where we saw many frogs and birds
- Posts I tagged him in about how Father's Day is hard on men, too
- pictures of us playing croquet with dubious rules up at my mom and stepfather's house
- pictures of us at my sister's stepson's graduation party

I could keep going but that would be awfully boring for you. It's a good life.

And I'd say, yeah. That's pretty accurate. We like to go out and do things together. We appreciate good food and wine together, and the making of good food, usually at our house and involving the outdoors in summertime. We spend a lot, A LOT of time just the two of us, much of it not chronicled for the Faceb.ook. We talk a lot. We walk a lot. We read together on the couch a lot with classical guitar in the background, which for some people would sound hideously boring, but to us it's heaven.

Now, it's not to say we don't have our downs. When you spend so much time with someone, you are bound to get on each other's nerves from time to time. We are lucky though, because as much as I can get crabby (and so can he, especially on little sleep), Bryce always laughs through it and I can't stay crabby when someone is meeting your sarcasm with all-out laughter.

But. It's pretty good.

And I feel like I have The List to thank in some ways (and, obviously, Bryce).

When I was divorcing, I saw a therapist who wanted me to really think on who I wanted to share my life with, since obviously the first go-round was not a success. It was less about what my experience with marriage had been previously and more about what I truly wanted in a partner, what my (high) expectations should be, and how I should not ever settle with someone because they were there at the prescribed time. My first marriage was missing a lot of the things that I should have considered nonnegotiable. I didn't feel I deserved more, and I had gone into it for all the wrong reasons, thinking an arbitrary timeline was more important and that the things that weren't right could be "fixed." Not such a great strategy for a healthy love life. So, my therapist made me make The List so I didn't repeat the mistakes of the past.

It was supposed to be 20 things that I absolutely wanted in a man that would share my life, any 20 things that were important to me. It was supposed to be a reflective practice. I was surprised by how easy it was to make the list. I clearly knew what I wanted, just not how to hold myself to it.

I lost the list when I moved in with Bryce, and I consider that a small tragedy. However, I can remember the gist of it:

- Someone who gets off the couch and does things, outside
- Someone who loves nature and hiking and adventures
- Someone who likes to read and loves having books around
- Someone who loves music
- Someone who loves my curvy bits
- Someone who will dance with me
- Someone who will buy me flowers occasionally
- Someone who is an adventurous eater and will cook with me and eat a variety of foods
- Someone who is kind and calm
- Someone who can disagree respectfully
- Someone who has ambition and goes after their goals with gusto
- Someone who is a good friend as well as a romantic partner
- Someone who won't mind if I have friends apart and go off and do my own thing
- Someone who supports my dreams and goals and aspirations

There was more to the list, obviously, since this is only 14 things, but I can't quite remember them. Anyway, anyone I dated at all had to have at least 10 of them and I had to star the ones that were ABSOLUTELY NONNEGOTIABLE, that if the person didn't have them it was immediately a no go. To be a serious contender a person should really have up to 15. Which seems high, but it was to drive the point home that I should seek the relationship that is what I desire, that I should not settle for less than the man who would be the very best partner for me.

Bryce had 18/20. He doesn't dance (because he is an engineer) and he doesn't buy flowers (because again he is a pragmatic engineer and thinks buying things that die is poor logic). So I force him into one or two painful slow dances and I have fun dancing with my friends. I buy myself flowers or cut them from my own gardens. Bryce's "score" was pretty amazing, considering that we met on an online dating service. I absolutely know how incredibly fortunate I am.

Our life really is as good as it's touted on social media, and actually probably better because of all the sweet moments that are private. I count myself as incredibly lucky when we have an evening where we are reading -- a novel for me, some hideous book of equations for Bryce (I am clearly biased) on the couch and the classical music is lilting in the background and we haven't watched TV in weeks. When we can go for walks or out to dinner and not run out of interesting things to say to each other. We can have fun playing our respective instruments, sometimes together. When I sit here typing at my computer and he's in his office practicing for the GRE because he's going for his PhD in the fall and while it means less time together for a while. I am so proud of his aspirations and that he is following what he loves and making it happen, and he in turn supports my pursuing National Board Teacher certification (which is NOT AT ALL comparable to a PhD, but we can sit at a table both working on our things and be content, and know that we are each working to make our professional lives better and more interesting, and we support that in a reciprocal way).

In some ways I worry that we've had this beautiful life for ten years if you count the time before we married (I totally do) and when we finally become parents, the culture shock will be crazy. I worry that I got a great relationship, better than I ever believed I ever deserved, and to want a baby on top of that when clearly it's not been easy may be asking too much in some way, that some Universal shoe will drop. Which is clearly illogical. I worry about transitioning to a life that is the same and yet irrevocably changed by the schedules of a tiny human and that obviously something must go by the wayside as we care for the FutureBaby we've so wanted for so long, but we can share these same things with him or her, right? After all the sleep deprivation and wonky schedules and daycare drop-offs and pick-ups are eased? We can inspire our child to want to go for hikes, and read, and listen to music, and play instruments because we do it as a family, right? That is my hope. (But if we have an avid football or soccer player instead we'll fit that in with the hikes somehow.)

But, I am confident that we will be able to discuss it and make a plan and have the give-and-take that has defined our entire relationship. I am confident that we will make it work, because we have strength in our bond together and our marriage is based in so much mutual respect, friendship, and pushing for common goals. And if for some reason we don't make it to parenthood, we will make that work, too, for the same reasons.

It's a win-win, although I like the first option way better.

Ultimately, I hit the jackpot with Bryce, and the life we have IS the life I've always wanted, minus not having a child, not being parents. But the rest of it? Absolutely fabulous. I think I appreciate it more for having experienced a not-so-great match (understatement), for knowing what life can be like when you're with the wrong person. We definitely found the right person in each other. It will be so interesting to see where the journey takes us, together.

Happy little trolls under a footbridge in Maine, just one mini adventure

Friday, July 22, 2016

Some Things That Bothered Me Lately

Occasionally, I come across something in a magazine, or a book, or a movie, or Faceb.ook posts, or memes, that irritate the bejeezus out of me.

These past couple weeks had a few, mostly internet-based, that I just had to write about so I could get it out and let it go.


Offhand Remark About Miscarriage
So, I was idly scrolling around Faceb.ook when I came across an article about Ali W.ong. If you haven't seen her special, Ba.by Cob.ra, and you like crass humor that's dry, she is the best. Of course, she's seven and a half months pregnant in the special, so that could be a deterrent for some, and she does a bit on how she needed some science to get pregnant, in the form of progesterone suppositories (and everything she says about those is SPOT ON and hilarious, except she must not have had the kind I did once that looked like a strawberry tart in a tin and had these red plastic caps that you could put on your fingertips like claws after and pretend to be a monster, and the cats really found them entertaining, to the point where I am STILL finding red plastic claw caps in random places under furniture when I do a deep clean). But the biggest warning is that she talks about her miscarriage, sort of as a joke, and that can be not so fun if your miscarriage wasn't seen as a blessing in disguise or a way to get things out of your husband. NOW. I know that she probably didn't actually do those things at the time. And in the article, which I read before I watched the special on Net.flix, she does say that she was depressed after her miscarriage, and I'm sure you don't include that part of the experience in your special because it's not ha-ha funny, but you have to dramatize things to make it laughable or provocative.

The thing that really pissed me off was that then she said that another comic and mom friend advised her "that people need to know that you're O.K. in order to laugh at your tragedy. I was able to get pregnant again, so people knew that I was O.K." So, instead of the "thank god I'm not having twins" way that she describes it in her special, she does say that it was a tragedy. But the part I took exception with was, I was able to get pregnant again, so people knew that I was O.K. Um, not to get all serious, but are you not O.K. if you can't get pregnant again? If you join the hordes of women who have a miscarriage (or multiple) and then CANNOT get pregnant again, are you not okay? Am I not okay because I never got pregnant again? I realize I personalize it a bit, but I felt that was a horrible message, that you're not okay if you don't get pregnant again. Because I can certainly joke about how my mothership is a ghostly death ship, but I consider myself okay, even though I never got pregnant again after my miscarriage. You can totally be okay even if you don't get pregnant and show the world you did it. Instead, you can show the world you're okay because you didn't succeed but you survived it.

I was so mad reading the article, but then I had to watch the special before passing judgment, because even though it was an interview and in her words, interviews can get skewed. I needed the source. And I loved the special, I really did--it was super funny and she is SMART and funny, but the miscarriage bit made me upset. The only good thing was that she did say she was talking about her miscarriage because she wanted people to talk about it, that as a society people keep that information close, and then you're left feeling alone when it happens to you. That part I appreciated. So, I forgive you, Ali W.ong, for saying something I felt was insensitive, because you are seriously funny and you had messages that weren't hideous, too.

A Very Tricky Meme
A friend of mine is battling a rare disease. It's been a long battle, and she conceived through IVF because she needed to get pregnant ASAP so she could be off her lifesaving meds for the smallest amount of time. This is a hard situation to be in, to weigh the impact on your health and life against having babies. She has two children, but continues fighting her diagnosis.

She posted a meme up on facebook that read:

Giving up is not an option when someone calls you mommy.

It was hard, because I wanted to be supportive of her, and like it to show my support for her, but the message of that meme was really hard to swallow. I get that your children depend on you when you're a mommy, but I can't help but see the inverse of that statement, that it's somehow easier to give up if you don't have children. That your life is somehow more valuable if you're a mom. It follows a lot of the other things out there where moms are touted as better than non-moms, capable of deeper, stronger love, with inhuman strength to hold families together, yada yada yada. I am not denigrating motherlove here. But I hate memes like that because it makes it seem like some lives are more valuable than others. When there is a tragic death, somehow it is more sympathetic if it's like "young mom of two" or "mother of three" than if it was "single woman" or "childless woman." And I know, moms do have people dependent on them, but don't I, too? Don't I have a husband who would miss me very much, and cats who might not get their litter boxes cleaned as frequently, and a mass of family and friends who would hate to see me go? Wouldn't it be sad to think of the teaching I wouldn't get to do, the accomplishments I'd never achieve, outside of motherhood?

Facing a difficult diagnosis or illness is difficult, but it should be hard to give up on the fight regardless if you have children or not. The message shouldn't be that simply by having children your life is more valuable and more worth fighting for. I applaud my friend's fight to survive, and I don't think that she meant ill will by posting that meme. However, I would support fighting a life-threatening situation whether she was a mom or not.

The Endless "Put the Swimsuit On" Mommy Posts
I love body positivity. I am trying super hard to be consistently body positive myself, even though I am constantly tested by things like hives and crappy knees and needing old lady orthotics to prevent foot pain and asthma that tries to kill me when I get the flu and all that. I do the best with what I've got, and what I've got is PCOS and a genetic predisposition to not be thin, despite the fact that I regularly walk 5 miles or more every day and enjoy hiking and do some kind of yoga/pilates blend 3 times a week or so (more and my joints are like WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU TRYING TO DO, CRAZY LADY?). I like pilates quite a bit. I also like pie. And so, my body is never going to be anything resembling athletic. I will be a size 12 forever (I'm trying really hard not to creep up in size). I can improve my endurance, and my strength, but my tummy is pretty damn resistant to shrinkage now that I'm 40 (and all through my thirties, and pretty much life). Plus, you know, I went through a shitload of infertility treatments that messed with my hormones and seemed to have reset my body's comfort level, the weight it likes to revert to. I am trying to accept that as long as I do all the healthy things, that my body is as good as it gets.

But this time of year, there are all these articles that come out on how you can't miss out on being out there with your children, on being in pictures with your children, because you hate how your body looks in a swimsuit. That in itself is a great message, and I love it very much. Where it starts making me feel a pit of distaste deep in my chubby belly is when they start going on and on about how AMAZING women's bodies are, how you have cellulite and stretch marks and a pooch because your body can MAKE LIFE and how great is that? You go, mama, because every roll and ripple and saggy boob sustained your children at the most vital time, and so BE PROUD of your body because it is a MIRACLE MANUFACTURER!

This is fantastic and empowering if your body creates miracles instead of tiny deaths and attritions. When your rolls are in part due to an endocrine disorder that has helped rob you of fertility as well as the result of occasionally eating your feelings, it has a different tone. My body is USELESS when it comes to creating humans. And when I read all about how amazing it is to be body positive because of the life-giving properties of women's bodies and mom bodies in particular, it makes me feel super deficient. I will never breast feed someone from my boobs (yes, yes, I know about induced lactation, please go here if you'd like my analysis of why that won't work for me physically or more importantly, emotionally). They do have a pattern of lovely green veins that appeared one time I was pregnant and never went away, so I guess I do have a battle scar from that... as well as scars on my lower belly from the laparoscopy that saved my life from the ectopic and removed one of my tubes along with the baby-shaped tumor that was threatening my existence and future fertility (HA, future fertility). I know that my body is amazing because it can (sort of) bounce back from having ovaries the size of large navel oranges and that I can be a human pincushion for the chance of having a baby, but I don't think the articles care about that. I am not their target audience.

Maybe when I go to the beach I should borrow other people's children so that people can be like, "what a brave woman, out in her swimsuit, rocking that body that made LIVES!"

Or I can go and not care about the body I have, that I take decently good care of, that is capable of climbing mountains and walking all day and doing squats and stuff even though my knees creak through all of those activities. I can be proud of my body that sustains me daily even though it never sustained anybody else, and know that this is a body that survived infertility.


There. I feel much better having gotten all that out. Call me bitter if you'd like, but as an infertility survivor (if not a success story), it's amazing where these feelings can come from. The smallest thing can trigger righteous indignation at implications that not-mother, not-pregnant, is not nearly as good or as valuable or as brave as Mother is.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Near Misses

I hate the phrase "everything happens for a reason." HATE IT. It seems such a glib response to what is usually something inexplicable -- and there are so many things that I cannot comprehend a good reason for. So many things. 

I personally don't believe that our lives are mapped out for us, that there's a pre-ordained plan that we are living out, that our choices are ultimately not choices at all but delivering us along the line we were always going to be on, no matter what. No thread snipped by a Fate at a preordained time, no one pulling the strings. 

I sort of believe in marbles. I think people are like these pretty glass marbles, all unique but with some similarities, bumping about in the cosmos. Your marble might be shot in one direction, and you might hit any number of other marbles, but hitting one marble sends you off in one direction, until you hit another marble, and it keeps going in a kind of organized chaos of sorts. There's some kind of benevolent force out there holding the marbles together, and you don't have total control over the path your marble will take but each marble you hit leads you to where you are today, and where you end up...if that makes ANY sense at all.

But, occasionally, it does seem like there's a swerve of the path, a hop over a bump, something that prevents a close call, something that skirts you away from a particular marble. 

Apparently, we've had a few of these, the first one in February, disguised as a particularly disappointing profile opportunity where we were ALMOST chosen but not quite

When we had our homestudy update, we talked through our profile opportunities, our decision making processes and how we dealt with either not being chosen or choosing not to be put in the hat. We mentioned the super disappointing one, gave a few details, and then saw our social worker's eyes go wide. She was silent for a moment, and then solemnly said, "Be very, very glad you were NOT chosen for that situation." 

Well. I can't share much, but basically it was a situation where during the 30 day revocation period things got contentious and went to court and turned into a bit of a legal battle and while the adopting couple did have the placement stand and are parenting the baby, it was a horrible situation. And will probably continue to color the experience, and the relationship with the birth mother, and will be one heck of a thing to explain to a child. I felt horrible for everyone, EVERYONE involved in this circumstance. 

When we had received the profile opportunity, we were a little concerned because it seemed like from all the information that the expectant mother had tried to make things work and then shortly before her due date made the decision to place for adoption, and we feared a change of heart. 

I guess our intuition was spot on, although we did hope that we would have been chosen at the time, MAN am I glad that we missed that situation. I don't know how I would have done. I know this is a possibility with adoption, but I hope it doesn't happen when we are matched on day. Because I found this case (admittedly missing a ton of information that was privileged) tragic, for everyone but especially the birth mother, because she changed her mind later and fought so hard and lost, and maybe she wasn't ready to sign the surrenders but felt she had no choice until it was too late. I am extrapolating all over the place because I know so little (as I should not being a player in this situation), but holy moly what a MESS. 

A messy convoluted marble strike, averted. 

Then, when we were providing additional information for the homestudy update that was forgotten in our meeting, it was mentioned that we had been in the running for a last-minute situation that fell through before we even knew about it. Apparently the agency called our homestudy social worker to see if she could expedite the report because of a possible last-minute opportunity, but then called back shortly thereafter to say that the situation had fallen through (no reason given). It was given to us as a crumb of sorts, proof that although we don't always hear from the agency, they are always trying to match us with a potential birth mother for our child. 

That one was so interesting -- I mean, the marble barely came close enough to graze ours, but we never ever heard about it. 

It got me wondering...how many times has this happened? How many times have there been "almost" profile opportunities that never made it to any kind of decision call? Is it sort of like how you don't hear about all the terrorist attack plans on the U.S. that have been averted, because it would totally freak you out to know how many there were that were near misses? Or does it give you more confidence in our national security forces to know that a zillion horrible things that COULD have happened, didn't? 

I feel like for me, I would love to know how often something like that has occurred...because it would make me feel not sad for all the missed opportunities that never became a baby for us, but glad that our agency is working tirelessly to find situations that we are a good match for, and even if they don't get to the profile opportunity or blind profile stage, we were considered a boatload of times. I think that would feel pretty awesome, actually. 

I am trying to figure out how to ask about that without blowing in our social worker, in case she wasn't supposed to share that information with us. I mean, there was no sensitive information involved, so I can't see why that would be verboten, but you just never know. Because I would love to know how often our marble has been in play, narrowly missing all these other marbles, slowly leading us to the one that will allow us to parent our FutureBaby...some day. 

Monday, July 18, 2016

#Microblog Mondays: Interesting Discoveries

Bryce and I just returned from our summer vacation -- a wonderful New England kite-shaped trip that involved Salem, Massachusetts, Augusta-area Maine, and Grafton, Vermont before heading back to Western New York.

Something we do frequently is go to old cemeteries. I love old cemeteries, and Bryce REALLY loves old cemeteries. We love the history, the epitaphs (for me the more Victorian and morbid the better), the feeling like maybe we're "visiting" stones and memories of people who haven't been visited in a long, long time.

We found one of the oldest we've been to in Salem:

Burying Ground in the center of Salem.

But then when we went to Grafton, Vermont and Manchester, Vermont, we noticed something interesting.

Grafton Vermont cemetery

Factory Point Cemetery in Manchester, VT

Do you see the tiny purple flowers? That's not grass, that's a creeping thyme! It made the most wonderful scent when we walked on it, and there were honeybees everywhere.

I didn't think it could be a coincidence, and my theories were that it was a good groundcover that you didn't have to mow and it smelled nice.

WELL.

I found this post here about how thyme has a long history with death, but in older cemeteries it is indeed a great groundcover, and it was meant to mask the odors of, well, death.

The things you learn when traipsing about in cemeteries from the 1700s on vacation.

The Grafton cemetery again, super gloomy and Victorian looking.

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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Birth Control Irony

It is so frustrating to me that there are not better birth control options for women. That in a time of amazing advances in so many areas, there aren't huge advances in birth control options without side effects or unpleasantry.

After we decided to end treatment, I went off birth control completely. It was freeing. I wanted to see what my body would do, unfettered by all the drugs and hormones I'd been pumping through it. I also was kind of daring it to be normal for a change. Just figure this shit out, I whispered to my lady parts. 

It worked great for the first month and change, with me getting a period in a somewhat timely fashion and then having that period end neatly, no weird spotting. But then things got icky. I went longer, then started spotting, then the spotting never really became a period, except maybe for a day or two, but it was completely unpredictable. I started wondering if I could be pregnant. I started worrying that by not being on birth control I'd opened myself up for a "miracle" pregnancy gone horribly wrong... one that would end in miscarriage, or another ectopic, or maybe a touch of fetal alcohol syndrome from Friday night margaritas and pairing a nice bottle of wine with our dinners. 

I decided I needed to be on birth control, in part for my own sanity and also to try to make the spotting ridiculousness go away. Yes, I know that this means that a spontaneous pregnancy would be totally off the table. But honestly, isn't it ALREADY off the table? I am good with hammering that nail in so hard it can't be undone so that I don't have to live with yet another kind of uncertainty.

I found my choices incredibly limited. I couldn't be on anything with estrogen in it, because my OB/GYN wasn't comfortable with my migraines and prothrombin gene mutation. Which left me with IUD (no thank you), implants (um, no), progesterone-only pill, or Depo Provera. 

So I tried the progesterone-only pill. Which was great, at first. 

After the second cycle with it, I started spotting. Like all the time. As in, living with a light period every single day. I know I don't want to wonder if I'm pregnant, but I also don't want to own stock in sanitary products, either. And by sanitary products I mean superthin pads, because I am still trying to get over the whole idea that tampons are horrible for you. Someone told me once, or I read in an article somewhere, or it just planted itself in my subconscious during my ultimate crazy fertility time, that tampons actively change the pH of your vagina. That they can disrupt your natural state of being and hamper fertility. Plus, it's a foreign object in your body, which is not my favorite thing, but life was so much easier when I just used tampons. I have to say, though, that the new superthin foam shark-gill-looking pads from Al.ways are amazing. And the same company makes ultrathin pantyliners that are surprisingly effective even if you go from spotting to light flow, and they have saved my pretty underwear. Aren't you so glad I'm sharing all this? I would love it, actually, if people were far more comfortable talking about periods and stuff. But that's a topic for a different post.

I decided the progesterone-only pill was a disaster and left me feeling like I was 13 again, not sure when I might start bleeding or how heavily, and so I went to my OB/GYN begging for a different solution.

If I don't want to do anything invasive, like the IUD or the arm implants (which creep me out immensely), and I don't want to do anything surgical and totally permanent, like ablation, then my ONLY option left was Depo Provera.

Which is highly ironic.

That's because it's an intramuscular shot into the behind, much like the PIO I suffered through for YEARS that has left giant knots of scar tissue and lumps in my rear, something that comes up anytime the massage therapist I see does glute work like, "What did you DO to your ASS?"

It's basically long-acting progesterone, not necessarily in oil (I don't know what it's suspended in, but it's probably oil), shot every three months into my behind.

Only this time, a nurse does it. They're so cute, too, because they mark which side they do in my chart so they can alternate. And I'm like, "Does it really matter? I did this TWICE A DAY for one protocol, and that's when alternating matters. I can't even feel where it went three months ago." We used to track it ourselves, but instead of "left" and "right" we did "dragon side" and "non-dragon side" because I have a rather large dragon tattoo from spine to right hip. I don't think they chart it that way, but I think at least I make it an interesting view. I know exactly how to stand, all my weight on the opposite leg and relax my muscles as much as possible so it goes smoothly into the muscle. I know what it will feel like an hour later, when it's super sore and knotted. I am tempted to bring a hot pad with me. Sometimes I do heat my butt when I get home, because that was a great tip for PIO shots, and it still works for this.

This time, though, the shot in my ass is to PREVENT a pregnancy, not sustain one.

Although in my case, it's not as much to prevent as to maintain my sanity and help me have periods that are somewhat normal.

Or, as it turns out, no period.

I thought it would be weird to be on a birth control that gets rid of your period. I worry about the side effects of that, of whether it opens me up to yet more reproductive cancers, or if it's just fine. If my doctor says it's fine, I'm just going to go with it for now.

Because I've been doing it for 9 months now, and I have to say that I LOVE Depo.

The first couple shots were rough. I would be spotting-free for 6 weeks, and then bleed THE ENTIRE REST OF THE SIX WEEKS. Which is not so lovely. I also had an uptick in my migraines for the first six months or so, because it can exacerbate those. But, I was told to give it time...that most people try Depo and drop it after 6 months because of these things but if you give it a year you will see a major improvement. You just have to be okay with constant spotting for a finite amount of time.

Well. I'm about to get my fourth shot in a week or so, and I can say that this last 3 month period involved very little spotting, and very few migraines. I am a convert. I am even less cranky (although maybe you should ask Bryce his opinion on that one). Because in the beginning, holy hell was I CRANKY. But that, along with the weeks of bleeding and headaches, has abated as well.

I'm so glad that this is working out. I really didn't relish the idea of burning off my endometrial lining surgically, especially since apparently you can do that and have it not work 100%, and it's best to do that closer to menopause. Also, my doctor threw out the idea of hysterectomy, which was INSANE to me because, um, can we explore other options before REMOVING ONE OF MY ORGANS? No. Not happening. Only if medically necessary, and I don't think spotting qualifies.

I am happy to not get a period every month, too. Even though it's been years, and even though I know there's no chance, I just still feel it is so unnecessary to have to bleed when you are hideously infertile. I thought as a teenager how lovely it would be to have a little button in your back, and you could turn on periods when you truly need them for reproducing, and turn them off when you don't. I am super excited for menopause, because I want this sham of reproductivity to be over, for real. Unfortunately, I don't have a family history of early menopause. I have this terrible feeling that my body is going to hold out just to spite me, and I'll be having periods when I'm 60. (Or not, because of the Depo, but of course you can't stay on it forever because of the risk of "brittle bones," which is kind of horrifying too.)

I implore science to come up with some new options. Ones that don't come with horrible side effects or removing body parts. In the meantime, I'm perfectly okay with my highly ironic, quarterly progesterone butt shot. I'm a pro at that sort of thing. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

It's Too Soon For That

We spent over five years trying to get pregnant with medical help. It started with getting the referral to the fertility clinic at my annual gynecological exam in April 2009 after showing paperwork previous to me that revealed our male factor issues, then our consult September 1, 2009 that led to every IUI, IVF, uterine surgery, donor profile, injection, transvaginal ultrasound, polyp, failure, miscarriage, ectopic, cancellation and everything else that happened between our hopeful beginning in 2009 and the point where our dream of pregnancy ended in late January 2015.

And by the time it ended, we were exhausted.

We had put so much energy, time, and money into a process that ultimately failed us. Everyone tried so hard -- we did experimental protocols, our teams researched new approaches, and everyone kept thinking this time it's going to work.

But then we had a long stretch from August 2012 onwards where I never got pregnant again, not once. And we faced the fact over sushi on a Sunday afternoon in December 2014 that it wasn't really likely that that was going to happen again, and that we were tired. So, so, so tired. We weren't going to become parents this way, even though there wasn't a clear-cut reason given as to why that was. Why 27 embryos came and went and none of them actually became anything sustainable. And so we attempted to transfer our final frozen embryos two more times, and both times were cancelled due to poor lining and mystery fluid in the uterus...and in the space between January 31st and February 2nd we went from IVF failures to registered prospective adoptive parents.

From devastation to hope.

From the most frustrating of ends to a brand-new beginning.

But we were tired. It was hard to be the ones to end the possibility of pregnancy, a possibility that turned out to have been so very minute and fleeting.

During the infertility journey, we were met with two camps when it came to the longevity of our fight.

CAMP UNBELIEVABLY POSITIVE
The first were the Positive Thinking Brigade, the "hang in there and it WILL happen," the "your successful cycle could be RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER!" and the "This one's THE ONE, I just KNOW it." This was helpful at first, when things did seem positive. I was the worst in this regard, because I wanted so badly for the next cycle to be THE cycle, to fly off the lonely merry-go-round of despair and failure into the mobs of moms at the playground, hanging out with their miracle babies. I could have a miracle, right? And these were people who cheered us on, tirelessly, with chants of "never give up!" and tales of people who did one last cycle with a crappy quality embryo and THAT was when the miracle happened. It could happen. I knew people it had happened to. I was a miracle believer.

For a while, anyway. Then it became increasingly difficult to believe that our miracle was going to come this way, and I actually started hating the world "miracle" with regards to children. I still do. It makes you feel pretty shitty to continuously NOT be the recipient of the miracle, whether it comes via a team of doctors, an amazing spontaneous pregnancy, or through a 3 inch binder of paperwork involving social workers, lawyers, and a family created out of someone else's loss. Especially hard to say miracle there, where your joy is someone else's tragedy and your child will feel that loss in one way or another for the rest of their life (obviously not every minute of every day, but it will lurk).

I digress. There was another camp that became more and more crowded as our IVF cycles reached double digits.

CAMP WHEN THE FUCK ARE YOU GOING TO STOP THIS MADNESS?
This camp was more numerous than it was vocal. Although, when it was vocal, largely in the last two years of our experience with IVF, it was VOCAL. I had a friend ask me point blank how much longer I was planning to put my body through this for nothing. An uncle gently asked my husband in the hall of my grandmother's nursing home, "How much longer will you do this? When will you stop?" What started as a question rooted in caring but also curiosity became an urgent plea of, "At what point do YOU decide you're done, when no one medical seems to be pulling the plug for you?" It was also a camp of converts, with some of the Positivity Brigade jumping ship and joining this one.

It's much harder to listen to the camp that is questioning your choices than the one that tells you miracles happen every day, but the fact of the matter was MIRACLES WEREN'T HAPPENING HERE.

I had a stomach covered in deep purple lovenox bruises, a car that I was putting serious mileage on driving to Buffalo in the snow every other day from November through January (not every every other day but it sure as hell seemed that way), a protocol at one point that had me taking 5 Benadryl per day to tame my histamines (ironic given the recent hive extravaganza) but still driving to Buffalo in whiteout conditions including one memorable 2.5 hour drive when the regular highway was closed due to the freak SEVEN FEET OF SNOW that dumped itself on the southern side of Buffalo. I had a uterus that was systematically giving me the finger on the daily. I had a lot of things, actually. What I didn't have anymore was hope.

We had been super vocal that saying "why don't you just adopt?" was incredibly stupid. That we had considered adoption, that adoption was on the table, but it wasn't a "just" by any means and it would mean a whole new process with its own consummate exhaustion, just not bodily. So, thankfully, most people didn't say that to us. (For some reason, though, people had no problem telling us that we should do gestational carrier, or offhandedly offering to be our uterus-for-rent without either the qualifications to do so or the actual ability or desire to sign on for real, not that that option was actually ever on the table for more than a hot second.)

There were a lot of happy people when we announced that we were pulling the plug ourselves on IVF, that we had circled down the drain slowly enough over time to just end it and be okay with that. Happy is relative. I guess maybe not happy, but relieved. Thank goodness you're giving your poor body a rest. Your body has been telling you it just can't do this. Okay, that one hurt, because why my body decided to suck at getting and staying pregnant was beyond me, but I got the point behind it. And yes, I was thrilled to take my body out of the running.

Five and a half years of fertility treatments that never worked for us, not really, and people really started losing steam in supporting us as we banged our heads against a very hard and stubborn wall after about three and a half years, maybe four. When we started trying donor and then THAT still didn't work, and we weren't even getting pregnant anymore.


NOW, we are in a new process, and we are a year and five months into our adoption adventure. I'm counting from the moment we filled out the ginormous application and started the paperwork rolling, although we have now updated our homestudy for another year, having had a whole year go by without a match. Profile opportunities, yes. Match...no.

I feel the murmurs are starting early on us. It's a whole new process; we should get a restart on the empathy stores. It doesn't seem to work like that, though.

When it came time to redo our homestudy, we found ourselves facing several comments, such as, "So you're going to sign on for another year with this agency, huh?" or "What's causing the delay? Is there something they can tell you about why you're not getting matched? Shouldn't you be matched by now?" or "How long are you going to do this?"

Ouch.

I mean, it is hard for all those who are watching us go through this quest for parenthood, including my dad who said, "You guys just have had the worst luck in all this parenthood thing. It just isn't coming together for you easily at all." True, true. But as exhausting as it is as a caring bystander, JUST IMAGINE WHAT IT IS LIKE TO LIVE IT. To be completely exhausted every day with the sheer effort of every kind it takes to still believe that parenthood is possible, even when nothing is clear cut or simple or easy or moving at the pace or timeline we'd have preferred (that timeline has us with two kids already, joining in on the endless conversations about kids going into kindergarten and how fast they grow...or maybe with a toddler...or with a couple-month-old baby that we adopted in the spring...I guess none of those worked out so much, and saying goodbye to each and every one of those dreams is just so tiring).

And even though it is exhausting for us...IT IS TOO SOON TO BE ASKING US "HOW LONG."

It just is.

We have these conversations privately, because we do know that you can't do this indefinitely. Hats off to you if you can, but seven years of limbo and effort and absolutely no success takes a toll on a body and soul. We wonder sometimes, "what would it be like, to not be trying to have a family anymore...to just LIVE?" and it's true that once that sounded so scary and sad, and now it has a tinge of RELIEF to it.

It's just a tinge, though...not to the point where we are ready to stop, but it is out there, lurking, that it's possible to hit a point where we just can't do this anymore. I feel guilty for even thinking that it would be a relief to have this whole thing be over, as our entire married life has been spent trying to become parents, knowing that we would be amazing parents, and we have an actual nursery upstairs for a hypothetical future baby, and there are so many people who have supported us and continue to support us through everything that I can't help but feel that we'd disappoint mightily on so many fronts if we decided to end our quest for parenthood. If we hit the point where we decided to stop. Again.

BUT, THAT POINT IS NOT NOW. Even though our agency originally touted an average timeframe of 7-9 months from homestudy completion to placement at the time of our classes, and we are past that and it is disappointing (although the math of averages still makes it possible to be 100% true), we are within normal timeframes for adoption as a whole. It takes most people more than a year, I am finding when I talk to real people. This is normal. We have had profile opportunities, which is helpful because it makes us feel that we are profileable and eventually it will be the right match...there is progress in some shape or form.

We are hanging in there, even though it's hard. We are NOT adding on or switching to a different agency, because that would mean a boatload of new fees and I am tired enough keeping up on the paperwork for ONE agency, let alone two. And, quite frankly, I LOVE our agency. I think they do a great job, even though we're still waiting (they were very upfront that there are no guarantees with adoption, and that the data changes a lot dependent on all the factors inherent in women choosing to place their unborn babies...it doesn't reflect on the agency in my mind that we are waiting longer than we thought we might). A topic for another post, but we are NOT taking on private adoption at this time for our own very good reasons. We are NOT ready to entertain the idea of letting this whole thing go, of saying, "Well, that royally sucked, but here we are."

We need encouragement -- not the keep-positive-brigade type that is endlessly sunshiny and ignores all the pitfalls and emotional drops inherent in adoption -- but just "How are you doing?" or "We're here for you as you wait," or "The wait really sucks, huh? How are you coping?"

Because the waiting really, really sucks. I knew it would, but I thought it would be easier because I'd been through infertility hell and what's more waiting on top of what we'd already done, especially when it no longer meant a failure of my body to do a basic human function. But it's exhausting. We can't truly just live life as is until we get the call, because we have to have the adoption funds ready at a moment's notice, which fortunately for us isn't a terrible hardship but it does mean that we are stuck. We tried to take a vacation involving a plane and found that we had a profile opportunity that stymied that...and by the time we knew we weren't chosen it was too late to set that plan into motion again. We can't move because we'd have to redo our homestudy, and how awful would it be to spend the money to move and then be short adoption money? I am growing cavalier with my phone, which used to be attached to me at all times at the highest volume, and now I feel like if it rings it's probably a telemarketer. One day it will hopefully be a profile opportunity that will be ours in the truest sense, but right now my phone mocks me. At least with IVF I knew when a call was coming...between certain times on a certain date. Now it's all amorphous. The wait is cruel, because you're expecting a baby to materialize, with very little warning, so you have to be ready for that...but you have to be ready indefinitely, without a true timeframe to get used to the idea and you have to be okay with waiting for that mythical baby for years. Hopefully not years. But yeah, maybe years. And you are encouraged to "live your life" in that timeframe. Which I am finding extraordinarily difficult to do with fidelity.

So I really wish that people wouldn't start setting nails into this particular coffin. This is it. If we don't become parents through adoption, we are not going to become parents. The end. So we need people to hang in there with us until we (hopefully don't) have to decide again if we are circling down a drain, slowly. We don't need to hear horror stories of other adoptions gone wrong. We know that can happen. It's like telling an 8-month pregnant woman about someone you know who had a stillbirth at 9 months. What the fuck is the point of that? Bad things happen, everyone knows this. We are actually very familiar with the fact that bad things happen. What we need now is to have our bystanders strengthen our armor, not put tiny chinks in it. To trust that we are in this process, and that we have a plan, and that asking us how long we're going to pursue adoption like it's already too tiring, too long is the same as asking us when we'll be okay with not becoming parents. It might not seem like the same thing, but it is.

It must be hard, because it probably feels to people outside the infertility/loss/adoption sphere like there is no good thing to say to us anymore. And I admit, it's tricky. However, I would far rather people say the wrong thing than nothing at all, because I can work with the wrong thing and not be mad at the person (for long anyway) who said it for not knowing that it's not stellar, or accurate, or sensitive. I am sensitive to comments in general about IVF being a sure thing (it isn't); about adoption being easy or too hard or too birth-mother-dependent or too few because of sex ed and abortions; about moms being better than non-moms, because I've wanted to be one and just haven't been able to make that happen for as long as a second-grader's been alive, and I'm not so sure that I am less strong or less able to love deeply because I'm not a mom; about parenting being the ultimate experience when it is possible that that might not happen; and also about parenting being so, so hard, because even though I'm sure that's the case, I cannot fathom it being so much harder than desperately WANTING a family for seven years and being thwarted at every turn, watching everyone else's lives move on and their kids grow up and we're still waiting in the wings for our cue. It sucks.

I do believe it will happen. I do still believe positively, but the veins of realism are running thicker than they used to. We are living in this exhausted, frustrated space, and we just need people to let us know that there's here for us in this limbo, no matter how it turns out, and to have patience that it may take a while and that's hard, but it's okay. We are learning how to live in this space, and we can teach others how to live there, with us to some extent, too, so we can all come out of this in one (battered and bruised but resolved) piece.

Monday, July 4, 2016

#Microblog Mondays: I Assumed Incorrectly



I decided to call Snowflakes on Friday, on our way to our weekly Mexican restaurant date. It had been about two weeks since we'd okayed showing the couple our profile for our frozen embryos, and we hadn't heard anything...it was slowly eating away at us. 

I had made an assumption at the beginning of this process -- we were going to be hard to match. We ourselves are lovely, I'd like to think, but our embryos are kind of a hot mess -- two sets at two different stages of development; two sets with two sets of genetics, each half donor and neither related to each other; absolutely no success in either cohort and no genetic siblings at all to model future babies after. Even though it stung when my friend said it, I was sort of thinking the same thing -- who on earth would take on these little blobs of potential? 

I assumed we would be rejected. 

I assumed wrong. 

We were told Friday that the couple was excited about us and our embryos (I would love to know more about that -- what is it couples look for in embryos that could be their future children?), and that the only reason they hadn't called us for an update was that they were having some hiccups with the receiving clinic and they don't like to call the genetic family until it's all set to go and contracts can be signed and it can be all official-like. So, we wait to have all the logistics set up, but the "adoptive parents" were quite excited about us our embryos. 

Well, I'll be. This is one area where I am very, very glad to have been wrong.  Now if only we could get an expectant mother to be just as excited about us and our potential as parents... 


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