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

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

A Really Fast Cycle of Hope and Sadness

It's been a very interesting 24 hours. And by interesting I mean exciting, and terrifying, and hopeful, and pragmatic, and devastating all at once.

Yesterday at 1:45 I received a call from our agency, a BABY call as I explain it to my students when my phone goes off in the middle of class (and yet it's rarely actually a baby call). It was a last minute placement, a really last minute placement, as they needed an answer in 45 minutes or so since they were bringing profile books to the hospital at 3:30 the same day. The baby had been born the day before, and whoever said yes to this opportunity had to be ready to go to the hospital and be placed with the baby the very next day, within 24 hours -- including dropping all the fees and everything. There were no red flags for us in the profile opportunity. We said hell yes.

Then I started freaking out. I realized that this meant that if we were chosen, I would be going out on maternity leave THE VERY NEXT DAY. The agency said that they'd call either by 5 or in the morning (they open at 9), and it depended on how long the birthparents took to make their decision. I really wanted to know before going to sleep (because HOW DO YOU SLEEP in this situation), but I also really wanted them to take their time and make the decision that was right for them.

We didn't get that call by 5.

So what do you do when you could be a parent tomorrow, or things could continue on, status quo, stuck in stasis?

It is not easy, I will tell you that. We knew the sex of the baby, so I asked, "What if we revisit our names and narrow it down a bit?" because that sounded like a fun way to pass the time. Bryce had concerns: "What if we pick a name and then this baby doesn't turn out to be ours? Is that name done?" Interesting question. I said no, because it wouldn't be attached to a baby we'd met, so it would still be fair game...if we had met the baby, named the baby, and then found out that we weren't taking that baby home that would be a different story. Just to be safe we narrowed it down to four, two clear favorites, and two different middle names. (No, we are not sharing these. Everything is so crazy about our process, we want to hang on to something "traditional!") We actually identified one new name for the list, so that was something that we can take with us.

Bryce wondered if we should be pragmatic and pack something up in case we had to go to the hospital the next day. I said no. Absolutely not. I do NOT want to pack a diaper bag with a little outfit and a couple diapers and wipes and a receiving blanket and whatnot, and then have it sit there, unused, needing to be unpacked. Nothankyou. So we didn't.

We reviewed the agency's handbook section on the paperwork you would sign, which was very responsible. And then we opened up a bottle of wine, which was maybe not so much but our thinking was, hey--we're not celebrating as much as taking advantage of what could be our last night of not-parenthood. Bryce thought maybe we should go out to fancy restaurant, a sort of "last hurrah," but I remembered all the "last hurrah" nights out we took during IVF, before a cycle started, and I just didn't want to do it. Also, I was tired -- in part from a long day at school, and in part from this building excitement over a possibility that could change our lives so quickly.

Because that was the thing -- to spend an evening wondering if tomorrow is the day you become parents is surreal. It was a bit scary -- all of a sudden I felt very inadequate and unprepared, but then it disappeared (somewhat) as I imagined having that baby placed in my arms, picking the baby up, and having that first moment of Oh holy jeezum, this is it, the moment I've been waiting for...I am a MOTHER. This baby is mine to care for. And then the moment where Bryce held the baby (a moment he, like many guys, is so nervous about), and we sat together and gazed at this tiny human that we didn't create but that we will raise together...and POOF! I could see our first family moment in my mind.

I also had some weird thoughts:
What do you wear on the day you might become a mom?
Oh no, my desk is SO not clean.
Wait, I'm going on maternity leave tomorrow if this works out? I won't see half my kids again unless I can visit! 
They give you diapers and formula in the hospital, right? 
Should we set up the bottle sterilizer thingie and make sure we know how it works? 
Do I need to wash baby clothes tonight just in case, because they're stale and haven't been washed since last year? 

I opened the door to the nursery. I turned the light on low. I looked around and thought, is tonight the last night you're empty?

It is so hard not to dream in these situations.

I know that it's better to be pleasantly surprised than bitterly disappointed, and I know the realities of profiles -- it's like The Highlander -- there can be only one. If there were four books, there was one happy call and three "better luck next time" calls. I knew the chances were more in the "better luck next time" camp. But how do you not plan for something that could happen in less than 24 hours?

I went to bed wondering if we were going to bed the two of us and waking up parents.

It was incredibly difficult to go to school and act like everything was normal. I am strangely good at dissociating from this, after all we've been through. I can pretend to be okay when I'm a wreck. To a point.

I had told people in part because the call came when I was about to teach, and partly because if I was going to be going out without much notice I felt I needed to let the people directly affected know. So a lot of people were in our corner. In fact, I am totally overwhelmed with how much support we received today, throughout the day.

Because at 9:20, I received the call. And it was a no.

I was okay on the phone. I was okay on the phone with Bryce. How disappointing, but we'd had such a short time to get excited, and it was thrilling to get so close. Maybe we'd get another call sooner, since the last profile call we received was in MARCH. 10 months ago.

And then... I lost it.

I felt all the hope and promise of those hours, all the joy of thinking that we might finally make it to parenthood and be done with all this waiting and being on hold and finally, FINALLY move on to the next part of our lives. It felt like the floor was yanked out from underneath me, and all the realism of thinking we'll have more chances in the future was overshadowed by how long it took to get another profile call, and how the silence was so empty for so long that I started not really thinking about it quite as much. It wasn't feeling all that real, and then all of a sudden it had the potential to get SUPER real, SUPER quick, and then...nothing.

I will admit that I was a teensy bit short with a few people who saw me and said "Everything happens for a reason." One was someone I don't even really know and I said, "I appreciate that you are trying to be helpful but I patently disagree with that statement, having been through so many things for which I can't fathom a reason." I told another person who told me that God was waiting for just the right moment to bring me someone very special, and that he wouldn't put me through all this if it wasn't for something great, and I said, "Well, I've been waiting a second grader, which just seems an inordinate amount of time and there's been so much pain in there that I can't say I agree with you, but thank you." Then I just said thank you and swallowed my thoughts because I just didn't have the energy to explain how empty "Everything happens for a reason" or "It will be your time next time" feels when we've been at this for so. very. long. I hid in the Lead Teacher's office and cried while the librarian covered my 3rd period class, and then realized that if I stayed there random people could walk in to pick up printouts and I just really didn't want that. So I tried to look like a human-like-substance in the hall, went to the bathroom and rinsed my face a bit, and went down to Guidance.

The school psychologist let me sob and was so helpful, even closing the blinds for additional privacy. She convinced me that I didn't need to pretend everything was okay. I didn't need to "Pull myself together." I could go home and be messy there. Maybe that would be a better choice than being at the verge of tears and crying between classes for the rest of the day. I had the blessing of my principal, who was so disappointed for us (and had called the night before to offer his thoughts and let me know I could call him ANY TIME if the news was good and I would be going out on leave at the snap of a finger). I tried to say I had things to do, there was a quiz tomorrow that I wanted to help students prepare for and I felt bad for letting them down...and the school psychologist said, "We give ourselves too much credit...the world can go on without us and it will be fine. You need to go home and take care of yourself."

So I did.

I am feeling much better now. I put all the materials we looked at last night away. My mom stopped by to give me a hug. Bryce got takeout for us for lunch. A friend whisked me away to a see a happiness-making movie at 4 (LaLa Land, which I loved). I changed into yoga pants and a cozy shirt. I made some Tension Tamer tea. Those aren't in order, but I think followed the charge to "Take care of myself." I talked with Bryce, and we discussed our feelings about it all. The disappointment. The exhaustion. The positive point that we were profiled and it could happen again, but the incredible toll that kind of whirlwind takes on you emotionally.

This is the process, though. We cannot have a baby without it. We need to accept these ups and downs, the crickets in the waiting and the whiplash of last minute profile calls for which we aren't selected. We need to subject ourselves to this dichotomy of long silences and then hope followed by sadness so that we can get to the profile opportunity that is OUR baby, where we DO get chosen. I need to grow a thicker skin for future opportunities. I think this one hurt so much because it had been so long since our last opportunity and this one could have been such a fast transition to parenthood. Had it been us that was chosen, we might have been home now with our infant, lost in the confusion of brand new parents without the benefit of a pregnancy to at least gradually get used to the idea that this tiny human will come and be ours to care for. But that's not what happened. Not this time.

It's good to know that we really can take last-minute profiles, that we are ready (even though my desk won't likely be less messy in the days to come). It's good to know that we are being profiled again. It's good to know that last year all of our calls came in January through March (the early July thing wasn't a profile call but a blind profile that fell through before they called us, so it counts in my mind as one of the five opportunities we've had in 17 months, but not as a profile call), so hopefully we are going to receive more in the coming weeks and months. Hopefully it just takes one more.

I swear, if I hear anyone say to anyone "why don't you just adopt," I am going to smack them. Hard.

33 comments:

  1. Oh lady. 😞

    Wrapping you and Bryce in love tonight.

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    1. Thank you. It was not the best day ever, that's for sure. I will take all the love offered!

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  2. Ohhhh Jess. (((Hugs))) to you and Bryce. I will send some special prayers up for you tonight. It's all I know to do. I hope tomorrow is a better day.

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    1. Thank you so much, I really do appreciate prayers. I don't understand the plan thing people say, but prayers and thoughts are lovely forms of support! Tomorrow will be better, and the day after that. Such a cumulative thing, these thousand cuts.

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  3. Oh, wow. So many ups and downs for your hearts. Good to hear you feel supported by your school and that you got to take time for yourself and time to be with Bryce. Hugs and thoughts with you both.

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    1. My school is AMAZING. I am so very fortunate. Thank you for the hugs!

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  4. Wow I can't even imagine what it must be like getting a call like that! No idea if your life might totally change in an instant and how to prepare for that! I can understand the total disappointment and let down though of the negative call the next day, I'm really sorry you went through that, getting your hopes up only to have them dashed.
    When you were saying there was a one in four chance does that mean that the couple selected four possible adoptive parents before she went into labour and then were going to just pick one of them after the baby was born(or none)? Is that a common scenario? I had imagined that it would be something a woman would plan months in advance but I guess there are all sorts of scenarios that might lead to adoption. I hope that you will be picked sooner rather than later. Sending you lots of hugs!

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    1. It was a wake-up call, that's for sure! My guess was four books, they don't really tell you, but it's between 3-9 per what they said in the orientation. They want to give enough choices but not overwhelm the expectant/birthmom, either. Four was a middle of the road number but I suspect it was more than that. They might be able to tell me, but really...what would it matter in the end? Only one gets picked. Scenarios are all different -- sometimes you have women who make the choice very early and want to plan ahead and have prospective adoptive parents at appointments and everything, and other times it is a last minute decision because of denial, or hoping that things could work out another way. I heard a birthmother speak that she waited until fairly late because she just couldn't believe that this was happening to her and didn't get prenatal care, and so was relying on a stick that doesn't actually tell you how far along you are, so it was surprising to find out she had less time than she thought she did to make a decision. There's really so many ways it can go. In these situations it's helpful to me to consider the birthmother and her difficult choices, her decision criteria and situation, and know that eventually, hopefully, someone will find us the perfect match. I hope. I do worry a bit. We received no negative feedback on our book or her reaction to our book, so it really is out of our control. Thank you for the hugs!

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  5. I'm so sorry. That's a very intense emotional roller coaster. I wish the process was easier and I know nothing can make it easier. Holding you up in my thoughts.

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    1. It really was. I think it was magnified by the long dry spell, and the fact that it could all be over and started on the new journey so quickly... and then just as quickly that dream was shattered. Hopefully more calls closer together will help me feel a little less emotional, but that could also be wishful thinking. It's good to be emotional, right? Thank you for your thoughts and the holding. Much better now.

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  6. Ohhhh, I am so sorry. Wish there was something better to say than that and that this process was less stressful/rollercoaster/hard. Sending lots of thoughts and a hug.

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    1. Thank you so much -- I so appreciate the thoughts and the hug. It sucked royally, but there's hope for a next time. I just hope every time isn't quite so fraught. I like the idea of a last minute placement to some extent, but it comes with so much emotion and whirlwind-y-ness that there's negatives there, too.

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  7. I'll hold them down while you smack.

    Oh, Hon. What a roller coaster. The heart isn't made to process so much in such a short amount of time. I'm glad you're taking the advice of your school psychologist.

    I'm abiding with you, my friend.

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    1. Ha! Seriously. I can't even. Good point, such a short time for processing. I appreciate the abiding, and so hope that next time is less emotionally difficult. But really, all of these situations are emotionally difficult and they're meant to be, so I guess that's wishful thinking. :)

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  8. Oh my. My heart was beating so fast throughout this entire post, despite knowing the title. I am so disappointed for you and had I been in your shoes, I think that I would have gotten just as excited and just as depressed. I do think that it is a good sign that you were profiled again. And if you need me to fly out to NY to slap some people I am happy to help out. Big hugs lady.

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    1. Thank you for the disappointment and getting what that felt like. It was rough -- so much excitement and hope, mildly tempered with reality, and then just...crash. I am so hopeful that we will be profiled again and with more regularity. I will take slapping help any time! :)

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  9. My heart is breaking for you, sending you much love.

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    1. Thank you so much. It starts feeling like I am in a weird psychological experiment..."What happens if we do THIS to them?" It just chips away at you. But, hoping that the profile opportunities yet to come aren't quite so difficult, and even that one of them becomes OUR match. Thank you for the love!

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  10. We love you both so much, and we will always be there for you. As almost-grandparents of each possible baby that comes and goes, our hearts break...I can't imagine the pain you must be in, but know that we are with you in that pain. And we hope for the day when your little one comes home. Love you...

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    1. Thanks, Mom. It's a rough process, but it's the process we've got. We bounce back pretty well, just not quite as high, ha. Thanks for the love.

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  11. Awww. So so many hugs for you and side eyes for the everything-happens-for-a-reason people.

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    1. Thank you for the hugs, and for the side eyes. It's so hard when you know they mean well, but REALLY? Luckily none of those people were people I've known for a long time. I feel like after seven years of this crap there is no excuse for telling me "everything happens for a reason" or "it will be your time soon, this WILL happen!" I guess I can be glad that people are holding up hope when it feels hopeless, and I can take that positive from comments that are fairly meaningless in the face of recurrent difficulty. Sigh. Side-eyes are always welcome! :)

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  12. You have a very wise school psych. This post should be mandatory reading for anyone who ever opens their mouth to say "Why don't you just adopt?" Sending massive (((hugs))).

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    1. Right? She's amazing. She went through her own crisis last year and so speaks from experience on the whole "the world will go on without you, promise" piece. I hope that if anything, my situation being so open helps people around me to see that this is NOT an easy ride, that adoption is never, ever a "just." Thank you for the massive hugs!

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  13. No one who has any inkling just how gut wrenching the process can be would think, let alone utter, just in the same sentence.

    I trust your writing about it aids your processing and I hope others may read and find some source of hope and strength.

    My thoughts remain you you and Bryce.

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    1. Seriously. SERIOUSLY about the "just" and "inkling" bit. Absolutely, the processing. I hope for the hope and strength, that someone may benefit from this shitshow... :) Thank you for your thoughts!

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  14. I'm so sorry to hear of all you've been through. I all but shouted YES! to this: ""Everything happens for a reason." One was someone I don't even really know and I said, "I appreciate that you are trying to be helpful but I patently disagree with that statement, having been through so many things for which I can't fathom a reason." Best. answer. ever! Sending you hugs and hopeful vibes.

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    1. Oh, thank you! I don't think he thought it was real nice, but he also said some nasty things while my teacher friend was tearfully watching the inauguration, so I don't feel all that bad. :) Thank you for the hugs and hopeful vibes!

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  15. Ugh, I've lived this! You so accurately describe the emotional roller coaster of every day waiting for a call... and then actually getting one... and then it not working out. It is emotionally EXHAUSTING. I'm glad you are taking care of yourself. It is part of the process, and it is good to remember the journey the birth parents are on, but that doesn't mean it's not hard.

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    1. Thank you. It IS emotionally exhausting. Empathy is helpful, grounding for how I feel versus the difficult choice, but you're right. It's still hard. I'm sorry you went through something similar...the process is so difficult but hopefully it pans out one of these times... :)

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  16. I don't know how I missed this post but I just want to wrap my arms around you for this tremendous disappointment. :( Good job for taking care of yourself. I just can't fathom the kind of emotions that you went through during those hours.

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    1. Oh, thank you. So difficult, but it's better now. It hits harder when the calls are so few and far between, I think. I hope the next one is the one, or at least that I can get used to this whirlwind a bit (or not, and just have the next call be OUR call, because that would be so nice!). Thank you for your thoughts!

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  17. Jess, somehow I missed this post too. You really do let us see the whirlwind of emotions involved here. I'm so sorry it didn't work out this time. But I'm glad you have a couple of people at school who are supportive in the right way. Sending hugs.

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