Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Homestudy Blues

Teendoc reminds me that when we do finally adopt, the child really will be ours. Then why does all the stuff the adoption agency makes you read make me feel like I would be sharing a child? My fear is that basically I have to deal with all the hard work, responsibility, and maintain communication between the birth mother and her/my child, and she gets to visit whenever she wants. Am I just being paranoid? Is this the trade-off for being there for the first smile, the first steps, the first "Mummy". Do I call the birth mother every time the kid has a fever? Oh, man, maybe I'm just making myself unnecessarily crazy over something that hasn't even happened yet. I do have a tendency to try and cover all the angles so that I can be "prepared".

Then I was reading about post placements with international adoptions. Well, that was fucking cheery. That article basically had every freaking nightmare included. Hidden medical problems, psychotic behaviour due to previous abuse, families being torn apart. Lovely.

Then when I think I'm being heartless, how I would I feel if I were in the birth mother's shoes? I feel like I'm doing something wrong - why am I taking another woman's child? I keep telling myself that it's not my feelings that are important, it's the child's. He/she needs to know where they came from and who they are. Oi, my head hurts.

I often wonder how my life will change when I walk through the doors with a wee one. I mean, I'm practically allergic to early mornings. Having my sleep interrupted? I'm a bear. Even my dog sleeps in. My husband doesn't dare wake me when he gets ready for work. What about my mum? I visit with her 3 times a week and take her out shopping or browsing up and down the street. Not to mention my Buddhist meetings. My husband often travels for work. Can I manage it all? Mind you, if I had become pregnant, I'd still be left with these same questions. And people do this every day. Right?

Adoption is not a cure for infertility. Most people think, oh, you can't have kids, just adopt and your problem is solved. I was reading Teendoc's post today and she mentioned that sometimes she still feels a little pang of envy when she sees a pregnant woman even though she loves being a mom to her little girl. I confess, too, that I feel the same way.

This whole homestudy thing just brings up those feelings of inadequacy. I have to sit and answer questions about my life and habits, to be judged worthy or not by this stranger scribbing away. I want to scream, hey, I'm a real fucking person, I'm not perfect, I have bad hair days, I don't believe in violence, war or wearing white after Labour Day (oh, did i say labour? Sorry). I pick up my dog's shit, how bad can changing a diaper be? I promise not to leave the kid on top of my car!


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

1st Homestudy visit

Here we go. We had our first meeting with the social worker for our homestudy. One of the questions she asked was why did we want to adopt? Good thing we talked about that as we walked to her apartment. It seems like an obvious answer, but how would you answer it?

a) I want a kid

b) I want cheap labour

c) it seemed like such a waste to spend all my spare money on fun filled vacations and pedicures.

d) Always wanted to do a criminal background check on myself!

She also asked what we would do if the child was allergic to our dog. My husband answered right away, of course, the dog would have to go to friends. My first thought? The kid goes. Kidding, folks. She was writing all our responses down so I thought it might be best to keep my warped sense of humour to myself for a while.

We're also working on doing some required online courses. The conspicuous family learning module was a little ludicrous for us. We're already a conspicuous couple (I'm black, he's white) and we live in culturally diverse neighbourhood in a culturally diverse city. Pretty hard to swing a dead marmot around here without hitting an ethnic restaurant of one type or another. So the part where we put the coloured dots on all the people and places we know was pretty stupid. From the time I was a kid, my surroundings, friends, co-workers, neighbourhood was quite diverse, though speaking for myself, I was usually in the minority. I can see the course might be applicable to, for example, a Caucasian couple adopting a Chinese child in a small, predominantly white town.

I'm sure we'll learn more in the rest of the courses. At the moment, my husband thinks kids in school are going to pick on a kid who is adopted. Kids are mean, he says. I think that kids get picked on for a whole bunch of reasons, so I don't see why my kid would be singled out for that alone. Any thoughts on this?

Sunday, August 26, 2007

And the winner is...BFN!

I tried acupuncture, Chinese medicine, supplements up the ying yang, and even a personal trainer. Hell, I felt great! I felt prepared! I never complained! I gave up coffee and drinking and it was all worth it. I was chanting like a mofo and I was 100% certain that my sheer force of will and desire and every benevolent force in the universe would bring me a BFP! Boy, what a story it would make to tell the little one later on. Ha, ha, ha, child, with your tab, you're going to have a get a paper route.

Even injecting myself with the drugs wasn't that big of a deal. I looked forward to it. We joked so much, it was kind of exciting, you know?

People I barely even know were (and still are) constantly asking me when I am going to have a baby. Especially if they haven't seen you in a while and you just bump into them at the store or something. Ah, well, I, uh, don't know how much I want to reveal of my personal and private anguish to you in the dairy section. No, scratch that, I'm not supposed to eat dairy. You know, at first I would smile and reassure them (and me)that it would happen.

Especially after the 2nd lap, in the new clinic that wouldn't put me in a closet to wait after an embryo transfer. IVF#2 went a little better, even got me some nice new fancy blastocysts - can't get much better than that, right? What's a little ovarian hyperstimulation between friends? Best part was that was my belly was 2 inches bigger after the retrieval and I could barely move, but I felt pregnant already! Whoohoo! Lots of quiet chanting - maybe my chanting the first time was too strong! The energy might shake my babies loose. Fast forward through the 2 week wait - otherwise known as fresh hell, 10th circle of Google hell, fill in your favourite phrase - to what Aunt Flo had already announced - BFN. What the fuck?!!!!

Attempt #3 had them putting in 4, count em 4 lovely embryos. Third time's the charm, right? I'll always remember how lovely my uterus looked via the hysteroscopy - all pink and fluffy, like candy floss. I actually made it to blood test day with no spotting either. My first time with no sign of the crimson bitch in sight. Didn't even want to believe in that stupid pee stick. Hope shone her lovely light on me. Alas, BFN. I had no words. No air in my lungs.

A week later, I had the most painful period of my life. And I was glad. I think my hubby thought I'd gone over the deep end. But I was satisfied the physical pain I felt finally matched my insides.

During this difficult time, I looked up my old therapist. She was a gift. She made me realize that I was traumatized and grieving an end to a dream. She used EMDR on me, (kinda weird but I was game) and it helped quite a bit. And once, for the whole hour, I just sobbed.

Attempt #4 was somewhat fatalistic. I had 2 frozen embryos left and I felt it was best to do an unmedicated cycle. I knew the time had come to say goodbye. I paid good money for those embies, I couldn't just let them be thawed and discarded in a lab. They were going to go back inside of me to either thrive or not. My husband and I were open to whatever the result was going to be. No judgments. Now I just chanted for peace. Just surrender. Clarity. I wanted my life back, I wanted to go back to the way I used to be. I missed the old me. My husband could no longer bear to watch me suffer.

If there is one thing my faith has taught me, is that I have a lot to be grateful for. And I wanted to sit before the Gohonzon and chant with gratitude for my life, my loved ones, this beautiful world. I was sick of stuffing my face to keep my fear away.

And so, when I got the BFN from the pee stick, the phone call didn't hurt as much. I knew that I would live through it all. In acting school, when we finished a monologue or a scene we would say....AND SCENE... just to let you know we were done if you didn't already know it. And we were done. Finished. I just wouldn't be the same woman I used to be. And I guess, that was also a part of what I had been mourning. The woman I used to be.

Suffer what there is to suffer, enjoy what there is to enjoy. Regard both
suffering and joy as facts of life and continue chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, no
matter what happens. Then you will experience boundless joy from the Law.
Strengthen your faith more than ever.
- Nichiren Daishonin

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Sorry,Oprah, it takes a little more than Just Letting Go....

As many of you know, Oprah had Jenna and Mike on her show to talk about infertility on her show about women in their 30's in America. Now I loves me some Oprah, I am a HUGE fan, but it was so apparent that she is one of those people who just "don't get it". Otherwise, she might have employed a bit more compassion and sensitivity before throwing out the "just let it go " adage. After all, how long did it take her to deal with her emotional eating/rape issues. Years?

What if someone had said to her in the midst of her struggle, "hey, sweetie, put down the macaroni and cheese, you gotta let it go."

It's ironic, isn't it, because Oprah is one of those people who are always telling us to dream BIG! Don't let anything stand in your way! Don't take no for an answer! Michael Jordan says no one remembers all the baskets he missed. Just the ones he made. What about Angela Bassett and her husband - they had twins via surrogate mother. Why didn't she ask Angela about her infertility issues, why she was so determined to have her own biological children? Why didn't they adopt? Money obviously wasn't an issue for them.

Now if I may put on my Oprah wisdom hat for a bit and speculate that she was traumatized by her circumstances of her early teen pregnancy and subsequent death of her infant. What she went through changed her forever. She has wisely decided that motherhood is not for her, and she can enjoy nurturing young lives in other ways like her Leadership Academy. Kudos!

Motherhood is not desired by every woman, there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. And in our Western society, we have a choice about what we want to do with our lives. Medical science as well as Eastern medicine has given us other avenues. Infertility is a medical condition, not a choice! It's not like plastic surgery. I want bigger boobs, I want Meg Ryan's nose!

So if someone wants to sell their house or their car or whatever to try ART, then it's their right. If they want to do it multiple times, it's their choice! They suffer the consequences, they know the risks. It may not be your cup of tea, you may think it's wrong, but only they can decide whether they've had enough. I've read blogs out there, when the person can has gone through IVF 9 - 10 times?! And guess what, it worked, and they've got a baby, if not two!

Would I do that? Probably not. Was surrogacy an option for us? Nope. But it wasn't lack of money that made me stop. I could have found more money and cycled way more. I chose not to. It wasn't the right or realistic decision for either of us.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

So What Do You Think, Dear?

It's not often we hear about how men feel about infertility, do we? Especially if it's their sperm count that's low or non-existent. The male factor, they call it. Are there any blogs out there like that? Let me know.

I had a conversation with my hubby last night and he revealed to me that he still wasn't over the whole finality of not being able to have his own biological child. It's funny, he went from being ambivalent about having children to being completely committed. I always knew he would make a great dad. He got along so well with kids. He has a hell of a lot more patience that I do.

And yet, he doesn't like to talk about it at great length like I do and analyze and twist it that way and this way. He says he likes to just think about solutions and since this one didn't work it, he wants to move on to the next thing. Let's not dwell on it, he says. But it doesn't work like, does it? Grief isn't complete within couple weeks... or even a couple of months.

I think it became sort of like a competition for him - he really wanted to win. And with every negative result, his heart broke just as badly as mine. He had to put up with a lot of stupid ass comments himself. Most of his friends have children, and a couple of them aren't the best candidates for Father of the Year awards. And yet, there you have it. They got'em, he doesn't.

Weird how much power a dream inherent in a frozen embryo can hold over you.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Thoughtless Stupid Ass Things People Say - Part 2

You waited too long.

Yep, probably right about that. But I didn't meet The One until I was in my mid 30's, wasn't financially stable, craving to have a baby in a tiny apartment and oh, yeah, didn't get married until I was 38. What could I have done differently? (I thought about that a lot, trust me.) Wait a minute, I should have been somebody else!

You are over 40.....

Doctors love that one. I know how old I am, doc, thanks for reminding me but using that phrase over and over when I'm paying you thousands of dollars to help me start a family, is only twisting the knife.

I guess you were not meant to have children.

Not meant to according to whom? I guess not. C'est la vie. Whatever will be, will be. Fuck you.
Tertia did an absolute brilliant post about this and more. Mail it to your good friends, I did. She's brilliant.

You're not going to cry every month when you get your period, are you?

No, just right now when I'm confiding in you my deepest, darkest feelings. I won't make this mistake again.

And finally, You're pregnant, right? (Pointing at my belly)

No, those are fibroids and/or fat on top of the fibroids. Or maybe it's just plain ole' fat. Thanks for ruining my day. Are you gonna eat that?

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Thoughtless Stupid Ass Things People Say - Part 1

Don't get me wrong. I am the first to believe that people don't mean harm and most of the time, they are trying to make you feel better. Or themselves feel better. But if you're infertile (and don't want to be) you have a unique perspective that fertile people never will. Lucky you.

"Oh, don't worry, it'll happen for you, you just have to: Let go and let God.... relax.... go on a vacation.... stop thinking about it..... eat less acidic foods..... eat organic pineapple, yams, insert whatever food here .... chant enough daimoku.... visit a holy shrine ...... drink this cup of stinky ass mud twice a day ......"

Well, yes, that just might happen. And I'm sure it does - to other people - just not me. Yes, it happened to your neighbour, your hairdresser, your friend at the office. Lovely. Peachy. I'm so happy for them. Really. But I did all that and it still didn't work. Frankly, if someone told me to run down Main Street at full moon buck naked, I would have done it.

"Hurry up and have a kid, so our kid can have a playmate!"

Oh, sorry, to keep you waiting.

"We can always travel instead."

Guess who said that one.

"It's okay, you can always adopt."

Oh, yeah, why didn't I think of that first? I could have had a V8! I feel so much better now.

"It's all these toxins in our society!"

Ever been to a Third World country? It's crowded!

"You can get a little baby from Africa, just like Angelina Jolie, they're so cute!"

Hang on, let me get a catalogue, do they take Visa?

"Don't they all have AIDS?"

It's okay, it's money back guaranteed.

'Your baby wants to be born into a fortune family"

Hey, honey, drink this and you'll wake up a Buddhist! DRINK IT!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Where do I Start?

Warning! There will be swearing! Not excessively, but where warranted. This blog will probably appeal to those whose collective asses have battled with infertility and lost. After much thought about what I could possibly have to say about infertility that hasn't already been said by those who are more erudite than I (yes, I had to look that up), I thought... what the fuck?

Warning! There will also be sarcasm. I don't get to be sarcastic very often. I'm a Buddhist. But I'm a Buddhist with an edge. So occasionally, I revert to my 19 year old self and get snarky. And if not being able to get pregnant after years of trying to conceive (ttc) doesn't give you a license to be sarcastic every now and then, I don't know what does.

I've also started the adoption process with my dear hubby(DH). I just can't bear the thought of never being able to raise and love a child with my wonderful husband. Even if it's not my biological child. I'd like to address all the fears and anxieties of open adoption, the obstacles we will face, both external and internal.

And for those who like Canadian content, this is the place. We Canadians usually like to strap on a pair of skates and skate our troubles away, but I've found a great deal of solace and understanding through the various infertility blogs in the blogosphere. I felt less lonely, less singled out, I had a chance to reach out to grieving women who truly understood what I was going through. They made a great deal of difference to me, it was like a lifeline to all the emotions I was going through but was unable to express to anyone. There is value to that and as a Buddhist, I'm encouraged to turn poison into medicine. So right now this medicine tastes like shit and I really don't want any more, but perhaps it will cure what truly ails me.

So, where do I start? Okay. I'll try to be brief. I met my sweetie when I was 33, fell in love, and we lived together in sin for 5 years (quite begrudgingly on my part, but apparently I had nothing better to do) and then we finally got married. I had always wanted children one day, but my sweetie was just a tad ambivalent. And I was scared. But finally, I realized that one is never really 100% sure, so we really started trying - you know, with serious intent. We hadn't used birth control in years, well, just the ole ye withdrawal method which I had wrongly assumed was working as intended. But once we "pulled the goalie" and nothing happened, we went to my doctor who referred us to a clinic. I was "at that age" don't you know and then there were tests, blah, blah, blah....... 2 laparascopic surgeries, 2 HSGs, Clomid, 3 IUIs, change of clinic, thousands of dollars and 4 IVF's later, no embryo (stellar though my follicles were) decided to stick around in my fibroidy misshapen 40 + yr old uterus. BFN's month after month after month. Meh.

Oh, yeah, in the midst of all this my dotty mother moved across the country (finally, after 2 years of trying to convince her to move because my eldest sister didn't/wouldn't keep an eye on her) to be with us, had a massive stroke 6 weeks later and had to be put intermediate care (translation: nursing home) for dementia patients. Cue the movie of the week violins. Fuck. She's still kicking it as they say, I'll write more about her later.

We had always wanted to adopt, we'd talked about it, after we had our own, of course. Maybe even older kids once we moved to a bigger home. Of course, the money we had saved for a down payment for a first home evaporated with the IVF, acupuncture, and naturopathic treatments.

It takes a village to raise a child? Well, another whole village was privy to my privviest parts so I could even conceive outside of a petri dish. Alas, close, but no baby or cigar or whatever. By the way, at one point I called my uterus deathstar (see Star Wars reference) because it seemed to shoot down all my lovely embryos. Phew, phew, take that you blastocyst! I thought it was funny. I still do, in a sick kind of way.

4 years later, here we are, walking into the massively intrusive world of open adoption. Yipee!